Hmong

Hmong traditional dancing
         Hmong people are part of the Lao Soung, the "High Lao". They came to the area of now Lao PDR around 150 years ago after they lived several thousand years in the region of Southern China. Today, around 450,000 Hmongs are located in the mountainous areas of Northern Laos. They generate their income mainly through dry-rice cultivation and slash-and-burn techniques. Their traditional beliefs are strongly related to Animism and Shamanism. In Oudomxay they are the second biggest ethnic group after Khamu people.
Hmong new year
         History of the Hmong tribe in Oudomxay Province
      Originally, the Hmong tribe moved from Cibily (C B L), Tibet, Mongolia and then continued moving for better life to China and resided by the Yellow River called (Houang Ho River). The immigration of the Hmong people was because of war and they kept moving to the South of China and then to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Some of the mentioned Hmong people are now in Oudomxay Province (7 Districts):
  1. Meuang Xay:
-          Number of village: 34
-          Total population: 13,806 (Female: 6,781.
  1. Meuang Hoon:
-          Number of village: 16
-          Total population: 9,540 (Female: 4,418)
  1. Meuang Namor:
-          Number of village: 19
-          Total population: 6,235 (Female: 3.244)
  1. Meuang Beng:
-          Number of village: 14
-          Total population: 4.604 (Female: 2.880)
  1. Meuang Pakbeng:
-          Number of village: 5
-          Total population: 1.068 (Female: 329)
  1. Meuang Nga:
-          Number of village: 16
-          Total population: 1.370 (Female: 588)
  1. Meuang La:
-          Number of village: 6
-          Total population: 398 (female: 213)
The total number of the whole population in the province is 37,021 (Female: 18,453) = 12,738 %.
Name: The tribe called Hmong “Miao, Meau” by the Lao people and some other groups.  Hmong tribe consists of three major branches in Laos: Hmong Deaw (White Hmong), Hmong Njua  (Green Hmong) and Hmong Dou (Black Hmong). The meaning of Hmong is Human and it’s always hmong people’s favorite name of all time. But it’s impolite to say something like Miao or Meau to the Hmong people what they really want to hear is “Hmong”.
Language: Hmong has its own language and it’s totally different from others. The Hmong language has two types of writing. The fist writing pattern is similar to Lao language founded by Mr. Lao Fong (During the Lao revolution time). The second pattern is like Latin alphabet. The speaking of each Hmong branch is quite different from each other, especially the Green Hmong. It’s sometime hard to understand. For instance: To eat in Hmong Deaw and Hmong Jhua (The white Hmong and Green Hmong) – we say “No mo” – in Black Hmong – we say “Per Choua” and in Green Hmong. Some words are similar to Chinese and Yunnanese.
Belief, tradition and culture: Supernatural begins are involved in every aspect of Hmong life. There are a number of household spirits in each home which they believe protect them from attacks by the spirits of decease and death. Each house has at least one altar for worship, while those of shamans have more. People are not allowed to enter the bedrooms without permission as well as touching the middle post inside the house. The majority of the Hmong people are animist. The door spirit is very important, when someone dies his or her soul must seek permission from the door spirits to leave the house and cross to the altar life. 
Hmong Spirit ceremonies
            When you want to enter to someone’s house you have to ask them for permission from the owner to enter, but most of them are very friendly. The most important social units among Hmong are the family and clan. There are many different clans in Oudomxay Province such as, Hmong Yang, Hmong Moua, Hmong Thao, Hmong Xiong, Hmong Lor, Hmong Chue, Hmong Vang, Hmong Chang, and others. But the same clan is not allowed to get married with each other. A Hmong man must marry with a girl of another clan or sub clan. Marriage consists of the three following factors:
  1. The girl and the boy agree to get married and decide to tell their parents about their marriage.
  2. The boy and the girl have been dating for a long time and the boy has to request his parents to arrange a meeting with his girlfriend’s parents for talking about the marriage as well as wedding preparation.
  3. The boy falls in love with a girl, but she doesn’t like and love him. Therefore, no choices, so the boy has to take or carry her home without asking anything.  But most of this kind of behavior is not sustainable for the couple. 
           The Hmong New Year celebration is an important time and it always takes place in December of every year. It’s time for courtship and all the Hmong people (elders, young people as well as boys and girls) will gather in one large place to meet and enjoy different activities. The most important thing is to look for a life partner.
House:  The site of the Hmong house is chosen with great care, as it is important that the site is acceptable to their ancestors. The house is always built on the ground and made of hard woods, bamboos and covered by leaves. Each house must have an altar to worship. There are always two doors. The rice pounder is sometimes inside and outside the house. Normally, there are fireplace, stove, table, shelves, bench, guest platform and bedrooms and others. The Hmong traditional house is very unique. 
Birth: Each baby is said to be sent to this world by a baby Goddess. The first three days of its life it still belongs to the spirit world and if it dies no funeral is held. The birth takes place in the couple’s bedroom and no one but the midwife or husband can be present to assist in her delivery. In the past, a married woman was not allowed to give birth at her parent’s house, but at her husband’s house or her husband’s parent’s house.
Death: To have a proper funeral is of great importance to the Hmong people, for as a result the soul will prosper in the afterworld. There are many steps for organizing the funeral and many tasks related to the funeral are assigned by two men who are in charge of the rites. One man is assigned to blow the mouth organ and another to beat the ceremonial death drum, which is used for the funerals. Many sacrificial animals like pig, buffalo, cattle and chicken are killed for the dead.
Literature: The Hmong people have their own and unique cultural and traditional activities, such as Hmong poem, songs, storytelling, writing, Hmong dancing, traditional Hmong singing, Hmong New Year celebration, Hmong painting and others. For Hmong musical instruments are mouth organ, drum, leaf blowing, flute and gourd pipe. For sports, there are horse racing, cock fighting, buffalo fighting, spinning toy competition, arrow competition, ball throwing and many more.
Economy: The major daily cash income of the Hmong people is from selling rice, maize, corn, agricultural crops, and natural recourses. The Hmong like to raise animals like buffalo, cattle, pig, chicken, duck, dog and so on. Moreover, embroidery (Needlework) is one of the most important things that they would never let it go. It’s ways with Hmong people for all their lifetime.
Clothing: Nowadays much of the cloth used is purchased from market place and traders, but traditionally it all had to be produced within the Hmong household with needlework.  Even today Hmong women still like to weave and knit their own cloth for much of the clothing worn by the family. There are a lot of different types of Hmong cloth. Coins and colored thread will be put on the cloth and this is just to make the cloth more colorful.

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