Hmong in America: Keeping in Touch with Old Roots

Written by John Murphy

 

Picture111

Have you heard of the Hmong people? The Hmong are one of the ethnic groups referred to as the Miao in China- the name is sometimes interchangeable. Did you know that there are actually a large group of Hmong people living in America? Many of the Hmong in America were initially resettled after the Vietnam War, fleeing as refugees from a homeland that had been rendered unsafe. Initially, in 1975, only around 3500 Hmong people were granted asylum in the United States, but by 1980 there were 30,000 Hmong people living in the United States. The number of Hmong refugees in America slowed for a bit during the early 1980s but increased again between 1987 and 1994– at this time 56,000 Hmong refugees were accepted into the United States. As of 2018, the Hmong population in the United States is around 281,000. In comparison, there are around 9.4 million Hmong people living in China (China is the country with the largest Hmong population in the world). Needless to say, the Hmong population in America is small, but they are still a very significant ethnic minority in the United States, and they represent a unique and fascinating culture.

Picture222

Initially, Hmong refugees in the United States were dispersed throughout the country by various organizations and often placed in poorer neighborhoods, which at the time consisted of primarily African American residents. Over time, however, the Hmong people generally moved together and consolidated so they could be around other Hmong people. Nowadays, the highest concentration of Hmong people in America is in the states of California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  St. Paul, Minnesota is interesting in that it has the most Hmong people per capita in the United States (roughly 10% of St. Paul is made up of Hmong people). Why is this? The cost of living in St. Paul is much lower than some other parts of the country, and jobs (such as factory jobs) were more readily available. So, living in St. Paul allowed Hmong families, who were disadvantaged in a capitalist society, to afford the necessities for a successful life.

Picture333

Hmong Americans at the University of Wisconsin

 

Hmong Americans have historically faced many challenges. However, the new generation of Hmong Americans is educated and displaying a large amount of social mobility. One struggle for Hmong Americans is the question keeping in touch with their traditional culture. Many young Hmong Americans feel like they need to identify with American culture in order to fit in, and that a lot of traditional ideas are incompatible with modern society. However, while many young Hmong Americans feel it is necessary to reform some of their traditional ideals (e.g. more rights for women and no teenage brides,) they still keep in touch with their old culture by celebrating holidays and dressing up in traditional garb. While there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate poverty Hmong American communities, ultimately, the story of the Hmong in America is an uplifting and inspiring one and truly representative of the famous ideal of the ‘American Dream’!

 

 

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Advertisements

Hmong Miao Embroidered Mei Tai Baby Carrier – Art? Yes, but Love is More

Because of the elaborate design and incredible embroidery techniques, baby carriers of Hmong Miao ethnic people are now prized by primitive artists and tribal arts textile enthusiasts.

Hmong Miao women living in Southwest China are exquisite creators of textiles. From the age of 5 or 6, they begin to learn needlework, continuing through to their teens. At that time, they make their wedding dresses, baby carriers, and baby clothes. When they reach middle age, they continue to make clothes for their descendants, and they never stop sewing and embroidering.

 

Expression of Love through Baby Carrier

Embroidery was a symbol of femininity and feminine accomplishment in Hmong Miao ethnic tribes. Every stitch and thread of a mother’s embroidery work on children’s hats, bibs, shoes, clothes, and baby carriers is the deepest expression of a mother’s affectionate embrace to her child.

Baby Carrier Baby Carrier

A Miao/Hmong friend once told me that the most touching scene he had ever observed was that of his mother sewing and mending for her children under the pale glow of a lamp. This memory echoes a well-known poem by Meng Jiao, the great poet in Tang Dynasty (AD 751- AD 814).

Thread in the hands of a loving mother

Turns to clothes on the traveling son

Baby Carrier

With a unique emotional message, the baby carrier expresses the love of a mother for her child and her hopes for the future. It is a symbolic extension of the umbilical cord. A line from a poem states parents willingly work as hard as oxen for their children. Baby carrier is a testament to the dedication of the mother to the child.

 

Always Ready to Be a Good Mother

 

Hmong Miao women lavish particular attention on their baby carriers. But many carriers are not created after they get married or have a baby. Prior to getting married, a Miao/Hmong girl begins designing and making a baby carrier, baby clothes and wedding clothes. The entire process of raising silkworms, producing silk, embroidering, doing patchwork, dyeing, and designing are very refined.

It is said that, Women learn to make batik and embroidery from an early age, and they achieve their social status in this fashion. The girl who can weave and embroider special patterns is seen to be hardworking and extraordinary intelligent, and she will become the most sought after bride in the community. Therefore, in some villages, a girl may wear her baby carrier to market events, showing off her work to potential suitors. Her handiwork is an artistic representation of her individuality and creativity.

Hmong Miao Antique Mei Tai Baby Carrier
 Baby Carrier  Baby Carrier  Baby Carrier

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Stunning Features of Miao Hmong Costume

Miao costume The most rich and colorful attire of the Miao Hmong people is found in the south of China. Every different branch of the Miao Hmong people brings with them a different kind of costume. Their designs range from the exquisitely gorgeous costumes of the Shidong area to the primitive and coarse ones of the Nandan area. These people are extremely talented in art, especially those living in the Guizhou province. Their embroidery works, batik and silver accessories are perfect examples of showing characteristics of Miao Hmong clothing art.

 

Techniques

 

Sophisticated weaving, dyeing, batik, pleating, embroidery, appliqué, interlacing, and quilting techniques are used to produce the costumes and have evolved to exceptional artistry. Traditionally, these skills are passed down from mother to daughter. Making a set of traditional Miao clothes usually takes a Miao Hmong woman 1 to 2 years. Moreover, as hand-made Miao Hmong costumes are sewn individually by Miao women in their homes, there are hardly two costumes with the same style or pattern.

 

Materials

 

The materials used in Miao Hmong costumes are hemp, cotton, silk and natural dyestuffs, including indigo. The geographic location of the villages has a great bearing on the materials from which the garments are made. Cotton is produced in western Hunan and eastern Guizhou and is traditionally used in the making of clothes. Wool is produced in the cold highland areas of north-eastern Yunnan and is used for making warm clothes in that region. Flax is grown is Sichuan, western Guizhou and south-eastern Yunnan and so linen is used in the manufacture of clothes.

 

Embroidery

 

Miao costume Embroidery techniques are varied. Satin stitch and cross-stitch are widely used. In some areas, such as south-east Guizhou, girls also use braid or plaited stitch. The satin stitched is bright and smooth with delicate, clear patterns of animals and plants. The cross-stitch is done on the reverse side of the fabric, the patterns appearing on the obverse side or on both sides. And the braid stitch is done by plaiting silk thread into braids, folding it on cloth and then fixing it with thread. The patterns of this embroidery create a striking decorative effect.

 

Batik

 

Miao costume Miao Hmong women are proficient in batik. Their colored batiks are renowned at home and abroad. The process is all manual and rather tedious, which involves drawing, waxing (with special wax knife using beeswax), dyeing and wax melting. This technique had been lost among Han Chinese but being kept very well by ethnic Miao Hmong. In fact, the United Nation (UN) reported that Miao Hmong costume is one of the world cultural relics, where batik plays a major role.

The motifs on batik are plain, naive, rough and powerful. Its shapes are boldly diversified and exaggeratedly drawn. Since Miao Hmong language do not have scripts, abstract symbols or totems are also commonly found.

 

Silver Ornaments

 

Miao costume Silver ornaments make up an important part of Miao Hmong dress. Miao believe silver can dispel evil spirits and is also a symbol of wealth. Miao Hmong families dress up their daughters with silver ornaments for special occasions. Silver worn by young women sometimes weighs more than 10 kg, which makes the whole body sparkling and shinning.

The Miao Hmong silver ornaments include silver hat, silver horns, silver combs, silver earrings, ear pendants, neckbands, necklaces, collars, bracelets and rings. Most of them are handmade by Miao Hmong silversmiths. Skills and techniques employed are casting, hammering, plaiting, cutting flowers and carving lines. Patterns are mostly dragon, phoenix, horses, flowers and birds, lively and delicately exquisite.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Spiritual Worshiper

The Miao are animists, shamanists and ancestor worshipers whose beliefs have been influenced by Chinese Taoism and Buddhism, and more recently Christianity.

 

Animist

 

Miao people believe everything in nature has spirits, which are mighty enough to control their lives. They worship the sun, moon, lightening, thunder, fire, rivers, caverns, large trees, huge stones, and animals.

Spirits can be benevolent or vicious, protecting or bringing harm to men. Every house has an altar to ancestral spirits of grandparents and other relatives who died natural deaths in old age. It is believed that at death, the soul divides into three parts, one of which returns to protect the household as an ancestral spirit. There is also concern with evil spirits and with ghosts of those who died in a bad way may cause illness and misfortune. So if a Miao dies a tragic death, his spirit is left behind to bring disaster to his family and village unless he is properly buried.

ritual ritual

 

Ancestor Worshiper

 

The Miao also worship their ancestors. They worship their ancestors so much that memorial ceremonies are very grand. Male household leaders are usually in charge of the worship of ancestor spirits and household gods. They dress up in special clothing when they preside over rites and employ chants, prayers and songs they have memorized. They are paid with food for their services. Shaman is called up to cure illnesses by bringing back lost souls. They play a key role in funeral rites and are called upon to explain misfortunes and preside over rites that protect households and villages.

ritual ritual

Elaborate rituals and sacrifices are used for protection. Shamans are responsible for identifying demons and instructing the afflicted in how to appease them. Some of their superstitious rituals were very expensive. In west Hunan and northeast Guizhou, for instance, prayers for children or for the cure of an illness were accompanied by the slaughter of two grown oxen as sacrifices. Feasts would then be held for all the relatives for three to five days.

ritual ritual

 

Christian

 

More recently some Miao also believe in Christianity. The first Christian among Miao groups started in the late 1890’s by China Inland Mission and Methodist missionaries. A significant impact was made among two dialect groups. Of the estimated 300,000 Miao believers, approximately 250,000 of these are among the A-Hmao (Big Flowery) and Gha-Mu tribes (Small Flowery). Their dialects are mutually unintelligible with other Miao dialects. A significant impact of Christianity was also among some groups located near Anshun of Guizhou province. The vast majority of Miao, however, are completely unevangelized with no knowledge even of the name “Jesus”.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Miao Hmong Dragon Boat Festival

The Miao Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the Qingshui River from 24th to 27th of the fifth lunar calendar month. It is the most important celebration of the Miao people who live in the Southeast Guizhou province. The Miao Dragon Boat Festival differs from the one of Han Chinese, which celebrates on different dates, (* 5th day of the fifth lunar calendar month for Han Chinese) different traditions and origins. Miao Dragon Boat Festival celebrates its hero, Guya, as in Miao’s folk story killed the evil dragon. Each year around thirty to forty thousand Miao people celebrate this festival. Dragon Boat

 

Launch Time

 

According to Miao customs, people can send their boats down the river after the 16th of that month before the festival, provided they have finished their harvest. The earlier the boat is launched, the more diligent that family is. The Miao people consider it a shame if they don’t finish their harvest before the festival begins.

 

The Dragon Boat

 

The Miao dragon boats are exquisite. Being approx. 20 meters in length and 1 meter in width, the dragon boat is usually made by trunks tied together. It is comprised of a mother boat and two barges at both sides. The fore is fitted with a large-sized dragon head, on the horns of which are written such words as 风调雨顺”favorable weather for crop raising” and 国泰民安 means the country is prosperous and people live in safety. The buttock called “Phoenix Tail” is inserted with fragrant grass. Both the fore and the buttock are raised above water surface.
Dragon Boat Dragon Boat

 

Competition

 

Dragon Boat On this festival, dragon boats are rowed for competition. The dragon boat racing is usually held on the Qingshui River with spectacular audience. Boatmen paddle continuously to avoid the dragon boat to pause in the mid way and keep it moving to the terminal. The winner will be awarded a silk banner. After competition, the boatmen are given a bunch of grass and throw the grass into the river for the purpose of driving off evil spirits. The festival has its auspicious meaning. After the festival comes to an end, every village will slay the fattest pig in the village to reward all villagers for their support to the festival.

 

Other Activities

 

Dragon Boat Besides competition, the dragon boats are also used as transportation tool to visit their relatives in other villages. Before the dragon boat sets out, someone sings an auspicious song to the boatmen, wishing them a bon voyage. The crew rows the boat from one village to another, when they reach a village; they fire guns to announce their arrival. The villagers set off firecrackers and meet them, then prays are made to the dragon to bestow happiness on each community. After lunch, the boats stop alongside the river bank. Pigs, goats, ducks and geese are presented to the crew and the headman. The boatmen eat glutinous rice balls and meat on the boats. It is said that after eating food from a dragon boat, one will be safe from disaster and everything will go smoothly.

Horse racing and bullfights are also held on the festival, families gather by the river and chat. When night falls, young people sing their folk songs to compete with each other.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Miao Hmong New Year

No festival is more colorful, interesting and worthwhile visiting than Miao Hmong New Year. Different from Spring Festival of Han Chinese, Miao New Year is the tenth month of lunar calendar. However, the exact date varies each year and is only known one or two months in advance.

Miao Costume Miao Costume

The Miao Hmong New Year is a traditional festival to offer sacrifices to the Miao’s ancestors and to celebrate harvest. It is usually celebrated three times from October to December on lunar calendar namely “New Year Beginning”, “Big New Year” and “New Year End”, of which the “Big New Year” is the most popular one. “Big New Year” normally last three to five days or more than 10 days in some areas with big gatherings held.

 

Before New Year’s Day

 

With the New Year coming, every family does cleaning; slays chicken and pigs, makes glutinous rice cakes, makes rice wine and purchases food for the New Year. But on the first two days of the New Year, the Miao don’t do any cleaning work at home, and they are forbidden to chop wood on the mountains. Women don’t need to cook, but men have to do that. Women are happy with sewing new clothing for their family, especially for their children.

At the New Year’s Eve, all people stay up until midnight, and then they bring dragons to their home with firecrackers lighted. Every family worship gods and offer sacrifices to ancestors, praying for an abundant harvest of all food crops and safety of people and domestic animals. They also feed liquor to their bulls to thank them for their hard work. Then members of the family gather together happily and share a rich dinner.

 

During New Year’s Day

 

From the first day of the New Year, people begin to visit relatives and friends, wishing them a happy new year. Youngsters wear rich dress and take part in all kinds of entertaining activities as reed-pipe dancing, stepping to wooden drums, bullfight, horse race, roaming around, antiphonal singing, etc. The first three days are the best time to attend the festival. Thousands of Miao people dress in gaily embroidered silk costumes and wear full arrays of silver ornaments to celebrate their New Year, singing and dancing through the streets and gathering at the square to celebrate. You will see different kinds of dances and hear different folk songs as they come from different tribes and villages. Lusheng dance, horse racing, rooster fighting, and buffalo fighting are also held. Everywhere in the whole Miao village is filled with sound of firecrackers and reed-pipes. The whole region is immersed in atmosphere of joy and happiness.

At night, young guys from other villages come and flirt with girls. Girls dress up with beautiful silver ornaments and embroidered garments to meet the boys. This is called You Fang in local custom. Some young fellows even go to other villages by walking to take part in various social activities. This is a good time for people to visit friends and young people look for marriage partners.

The Miao fully enjoy themselves during 9 days of New Year. Many people have their weddings held and house built during this time, which adds the joyful atmosphere to the Miao’s New Year.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Long Horn Miao and Short Skirt Miao

The Miao ethnic people has a population of over 8 million larger than most of other minority groups in China. After immigration throughout history, today they live mainly in Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan, Hubei, Hainan Provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture. Such a wide distribution and the influence of different environments have resulted in marked differences in dialects, names and clothes. Based on style and color difference in costumes, the Miao divided into Long Skirt Miao, Short Skirt Miao, Long Horn Miao, Red Miao, Black Miao, Flowery Miao, etc. Here we introduce two types: Long Horn Miao and Short Skirt Miao.

 

Long Horn Miao

 

Miao Costume The Long Horn Miao got their name from their special custom of using horn as head decoration. They live in the mountains 2,000 meters above sea level in 12 villages next to each other with a total population of 4,000. In normal days the women simply wrap their hair behind their head around a sharp-ended wooden board. They wear long horns only on holidays and festivals, together with the decorative hair (wig) made of linen, wool and hair. The decorative hair is three meters long and 2 kilograms in weight. They first fix the horn with their real hair and then wrap the “decorative hair” around the wooden frame into the shape of a horizontal “8” and tie it to the horn with a piece of white cord. The heavy ornament places extra strain on their neck and waist, making them walk in a special posture.

 

Short Skirt Miao

 

Miao Costume Short Skirt Miao (or Mini Skirt Miao) live in the depths of the southeastern Guizhou Province mountainous regions with the population of 50,000 to 60,000. This region has a pleasant temperate climate all year round. Some live in Langdong, Kongshen, and Konglie villages of Rongjiang County, while others live in the Datang area of Leishan County, and Paidiao area of Danzhai County.

Their daily and festival clothing are both distinct and colorful. The typical costume is a tunic top and mini skirt. The top is decorated with silver ornaments and with gorgeously embroidered patterns of dragon, phoenix, fish, birds and beasts. The minis skirt is hand knitted and is no more than 20 centimeters long.

Previously due to the poor transportation of the remote areas, the Long Horn Miao and Short Skirt Miao have little connection with the outside world and therefore, their culture could be preserved. However, with many highways and roads built in the past ten years in China and increasing number of tourists to these villages, their unique culture and tradition are acing challenges. Meanwhile, with the open to outside world, followed are conflicts between their own ethnics and modern civilizations.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Miao Hmong Batik- Nature, Totem and Myth

Miao Hmong Batik is plain, aboriginal and powerful. The traditional designs are geometric. With the influence of the Han Chinese, more figurative designs like flowers, birds, and fish have been introduced over the centuries.

These pictures, not confining themselves to exact details of natural images, are boldly different and exaggeratedly drawn. Miao Hmong love nature. They enjoy expressing their joy with nature and their own aesthetic feelings in the way of Batik art. As they do not have written transcripts, you may also find abstract symbols or geometric patterns in their artworks, which could be their totems or myths.

 

Butterfly and Whirlpool

 

Miao Batik Local artists have developed a diversity of batik motifs, including those based on images of butterflies, whirlpools, centipedes, fish, birds, dragons and pear blossoms. Every motif conveys special meaning. Among these, butterfly and whirl pattern are most popular. Miao regard butterfly as the god for reproduction and beauty. Therefore, it has become a popular subject in Miao batik. The whirlpool motifs inspired from rivers embody union and auspiciousness in Miao culture.

 

Drum

 

Miao Batik Simple, traditional patterns such as the bronze drum are the oldest forms found on quilt covers dated before the 20th century. The bronze drum is a powerful symbol relating to the spirits of the ancestors, and is a traditional pattern found in many Miao’s embroidery and batik.

 

Crab and Pomegranate

 

Miao Batik

Crabs and pomegranates both relating to birth of many kids are often found in batik designs.

 

White Tiger

 

Miao Batik This handmade batik table cloth features the image of the White Tiger, a mythological guardian according to Chinese legend. Legend had it that when a tiger reached 500 years old, its tail would turn white. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature. It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world.

 

Vermilion Bird

 

Miao Batik The Vermilion Bird is an elegant and noble bird in both appearance and behavior. It is very selective in what it eats and where it perches. The Vermilion Bird is often associated with the mythical Phoenix due to their associations with fire.

 

Water Buffalo

 

Miao Batik

The horns of the water buffalo, symbolizing Miao ancestor’s life and death.

 

Modern Batik

 

Miao Batik Although there are thousands of different batik designs, particular designs have traditionally been associated with traditional festivals and specific religious ceremonies. Previously, it was thought that certain cloth had mystical powers to ward off bad luck, while other pieces could bring good luck. Today, a large number of artists apply the traditional batik in their modern art. They bring in new themes and include more cultural and social messages adding modern concept in line with batik.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Miao Hmong Embroidery Myth and Legend

Miao Hmongembroidery use motifs of mountains, sun, butterflies, flowers, birds and creatures to express their history, religious belief, myths and lives. There are so many stories and history recorded in Miao Hmong embroidery.

 

Butterfly Mother

 

Miao Embroidery Miao Embroidery

Butterfly Mother by myth is Miao’s ancestor. She was born on the maple tree. She flew over the lake and fell in love with the water bubble. She laid 12 eggs. The bird helped to hatch the eggs and all the eggs grew into different animals except the largest one who was Miao Hmong ancestor. Butterfly Mother created not only Miao Hmong people but also other creatures hoping Miao Hmong would not feel alone. She believes Miao Hmong people and the creatures will help each other and live in harmony.

 

Jiwei Bird

 

Miao Embroidery Butterfly Mother laid 12 eggs and hatched by a bird. The bird is known as Jiwei. She spent 12 years hatching the 12 eggs, who become China’s twelve zodiac animals.

 

Heroine Wen Maoxi

 

Miao Embroidery By legend Wen Maoxi was born three years after a star fell on the roof of her house. She grew up and married a young man. In that time, Miao tribe was in war with Han Chinese who invaded their village. She went with her husband to the war and fought heroically.

Miao people respect butterfly, the Jiwei Bird and Heroine Wen Maoxi. Their images always appear in Miao embroidery.

 

Frog Queen

 

Miao Embroidery Many years ago in a Miao village one day when the villagers were working in the fields, an evil spirit came into the village and stole a baby. The frog saw it and ran to warn the villagers of the danger. The villagers came and chased the evil spirit away. But the evil spirit did not go far away. It was waiting for another chance. Then it stole anther baby again. The frog ran into the forest, stopped the evil spirit and brought the baby back. Everyone was very happy and grateful to the frog. Later, the frog’s face slowly began to change into a female human being’s face.

 

Village Life

 

Miao Embroidery

The images of village life are always embroidered. Men carry wood, woman carry water. Kids are playing. Spiders are considered as reincarnations of dead relatives watching over their families.

 

Hand in Hand

 

Miao Embroidery The image of people holding hands is commonly used baby carriers and baby blankets. It depicts the Miao following the ancestor’s words to stay together and help each other.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.

Miao Hmong Silver Jewelry Showcase

A saying of the Miao goes like this “The beauty of golden pheasant lies in its feather, and the beauty of Miao Hmong girl lies in her silver jewelries.” The sparkling and clanking silver jewelries are stunning and are highlights to the landscape of the Miao Hmong village.

Miao women love to dress in unique silver jewelries from head to toe. Here are just a few kinds.

 

Silver Headdress

 

Miao Hmong silver headdresses are quite a sight and are worn only on very special occasions, like weddings or significant festivals. They include five different parts: the horn, the crown, the comb, the flowers and the hairpin.

 

Silver Horn

 

Miao Hmong silver horns are crafted to mimic the horns of an ox. The two horns can be as much as three feet apart! And they’re quite tall, almost doubling the height of the wearer.

An image of two dragons playing with a pearl is often engraved, symbolizing wishes for an auspicious future. But each silver horn is unique. Some women adorn the horns with different kinds of silver pendants like phoenixes, birds, and butterflies. A pair of white feathers is usually put on the horns to make them even taller and more attractive. Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Crown

 

A silver crown is the base of the headdress and can be a foot tall and quite heavy. There are three kinds of silver crown.

The first kind is a hat completely covered with silver flowers, birds, animals, bells, and tassels. There are twelve pieces of silver feathers hanging behind the hat and reaching to their waist. This type is popular in the Huangping area of Guizhou province. Miao silver jewelry

The second kind is usually seen in Leishan, Guizhou province, which has no top and a piece of 10-centimeter wide silver with three parts. The first part on the top features 29 silver flowers. The second part in the body has warriors riding horses. The silver fringes make up the last part. Miao silver jewelry

Another type is worn by Miao Hmong women in Shidong area of Guizhou. Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Comb

 

Miao Hmong women wear silver combs on their heads as ornaments. Patterns of flowers, birds, dragons, or deer are carved on the silver ornaments. Some combs feature the image of a Bodhisattva, with several layers of silver chains dropping down. Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Hairpin

 

The design of Miao Hmong silver hairpins varies, but they usually feature birds, butterflies, and flowers. The most striking designs feature 10 silver flowers which look like a Chinese fan. Some hairpins look like chopsticks decorated with silver bells or long tassels.

Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Earring

 

Tiny Miao Hmong earrings are often shaped like flowers, birds, butterflies, dragons, or plants. Miao Hmong women usually wear 3 or 4 pieces of silver earrings at one time. In some areas a single silver earring can weigh 200 grams, and reach all the way down to their shoulders. But many small earrings have threads which are as thin as a piece of paper.

Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Necklace

 

A Miao Hmong silver necklace is wide and heavy, and has many pendants hanging from it. Smaller silver necklaces are rarely worn.

There are many kinds of necklace popular in the Miao Hmong areas. One kind of dragon silver necklace is quite impressive. It features two dragons playing with a pearl and has 11 silver tassels dangling from the bottom. Another kind of necklace has 14 silver rings linked tightly together, while silver birds or butterflies hang down from each ring. Miao silver jewelry Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Bracelet

 

The Miao Hmong silver bracelets are engraved with the images of flowers, fish, or dragons. Some bracelets feature wide band which is like the cuffs worn by warriors in ancient times. Miao Hmong women usually show off 4 or 5 silver bracelets at one time, sometimes more during festivals or holidays. Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Ring

 

A Miao Hmong silver ring is usually quite small and has fine pieces of silver bent and shaped into flowers, birds, or plants. In some Miao Hmong areas, women have rings on all eight fingers except their thumbs. Some rings are big enough to cover half the length of their fingers!

Miao silver jewelry Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Costume

 

A silver costume in Leishan area normally has 44 silver pieces sewn onto the fabric. Each silver piece has vivid patterns like flowers, butterflies, tigers, lions, and dragons engraved on them. Whereas in Shidong area, silver costume have as many as 380 silver pieces sewn onto the costume. When they walk and dance, the silver ornaments make beautiful sounds.

Miao silver jewelry Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Waistband

 

A silver waistband displays tens or even hundreds of silver images of Bodhisattvas sewn on a piece of cloth. The Miao Hmong wrap it tightly around their waist, and they sparkle when the Miao Hmong dance.

One famous waistband displayed in a Miao Hmong museum features 105 unique silver Bodhisattvas images, each of which has different facial expression and gesture, reflecting the incredible imagination and creativity of the Miao Hmong artisan. Miao silver jewelry

 

Silver Anklet

 

Last but not least are small but sturdy silver anklets that clasp above the foot. Silver anklets are usually worn by children to drive away evil spirits and bring them a bright future.

Miao silver jewelry

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

P.S. We need people with similar passion to join or partner with us in promoting ethnic handicrafts! Please contact us at interact@interactchina.com to make any suggestions that you may have in co-operating with us, or join as Affiliate.