The Hmong people are an indigenous ethnic group in Asia. They live in China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and even the USA. Today, we’ll tell you a little bit about the folk dress of Black Hmong people who live in Sa Pa, Vietnam. This is a story of a young Hmong girl who knows the secrets of local clothing crafts and costume making. And she doesn’t mind sharing with us.
The Hmong peoples are one of the sub-groups of the Chinese Miao people. That’s why the largest number of the Hmong groups can be found in China. But Vietnam and Laos are richly populated by the Hmong people as well. Since the 18th century till these days, in Vietnam and Laos, we can find Black Hmong (Hmoob Dub), White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb), Green Hmong (Hmoob Ntsuab), Striped Hmong (Hmoob Txaij), and Leng Hmong (Hmoob Leeg).
The folk clothing of Hmong people is diverse. Each tribe and even each family has their own traditional patterns. By these patterns and the colors of the costume, you can distinguish the outfits of different tribes. Though, there are some common features seen in the clothing of all the Hmong tribes. For instance, they dye their garments with indigo dye, prefer hemp fabric to sew costumes, and use embroidery as the main decoration for the outfits, etc.
In most cases, the female Hmong attire consists of a blouse, a skirt, a jacket, an apron, leg wraps, and a headdress (by the way, there is a huge variety of headpieces worn by the Hmong women). The main pieces of the male traditional costume are a jacket (or a shirt and a vest), trousers, an apron, and a headdress.
And now, let’s get to the traditional clothing making of Black Hmong tribes from Sa Pa, Vietnam. This is a story of a young Hmong girl who knows the secrets of a local costume making.
When you come with us to the village, I can show you how my tribe, the Black Hmong, makes our traditional clothes. We make our clothes from hemp which we grow ourselves.
Here, you see me spin the dried hemp. After that, we boil and bleach the hemp.
Spinning hemp threads
Here, we take it down from the frame.
Now, I weave the fabric.
Weaving hemp fabric on a wooden loom
This is Txi. She makes the wax drawing. It is made with beeswax from the village. Today, not so many young people know how to make this anymore.
Woman in Hmong folk dress is applying a drawing on the fabric before dyeing
Drawing a pattern on the fabric before dyeing
When the wax is dry, we dye the fabric with indigo. The plant for the blue color is grown in the village. This fabric will be used for scarves, sleeves, or skirts.
Ready pattern on the indigo dyed fabric
It takes about four months to make a whole costume. Every family has their own patterns.
This is how we make the fabric shiny. We put it on a piece of wood and polish it with a big rock. Like that!
Hmong traditional method of making the fabric shiny