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Cong Thanh Mat-making Village

Cong Thanh Village in Tam Quan Bac Commune, Hoai Nhon District of Binh Dinh Province is located amidst a forest of luxuriantly green coconut trees. The soil for cultivation is affected by alkalinity, so only sedge plants are suited to grow there. For years, the local people, old and young, have earned their living by growing sedge plants and weaving flowery mats.

Being in Cong Thanh Village on sunny days, visitors will see sedge plants and flowery sedge mats drying in every available open space, on the roadside or drying yards. In the houses, women, old and young, and children are working at the weaving looms, their hands feeding threads to and fro on the looms so skillfully.

Forty-two-year-old Nguyen Thi Ban stopped operating her weaving loom for a while to wait for her daughter to bring her more rush threads, and spoke to me: "I have woven sedge mats for more than 30 years. To have a nice, durable mat, there should be a total of three jobs combined together. I am involved in only one process, i.e. weaving mats. However, whatever the job, one should be totally devoted to it.”

The other jobs that Ban referred to are to grow sedge plants, harvest, split and dry them; and to dye rush threads.

A skilful weaver who works from early morning till late in the afternoon can weave three pairs of mats (mats are often sold in pairs). In most cases the mats are weaved with colourful, flowery designs.

There are more than 400 hand-operated weaving looms in Cong Thanh Village which are operated not only by skilful artisans, but also by children. Old Nguyen Thi On, now over 70 years old, has weaved sedge mats for more than 60 years. Everyday she wakes up early in the morning when the sun rises over the coconut trees and works on the weaving loom together with her daughter. She also encourages her children and the villagers that besides learning at school for general knowledge, they should work together and preserve their traditional craft of mat making.

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Besides 400 handicraft weaving looms, there are 13 mat weaving machines, with a production capacity four times that of the hand operated loom. Mats woven by traditional looms or by weaving machines have the same quality and are sold at the same price.

Cong Thanh sedge mats are famous throughout the southern region of Central Vietnam.
Cong Thanh sedge mats are consumed widely in and around the region, and as far as to the Central Highlands. At one time many young people left home to work in other localities, but now they have returned home to work on the weaving looms.

When we left Cong Thanh Village late in the afternoon, we still saw many people busily working. They transported sedge plants into a store house and sorted them, or packed mats to deliver to consumers. All made up a nice picture of a comprehensive production chain of mat making.

"If you visit and stay overnight in Cong Thanh, I'll cover your bed with a sedge mat/ My deep affection for you will last long..."

Such verses from a song sung by a Cong Thanh mat female weaver came along with us on our way home.

See also

Cow Market in the Upland Meo Vac
Experience the Highlands at Lak Lake
Can Tho Watery Area
Untouched Ba Lua Archipelago
Bamboo Dragonflies
Tho Ha Village’s Festival
Chilling at the conical hat market

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