Friday, 9 May 2008

Hmong of Thailand

Hmong are one of the hill tribes that live in Thailand. There are two major sub groups in Thailand namely the White and Blue. These people are found mainly in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The Hmong have supposed to have migrated to Thailand from China and Laos. They settled in the hills of Thailand and carried out their traditional shift cultivation in relative peace and isolation. There are approximately 60,000 Hmong living in the northeast Thailand. In addition, there are another 50,000 living as refugees in Thailand. They came in small groups, crossing the Mekong River. Later they moved to the northern province of Phetchabun and joined their relatives in Ban Huay Nam Khao.

They live in houses that sit on earth not on stilts like other hill tribes. Their main occupation is cultivating opium poppy. After a government initiative, the Hmong have gradually changed their ways and have started to sell needlework, which is exquisitely designed.

The Hmong people are experts in needlework. They make clothes for themselves as well as sell them. Their clothes are decorated with rich embroidery work and silver. Each sub group has its own way of dressing. The Blue Hmong women wear rich embroidered clothes with attractive colors, while the White Hmong women wear black baggy pants and simple jackets. The Hmong men produce musical instruments and items of wood. They are also skilled as blacksmiths and gunsmiths.

The Hmong people are animists and are strong believers in spirits. The Hmong shamans perform many unknown rituals to invoke spirits.