ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?

Art and Artists
 Africa, Zaire
 England, Higham Manor,
 Donald Judd
 New Mexico (Mimbres)
 Claes Oldenburg and
Coosje van Bruggen
 Thailand,  (Blue Hmong)
 Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment   Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Thailand (Blue Hmong)
About the Artist

The Hmong, whose name means "free people," have always valued their independence and self-sufficiency. Once inhabitants of central China, the Hmong were driven into southern China more than 2,000 years ago by the ethnic Chinese, who were politically dominant. During the 19th century, many Hmong families continued their migration into the mountainous region of Southeast Asia. There they live in relative isolation, scattered in small village groups in northern Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. In these regions, the Hmong had a seminomadic lifestyle, practicing a type of farming that forced periodic resettlement in search of fertile land.

In the 1960s, war in Southeast Asia had a devastating impact on the Hmong, destroying their economy and food supply. By 1970, large numbers of Hmong people living in Laos had become actively involved in the war, allied with the U.S. military. When the United States withdrew its troops from the area, the Hmong were forced to flee to Thailand's refugee camps to escape political persecution. By the late 1970s, many Hmong people had left the camps to settle in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, and elsewhere. Since that time, large numbers of Hmong people have settled in Minnesota. In fact, outside of Southeast Asia, the Twin Cities has the second largest urban concentration of Hmong.

Traditionally, Hmong women have decorated the clothing of all members of their families. Placing great value on their handwork, Hmong mothers taught fine needlework to their daughters at a young age. In Laos, girls as young as five began to learn the necessary skills. It takes years of training to learn the techniques of appliqué, embroidery, and batik.

Traditional costume continues to be important to Hmong people living in the United States, yet few young women are able to develop the skills necessary for this art form. Because many young women must meet the demands of acquiring an education and earning an income, they lack the time that their mothers and grandmothers could devote to needlework. Other ways of transmitting these skills have developed, such as classes, workshops, apprenticeship programs, and pattern books. Many traditional pieces, such as this skirt, are also imported from Thailand and Laos.

[ Return to the TOP of the page ]

Themes, Resources, Participants, Sitemap, Help

Discussion Questions/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art | About the Artist | Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons