In most Vietnamese people memories sedge mats were used in everyday life, from household appliances to cultural and spiritual moments. The expert craftsmanship and dedication are shown in every product.
Mai Van Doan, a local person from Xuan Ninh District, Xuan Truong Commune, Nam Dinh said: "Our elders have practiced the art of sedge weaving craft since the founding of our commune in 1913. This year marks the 104 years of sedge mats weaving practice, the craft was also listed in our village’s yearbook."
Xuan Duc village has been recognized as a traditional craft village since 2012, since then the number of households making sedge mats has grown to 900 with more than 400 sedge making machines. Each household consumes more than 4 tonnes of sedge to create approximately 2,000 sedge mats of each kind and these products are sold throughout Vietnam. This has provided constant and stable income for many people. However, many people have abandoned this craft for low paying wages.
Mai Thi Hong, a craftsman in Xuan Ninh District, Xuan Truong Commune, Nam Dinh told reporters: "To make one of these mats it would take 3 people but we only receive 50,000 vnd each."
The decrease of sedge growing crop and income are the main obstacles for the development of sedge mat weaving community. The number of sedge mat making households now drops to around 200 households.
According to Pham Manh Thuong, Vice president of Xuan Ninh District, Xuan Truong Commune, Nam Dinh, sedge mats were now competing with other products made from bamboo and synthetic materials on the market. People nowadays preferred those products than sedge mats therefore it is hard for sedge mats to find stable foothold in the market.
The artisanal village is now losing its ground; the older generation of craftsmen is leaving the scene while the younger generation no longer takes interest in the craft for fear of not being able to sustain their lives. The question of keeping this traditional craft alive still hangs in the air.