Hmong Textiles Essay

1321 words - 5 pages

The Hmong people are well known for their survival antics from their silent war with China and their migration from the Vietnam War. Hmong is a term many have never even heard of but their culture it is known as "free people." Hmong textiles has survived just like their whole culture. The attractive handcrafted designs have been in their history for over two centuries, and their embroideries are popular among the Asian countries as well as the United States. Hmong textiles includes a variety of embroideries on their Flower cloths, story cloths, and their New Year dress. All fabrics have powerful importance in their customs to bring prosperity and good fortunes. Needlework is a substantial skill in their community that can not be forgotten, symbolizing work ethics and preservation of their culture.

Hmong textiles are designed with a variety of geometric shapes and patterns. Shapes are regularly added to their dresses, headdresses, and flower cloths. During the Hmong New Year, men and women wear a traditional dress with a turban wrap or a rooster hat. The dress has a very conservative style; covering majority of the body of the man or woman. It is designed by adding embroideries and appliqués. The headdress is also a main part of the dress. Turban wrap is used as a rounded covering for the head, conversely the rooster hat is highly decorated and resembling the comb of a rooster. The flower cloth, or the Hmong word "Paj Ntaub", has been in the Hmong history for over two centuries. Flower cloths are embroideries contain mainly geometric designs and bright yarns. Hmong textiles are often embellished with bright yarns and are usually know as "story cloths." They were weaved to narrate different series of events: the village life, family history, immigration, and Hmong civilization during the Vietnam War. However, story cloths are relatively new in the Hmong society and their designs are mostly of human figures; which opposes traditional geometric shapes.

The Flower cloth is intriguingly designed by hand. Hmong women were responsible for sewing the cloth and the beautiful embroideries. Several Hmong women use a rare method of reverse appliqué, "designs made by sewing on a patch to the underside of a fabric and then cutting away and turning under the edge of the top fabric" (Fadiman ). The design is extremely difficult and takes years to acquire this skill. Hmong dresses are elaborated with trimmings, coins, and a variety of colorful yarns. The dresses were highly decorative and added bulk to the man or woman wearing the dress. However, the Rooster hat is a modernized tradition when the Hmong people came to the United States. The base of the hat was normally purchased and decorated with the coins and trimmings.

The materials used to create these different Hmong textiles range from silk to the nylon and polyester, the "American synthetic fibers" (Fadiman). In Laos, a part of Indochina, Hmong women often used...

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