Textile Spotlight: Hmong Fabrics

By Kate Riley August 28, 2017

I got a history lesson today as I was browsing for fabrics when I stumbled across Hmong textiles on Etsy. Loving the motifs, I dove into that category and learned a few things about their heritage.

The Hmong people are a tribe from the hills of China, Vietnam, and Laos. When the communists gained control over Laos in the 1970s, the Hmong people were tortured and even killed, so many fled to Thailand as refugees. Income from these woven textiles sustained them in their new homes. The historical narratives of the Hmong are sewn into their cloths, they are quite skilled at weaving.

These fabrics have been available to us in the west for some time, often generically called “batik”, a label we’re more familiar with. These Hmong fabrics are created with dyed cotton or hemp and embroidered or hand stitched with traditional motifs. My love to travel and my passion for design intersect when I research the history of textiles like these.

 

 

 

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Do a search on Etsy for “Hmong fabric” and you’ll find so many beautiful textiles! Here’s a small sampling:

 

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13 comments

  1. Those textiles are beautiful! Learning the history behind what we use in everyday life can completely change the way we see things. Thanks for the short history lesson on the Hmong fabrics!

  2. Great post…my brother in law is Hmong and I don’t know much about their culture but its interesting! Beautiful textiles, I would love to surprise them with one.

  3. Love the indigo ones! And I love supporting artisans such as this. That part of history is one that many don’t fully realize. Our family went to Cambodia to work and learned so much about that dark period. It’s amazing the atrocities that have happened and continue to happen in our lifetime! I am thankful these resilient people have kept their art alive in the face of such darkness.

  4. Wonderful! I am Hmong and I love our heritage and traditions! Because we don’t have a written language (other than the one created for us in the 50’s), we use textile to represent who we are.

  5. I love these textiles! We’ve traveled through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and bought Hmong textiles there. I love to help support the people who make these exquisite fabrics! I’ve draped mine over vintage wooden weaving looms and let the full length of the textile hang down a wall so it can be enjoyed.

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