skip to content

Hmong

Hmong

Geography & Topography

Regions with Significant populations: China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand

Language: Hmong, Mong

Religion: Shamanism, Buddhism, Christianity

.

History

The Hmong are an Asian ethnic from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. They consist of 18 clans within the society, namely, Chang, Cheng, Chute, Fang, Hang, Her, Kang, Kong, Kue, Lee, Lor, Moua, Pha, Thao, Vang, Vue, Xiong, and Yang. They lived in extended families that were closely knit and made a living through farming.

Many do not speak English and also tend to be non-literate in the Hmong language. The Hmong enjoy many crafts and were wonderful sewers.

Performing Arts

Music

Music plays an essential part of Hmong life. Hmong language and music are tightly bound together, their songs actually speak words and all Hmong poetry is sung. These songs are an integral part of their culture, used in many important rituals and ceremonies such as courtship and even death.

The most recognisable instruments in traditional Hmong music are:

Qeej

Qeej, the Hmong reed pipe

Qeej: A musical instrument made from six bamboo pipes attached to a wooden wind chamber. It is a highly esteemed musical instrument in Hmong culture. Four of its six pipes represent the tones of the Hmong language.

Ncas

Ncas: Hmong Flute

 

Raj: A common wind instrument used in Hmong music. These instruments are known for playing words rather than melodies. It is commonly used in courtship and dating ceremonies. Although the raj was not played by everyone, most Hmong people could understand the messages played on the instrument because the pitches were based on real tones of the words.

 Ncas: An instrument similar to the jaw harp. It is a six-inch thin strip of wood or brass with a blade cut out from it. The ncas is played by vibrating next to the mouth while blowing air through the blade.

.

.

 

Dance

Examples of traditional Hmong dances are:

Hmong Clapping Bamboo Dance

Clapping Bamboo Dance

Clapping Bamboo Dance: The dance imitates the movement of the birds as they walk between grass stems, run over tree branches, or dodge bamboo traps set by rice farmers. Dancers imitate the bird’s legendary grace and speed by skilfully manoeuvring between large bamboo poles.

 

Some interesting facts:

  • The Hmong population consist of more than 18 clans. Each clan member considers themselves to be related, by believing in the same spirits and maintaining the same traditions.
  • Storytelling is part of the Hmong culture. They spend their evenings telling stories, riddles and jokes.
  •  The Hmong believe in the afterlife.
  • The Shaman is a healing practitioner and acts as a medium connecting the spirits and material world. There is at least one Shaman in each village. He or she has to be specially chosen by the spirits.

Hmong Community in Australia:

More information on the Malaysian community: