The XQ Embroidery Village in Dalat
A couple kilometers north of the city center, we found the XQ Embroidery Village, a bizarre mashup of a gallery, factory, museum and theme park. While exploring the village, we also felt somewhat mashed-up. Were we supposed to be confused, amused, creeped out, or impressed? Because we were feeling all those things at the same time.
Even after having spent an hour there, I’m still not sure how to describe the Embroidery Village, or even whether to recommend a visit. It’s like its own neighborhood, made up of dozens of houses all interconnected, labyrinth-like, to one another.
And there is embroidery. In the most random places, we would encounter women set on benches, working intently on their latest projects. Walking down the stairs of one shop/gallery/hallway, we found a sterile white room filled with ladies whipping their needles about with frightening speed. This was marked “Do Not Enter”, but I don’t think I would have wanted to.
Besides the random encounters with embroiderers, there were also museum-like aspects to the village. Haha, I say “museum”, when I could just as easily say “freakhouse”. What’s the more appropriate description for a room titled “We Were Buried Prematurely Deceased Mother When Her Heart Is Still Beating”?
We also discovered the “Room for Sealing Off Dream of Embroiderer”, the “Ladder Looking for the Soul”, and a bench for “Sweeting in the Summer Day”. One room was dedicated to a twin pair of graves in a small basement. And after hearing groans emanating from a side room close to the “Place Where to Meet Creators Because the Unique World”, I found a “Portrait of Person Infected by Virus Fanatical Behind His Door”.
Say what?! Poor translation only goes so far in explaining this stuff. I can’t believe that, had the translation been more skillful, the “Portrait of Person Infected by Virus Fanatical Behind His Door” would have made perfect sense.
As silly as this place was, there were also things we enjoyed about it on a non-ironic level. Many of the embroidered works were truly amazing, including some that looked like photographs, from even a short distance. There are clearly some true artists at work in this unlikely medium. A couple rooms were dedicated to strange and thought-provoking works from established Vietnamese masters.
Should you visit? If you enjoy the bizarre, then it’s a definite “yes”. And the chance to watch the embroiderers at work was also worthwhile. Just be warned, the experience might stick with you. Every night since having visited the XQ Embroidery Village, my nightmares have taken me to the place where “we were buried prematurely deceased mother when her heart was still beating”. I still don’t know what it means, but I know it terrifies me.