THE PA THEN
After a challenging trek I finally found the Pa Then in 2015. I was amazed by the beauty of the one elaborate costume left in the village. In February 2019, I decided to visit the Pa Then in the Tuyen Quang province, and was intrigued to learn about an ethnic boarding school in the district where students wear their traditional costumes to school every Monday as a way to hold on to their heritage. Huong, the eight-year-old girl in this photograph, was delighted to get dressed in her outfit. The costume is extremely complicated (just the hat can take 30 minutes to roll!) and Huong’s father and his friend were completely confused as they tried to dress her. All three were laughing the whole time.
There are only two people left in the village who can still weave the fabric to make the flower inspired costume. Compared to what I had seen before, this Pa Then village has a vibrant living culture, probably in large part because the children wear their costumes regularly. I believe this makes a tangible difference in preserving this part of their heritage.