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The Hmong migrated from southern China in the nineteenth century to the mountainous areas of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. During the Vietnam War the Hmong worked with the American CIA in the "secret war in Laos," and therefore were forced to flee their homeland after the victory of the communists. After spending time in refugee camps in Thailand, many Hmong settled in the United States, with large concentrations in California (ca. 75,000), Minnesota (ca. 40,000), and Wisconsin (ca. 40,000).
The Hmong have brought with them a rich visual arts heritage. Paj ntaub or "flower cloth" continues to be produced by Hmong artists in this country. The designs and patterns used are symbolic in Hmong culture and often are derived from forms in nature. Paj ntaub is used to decorate traditional Hmong clothing and are valued as works of textile art.
The cloths presented here come from two sources: Flower Cloth of the Hmong, Denver, CO: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1985, and Joan Randall, ed., Art of the Hmong-Americans, Davis, CA: C.N. Gorman Museum (UC Davis), 1985. The textiles shown from the first work are for the most part untitled and unattributed; the textiles in Randall are properly attributed.
Flower Cloth of the Hmong
Art of the Hmong-Americans