Ao Ba Ba Vietnam – Traditional Costume of Southern Vietnamese People
Ao Ba Ba Vietnam, also known as the “baba” shirt, is a traditional costume that is closely associated with the Southern Vietnamese people. This attire has been an integral part of the cultural heritage of the region and is still widely worn today, both as a symbol of pride in their heritage and as a practical garment suited to the hot and humid climate of the area. The history and significance of the Ao Ba Ba Vietnam are rich and varied, and it remains an important cultural icon in Vietnam. In this article, we will explore the origins, design, and cultural importance of Ao Ba Ba Vietnam in greater detail.
What is “Ao Ba Ba” Viet Nam and how do you say it in English?
The “Ao Ba Ba” is a traditional costume that originated in Southern Vietnam and has become an iconic symbol of the region’s culture. This attire is often worn by both men and women in daily life, especially in rural areas. The “Ao Ba Ba” is known for its simplicity and comfort, making it a practical outfit for working and moving around in the hot and humid weather of Southern Vietnam. The costume consists of a loose-fitting tunic with three or four panels, paired with loose pants or a skirt. The fabric used to make the “Ao Ba Ba” is typically lightweight and breathable, such as cotton or silk. In recent years, the “Ao Ba Ba” has gained popularity in modern fashion and has been adapted into different styles and designs, while still retaining its traditional charm.
Regarding the English name for ‘Ao Ba Ba’, currently, there is no official English name for this type of costume. However, there is a descriptive phrase that closely resembles ‘Ao Ba Ba’, which is “loose-fitting blouse”.
Features of the ‘Ao Ba Ba’
The characteristics of the ‘Ao Ba Ba’ costume include a collarless top with the back of the garment made from a single piece of fabric sewn together with the front, which consists of two separate pieces. The front of the top has two strips of buttons running vertically from top to bottom. The garment is fitted at the waist and has slits on either side, reaching the hips. The length of the top falls just below the hips, accentuating the beautiful curves of a woman’s body.
Origin and significance of the “Ao Ba Ba” Vietnam
The origin of the ‘Ao Ba Ba’ costume is in Malaysia or Singapore. Introduced in the late 19th century by the Babas, a group of Chinese-Malay people in Malaysia or Singapore, the costume was made of imported black fabric. The people of Southern Vietnam highly favored the fabric, which became known as “Ao Ba Ba.” Today, the “Ao Ba Ba” has been modernized while retaining its traditional features, to fit contemporary lifestyles.
When Vietnamese people mention the image of “ao ba ba,” they often think of the grandmothers, mothers, and sisters in the Southern region, who are simple, rustic, and approachable. Whenever you visit the South, you can see the image of people rowing boats and working on the rivers.
“Ao ba ba” also symbolizes the image of Vietnamese women who are resilient and strong in wars against invaders and in preserving the country. Three inseparable items associated with Southern women are “ao ba ba,” “khan ran” (scarf), and “non la” (conical hat). The scene of mothers and sisters in the struggle is still beautiful to this day.
Despite changes and integration, the significance of the “Ao Ba Ba” shirt endures among Southern Vietnamese people. Over time, people have not forgotten about it. The “Ao Ba Ba” shirt remains popular for various purposes, including performing arts costumes and yearbook photos. Its image is showcased everywhere, including beauty pageants, where it is worn by contestants.
The accessories that come with the “Ao Ba Ba” Viet Nam
Khan ran (khăn rằn)
“Khăn rằn” is a traditional accessory that accompanies the “Ao Ba Ba” in Southern Vietnamese culture. The Western region of Vietnam prefers the “Ao Ba Ba” and “Khan ran” due to their dark colors. These traditional garments are usually only available in black or brown. This makes it easy to use when working in agriculture. The scarf and the hat are essential for people in rice-growing regions. They provide comfort and help wipe away sweat while working in the fields.
Non La (Nón lá)
Non La is a ubiquitous headwear in Vietnam, traditionally made of palm leaves. Farmers often wear this conical hat to protect themselves from the sun and rain while working in the fields. The Non La is also a popular accessory to wear with the ‘Ao Ba Ba’ shirt, creating a classic Vietnamese look.
This iconic hat is not only functional but also holds cultural and historical significance in Vietnamese society. Vietnamese art, literature, and folklore have used the Non La to represent the simplicity and humility of the Vietnamese people.
What shoes to wear with “Ao Ba Ba” besides “Khan ran” and “Non la”?… Wearing shoes or wooden clogs is possible with “Ao ba ba”, but the most beautiful combination is with “Guoc moc.” Simple yet elegant, it enhances the noble beauty of the wearer.
“Ao Ba Ba Viet Nam” through different periods
The ‘Ao Ba Ba’ in the 19th century
Producers primarily use imported cotton, linen, and denim fabrics to sew the “Ao Ba Ba” shirt. They dye the fabrics with natural dyes made from materials such as eagle leaves, gourd brooch, and various types of bark. In the past, before modern fabric dyes and techniques, people would fix colors by covering fabrics in mud. This traditional dyeing process gave the ‘Ao Ba Ba’ shirt a distinctive and rustic appearance.
The “Ao ba ba” In the 20th century
In the 20th century, women typically wore a shirt with an inner pocket while men wore a shirt made of leaves. Over these shirts, both men and women would wear the ‘Ba Ba’ shirt. By the 1950s, people no longer commonly wore pocket shirts and blouses as undergarments.
The Ba Ba Ao Dai, a modern version of the “Ao Ba ba”, has evolved to meet contemporary fashion trends and aesthetics. However, it still retains its traditional roots. The modern Ba Ba shirt is different from its predecessor in its form-fitting design. The female Ba Ba shirt, in particular, accentuates the curves of the body.
The collars and buttonholes of the Ba Ba shirt have changed to suit individual styles, resulting in a more harmonious design. These changes extend to the choice of color and material. The Ba Ba shirt has evolved to offer a wide range of colors, materials, and design options. It has departed from the traditional black and brown styles of the past.
The Ao Ba Ba Vietnam is not just a traditional costume but also a cultural symbol that reflects the identity and history of Southern Vietnamese people. Its simple yet elegant design and practicality make it suitable for various occasions, from daily wear to formal events. Despite modernization and globalization, Ao Ba Ba Vietnam continues to hold a special place in the hearts of many Vietnamese people and serves as a source of pride and heritage for generations to come.