It has long been said that Ao Ba Ba becomes a symbol of the gentle soul and the elegant beauty of Vietnamese women, especially in the southern rural areas of Vietnam. Compared with other Vietnamese traditional costume, this special casual wear is assumed to be simpler and easier to make.
Overview of Vietnam ao ba ba
It simply consists of a pair of silk pants and a long-sleeved shirt with two flaps split equally at the two sides of the waist. The front part of the shirt is usually decorated with a middle button line and two pockets at the bottom. This costume is made of silk or soft fabrics and has versatile design varying with the colors used to make this attire. Dark colors, such as black and brow are used for working clothes. Bright and colorful outfits are for special occasions like festivals and cultural performances. In the Southern countryside, “Ao Ba Ba” is usually combined with “Khan Ran” – a long Vietnamese black and white checkered scarf made of round material and conical hat. In the past, Vietnamese peasants used to wear this costume when working in their farms.
Origin of ao ba ba
Ao ba ba is a form of traditional clothes of Vietnamese people which is the most famous one for the southerners. About the origin of ao ba ba, there are a lot of theories to explain for the birth of this costume, but all of it is just predictable. Some people believe that ao ba ba resembles to a kind of men’s shirt that Le Quy Don – a famous scientist of Vietnam– obliged people to wear at the end of the 18th century. Hence, other people trust on the opinion of Son Nam – a Vietnamese writer, he said that ao ba ba has the origin from a kind of short shirt of Hoa people in Malay peninsula. But there is no exact clue to prove for both two theories. Finally, people bend on a theory that related to a legend. The legend told that in the past, there was a poor family living in the southern Vietnam. While everybody in the village wore ao dai, they only had an ao dai to wear all year round. The ao dai was old and torn, they cut the flap of ao dai to fill the torn pace, then their ao dai was turned into ao ba ba with two short flaps. It was very convenient to work and move, so people around started to imitate their shirt and ao ba ba spread out the southern part of Vietnam and moved to the center and north.
Evolution of ao ba ba
A traditional set of ao ba ba consists of a pair of silk pants, and collarless and long-sleeve shirt. There is a button line in the middle of the shirt and a cut at the waist creating two flaps. In the past, the color of ao ba ba was often the dark colors such as black, and brown which was mixed with the black silk pants.
Nowadays, there are many new versions of ao ba ba made some changes of design and color. The modern ao ba ba is more fit to the body’s women, and two front pockets are removed.
Ao ba ba usages
Because of its convenience and airy, ao ba ba is very suitable for the peasants and farmers who often do heavy works, especially in the hot and humid region as the southern Vietnam, ao ba ba is used by most of people when working or staying home. They often wear ao ba ba with dark colors such as black, or brown while working on the fields, and the colorful ao ba ba in the occasions.
When coming to southern Vietnam, you will definitely obsess with the images of young and beautiful girls in ao ba ba, non la – conical hat, and khan ran– which is a type of traditional scarf of southern Vietnamese people– saling the boat along the river. It is a specific image that you realize it is a real Vietnam.
Unlike ao dai-which is only used in the special occasions, ao ba ba nowadays is still popular in the rural areas in the southern part of Vietnam. Besides that, this shirt is a kind of item for performances and an iconic item for the beauty of southern Vietnamese women.
Nowadays, it is no longer regularly used as it was in the old days, but ao ba ba still be used in special occasions like festivals and remains a crucial part in the cultural and spiritual life of Vietnamese people. Most of tourists coming to Vietnam try on an ao ba ba once to feel how beautiful and comfortable it is. If you have any question about Vietnamese traditional costume, please contact us. Thank you!