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The art of making silk from lotus stem

Phan Thi Thuan extracts yarn from lotus stalks and turns the fiber into silk that is more expensive than regular varieties.

My Duc District’s Phung Xa Commune, about 40 km from Hanoi, has a tradition of breeding silkworms and weaving silk, but in recent years has become famous for Thuan’s lotus silk.

The art, making silk, lotus stem, Phan Thi Thuan, extracts yarn from lotus stalks, lotus silk

Each stem has to be washed to remove the mud and get rid of thorns before the spinning can begin.

Every year her family extracts yarn from May, when the lotus season begins and the flowers’ stems are still tender enough to produce silk. The process lasts until September. Besides home-grown lotus, she also goes around the district looking for lotus.

Each stem has to be washed to remove the mud and get rid of thorns before the spinning can begin.

In 2017, Thuan first started researching into lotus silk, but the quality of the final product did not satisfy her.

She says: "Two years later I managed to put the lotus silk products out on the market. But since the production is labor intensive and time consuming, only silk connoisseurs use it or buy it."

The art, making silk, lotus stem, Phan Thi Thuan, extracts yarn from lotus stalks, lotus silk

Lotus silk is creamy white in color, but gradually turns whiter when it dries and turns into fiber.

Thuan uses a knife to cut around the lotus stem, and twists and pulls the fibers with her hands. Each lotus stem can produce one meter of fiber. Skilled workers can work on 200 stems a day. To train someone to draw lotus silk takes one month, because the use of the knife requires precision. If the cut into the stem is too deep, the fibers will break and become too short.

Lotus silk is creamy white in color, but gradually turns whiter when it dries and turns into fiber.

The final stage involves weaving the natural fiber into cloth on a machine. To create patterns in them requires a lot of skill.

Each sheet is then boiled at high temperatures for more than an hour to dissolve the lotus resin, and the dried out under the sun.

Lotus silk is durable and breathes, and can be made into bags, book covers, home decorations, wall frames, and other items, the most popular being scarves. It takes 4,800 lotus stalks for a 1.7-m scarf, which costs more than VND8 million ($347).

The art, making silk, lotus stem, Phan Thi Thuan, extracts yarn from lotus stalks, lotus silk

Products Thuan makes from lotus silk are sold in many countries including France, the U.S. and Japan.

Products Thuan makes from lotus silk are sold in many countries including France, the U.S. and Japan. Most orders from thee markets are placed before the lotus season begins. They were given as gifts to international leaders at the 2019 G20 Summit in by then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

During the summer, hundreds of students from within and outside the district come to Thuan’s house for free lessons in how to spin and make silk from lotus stems.

Extracting silk from lotus stalks originated in Myanmar more than 100 years ago. In Vietnam, Thuan is considered the pioneer.

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Source: VnExpress

The art, making silk, lotus stem, Phan Thi Thuan, extracts yarn from lotus stalks, lotus silk
 
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