When I first saw those long narrow strips of indigo tie-dyed hemp with embroidery and vintage cotton patchwork I stopped dead in my tracks. They were just photographs and I was still mesmerized by their intricacy, mixture of textiles and techniques, bright colors and raw beauty. Who made these? How can I get some of this amazing fabric?
So, the research began. Without elaborate detail or turning this into a history or anthropology lesson, here it is.
Numbering about 80,000, the Hmong hilltribe are Thailand’s second largest hill tribe in the Golden Triangle around Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai. They migrated from China to the mountainous areas of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. They also brought with them a very rich artisitic history that includes textile arts traditionally practiced by Hmong people. The embroidery consists of bold geometric designs often realized in bright, contrasting colors. Different patterns and techniques of production are associated with geographical regions and cultural subdivisions within the global Hmong community. For example, White Hmong are typically associated with reverse applique while Green Mong are more associated with batik. . Today, the practice of embroidery continues to be passed down through generations of Hmong people and their textile art remains an important markers of Hmong ethnicity.