The art of ‘Zeng’: Weaving for a brighter future

Weaving is an art all of its own, but for Ta Oi people in the mountainous region of A Luoi in central Vietnam, ‘Zeng’ is more than an art; it is a cultural tradition, a reflection of their heritage continued through generations (and now recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage).

Coats Vietnam is working in partnership with Fashion 4 Freedom (an organization dedicated to helping designers develop and produce items with fair, ethical, and sustainable considerations) to help sustain the ancient weaving traditions of the Ta Oi people. ‘We saw an amazing opportunity to bring two extremes together as a collaboration - a large global manufacturer and a small tribe of people, and there was a common thread. We found a way to use excess Coats threads to do good.’ Said Victoria Ho, Co-founder and Creative Director of Fashion 4 Freedom.

‘Zeng’ is a complicated tapestry of colors woven into a wealth of motifs and the artisan Ta Oi weavers are masters of the technique. This traditional craft is delicate, personal and beautiful and cannot be replicated by modern machinery. The Ta Oi use a back-strap loom where the weaver sits on the floor with the wrap of the loom stretched from a strap around her back attached to a bamboo rod held out by her feet. These painstaking woven textiles are created using thread supplied by Coats and helps to support economic development and improve the social impact within the community.

The art of ‘Zeng’ is a cultural heritage steeped in tradition and the woven cloth reflects the stories of the Ta Oi people. Bill Watson, Managing Director of Coats Vietnam, says, ‘We’ve heard that there are woven languages all over the world and that in some cases the symbols used in one community could be understood by another they’ve never communicated with. I think we could look to supporting a number of these communities by donating Coats excess thread in conjunction with Fashion 4 Freedom.

Here’s the video of their story:


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