Time-honored techniques and rich visual storytelling form the core of new Batik (traditional painting and dyeing) classes at Avana Retreat, a resort set amid the homelands of the Hmong community. Led by a local Hmong artist, the complimentary and deeper-dive paid options are held at the property’s Stilt House, an on-site museum, to help guests connect with the local customs and traditions.
“If the waterfall is our property’s heartbeat and the spa is the soul, then our Stilt House is the spirit,” said Mr. Vu Huy, founder of Avana Retreat.
The same visual designer whose work graces the resort’s suites will lead sessions that introduce a beeswax art and indigo dyeing technique that has been used for generations in the surrounding highlands.
Complimentary 60-minute sessions are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with guests learning about the beeswax painting process. Each participant, under the guidance of the teacher, uses beeswax to create their own unique patterns or they can use traditional Hmong designs on a 30 x 30cm cotton cloth.
The paid 2-2.5 hour class is a deeper and more hands-on experience that is available by reservation-only. It’s a more comprehensive introduction to the history, the patterns, the tools, and the technique. In addition guests usher their work through each step of the process, from melting the beeswax to creating the patterns on the cloth, to learning how to use the indigo dye and dyeing the fabric themselves. Each participant keeps the 45 x 45cm cloth that is created.
“While art is core to any culture among a community without a written language for generations, art becomes so much more,” said Huy. “Stories, dreams, myths, are all expressed through Batik in a way that words cannot capture.”
The location of the classes also inspires cultural exploration. The 50-year-old Stilt House, which was standing on the land now occupied by the retreat, was dismantled and rebuilt in a new location on the resort’s grounds.
It was then transformed into a museum to introduce the lives, culture and traditions of the local Thai, Muong, and Hmong ethnic groups. Walls and glass cases filled with tools, clothing, art and jewelry, tell the story of the people who live in the region. The Batik session takes place in the airy space beneath the museum.
Avana Retreat also offers a tour of a nearby Hmong craft village where guests can watch this intricate art being created with a deeper knowledge of the story behind it.
Private workshops cost from USD50 to USD75 per person and are only available to in-house guests. For more information visit: https://avanaretreat.com/
Batik is a traditional method of dyeing cloth with wax and dye in order to create intricate, beautiful designs. It has been practiced for centuries in Indonesia, Malaysia, India and other countries in the Southeast Asian region. The technique involves applying melted wax to certain parts of the cloth using a brush or copper blocks. Once cooled, the fabric is then dyed. After it dries, the waxed portions are removed and a unique print is revealed. Batik is often used to make garments and artwork that can be admired as cultural pieces or simply enjoyed by those who appreciate fine craftsmanship. It’s an art form that stands out in its use of bold colors and striking patterns – one that will remain timeless for many years to come!
Photo: Bao Khanh