Nga Sơn: Homeland of endless seagrass fields15 Jan 2020
Homeland of endless seagrass fields
During our trip back to Nga Son Village, Thanh Hoa Province, Viet Trang Craft team were very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet the local people and to understand more about what they are doing on the seagrass fields and factory every day.
Nga Son is well-known for not only the mat weaving craftsmanship but also the vast seagrass field. Seagrass in this region is well-known for its durability and high applicability to make various handicraft products. More also, seagrass is a high-value plant, cultivating seagrass worth triple that of rice. In Thanh Hoa, the quality of seagrass differs from province to province, even for the same species. The seagrass in Nga Son district, Thanh Hoa province is known as the best.
1. The very first impression
Our first impression of this land of seagrass is Green. You can see green everywhere! These hues come from the plants and hundreds of fields surround this land. It takes nearly 2 hours for us to transfer from the airport to Nga Son traditional village. In the meantime, you can enjoy the leisure and fresh air here. Seagrass field, trees, and plants all spread across your eyesight combine with the endless solid blue sky, it makes you just want to hold on to this beautiful and majestic beauty of nature forever.
2. Seagrass- the beating heart of Thanh Hoa people
Along the road, we soon notice mothers and their children playing on the fields to harvest seagrass. A fascinating view of green seagrass fields stretching under the luminous sunlight overwhelmed us, followed by the scene of collected seagrass drying on the fields, sandbanks, levees, roads and in small courtyards on the porch.
When talking with the farmers, they showed us the steps to collect seagrass, starting from harvesting, chopping to drying. Harvesting seagrass is an extremely strenuous task that requires a lot of patience and strength. To avoid the heat, people have to go to the fields in the early morning. After harvesting seagrass completely by hand, usually, there will be 2 to 3 people to classify the rush. Short seagrass will be twisted and braided to use for handicrafts weaving such as baskets, poufs, handbags and so on. The long seagrass is more expensive and will also be used for weaving, however, times before they were only used to weave mats because of their length.
Next is the split work, which takes place right in the fields. Each manual splitting machine consists of 2 people sitting at both ends and must pull the seagrass strands straight, avoiding any damage of the root or top of the seagrass. Before splitting, seagrass is picked cotton to clean. This is a job that requires the finesse of your hands. The seagrass after splitting is usually tied up and spread like a fan on the harvest field. The seagrass must be exposed to the sun at the hottest time of the day to create a tough, durable texture and beautiful color. After drying, seagrass will be collected and sent to weaving households in the villages. Depending on the length, seagrass will be used to braid different types of products. The remaining work to make a beautiful natural handicraft is up to our women artisans.
3. Best memories on the seagrass field
Driving on a motorbike, we strolled around the grasslands here. To every seagrass field, we come across a familiar image – a gentle smile of the farmers here. The smile of the Thanh Hoa people shines brightly and is incredibly sincere. When they talked about the seagrass strands, we could feel the love and passion through their eyes. The craftsmanship of weaving and harvesting seagrass to make homewares products play an important role in their lives, as it connects them with the culture and tradition passed through generations. Moreover, it helps to enhance the growth of economic to this land but most importantly, they are living childhood memories. As a child, while their parents in the field, they can frolic around the green seagrass land and choose the fresh white part of the root to eat. One woman said that when she was young, she used to pick up the fresh root of the seagrass and sip it in her mouth. It was a rare and magical thing that they can preserve and protect their childhood “dreamland” and save it for their children. I tasted the fresh root, and it has a slightly fleshy and smooth taste. It has been a long time, but the flavor still lasts in my mind up till now because it is associated with the beautiful memories of the people and the land of Thanh Hoa.
“Chieu Nga Son and Bat Trang bricks
Nam Dinh silk fabric, Ha Dong silk goods”
This is an old stanza about the Nga Son seagrass mat that the elders often say to each other. It is said that seagrass is a special and powerful plant, from a wild plant to become a popular and useful natural fiber to the use of local people. Nowadays, seagrass has brought a sustainable economy to the people of Thanh Hoa by its diverse application in handicrafts making. After all, the journey was a wonderful and memorable memory for all of us. Not only can we understand the importance of the seagrass to the people of Nga Son, but we also really feel the passionate love of the people here for this favorable plant.