Qeej player Hmong needlework Hmong dancers paj ntaub or story cloth Hmong radio station

Location | Themes | Reflections | How We Did It

Introduction: Presenting Culture

Sarah M.

Some people may think that all that Hmong culture is about is performing for other people, and they might think that especially after hearing about all the great cultural presentations we got.

But, Hmong culture presents itself much more than we know, inside their own culture.

When we were in Wausau, a few kids got a chance to go to a Hmong radio station, and watch how it was operated. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Hmong radio!

Also, that same day we had a group of Hmong dancers come to perform. The girls, in grades four to six, usually performed for other Hmong people, but that night we were fortunate to see about a fifth of their dancers. Not only were their clothes beautiful, and homemade by their mothers, but the dances they performed were so graceful it was amazing.

You may have seen a quilt or a blanket before, and thought it was pretty, but I don’t think any hanging could be as unique, interesting and beautiful as a Hmong storycloth.

The designs of paj naub used to be mostly shapes and patterns, but when the Hmong were in refugee camps in Thailand, the Hmong women started to develop different patterns. They started making people, and animals and houses in beautiful bright colors. The cloths told stories of dangerous journey to refugee camps and life in America. These story clothes represent their culture during the war.

On our trip in the fall, we visited the Hmong/American Friendship, and there was an exhibit with many photos and tools and clothing that were used in Laos and Thailand. The exhibit was to show both Hmong and American people what life was like in Laos and Thailand.
–Sarah M.