Mat making in Dinh Yen village in the southern province of Dong Thap was recognized as an intangible national heritage in 2013.
Some 3,000 people there were involved in making mats for generations. They grow the sedge they require to make the mats along the Hau River.
It was in the 1920s that mat making emerged as a profession in Dinh Yen. Without enough raw materials back then, villagers had to source them from nearby provinces. The peak was achieved in the 1980s when the village’s products were exported to Thailand, Cambodia and East European countries.
Nowadays villagers use machines to reduce the time taken to make mats though the details on them are still completely made by hand.
There are many skilled artisans still working in the village. According to a long-time mat maker, to make a mat requires careful selection of materials and drying them in the sun for an hour before putting in a hot dye.
After the dyeing the materials are put in the sun again, weaved, trimmed and put again for a few hours under the sun.
Visitors coming to Dinh Yen Village are fascinated by the colorful mats they see all over the place.
Red, green, yellow, and purple are the main colors used and you can see them almost everywhere in Dinh Yen.
A pair of beautifully handcrafted mats is sold for VND25,000-50,000 ($1.1 – 2.1), depending on the size and variety.
In the past villagers used to sell their mats at the Dinh Yen Market at night, but not anymore.