Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hmong

Originally from Mongolia, the Hmong came to Thailand, Vietnam and Lao via China to seek a better life and warmer temperatures for their people. Traditional dress is a black top with pants, with women sometimes wearing a knee length skirt over the pants. An additional panel of fabric is often worn by the women like an apron, hanging from the waist down. This panel, in addition to the skirt and front of the skirt is highly decorated with lace embroidered edging in addition to silver embellishments such as bangles, ear rings and cuffs. Craft wise the Hmong are known for their batik fabric work. This is generally intricately patterned, but restricted to a simple colour palette eg dark blue and white. We talked to a young women about the work her Mum makes. She showed us her waxing station and tried to explain the process to me. Luckily I knew enough to explain the process to Frank, and to recognise the value of the originality of the pieces she had available for sale. We bought one large cloth from Mum, large enough to cover my table, or as a throw over on the bed. It is simple in design, but quite beautiful.
The girls Dad was also working nearby. A silversmith he starts from silver beads, then using basic metal smithing skills makes silver cuffs. The patterns inscribed into the silver are quite simple geometric patterns, but are traditional Hmong designs. We bought one for me to wear the same as the one his wife was wearing. It was nice to be able to buy some handicrafts within the village made on site, by the villagers. There is still a large percentage of Chinese imports readily available to purchase throughout the village. You get the feel for what is mass produced pretty quickly, once you see the same items too often and too cheap. It really is worth paying a little more and getting original work that the women are making, seeing the process and gaining the value of a genuine piece. 31.1.2013


  1. Really? I didn't know this! Where on earth didn't the Mongols end up! They certainly seem to have gotten around!

  2. This is the batik cloth we bought. Beautiful isn't it?