Today I have two embroidery pieces to share, both very detailed geometric cross-stitch designs. My parents bought these in Thailand at the Chiang Mai Night Market in the mid-eighties (they had an awful lot of fun in the mid-eighties, as you can tell by my Around the World series of posts). They could only tell me that these were made by one of the hill tribes, but not which one.
As it turns out, I visited Saint Paul, Minnesota recently, which has a very large population of Hmong Americans. The Hmong are a hill tribe from Laos, and fought on the American side during the Vietnam war. After the war, many ended up in refugee camps in Thailand, and some have managed to reach the US. They often have the most incredible hair-raising tales of how they made it through to America.
Anyway, I took these along and wandered around Hmong Village, which is an indoor marketplace with lots of small shops and a food court. A number of the shops feature Hmong hand embroidery – the traditional Hmong embroidered dresses are really beautiful! And I love the ones that are a blend of traditional and American styles. I have just got to think of somewhere I could wear one. So I asked them about these pieces (and a few more, done in different styles, that will be turning up in future posts!) and it turns out that they are in fact Hmong embroidery. It’s a small world. I should also mention the food court is really delicious – especially the fish.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the colors and the designs in Hmong embroidery, and how they differ from traditional western patterns. But that’s a future post.