Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The Hmong or Mong are called Meo in Thai. This ethnic group, like the Yao, belongs to the Meo Yao branch of the Austro-Thai linguistic family.
The Hmong are one of the most spread out minority groups. They are scattered Throughout South China in Kweichow, Hunan, Szechwan, Kwangxi, and Yunnan provinces. There are also hmong communities in North Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and even a few in Burma. In Thailand, the number of Hmong people in 1995 was approximately 124,211 the second largest group after the Karen and made up 17.88 percent of all tribesmen in the country.
The Meo settlement is concentrated in thirteen provinces : Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan, Phrae Tak,Lampang, Phayao,Phetchabun, Kamphaeng Phet, Mae Hong Son, Sukhothai, Pitsanulok and Loei. Three subgroups of Meo are found in Thailand:

The Blue Hmong (Mong Njua), who are also known as the black Meo, Flowery Meo or Striped Meo in Thai. Women in the subgroup wear the distinctive indigo-dyed pleated skirt or kilt with a batik design.

The White Hmong (Hmong Daw). White Hmong women wear a white pleated skirt only on ceremonial occasions, but when engaged in everday work, they put on indigo-dyed trousers.

The Last subgroup is known as the Gua M'ba Meo (Hmong Gua M'ba) which literary means Armband Hmong and only recently entered Thailand from Laos. They are actually a subgroup of the White Hmong. Most are confined to refugee camps.

The extended Hmong family is patrilineal, and polygyny is allowed. The family is the most important basic unit of social organization. Beyond the family level, the clan serves as the centre for all activities that mark the uniqueness and unity of the Hmong people. The available information indicates that there are eleven clans in Thailand. The names and origins of these clans are recited in Hmong legends.
Hmong religion is a combination of pantheism and shamanism with the emphasis on ancestor-worship. The Chinese influence is obvious in their beliefs and practices.
The Hmong prefer to locate their villages at high altitudes (1,000-1,200 m.). They are pioneer of primary-shifting cultivators. Rice and corn are the main subsistence crops, and opium is the principal cash crop. The Hmong are more heavily engaged in opium production than any other highlanders in Thailand.

The New year celebration which normally takes place in December is the most important festivity.

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