History of Vietnamese Silk Paintings....
According to Vietnamese legend, in the second century BC a
beautiful princess, named Hoang Phu Thieu Hoa, discovered small
caterpillars (later known as silkworms) spinning cocoons of fine
thread. She took this knowledge to the nearby villages of Co Do
and Van Sa located in the Ba Vi District of Son Tay Province.
The weavers in these villages refined the silk thread and spread
their knowledge through the sixty neighboring villages. In the
11th century, Queen Nguyen Phi Y Lan founded the first silk
weaving workshop in the capital city of Thang Long (Ha Noi). The
production of high quality silk is a long and difficult process
even today; as a result, it is considered a precious material.
The best silk still comes from the Ha Dong regions where the
princess discovered it twenty centuries ago.
Silk is an extremely difficult and unforgiving medium in which
to work, requiring great patience and discipline from the
artists and discouraging many. Before an artist can begin to
paint on silk, it must be carefully stretched on a wooden frame.
Painting on silk is done using thin layers of watercolor. If the
colors are applied too thickly the unique property of silk
painting can be lost. The colors must be applied with great care
because a wrong stroke of the brush is irreversible. There are
many types of silk that can be used ranging from very close
woven long grained silk to more coarse and short grain silk.
After many generations of development of techniques and styles,
silk painting reached world acclaim during the years 1925-1945.
The Vietnamese style of silk painting emphasized softness,
elegance and a flexibility of style. These qualities of silk
painting were different compared to, at the time, the dominant
French and European oil painting. In 1946, Vietnamese silk
painting were “discovered” and introduced to the world when
Vietnamese silk paintings won two prizes at the official Salon
organized in France. Vietnamese silk paintings are now popular
throughout the world due to their unique character and
transparency of colors that are different from those of Chinese
and Japanese pieces.