An increase in imports into the local Vietnamese market is threatening traditional embroidery, which ethnic Dao women are desperately trying to preserve.

Lo Ta May, 29, from Lao Cai province, first started doing embroidery when her mother handed the tradition down to her, the Borneo Bulletin reported. Embroidery is very prominent in Ta Phin, the village where May is from, which is home to about 3,000 people from the Mong and Red Dao ethnic groups.

She said Dao women learn how to embroider early in their lives and if they can’t embroider, it is considered a shame to the family. She also said embroidery plays a factor in a woman’s marriage.

With the help of her relatives, May is now working on a social project that will help preserve the craft of embroidery. The products are displayed and sold at souvenir shops in Sa Pa and Le Chalet Vietnam in Hanoi, which is a social charity project offering a new perspective on traditional ethnic art with unique gifts and trinkets available for purchase.

Professor Nguyen Van Huy, a former director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, said the preservation of such handicrafts has helped improve the economic value of regions, as well as preserve their traditions and culture.

Other researchers and intellectuals also say that local authorities should cooperate with ethnic communities and boost the coverage of their products, which can subsequently boost tourism.