Hmong Life and Background


Hmong Life and Background


The Hmong (pronounced without the ‘H’) is one of the oldest people in Asia.  The early history of the Hmong is not known for sure.  One Hmong tale tells us of life in a land of ice and snow, which may have been Mongolia where the Hmong might have come from (Vanguard Technology Group, 1995).  Chinese history tells about people who could have been the Hmong around 2700 B.C.  “Later Chinese history tells about how the Hmong were forced to move from the Yangtze plains around 2000 B.C.  Over thousands of years, Hmong people have migrated throughout Southeast Asia, into what is now known as northern Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma in the early nineteenth century”  (Center for Cross-Cultural Health, 1998).  There is no absolute knowledge of where the Hmong originally came from, but it is believed that the Hmong were related to people who long ago had migrated from the west into Eurasia and then later migrated to Siberia.  This explained the reason why in the seventeenth century when the first westerners made contact with the Hmong, the Hmong mostly had blonde hair and blue eyes.  While it is rare now to see a Hmong with blonde hair and blue eyes, it was common back then.  “The Chinese defeated the Hmong and as punishment for their rebellion, ordered the death of every male Hmong they could find, even children and infants.”  (Quincy, 14)

“The Hmong culture is agrarian, with religious beliefs based on animism (including the use of shamans for guidance, healing and other ceremonies)”  (Lindsay, 1998).  In Laos, the Hmong people had farmlands to plant rice, cucumbers, corn, wheat and many other kinds of vegetables.  Hmong people also had many other animals that they raised for either labor or food such as pigs, chickens, cows, horses and water buffaloes.  The main source of food for the Hmong is rice.  It is always eaten at every meal whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Hmong people practice a pure form of shamanism.  The shaman is not a witch doctor but a regular man or woman who deals directly with the spiritual world.  “The shaman falls into a trance and his soul leaves his body and enters the world of the souls, phantoms, genies, and ghosts.  There he combats the evil spirits that cause illness, death and misfortune.  Since shamanism originated in Siberia, this is further evidence, though not conclusive, that the Hmong came from there.”  (Quincy, 24)

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