Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hmonk Women's cloting

Women's clothing: Blue Hmong women wear knee-length pleated skirts of hand-woven hemp or cotton cloth, hemp being preferred. The central horizontal panel is 25 to 30 cm wide, and is covered with a batik pattern. The pattern is drawn with beeswax onto the cloth with a tool made by their blacksmiths. After the wax has been applied, the cloth is immersed in a cold indigo dye. When the dye has set6, the wax is removed by boiling, then skimmed off to be used again. The Blue Hmong are apparently the only tribal people in mainland Southeast Asia skilled in batiking.

A 15 cm strip of plain cloth is attached to the top of the batiked panel, and a border with bright-coloured cross-stitch embroidery and applique of red and other bright colors is added to the bottom edge. The width of the border varies, with teen-age girls making their's wider than the adults. A strip of white is stitched to the bottom edge. The entire skirt, more than six metres for an adult, is accordion-pleated, anchored down with herringbone stitches. A thread is run through the pleats as they are made, holding them together in three or four places, and the skirt is stored that way until used.

Blue Hmong women's jackets are generally of black cotton; sometimes velvet is used. There are three types. The first has a five to six cm embroidered and appliqued strip stitched to each edge in front. The second has a wide zigzag coming down in three steps from the right shoulder, crossing over to the left side. The third has a finer zigzag pattern. The jackets are unfinished at the lower edge, and are bound down with a black sash that is wound several times around the waist.

There are two types of collars: one is a simple rectangle about 12 by 16 cm; the other has a similar rectangle, with a wide border tapering to elongated points on the jacket with the embroidered side down. There are many theories why the needlework is reversed, but the Hmong say they really do not know, only that it is the 'proper' way to do it.

Women wear an apron over the front of the skirt, which for everyday wear is black. Festive aprons, elaborately embroidered and appliqued, tie on with a red, pink, or orange sash, and have long tassels hanging down the back. For full dress occasions extra red sashes are wound around the waist until a woman seems grossly overweight. Quite often a silver belt is worn over this. At New Year an unattached batiked bib is worn with the apron. Often silver coins and ornaments are stitched to it.

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