Hmong hat avaThe women of Hmong and Miao origin wear this headdress with their national costumes. Of course, there are several sub-ethnic groups that belong to Miao and Hmong, but this particular headpiece is one of the most widespread hats among the local communities. It is bright, eye-catching, and, at the same time, rather cheap to make, so women love it. Also, it’s a distinctive feature that marks people of Miao and Hmong ethnic groups and helps them know each other among so many other minorities of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and other Asian countries where these people live.

The Hmong peoples are one of the sub-groups of the Chinese Miao people. That’s why the largest number of 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), Leng Hmong (Hmoob Leeg), etc.

Miao headwear items are always extravagant and beautiful. Some of them are made from silver or tin foil and look very ornate. But this particular headdress is simpler in materials and the amount of labor needed to make it. Still, it’s cute and suits the local women perfectly.

The headpiece has a round shape, with a flat top. It is open at the top and the hair is seen through an opening. Also, the Hmong females often wear their hair in an updo pushed through the hole so that the bun is visible if you look from above. This headdress forms sort of a wide headband with a lot of hanging beads and pendants.

 

Traditional Miao Hmong headpiece
Miao/Hmong headpieces, view from above

 

Women use cheap materials to create these headpieces – plastic beads, seed beads, artificial feathers or fur, fake purls, artificial flowers, etc. Only sometimes, they may use silver. But the construction as a whole looks intricate and opulent. There are many hanging bead adornments that move and shimmy when the wearer moves her head or walks.

Also, the traditional Hmong hat always has an embroidered ribbon incorporated in the headdress. This ribbon above the forehead serves as the main accent, and the pattern differs from region to region, from the community to community, etc.

 

Thai Hmong girl in traditional headpiece
Thai Hmong girl in traditional headpiece

 

Some of the folk Hmong and Miao headdresses are simpler, with fewer decorations, others look extremely rich and ornate, with elaborate embellishments and plenty of little detail. But literally, every headgear piece is a work of art created by skillful local women to honor their old traditions and to complement their folk attire perfectly.

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