Miao nationality

The Miao nationality is one of the largest and most complex nationalities of China. With a population of 7,500,000 in China, and sizable populations in other countries of Southeast Asia, Australia, the United States, and France they have developed many different cultural characteristics. In China, more than half of them live in Guizhou Province, 20% in Hunan and Yunnan, and smaller numbers in Guangxi, Hubei, and Hainan Island. In general, they live in mountainous areas.

The Miao call themselves by many different names. Among them, there is Hmu in Eastern Guizhou, Hmong, Muo, or Mao in the area of Guizhou, Sichuan, and Yunnan; Guoxiong in western Hunan, and Ahmao in northeastern Yunnan.

These four peoples, for most authors, completely different, not only in language but in every aspect of their culture, are officially the four main branches of the Miao Nationality. Which, on the other hand, after almost half a century sharing this denomination, is beginning to make sense among most of the Miao. There is no doubt that the term “Miao”, as is used in China and abroad designates a specific, although a large set of ethnic groups, all from the same linguistic family.

Introductory Articles in Ethnic China

Miao embroidery: history and mythology in a piece of cloth: A Miao woman tells the story and myths in a piece of fine embroidery.

Scholars Researches available in the Web

Roger Casas.- Vang Pao, the Hmong, and the «Secret War» in Laos

On June 4, eight ethnic Hmong Lao exiles and a retired US army officer were arrested by California federal authorities under charges of conspiracy to topple the government of Laos. The alleged plotters intended to purchase more than $10 million worth of weapons, including hundreds of AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles, Stinger missiles, mines, rockets and explosive C-4.

Dia Cha.- The Hmong ‘Dab Pog Couple’ Story and its Significance in Arriving at an Understanding of Hmong Ritual

Many Hmong continue to believe in the efficacy, and commission the practice by shamans of, some of the more important traditional rituals, such as marriage rites, «soul calling», healing rites, worshipping the «house spirit», and funeral rites.

Patrick F. Clarkin.- Hmong Resettlement in French Guiana. Hmong Studies Journal, Volume 6.

Within the Hmong refugee diaspora, the Hmong of French Guiana are fairly unique in that many have achieved economic autonomy through market farming while also residing in rural, ethnically homogeneous villages that help to preserve cultural and linguistic traditions

Joseph Davy.- Por Thao’s Funeral

What follows is a personal account of my experience of the traditional three-day funeral which ensued.

John Duffy.- Literacy and L’Armee Clandestine: The Writings of the Hmong Military Scribes

Among the many consequences of this transformation of the Hmong fighters from a guerrilla force into a conventional army was the growth of a large and increasingly complex military bureaucracy.

John Duffy, Roger Harmon, Donald A. Ranard, Bo Thao, and Kou Yang.- The Hmong

It is intended primarily for service providers who will be assisting the refugees in their communities in the United States. But others may find it useful, too. Teachers may use it to educate students about a people whose modern history is closely intertwined with America’s.

Robert Entenmann.- The Myth of Sonom, the Hmong King

This paper discusses the inaccurate designation of Sonom, an important figure in 18th century Chinese history as a Hmong king.

Catherine Falk.- Hmong Funeral in Australia in 1992.

Death is the most important ritual time for the Hmong. Traditionally, an elaborate three day ceremony took place, with further ritual conducted 13 days and again one year after death.

Catherine Falk.- Hmong Instructions to the Dead. What the Mouth Organ Qeej Says (Part One)

During the Hmong funeral ceremony, detailed instructions for the journey to the world of the ancestors are sung and played to the soul of the deceased. The free-reed mouth organ, encrypts lengthy sung poems in its seven musical notes, creating a disguised language that can only be understood by the dead. This paper presents a first and complete version of the funeral poems performed by Mr. Xeem Thoj, a White Hmong ritual expert and mouth organ player from Laos who resettled in Australia in 1991.

Catherine Falk.- Hmong Instructions to the Dead. What the Mouth Organ Qeej Says (Part Two)

Catherine Falk.- Upon Meeting the Ancestors: the Hmong Funeral Ritual in Asia and Australia

This paper will describe how the text affects its own telling at a specific moment in the death rites of the Hmong people, drawing chronologically on seven accounts dating from the 1890s to 1992

Hao Huang and Bussakorn Sumronthong.- Speaking with spirits: the Hmong Ntoo Xeeb New Year ceremony.

Currently, Hmong New Year celebrations in northern Thailand no longer coincide with the lunar calendar, but have been adapted to fit the Western calendar; also celebrations are not limited to three days, but take place during an entire week.

Vincent K. He.- Hmong Cosmology: Proposed Model, Preliminary Insights

I will show that the Hmong cosmos consists of three separate realms and that these are connected together by the cycle of the human soul.

Deborah G. Helsel, Marilyn Mochel, and Robert Bauer.- Shamans in a Hmong American Community

The data suggest the persistence of the need for the spiritual healing provided by the shamans within this immigrant community. Shamans’ rituals affirmed and strengthened connections to family, culture, and community.

Gary Yia Lee.- Diaspora and the Predicament of Origins: Interrogating Hmong Postcolonial History and Identity

This paper examines two basic issues that have been of major concern to the Hmong in the diaspora:. What is their historical and geographic origin; and are the Hmong part of the Miao nationality in China, and should they accept being known under this generic name?

Gary Yia Lee.- Cultural Identity In Post-Modern Society: Reflections on What is a

There is no easy answer to the question of what constitutes the cultural identity of a person or human group.

Mai Na M. Lee.- The Thousand-Year Myth: Construction and Characterization of Hmong

Coined only in the last twenty years, the phrase «Hmong means free» has been thoughtlessly promoted by both Hmong and non-Hmong alike.

Prasit Leepreecha.- The Construction and Reproduction of Hmong Ethnic Identity in China

I have attempted a basic ethnography on the construction of Hmong ethnic identity by exploring their myths, legends, rituals, songs and proverbs. Because the Hmong have no written language to record the past, these forms of culture have been constructed and reproduced instead from generation to generation.

Jacques Lemoine.- What is the actual number of the (H)mong in the world?

Jacques Lemoine.- To Tell the Truth

I have the feeling that it is the duty of a scholar of my generation to see that (H)mong studies avoid the political and scholastic fantasies of the time, and keep progressing in the only right direction: scientific knowledge.

Jean Michaud.- From Southwest China into Upper Indochina: an overview of Hmong (Miao) migrations:

Groups of Hmong swiddeners were seen migrating during the late 19th and early 20th centuries… Who were they? What was their history before these migrations?

Gayle Morrison.- The Hmong Qeej: Speaking to the Spirit World

This investigation focuses on the unique communicative ability of the Hmong qeej, a free-reed multiple pipe musical instrument.

Jean Mottin.- A Hmong Shaman’s Seance:

An interesting depiction of the basic facts about Hmong religion and beliefs, and the main components of their shamanic trance.

Vayong Moua.- Hmong Christianity: Conversion, Consequence, and Conflict

Nothing in this world can rip people apart… like religion. Nothing in this world can unite people… like religion. People have poured out their most intense animosities… for their religion. People have found extraordinary strength to forgive and care… in their religion. Religion releases our most extreme and deepest emotions…

Vayong Moua.- The Hmong Religious Experience

This paper is more than an academic exploration about change in our culture! This is a call among our people to re-evaluate our values. This is a plea to reconcile and respect differences to halt the manifestation of further conflict. This is an order to expand our paradigms (without surrendering who we are) and listen to one another. Change is imminent…peace is not!

Helda Pinzon-Perez, Neng Moua, Miguel A. Perez.- Understanding Satisfaction with Shamanic Practices among the Hmong in Rural California.

The purpose of this study was to determine the difference in the levels of satisfaction among Hmong clients who use shamans and their services in Fresno County with regard to factors associated with animal sacrifice, gender of the shaman and the practices inside or outside of the client’s home.

Louisa Schein.- The Dynamics of Cultural Revival Among the Miao in Guizhou

Revival is constituted by the convergence of two processes: (1) an unselfconscious resurgence of cultural practice among local people and (2) a deliberate promotion of such practices by state organs.

Bussakorn Sumrongthong.- Speaking with Spirits: The Hmong Ntoo Xeeb New Year Ceremony. Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 63, 2004: 31-55

The Ntoo Xeeb ceremony is a principal New Year’s ritual in which all responsible male heads of households in the village are expected to participate. This is a way of showing respect to all four benevolent spirits of the locality, with the Ntoo Xeeb spirit as the titular head, and to thank them for safeguarding the villagers over the past year. It constitutes one of the most sacred communal rituals undertaken by the villagers of Mae Sa Mai

Weihua Tan.- Miao Drum Culture and Its Social Function

The Miao drum, as a specific cultural symbol, possesses great ethnocultural significance and it serves an important social function complementary to Miao people’s customs of production, livelihoods, beliefs, rituals and festival celebrations.

Nicholas Tapp.- Cultural Accommodations in Southwest China. The «Han Miao» and Problems in the Ethnography of the Hmong.

This paper, based on fieldwork in Sichuan, examines some problems of Hmong ethnography, inquiring why color terms were used for some groups of Hmong, as well as subdivisions of them.

Nicholas Tapp.- A trip to Vietnam.

But there are a number of ethnographic puzzles here which I was reminded of on my visit earlier this year.

Nicholas Tapp.- Hmong Religion.

The Hmong are pantheists, believing in a variety of natural and supernatural spiritual forces living in and animating all things. The Hmong is inhabited by a variety of natural, ancestral, and supernatural spirits or gods.

Yer J. Thao.- Culture and Knowledge of the Sacred Instrument Qeej in the Mong-American Community.

This study aims to describe the importance of the oral tradition of the sacred instrument Qeej to Mong culture. It is an attempt to help preserve Mong oral traditions and facilitate the continuing practice of traditional funeral rites, in which the Qeej plays a central role by guiding the soul of the deceased to the realm of the ancestors.

Thao, Mai Koua.- Hmong Displacement in Asia up to 1975

The Hmong are an ethnic minority that have been persecuted since ancient times. They were stubborn montagnards who refused to succumb to Chinese civilization. Chinese history begins mentioning them around 2500 BC, though their presence in China dates as far back as 3000 BC. Wherever they settled, they fell victim to discrimination and political abuse.

Paoze Thao and Chimeng Yang.- The Mong and the Hmong

The authors will shed light on the Mong and the Hmong, so that the Mong themselves, the general public, and service providers will have a true picture of the Mong people.

Hai Nguyen Tien, Holm Uibrig.- Human-ecological Investigation on the Land Use of Flowery Hmong to Overcome Poverty – A case Study from Lao Cai Province, Vietnam

In the context of economic renovation, Vietnam has transferred land-use rights form state and cooperative units under central planning to individual, community and other entities. Despite remarkable success in the lowland agriculture, the advancement in the uplands stays behind expectation.

Xee Vang.- The Hmong Language.

For many centuries, the Hmong language was firmly an oral type of communication. There was no alphabet system, no written texts, and no cultural activation to need a literacy system.

Kenneth White.- Kr’ua Ke (Showing the way) A Hmong Initiation of the Dead.

Death is often thought of as a journey. For the Hmong it is seen as a journey to the sources of life. In order to prepare the dead to face this great mystery, it is necessary to give them an explanation of the Creation and its antithesis : Death.

Khou Xiong.- Hmong in France: Assimilation and Adaptation

The following paper looks at the assimilation and adaptation of the Hmong in France into French culture and society.

Nao Xiong.- The Hmong Khaene (Rad Qeej Hmoob)

All life is sound. For life is motion, and motion grows out of sound. Nature itself is full of sound, full of music. But the most remarkable things in life are not always easy to define – love, sadness, joy, imagination

Kao-Ly Yang.- The Meeting with Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. A Case Study of Syncretism in the Hmong System of Beliefs. Hmong Studies Journal, Volume 7

The purpose of this case study is to shed light on the identity of the spirit of fertility called Lady Kaying -Niam Nkauj Kab Yeeb-, its religious origin and the general processes of borrowing her from other cultures within the Hmong culture.

Kao-Ly Yang.- Hmong Traditional Systems of Measuring and of Weighing in Laos.

Kou Yang.- Research Notes from the Field: Tracing the Path of The Ancestors. A Visit to the Hmong in China.

This paper consists of personal research notes collected by a Hmong-American scholar during a 2004 visit to Miao communities in China. The author provides his personal observations related to conditions in Miao villages and cultural and social exchanges between Hmong-Americans and Miao.

Zhang Xiao.- Common Basis and Characteristics of the Miao and Hmong Identity

The origin of the Miao people is still an unsolved problem. For the past five thousands years, the sequences are rather clear, partly because the Chinese historical Annals. There are also rich historical legends among Miao people’s culture.

In French Language

Philippe Klein.- Le messianisme hmong

L’identité miao/Hmong acéphale a été toujours confrontée à des Etats qui par leurs puissances ont tenté de l’annihiler.

Alykhanhthi Lynhiavu.- «Fictions et vérités» : l’orientalisme à travers les écrits sur les Miao-Hmong.

Loque qui a pour thème «Anthropologie et écritures, aujourd’hui», je me suis interrogée sur les raisons pour lesquelles une image perdure des anciens Miao, ces montagnards du sud de la Chine dépeints comme de farouches «guerriers».

Jean Michaud, Christian Culas.- Les Hmong de la péninsule indochinoise: migrations et histoire.

On ne peut parler de l’Indochine et de ses organisations sociales sans aborder la question des sociétés montagnardes.

Barbara Niederer.- La langue Hmong

La langue Hmong est parlé par environ 2,5 millions de personnes.

Free Thesis and dissertations about the Miao/Hmong Nationality.

Nathan Augustus Badenoch.- Social Networks in Natural Resource Governance in a Multi-Ethnic Watershed of Northern Thailand

Scott Andrew Downman.- Intra-Ethnic Conflict and the Hmong in Australia and Thailand

Song Evellyn Lee.- Hmong Women Issues: Identity and Mental Health

One of the main goals was to examine associations among mental health,
perceptions, behaviors, and demographic variables. A second main goal of the study was to examine whether perceptions of the participants were similar to their reported behaviors.

Judith A. Lewis.- Hmong Visual, Oral, and Social Design: Innovation within a Frame of the Familiar

Moua, Teng.- The Hmong Culture: Kinship, Marriage and Family Systems. 2003

The purpose of this study is to describe the traditional Hmong kinship, marriage and family systems in the format of narrative from the writer’s experiences, a thorough review of the existing literature written about the Hmong culture in these three categories,

Nicholas Frederick Poss.- The communication of verbal content of the Hmong Raj: An ethnographic analysis of performance practice.

Hmong-American community continue the practice of communicating verbal content on a variety of instruments, including raj, a family of aerophones…multiples levels of communication in raj performances are investigated.

Dengnoi Reineke.- The Lao State and Hmong Relationship

Presently, displaced by opium eradication programs which are heavily supported by the international community, the Hmong have found themselves aimlessly wandering into the cities of Laos. Their poverty and presence are prominent in make-shift tin shacks illegally scattered all over on government land.

Wong, Chau Ying.- Participation and Empowerment: An Ethnography of Miao women in rural China. Hong Kong, 2003

Free books about the Miao

An Album of the Miao Minority – 1786

This book contains 41 illustrations, with texts on the left and illustrations on the right. The painting is meticulous, the engraving and drawing lively, the people lifelike, and the colors rich, retaining their freshness after more than 200 years. The illustrations show that in the region depicted, the Miao, Lao, and Han Chinese lived in mixed communities and had customs that were quite different from those in other places in China. The illustrations, organized by category, give a picture of the area and the people’s way of life in a single album.

Jean Mottin.- History of the Hmong

David Strecker and Lapao Vang.- White Hmong dialogues.

The Miao in 1834 – The most troublesome of the latter order (talking about minor insurrections) have been occasioned by the Miao and other tribes lodged among the mountains in the very heart of the empire.

The Miao in The Middle kingdom: a survey of the geography, government…: A Chinese traveller among the Miao says that some of them live in huts constructed upon the branches of trees, others in mud hovels. Their agriculture is rude, and their garments are obtained by barter from the lowlanders in exchange for metals and grain, or woven by themselves.

The Gathering of the Miao Clans. At the gathering of the Black Clan, March, 1894, there were about four hundred youths and maidens. This gathering is held annually and at the same place for three years. Their embroideries seem to be about the richest.

Miao March festival in 1894 – At a given signal the lads played a few bars, and then waving their flutes in unison, each little group moved sideways on a few steps, the lassies taking the lead until they stopped, when the lads would play another few bars and then the group moved again.

The Miao in Hosie’s Three Years in Western China: The following pages are intended to present a picture of Western China as the writer saw it in 1882, 1883, and 1884.

The Miao in Hosie’s On the Trail of the Opium Poppy. This country was and, after the lapse of 50 years, still is the home of the Hei Miao-tzu (» Black Miaotzu»). Ruined stone guard-houses and refuges on hilltops, evidences of the struggle between extortion and docility, between might against right, are to be seen on all sides

The Miao in Bentley’s Miscellany: Yongzheng boasted to have conquered them, but the extent of his conquest is to be doubted, from the admitted fact of his never having been able to make them consent to adopt the Tartar tail.

Werner. Ancient Tales and Folklore of China.

If the Miao have no written records, they have many legends in verse, which they learn to repeat and sing. These are composed in lines of five syllables, in stanzas of unequal length, one interrogative and one responsive. They are sung or recited by two persons or two groups at feasts and festivals, often by a group of youths and a group of maidens.

Ethnic China photo exhibitions

All days are Festivals among the Miao – Due to the development of the tourism in Langde and other Miao villages, some young girls have gave up the agriculture activities, and wearing their best dresses, gather every day in the main square to sing and dance for the tourists groups.

Documentary Films about the Miao

The Miao Wedding – Zhang Zhihua: This short documentary film shows the different ceremonies of a wedding among the Ah-Mao people living in Yilang County, near Kunming.

Art and Handicrafts

The Miao in the art: The Miao are a favorite theme of many Chinese artists in search of the exoticism of the life of the Chinese Minorities. There are hundreds of painters that depicted in some moment of his career the life and costumes of the Miao women.

The paintings of Zhao Chun: searching for the goddess in the Miao women A Chinese artist whose late works depict all the mythic magic of the Miao women.

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