| Maggie | Pakou
| Maggie | Dylan
| Jenny | Dylan
Basket Making: Pakou
| Dylan | Emily
| Dylan | Maggie
| Dylan | Emily
While we were at the Blacksmith and Senior
Center we interviewed two ladies who were working on sewing.
The sewers were Shoua Her and Tong Vang.
Shoua Her was sewing in what appeared to be cross-stitch,
by hand, a piece of pandau [paj ntaub] to go on the back of
a shirt. She learned how to sew from her heart, because her
mother died when Shoua was 10.
No one taught her how to do needlework.
Many people copied her style of making pandaus. On the needlework
there are many different kinds of dark and bright colors.
Tong Vang was using a sewing machine
and was making some traditional clothes for a White-Hmong
man. She uses only sight to measure. She helped a boy from
Longfellow [Middle School, in La Crosse, Wisconsin] put on
a shirt and pants and hat that a Hmong man would wear. She
let him keep the pants.
She likes the sewing machines that they
have in America. She only makes traditional clothes and compares
the body parts to the piece of clothing to make the cloth
the right size.
The lady that is sewing by hand started
when she was in Laos when she was a little girl. When her
mom died she started to sew more and she is still sewing.
The cloth she is holding up is a cross-stitch and it’s
a baby carrier. There are clothes she makes. She sews whenever
she is not busy. When she is alone she sews. Her daughters
want to sew but they can’t because they have to do their
homework and so they don’t have enough time to learn
how to sew. The clothes that she makes are very traditional
to the Hmong people that buy them.
There was a picture of two Hmong women.
You can tell they were green Hmong because they wore green
sashes. Although there were men’s clothes, there weren’t
any women’s clothes in the room that day.
The women come to sew here so that they
can sew together and talk and have fun. She had some other
beautiful clothing that she brought that I think was just
to look nice.
Neng Yang is a basket maker.
He is making baskets so Shoua Her, a woman, had to talk. She
does needlework. Shoua said back in Laos the baskets were
made to carry dishes, clothes, babies, food, plants, dirt,
tools, etc. They use thin bamboo that has to be the same size
because thin bamboo can bend and doesn’t break and it
can hold a lot of things. Everybody has to know how to do
baskets by the age of about five or ten. The Hmong people
only make baskets at certain times. The children learn how
to make the basket by looking at how the elders do their basket
weaving. Without baskets, you need to carry heavy things with
your hands and your head. The baskets have names from the
objects that the basket is used to carry. Many, many baskets
were made in many different kinds of sizes to carry objects
that would fit into the baskets.
The baskets were originally made in Laos
with bamboo that was very thin. They use plastic to weave
the baskets in America. He likes the bamboo baskets and the
plastic baskets just as good as each other.
All of the baskets they make out of shipping
plastic. Why? Because in Laos they use bamboo to weave the
basket and since they don’t have bamboo here, they use
plastic because it’s: 1.) cut in the right size strip
already, and 2.) nice and durable. Some of the baskets were
made of cut up hoses.
Sometimes in America people sell the
baskets or use them for personal use of the family. Basket
making is important in Hmong culture because you need to be
able to move and carry things around. The baskets were more
important in Laos where they used the baskets a lot.
In Laos everybody knew how to make baskets.
But they could only do it in their spare time. If children
wanted to learn, they could. Elders would show them how.
Children would normally learn how to
make baskets when they were teens. Not all teens in America
learn how to make baskets. The way they learned to make baskets
in Laos was by watching an elder make a basket and then copying
what they do.
The design he was making was called a
“star.” The holes were shaped like
He said they are hard to make because
you could make them in different shapes. He said that you
can’t learn when you are five years old or younger.
He said you could learn how to make the basket when you are
a teenager. He said that the basket is not that easy to learn.
It looks easy but it takes a while to learn it. The basket
could be any color but it is mostly green and black. I don’t
know why but I think it means something. When he is done making
it he takes all of his baskets and sells them and if no one
buys the baskets then he gives it to one of his friends if
they want the basket and they don’t he keeps them for
himself. [He] keeps supplies in it. One basket takes about
two hours because it takes a long time to put the plastic
together to make the basket and make the shape you wanted
it to be. They make the baskets when they are not busy.
For more information on Hmong Textile Arts,
please visit: http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/aasp/scratch/kpics/