Needle work, such as clothes-making and embroidery, is important to Nung women because it demonstrates their skill, dexterity, and patience. 

When a girl gets married, she brings blankets and pillows she made herself to her husband’s house, which are considered a dowry of happiness. All the patterns on Nung women’s clothes are embroidered by hand.

Nong Thi Hoa, a Nung woman in Cao Loc district, Lang Son province, said, “We grow cotton trees, harvest cotton, dry it, twin yarn, and weave fabric. This work is exclusively for women. Now we can buy yarn and thread in the market. Making indigo fabric takes a lot of time.”

The Nung of Vietnam’s northern region weave a kind of fabric called “Diem bau” and dye it with indigo leaves. 

Each Nung branch has its own style of design, embroidery, and decoration. The dye is a mixture of indigo leaves, lime, and smashed apricot seeds. 

Sewing and embroidering require meticulous techniques. Normally they use embroidery frames but Nung Phan Slinh women don’t. Popular embroidery images include flowers, leaves, and the Sun. 

The buttons are the highlights of Nung shirts so the women often spend a lot of time to make them beautifully and identically. They also embroider blankets, pillows, and headscarves.

Painter Dao Thi Tuyen, a collector of ethnic costumes, said, “Indigo fabric is the charm of the Nung’s clothes. Brocade patterns are colorfully and vividly embroidered on indigo fabric. The embroidery decoration is the soul of the costumes and the identification of each ethnic group.”

Luong Van Thiet, a researcher of the Nung culture at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, says like other ethnic groups, Nung people now wear modern clothes instead of their traditional costumes. 

Worrying that the craft of weaving and sewing would be fading, Nung women in Lang Son have opened clubs and workshops to teach needle-work to young girls and make Nung-style clothes for tourists.