Today I will finish this series by talking about the Mien. This is the largest language of the Mienic branch of the Miao/Yao or Hmongic/Mienic language family. The speakers of this language number about 850,000, spread between Guangxi, Yunnan, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
The following maps will be helpful as you follow the article.
Most of the Mien live in Guangxi, Yunnan, and Vietnam, with small numbers in Laos and Thailand. They are divided into many groups and subgroups, and it appears that noone has yet made a methodical arrangement of the various groups and their relationship to one another. I will present several groups, but by no means all, and try to identify them by their self designation as best I can.
The Mien share with the Hmong a love of silver, embroidery, and outstanding composition. Most Mien have the same basic pieces to their costume, and distinguish themselves by various details in ornamentation, color, cut, etc. In their homeland, the costume is an important sign and badge of identity. Here is a typical Mien costume from Jinxiu in Guangxi province, China.
Some call themselves Kem Mien,
also Dao Tien, Tsio Ban Yao, Sapeque Yao, or Coin Yao.
I will start with the biggest exception. This is the only branch of the Mien in which the women do not wear pants, but rather a batik skirt. Batik is rare among the Mien, and the style of the skirt is very different from that of the Hmong. It is not pleated, and does not have an embroidered border. Ethnologists think that it was picked up from the Bouyi, and it certainly resembles the skirt worn by the Kim Mun of Hainan island. The design of circles and zigzags does not vary.
Here is a skirt panel which is waxed and ready to dye.
There is an eastern group in which the women wear white turbans, around Cao Bang and Tuyen Quang provinces, Vietnam.
A western group which wears black turbans is found in the Hoa Binh area, Vietnam.
A brides' outfit
A grooms outfit. Hey! he gets more embroidery! All right!
Also called Black Dao of Dien Bien and Lai Chau; This group includes an apron in their costume as well as a large black turban.
Red Dao of southern Lao Cai, Yen Bai, and Son La. This is one of several groups called Red Yao.
Also called Hongtou Yao [Chinese for Red Head Yao], Dao Do, Red Dao, or Red Yao.
The costumes include a double dickey, or bib, the front part is worn inside the tunic, but the back part hangs down on the outside, taking the place of the Pan Hong patch.
These first two are Hongtou Yao from the Cao Bang area, in Vietnam close to the Guangxi border, and likely the other side of it as well.
The rest of these are some of the groups called Red Yao, with various red turbans.
This and the next are the two largest groups, The Kim Mien having many branches.
Hongtou Yao from Tianlin in Guangxi,
A little north of the Vietnamese border. This group has large red pompoms on the front which are still separate, and tassels on the sides, as well as in back. This group wears a large apron, and no longer embroiders their pants. A dickey with silver plates is worn under the tunic.
The woman in the middle of this photo belongs to a different group.
Moving somewhat to the west,
Hongtou Red Yao from Hekou, Yunnan. This group also lives across the border in Lao Cai, Vietnam.
Here are a couple images from Hekou in Yunnan.
These images are from the village of Thanh Uyen in Lao Cai province of Vietnam. The outfits are slightly different.
Hongtou Tapan Yao from Jinping area, Yunnan.
Tapan means big plank and refers to the extremely large wedding headpiece which this group and many Iu Mien wear. Unmarried girls wear a black turban, but married women wear a red conical headpiece with a silver tiara. This group has the more typical embroidered pants and a very short blue edged apron.
Some closeups ot this group's rather restrained embroidery/
Hongtou Tapan Yao of Quyet Tien
This group is found in north central Vietnam in the province of Ha Giang, the village of Xa Quyet Tien, not far from the border with Yunnan. Again, this group does not embroider its pants.
Hongtou Tapan Yao from Bac Quan.
This group lives southwest of the last group. These first images are of the festive costume. Note that here the pompoms on the front have become tassels.
We can see that in the past the apron was larger.
An everyday outfit. Note the child's hat. Fancy hats for the protection of children are widespread in east Asia, being found not only among the Mien, but also other Yao, Hmong, and even Han, and other peoples.
Red Dao or Red Tapan Yao of Tuyen Quang and Bac Can
This group is found downstream from the last two, at the edge of the delta area. In this group the pompoms have grown to extremely large size.
Here are a couple of images of the 'large plank' wedding headdress.
Note that the woman on the right here above is from the Bac Quan group.
Hontou Red Yao of Babe
This group is found slightly to the east of the last one.
Hongtou Red Yao of Yen Bai.
This is in the highlands to the west of The last few groups.
There are three divergent branches which are also found in this general area of northeastern Vietnam. They are sometimes considered to be distinct from the Kim Mien.
Lo Gang Yao
These live in the Loc Binh area of Vietnam, along the eastern border with Guangxi. They have a unique padded roof-shaped headpiece which reminds me of the Italian tovaglia. Note that the pants have limited embroidery.
This is a sister group of the above. They live in the Tuyen Quang area near the group above with the large pompoms.
Quan Chet Dao or Yao
This is another divergent branch, some live in the Tuyen Quang, Vietnam area, like a couple of the groups above, and a few live in Thanh Hoa, close to the coast. The costume is distinguished by tight pants and a floppy headdress.
Coc Mun or Man Coc
These are sometimes considered to be a subgroup of the Quan Chet. They live in northeastern Vietnam.
Lang Son province, Vietnam, along the Guangxi border
This woman is from the Thai Nguyen area.
This is the group which is best known in the west, because they live in northern Laos and Thailand, and some have emigrated to the west as a result of the Indochinese wars. In this group the pompoms on the front of the tunic have grown together into a continuous ruff, and the lower panels of the tunic are not embroidered, but the front ones are tied around the waist to secure the outfit. The colors and embroidery techniques used on the pants vary by location, and also by fashion, Brighter colors and more cross stitch being used in more recent times.
in Laos they tie their turbans in a W shape, and for dress occasions put silver chains on them. The Hmong in Laos have copied this fashion.
Here we see the bride with the large plank headdress, and the groom on the right.
Here the groom is in a red turban.
Here we have a couple of images of the everyday costume.
In Thailand, the turbans are generally round, but the outfit is otherwise similar.
Here we have a groom from Thailand and a bride whose family came from Laos. For special occasions they put on a greatly ornamented garment which can be worn either as an apron or a cape, as well as a great deal of silver.
Just a few shots of Iu Mien women at their favorite pastime.
This concludes my introduction to the costumes of the Hmongic-Mienic peoples. It may have been exhausting, but it is not exhaustive. I hope that you have found this to be interesting and informative, and perhaps has inspired you to try out some of the incredible embroidery which these people produce. Thank you for reading.
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