Ao Dai: Vietnam’s Traditional Clothing


Phan Khanh Ly modelling her Ao Dai.
Listener Trinh Pham Van

Ryan Geertsma and Liz Waid tell the story of Vietnam's traditional clothing: the Ao Dai. It has developed and changed throughout Vietnam's history.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Vu Ngoc Anh stands on a performance stage.  Bright lights shine on her from above. Hundreds of people are watching her. They are interested in her beautiful clothing. She is wearing a kind of traditional Vietnamese clothing called an Ao Dai or Ao Dai. Ngoc Anh walks slowly across the stage.  Her Ao Dai moves gently side to side. This is because it is made of silk - a light, flowing material. The Ao Dai is two pieces of clothing – trousers, and a long fitted shirt or gown. Ngoc Anh’s trousers are white.  Her gown is a golden, yellow color. It covers her arms, down to her wrists. And it fits tightly around her chest and neck. It hangs almost to the ground. The gown is split. It opens on the sides from her waist to the floor.  As Ngoc Anh walks across the floor, she looks as if she is floating.

Voice 2 

On that night, Vu Ngoc Anh won the 2012 Miss Vietnam Ao Dai competition. The judges thought she looked the most beautiful in her Ao Dai. Achieving the title “Miss Ao Dai” is a great honor. This is because the Ao Dai is more than just traditional Vietnamese clothing.  It is a symbol of the history and beauty of the Vietnamese culture and people. Today’s Spotlight is on the Vietnamese Ao Dai.

Voice 1 

The Ao Dai has a long history in Vietnam.  Experts believe forms of the Ao Dai have existed for hundreds of years.

Voice 2 

Traditional Chinese clothing has influenced the history of the Ao Dai. In the 1600s and 1700s Chinese rulers occupied the land of Vietnam. People were required to wear traditional Chinese clothing. Vietnamese clothing designers began to change the design of the traditional Chinese clothing. They created early forms of the Ao Dai to show Vietnam’s separate and independent culture. During this time, members of the Vietnamese ruling family began wearing these early forms of the Ao Dai. And both men and women wore them.

Voice 1 

In 1802, there was a Vietnamese leader called Gia Long.  He freed Vietnam from Chinese rule. Before this time, people in different areas of Vietnam wore different forms of the early Ao Dai. But designers began to combine the different regional designs. The result was a form of the Ao Dai called the Ngu Than. From 1820-1841 rulers made the Ngu Than Vietnam’s official national clothing.

Voice 2 

For the next 50 years, a new foreign power ruled Vietnam.  France claimed Vietnam as a colony.  During this time, many people began wearing clothes influenced by Western design. However, some Vietnamese designers reacted against this foreign cultural influence - just like they had when China ruled over Vietnam.

Voice 1 

During the 1920s and 30s, designers in Hanoi began re-designing the Ngu Than.  The most famous designer was Cat Tuong, also known as Le Mur.  This new design was particularly for women.  The designers used some of the new French or western design influences.  But, what they designed was not western.  Instead, it was a modern version of Vietnam’s traditional clothing - what people today call the Ao Dai.

Voice 2 

The modern Ao Dai became very popular in parts of Vietnam after the end of French rule. The Ao Dai was most popular from 1960-1975. After 1975, Vietnamese women wore the Ao Dai less often. The Vietnamese economy was struggling and most people did not think the Ao Dai was necessary.

Voice 1 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Ao Dai experienced a new growth in popularity.  In 1989, a Ho Chi Minh City newspaper began the first “Miss Ao Dai” competition.  Sixteen thousand people attended the competition. But this was only the beginning of the Ao Dai’s new popularity.  From Ho Chi Minh City, Miss Ao Dai competitions spread around the world - to places like Long Beach, California in the United States and the city of Toronto, Canada.  Today, there are many countries that have large populations of Vietnamese immigrants.  When these people moved out of Vietnam, they brought the Ao Dai with them.

Voice 2 

Originally, each woman’s Ao Dai was custom made.  Ao Dai makers sewed each Ao Dai using only a needle, thread and her hands. A woman visited her Ao Dai maker many times to make sure her Ao Dai fit perfectly. Today, factories have begun to produce Ao Dais in large numbers.  These Ao Dais are sold in Vietnam and around the world. The export of the Ao Dai has influenced global clothing designers as far away as Paris, France and New York City.

Voice 1 

Unlike many forms of traditional clothing, the Ao Dai is still worn by many Vietnamese women. And wearing the Ao Dai has special meaning.  Kimlai is a Vietnamese American writer.  On her website, she explained what the Ao Dai meant to her as a child.

Voice 3 

“I remember when I was a little girl.  I would walk into my mom and dad’s rooms.  Behind the door hung long pieces of fabric.  I knew these beautiful pieces of material were going to be made into Ao Dais...I remember staring up at my mom when she wore her Ao Dai. I would think how beautiful she looked. I could not wait until I could have an Ao Dai for myself.”

Voice 2 

We asked Vietnamese Spotlight listeners when Vietnamese women wear the Ao Dai.  Listener Cong Le explained,

Voice 4 

“Women usually wear the Ao Dai during official holiday celebrations.”

Voice 1

Listener Trinh Hoang said,

Voice 5 

“I think all women in Vietnam wear the Ao Dai at least one time - when they get married.”

Voice 2 

And Nguyen Tran told us,

Voice 6 

“When I studied in high school, I wore the Ao Dai six days each week.”

Voice 1

In Vietnam, women wear many different colors of Ao Dai. Usually younger women wear light colors.  And older women wear darker or bolder colors. Spotlight listener Tuan Anh  Nguyen explained,

Voice 7 

“Every different Ao Dai color and design shows the beauty and character of the person wearing it. For example, students wear a white Ao dai.  This shows purity, innocence, and young beauty. A woman may wear a pink Ao dai at her wedding, when she marries.  This shows graceful beauty.”

Voice 2 

The Ao Dai continues to be popular in Vietnam. And people in Vietnam are proud to share the Ao Dai with people around the world.  As Spotlight listener Tuan Anh Nguyen writes,

Voice 7 

“The Ao Dai is the pride of the nation.  It is the pride of every woman, every time she puts it on.”

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called “Ao Dai: Vietnam’s Traditional Clothing.” 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What is the traditional clothing in your country?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
khicon952005
said on November 12, 2012

right. Ao Dai is very beautiful. That’s a special culture in vietnam. I love to see a girl wearing Ao Dai. they are very gentle. I love my Vietnamese culture

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Phong
said on November 12, 2012

i’m always proud of my traiditional clothings.It’s so beautiful.Ao dai symbolize for VietNamese culture which imbued with national identity.

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ehsun
said on November 12, 2012

Most of your programs were about Vietnam! Please share more programs about another countries and nations
Thanks

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dinhlao
said on November 12, 2012

i am vietnamese and i proud of my cuontry culture…:) my mother has 1 “Ao dai”, my older sister has 1 ” ao dai” and my grandmother has 1 AO DAI…hehehe i think every vietnamese women has a ” ao dai” in their life. Vietnam is a small country but we are very friendlly and gentle.
i hope spotlight has more program about vietnamese culture and asian culture….
FINALLY, I JUST SAY THAT ” I LOVE SPOTLIGHT SO MUCH”

MY NAME LÊ ĐÌNH LÀO, FROM ĐÀ LẠT CITY, VIỆT NAM, where spotlight had visited…:)))

Robin Basselin's avatar
Robin Basselin
said on November 12, 2012

Ehsun-  Thank you for your comment.  If you have particular program ideas that you are interested in, you can e-mail them to us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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nature187_vn
said on November 13, 2012

I think every country will have traditional costumes,and Ao Dai is one of costumes of Vietnam,I proud of about them.In by side we have so much traditional costumes as:Ao ba ba,Ao tu than…Thanks program’s story and hope Spotlight can share more traditinal costumes of various countries on the world.That is really amazing!

Dzung.vn's avatar
Dzung.vn
said on November 13, 2012

Dear Spotlight program makers,

I have just found a mistake in sentence that Kimlai said: “Behind the door hung long pieces of fabric” the letters hung long must be write Hung Long because it is the name of producer, so it must be write capital-letter at the beginning of the sentence.
For example, every one in the world know famous iPhone products of Apple company. so it is better if it be write Apple not write apple.

Thank you so much!

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georgino
said on November 13, 2012

waoo ..this gown is beautiful I respect and admire your culture
These clothing are special for vietnamese women, very well for the designers
thanks spotlight for show me the customes of the others countries.

blessings friends

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georgino
said on November 13, 2012

For Dzung.vn friend I think that the error is of him, because hung is in past form this is not a proper noun. well If I am in the mistake sorry.
Thanks.

Long Pham's avatar
Long Pham
said on November 14, 2012

I love Ao Dai costumes of Vietnam. Because of it was honoring the cultural beauty of Vietnamese women. It looks very beautiful and charming. Ao Dai costumes were worn by the world women, the world community recognized this beauty value, it has been well-known all over the world, so I proud of about this.

Thanks the program share this for us.
Bests,

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rosyantigone
said on November 15, 2012

woa, so amazing and so proud of Viet Nam cultutre and people.
and i realize many VietNamese also read SPOTLIGHT same me everyday.
this is a good method to study english. i hope in the near future, english do not obstacle with Vietnamese. We will commicate confidently, fluently,  automaticaly and integrate
with global

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rosyantigone
said on November 15, 2012

i agree with georgino

here, hung long is not nouns, maybe hung is Verb. so if lacks subject?

0's avatar
0
said on November 21, 2012

In response to Dzung.vn, other listeners here are correct. Hung long is not a name in this sentence. Instead, hung is the past tense of the verb “to hang”. The sentence is reversed, so the subject is at the end. This makes it more confusing! Here is another way to say the same thing: “Long pieces of fabric hung behind the door.”

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HOLOHALA
said on December 14, 2012

I am Vietnamese. I proud of it and also i pround of my culture, traditional, historical and specially beautiful natural which have so much most place such as : HaLong Bay, Nha Trang pearl, Mui Ne sea. Thanks spotlight about this story!

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on December 11, 2013

beautiful girl

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huudinh.bmt@gmail.com
said on August 17, 2016

whem we talk about the “Ao dai”,the Viet nam women is very proud to wear them. They feel very charming and spendid and they are self confident to walk on the street or any stage. The"Ao dai” is Viet Nam tradition dress and symbol. The Viet Nam women always have some “Ao dai” in your wardrobe. At At present, there are more kind of “ao dai”, but i like to look at the women wearing the Viet nam tradition dress, which is called the “Ao dai”.

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NTTCNQH
said on August 18, 2016

i love all the audio about my country.yeah Ao Dai is Viet Nam traditional clothing

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bac
said on August 18, 2016

I love Ao Dai. It is my country’s traditional clothing. Any women wear Ao Dai, they become very beautiful and gentle.

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on August 18, 2016

Nice cloth and beautiful girl Vietnamese.
Actually that the traditional clothing in my country (Yemen) is not one form but it’s deffirent from areas. In my area (capital city and around) the traditional clothing, for men, is garment and knife across a man while women cover themselves (all bodies) by traditional black cloth called “Sharshaf” that similar women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.
God bless you

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Carlos Dóro
said on August 25, 2016

Very interesting to learn a little about the culture of other people. The beauty of all Dai enhances the beauty of Vietnamese women even more. I particularly like very much to learn about other cultures, thanks spothlight for this opportunity.

Avatar Spotlight
Quynhvanftu
said on September 18, 2016

I am very proud of my traditional clothing-ao dai. Thank you spotlight for your writing.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 21, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Friday 21, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Robin Basselin, Ryan Geertsma, and Mark Drenth:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

Here in my country Brazil there are many types of traditional clothing.
For example: For a business woman, she usually wears clothing with light color and without ornaments on it.
For a business man, he usually wears a suit and tie with light colors such as: Brown, grey, blue, green, and white colors.
For a ordinary person, she or he usually wears jeans, sneakers, color clothes, and others.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil