I often say how honored I am to be allowed to capture my clients -deeply- meaningful memories. This story is no exception. This is Rit. Before the birth of her baby she asked me to document her wearing her traditional Montagnard dress while holding her son. A few short months later we did just that. Just as the sun was rising, we met in an open grassy field that had the essence of the land that surrounded the village that she grew up in.
Montagnard means "mountain people."
Rit moved to the states from the Central Highlands of Vietnam seven years ago. She, described how her dress came from the Bahnar tribe, a group of Montagnard people that live in the rural mountains of Vietnam. She eloquently described how it was traditional for the women of her tribe to know how to make her own clothes from scratch. The start of the process was to gather tree bark and cotton. The thread is then spun from the cotton and then dyed from tree's leaves and bark. Traditionally, red or white. The thread is then woven on looms made from bamboo and trees surrounding their village. It typically takes about a week to finish weaving enough "khan" or fabric to make one dress. Once the fabric has been woven, the dress is then cut out and lovingly hand sewn together. She added that "now, they don't have to make the thread from scratch as it's available at the marketplace." Native people can identify the tribe you are from by the woven pattern on the fabric. This particular dress was sent to Rit by her aunt who wove and constructed her garment.
Rit met her husband Tuan, also from Vietnam, after she moved to Washington and started attending ESL class. They weren't very fond of each other, at first. Then, two years later they fell in love on Rit's birthday. Shortly after they got married Rit found out she was pregnant with Jadon.