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Hmong People in Thailand

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Diversity and Culture of the Hmong People

The Hmong people are found in many different countries. Laos, Vietnam, China, and other South East Asian countries are some of the places that the Hmong call home.

There are roughly five million Hmong living in China and scattered throughout the country. In 1975, when their country came under the control of a communist regime, many Hmong made a mass exodus and escaped to refugee camps in Thailand.

The Hmong in Laos aligned themselves with the United States during the Vietnam War and many were killed by the Vietnamese Army. Some fled to Thailand and other Hmong were relocated to the United States.

In Thailand, the Hmong make up one out of every five people and are the second largest segment of the population. Nan, Lampang, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai and Loei are just a few other provinces where the Hmong are found.

The Hmong in Thailand are divided into the Blue Hmong, the White Hmong and the Gua M’ba Meo. The Blue Hmong are also known as the Black Meo and may be found west of Chiang Mai. The women of this Hmong sect wear a unique skirt or kilt with a batik design and dyed indigo. The Hmong men wear black baggy pants and embroidered jackets. The difference between the Blue and White Hmong women is that the White Hmong will wear a white pleated skirt for special ceremonies. The White Hmong are primarily settled in the east.

The Hmong clothing is made by the women and is produced from hemp or cotton. Silver and intricate embroidery is used to detail their clothing.

The Gua M’ba Meo are mostly confined to concentration camps and are a subgroup of the White Hmong. These people recently entered Thailand from Laos.

The Hmong spiritual beliefs are influenced by the Chinese. They worship their ancestors, nature spirits and a led by a shaman. Altars are found in every Hmong home.

Hmong village are typically located at higher altitudes. Unlike other hill tribes, the Hmong houses are not stilted and rest on the ground. While a few Hmong have embraced the Thai style homes which tend to be expensive and more comfortable, most prefer the traditional home with a root cellar for storing food and a main floor that is not at ground level. Most

Hmong homes have a dirt floor with typically more than two bedrooms. Extended families often live together.

The work in Hmong households is divided with the men primarily doing the majority of the work. Musical instruments, crossbows for hunting and other products are made by the Hmong men. Manufacturing guns and black smith work are also popular trades for Hmong men.

Opium is a popular crop among the Hmong and has led to a high level of addiction. Rice and corn are also staple crops of the Hmong people.

The Hmong are fiercely independent people and strictly practice their traditional ways.

Ceremonies celebrating the sky spirit are led by the shaman and an important part of the Hmong culture.

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