Hmong Embroidery History

1600 Words 7 Pages
To the Hmong community, there is an important piece of cultural artifact and that is the paj ntaub, Hmong embroidery. There are two different types of paj ntaub, the clothing embroidery and the story cloth. The different types has their own meanings, but both can be seen as examples of race, class, and gender differences. The history of the paj ntaub has transformed from cultural traditional practices to commercial goods that continues to establish the class and gender inequalities as the stories and experience of the Hmong people progress.
Historically, the paj ntaub were designed and created by Hmong women from different tribes and clans. The purpose of the clothing embroideries were to create as decoration for the clothing for the families
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The importance and the duty of learning and knowing these embroidery skills fall to the women because it becomes associated to housework and therefore linked to females by default, leading to defining gender roles and responsibilities. This relates to West and Zimmerman’s article, “Doing Gender”, where “doing gender also renders the social arrangements” as normal and natural (1987:146). Children grow up thinking that there are only those two choices and that you have to fit into just one otherwise you are not perceived as …show more content…
Often Asians are seen as the model minority, an effect of the racial triangulation of Asian Americans (Kim, 1999:117). Yet, Hmong people don’t quite fit into that role because they are often seen more so as refugees than immigrants. This is primarily due to the history of the Hmong people and the conflict that caused them to be displaced, which lead them to the United States in the first place. Now as citizens and functioning members of society, I can see similarities between Hmong and Blacks and in a way, understand why Hmong people are seen as collective blacks, something we discussed in class. By no means, do I argue the treatment of Hmong people is the same for the treatment of Blacks. But, I do see the similarities in the separate race categories and how they use class status to create a segregation among people of the same race. From Our Kind of People, Black elites want to be completely separate and distinguishable from the lower-middle class and poor blacks, creating “class distinction within the black world” (Graham, 1999:3). Often this can be seen within the Hmong society as well, the well-off Hmong families disregard any concern they may have for their fellow Hmong people. Yet, they want their children to be proud of being Hmong or Black, to know their heritage and that it’s a part of them, (Graham, 1999: 183).

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