Friday, August 28, 2009

Silver ornaments of Hmonk

Silver ornaments: The Hmong keep a great deal of their wealth in the form of silver jewelry. All Hmong-men, women, and children-wear silver neck rings, at least for special occasions. At the naming ceremony a silver neck ring is given to a Hmong baby to keep the soul in and signify that the baby belongs to the man-world. Silver has a special significance to the Hmong, symbolizing wealth and the essence of the good life.

Every household acquires as much silver as possible, and at New Year all the family silver jewelry is worn and displayed. Three styles of earrings are worn by Hmong women. One style is shaped like an arrow with the shaft bent around to form a circle. The second is an elongated S-shaped, flat or round, with a pointed plug worn through the earlobe, and either hooked up into the back of the turban, or allowed to hang down in front. A more modern type is a small silver hook with a number of small dangles hanging from it. White Hmong, both men and women, wear heavy engraved round silver bracelets. Blue Hmong wear narrow flat engraved bracelets. These may be of brass or copper rather than silver. Neck rings, solid or hollow, are worn either singly or in sets of up to six tiers-five being standard. Frequently heavy silver chains with lock-shaped pendants are attached to the neck rings. These 'locks' are added during curing ceremonies to keep the soul in the body. At New Year they may wear heavy silver chains with pendants of fish, butterflies, wheels, bells, and miniature grooming tools, and young women may wear a pointed ring on every finger. The amount of silver displayed at the New Year festival in an affluent Hmong village is most impressive.

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