Yum Creative

Yum Wrap – Irregular musings on film, art and media

Mrs Ly Ta May King – it fit you can buy

by | Jun 24, 2013 | Creative Media, Erin M McCuskey |

Women of Ta Phin 4: Mrs Ly Ta May King – A series of images and tales from Viet Nam.

This is Mrs Ly Ta May King and her baby son Tan Lao San. We walked into the market at Ta Phin and Ly Ta May King greeted us warmly. “It fit you can buy, it fit you can buy.”

She tells us how difficult it is to sell her craft-work in Ta Phin. The women of Ta Phin spend hour upon hour embroidering their utterly incredible pieces, yet many are forced to follow tourists by day and work at night. That’s when they aren’t working in the fields or tending their families every need.

As tourists it’s difficult to be followed by women begging your attention, your business as they call it. So tourists end up buying rubbish for cheap and tossing it as soon as they can. The craft of the women of Ta Phin is fine craftswomanship yet the way it is often sold on the street depletes its value.

The women of Ta Phin have set up a market so that tourists might visit and wander the stalls, have the time to appreciate the incredible skill that goes into making each piece. But the market is small and some cannot wait and continue to chase the tourists.

Mrs Ly Ta May King says if the market is bigger then all the women can sit.

Such a simple request, to sit while you work. She also says they can look after each other, selling the work of other women when they are forced to work in the field. Such a simple request for help. She is not the only one telling us the market needs to be bigger, so all the women can fit, can sit.

We decide that on our return home we will raise money, through an exhbition of our works, to make the market a bigger building as the women have asked. To date we have raised over $1300.

We can’t wait to return to Ta Phin and to these amazing women. To sit, to talk, to learn. Meet you at the market.



We will be releasing more images of the women of Ta Phin on this blog, you can sign up in the form at top right.

Mrs Ly May Chan

Ly Lo May

Mrs Ly Man May

Ly Ta May

Mrs Ly Ta May King


  1. Lou

    As a tourist sometimes it’s so hard to know what is real and what’s not. I experienced this in touristy areas in Thailand and even in Sydney! Thinking that I was talking to the makers of the beautiful products, only to move on to the next market and find exactly the same products. It’s a bit intimidating being approached and chased for business at the markets, and we found ourselves practically running through the markets having “quick glances and never stopping to browse”. But if the work is genuine and the people are genuine I think it would be a completely beautiful experience just like these women.

    Keep us posted on future fundraisers for them 🙂

  2. Erin

    Thanks Lou, it is really uncomfortable isn’t it. These women are working so hard to make the most beautiful clothes and bags, anything we can do to help is great.

  3. Caz FIlmer

    Such a beautiful photo!

  4. Erin

    Thanks Caz, it was a great project that resulted in much creative media content. We are going back in November for a catch up with the women.

  5. julian silverman

    Look forward to the next instalments of this beautiful presentation. You have enabled the women of this village to tell their stories in a way that you have been able to record and represent with great feeling, humour and empathy. Your work is really appreciated-and I’m sure not by the people all the village.


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