Vietnam is a multiethnic country with 54 officially recognised ethnic groups and hundreds of unique subgroups. Although Kinh (Viet) make up roughly 85% of the national population, within the mountainous northern provinces, so called 'ethnic minorities' often account for closer to 100% of rural populations. The research undertaken by Mountain Threads focuses on this region.
All the Mountain Threads field research is conducted independently through collaborative relationships between Lucy Patterson and local, ethnic minority communities and individuals, especially women.
The women who travel with Lucy and collaborate on the fieldwork have a lifetime of hands-on textile knowledge and are multilingual (Hmong, Mien, Vietnamese, English) which is invaluable to the research. As the team are often visiting areas that none of them have been to before, they are learning together as they go.
Mountain Threads recognises and honours the authority of local knowledge and oral traditions above secondary written sources of information. First-hand knowledge forms the foundation this work.
As in other parts of the world, many of the textile traditions in northern Vietnam are critically under threat. Some have already been lost and others are changing rapidly. Communities often have limited resources for documenting and preserving knowledge and textile objects. The Mountain Threads team are passionate about collecting and recording these traditions in ways that make them available to future generations.