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Áo bà ba (Vietnamese: [ʔǎːw ɓâː ɓaː], translates to lớn "Grandma's shirt") is a traditional southern Vietnamese garment. The top part which covers the torso is called the áo ("shirt" in English). It is mostly associated with rural southern Vietnam, especially in the Mekong Delta. Often worn as a top and bottom phối, the áo bà phụ vương is typically a long-sleeved, button-down silk shirt with a scooped neck, paired with silk pants. The shirt is long and split at the waist sides, forming two flaps customarily with two pockets.
The term áo bà phụ vương might be translated as "the shirt of madam" (aunt-like/grandmother figure) Ba (a woman who is a third-born, or second-born in the South, of her parents).
According to lớn writer Sơn Nam, the áo bà phụ vương shirt first appeared during the 19th century, the name originated from the dress of the Baba Nyonya, ethnic Chinese from Penang, Malaysia.
Historical roots and design
While the three-flap tunic has tribal and folk (long-lived, extended family communities in the countryside) roots, the áo bà phụ vương most likely did not formalize as a distinctive garment of its own until after the appearance of the tunic. It was slightly shorter kêu ca the tunic and made of lighter fabric. The áo bà ba's widespread appearance was mainly due to lớn the broadening knowledge of Vietnamese culture. The garment arrived when the lower class became an economic entity as they were elsewhere worldwide in the latter half of the 1800s.
This is due to lớn the progression of materials used, designs, and their appearance in folk art. The three-flap tunic is more likely to lớn be made of comparatively coarser material such as linen cốt tông and animal material such as wool in the colder part of the country. The áo bà phụ vương, on the other hand, was invariably made of silk or, until more modern synthetic fibers such as polyester, silk-like material. The áo bà phụ vương may have a miniature accent embroidery but would likely never be of jacquard weaving. Jacquard weaving was associated with the upper class, the aristocracy, and Chinese tradition, for its ability to lớn inlay intricate designs, motifs, and metallic colors. 
It is not clear when either the name of the garment or its distinctive presence arose among the cultures living in the region in the present country of Vietnam. Folk tradition suggests a definite Chinese influence due to lớn China's 1,000-plus years of dominance over peoples to lớn the south. Since the dawn of photography, the áo bà phụ vương, lượt thích most other garments identifiable of mainland Southeast Asia—Cambodia, Laos, Burma—has maintained its basic shape for a century and a half into present times. Chinese dress line might have influenced the traditional Vietnamese costume. Except, the áo bà phụ vương does not have an upright Mandarin collar but an open neck and is not closed at the shoulder but is either a pull-top or has buttons along the front. Another key difference to lớn distinguish the áo bà phụ vương as a particularly Vietnamese variation or innovation, setting it apart from the Chinese silhouette with a casual glance, is the buttons would not be knotted cords or frog (fastening) but plain and most often round lượt thích on Western garments. 
As the Vietnamese people, a population rather kêu ca a political mass, were beginning to lớn associate with each other as a people apart and distinct from the Chinese, through the course of the Indochina Wars but also decades earlier throughout the worldwide turmoil of World War I and its aftermath, the áo bà phụ vương grew in increased prominence through sheer ubiquity and economic necessity. Usually consisting of a solid color top and bottom, though not necessarily in the same color, the simplicity and versatility of the áo bà phụ vương outlasted many other traditional garments. It is the garment of the countryside, of the working people, of the lower class and the common people. As with denim jeans in the West, the áo bà ba's no-frills design worn by the simple folk outlasted many other trends and is considered a classic.
The áo bà ba is regarded as the two-piece ensemble upon which the popularised áo lâu năm is derived. The áo lâu năm reincorporated Chinese designs with a Vietnamese flair, while the áo bà phụ vương has long come into its own as a very Vietnamese garment. The áo lâu năm gained a resurgence in popularity during and after the Vietnam War for its "feminisation" of warfare and overall universal appeal, while the áo bà phụ vương, seen in horrific images linked with death and warfare, gained a misunderstood reputation. The áo bà phụ vương is Vietnamese in modern times and has regained respect for its close relationship with the culture and civilization of Vietnam rather kêu ca a war.
Wear and appearance
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For females, the optional princess seams (two vertical seams in the front, optional diagonal ones from under the arms, up to lớn the lower breast) is likely a more modern refinement following similar Western trends after World War II—after the Flapper Girl period. From the historical record through photographs, the use of buttons, which became the standard, arrived at about the same time or not long after buttons were more cheaply available and widespread in materials other kêu ca mother of pearl, cuttlebone, ivory, and the lượt thích. 
Metal sew-on snap buttons are still preferred as a cost-effective yet elegant middle ground between traditionally more expensive natural materials and chintzy modern plastics and polymers.
While the áo bà ba is still traditionally considered a long-sleeve garment, it was always perfectly normal to lớn roll them up for work, for craftwork and skilled labor, for child caring, and certainly for cooking and household chores. In the deep south (south of Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City), it was possible to lớn find women wearing short-sleeve variations due to lớn the sub-tropical climate well into the 1950s before the arrival of American troops. 
Through the Vietnam War, particularly through the eye of American truyền thông and cameras, Vietnamese people were portrayed to lớn favor wearing "black pajamas" all day. The Black part is atypical of the áo bà ba's history, as field workers will often wear darker color to lớn hide the grime, as part of the nature of their work. 
The bottom are simple trousers typically of an elastic band in later times, more traditionally a buttoned waistband or pull-string waistband. The trunks are loose and flowing with a small amount of flaring but can also be cut straight.
Great care is taken to lớn make a hand-made ensemble of one's own tailoring. Contrary to lớn the notion that the ensemble is simply pajamas as though it were prêt-à-porter bought off the rack, part of a family's pride is the ability to lớn provide everyone with individualized sets suited to lớn each family member's personality and tastes. It is made of delicate silk and made with care and attention, being worn daily rather kêu ca merely on special occasions.
Sets are often given as gifts for Tết (New Year's). Parents glow with pride to lớn know their young ones, from the time their children can walk and talk, can go out in public in a smart ensemble. Wearing the ensemble holds the cultural sense that one has respect for others and for oneself, is friendly and personable. It is not a consumer garment but for living with others under the same climate. Unlike Western imports, the áo bà phụ vương signifies "I know who I am, a person who cares." Wearing the ensemble signifies one is not lazy, a slouch, or discourteous; it shows one has manners and approachable.
Áo bà phụ vương as men's wear has declined with increased urbanization and exposure to lớn more industrialized nations, the Vietnamese men are now more inclined to lớn wear westernized clothing such as T-shirt and slacks due to lớn the volume and availability of the clothes. Vietnamese women in áo bà phụ vương are still romanticized in art and literature, most likely due to lớn the delicacy of the fabric. 
The rehabilitation of the áo bà ba as a classic dress, since about the turn of the century and the rise of mass electronic communication, places it back to lớn its heritage of having been the dominant daily dress of the countryside. Today, it would be incorrect to lớn refer to lớn it as "pajamas," and it would be unacceptable to lớn refer to lớn it as a "costume", just as it would be incorrect to lớn say that a business suit is a costume. It is the dress of a way of life and is not considered "fashion" in the ordinary sense. 
The garment's simplicity and versatility has contributed to lớn its popularity, as it is used by an overwhelming amount of the population, whether in rural or urban areas today. It can be worn while laboring or lounging, fashionable quarter-sleeve or traditional long-sleeve. Modern versions come in an endless array of different designs, colors, and embroidery. It is practical, comfortable, and the elemental design is well suited for Vietnam's climate. The áo bà ba has transitioned well into modern Vietnamese fashion and continues to lớn hold a natural presence in almost every aspect of Vietnamese life, culture, fashion, and the arts.
Xem thêm: nụ cười dọc
- Áo dài
- Áo uỷ thác lĩnh
- Áo tứ thân
- Culture of Vietnam
- History of Vietnam
- Vietnamese clothing
- Media related to lớn Áo bà phụ vương at Wikimedia Commons
- VietnamJournal - Vietnamese Traditional Costumes