Tai Chi in Vietnam in a dress hand-woven in East Timor

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Morning tai chi
Morning tai chi

At the crack of dawn one overcast morning in Halong Bay, I did my very first Tai Chi class on the deck of our junk. It was so humid we could barely take photos from the lens of the camera fogging up.

I’d been waiting for the perfect opportunity to wear this beautiful hand-made dress, and Tai Chi was it. Created by Indonesian-based label Warriors of the Divine, the dress is one-of-a-kind and made by women from a village in East Timor using traditional weaving techniques.

Morning tai chi
Morning tai chi

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The breast panel is woven antique ‘tais’ – a technique performed solely by women that’s passed down from generation to generation with patterns and motifs reproduced from memory. It’s a painstaking and backbreaking labour process that takes many hours of dedicated work. The tradition allows the poverty-stricken women of East Timor a rare form of self-expression, with a percentage of each dress sale going back to the women to help their village.

tai chi class
tai chi class

Just as a side note, this is not a regular hairstyle for me. My bag containing my shampoo and conditioner ended up in my friend’s room, which I couldn’t access, leaving me to wash my hair with the amenities provided on our boat. I have super high maintenance hair as it is, so going to bed with wet tangled hair and waking up to 100% humidity for a sunrise shoot was not the smartest decision. The only thing I could do, was revisit my primary school days with braided pigtails.

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