The Hmong Hill Tribe: Silver Jewelry & Embroidery

The Hmong Hill Tribe : Silver Jewelry & Embroidery

Hmong Family in Traditional Dress
Hmong Family in Traditional Dress

Ancient Origins of the Hmong

The Hmong, also known as ‘Meo’, are a fiercely independent hill tribe people living throughout SE Asia.  Hmong parents tell their children the legend of how their ancestors once lived in a frozen land where the icy winters were long and hard. It is thought that the Hmong may have originally lived at the steppes of Tibet, Siberia and Mongolia thousands of years ago and gradually migrated into China. Some records claim that about 3,000 years ago the Hmong lived on the banks of the Yellow River. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hmong migrated into Southeast Asia, fleeing persecution from the Chinese. In more recent times, the Hmong have sought asylum in the USA, Australia, Canada, France and French Guiana following the Communist takeover of Laos in 1975. There are around one million Hmong living in Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam and sub-cultural groups include the Striped Hmong, Blue Hmong, Black Hmong and White Hmong.

Known to be canny entrepreneurs, the Hmong were among the first hill tribes to successfully cultivate opium, though now international pressure has seen a severe reduction in the practice. Today the Hmong are far more likely to be found farming coffee and fruit.  In many respects the Hmong have managed to stay connected to the ancient traditions and customs of their culture and are a proud people.

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