Editing: Jackson Harvey
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
[Catalog No. CFV11265; © 2019 Smithsonian Institution]
is a distinctive art of the Miao(meow)
people, who are one of the larger ethnic populations in China. They also live in neighboring countries as well as in the United States and Australia where they are more generally known as the Hmong. In China, they are mostly concentrated in Guizhou(gway-joe)
Province in the southwest where subgroups are identified by their dress and embroidery motifs, such as “Big Flower Miao” and “Small Flower Miao.” Because the Miao people do not have their own written language, their embroideries often take the role of documenting their history and culture. Their embroideries reflect their world view, values, history, religions, and the social changes they have experienced over the centuries. Working with silk and cotton thread, as well as with horsehair, embroiderers adorn cuffs, sleeves, collars, and tunic fronts with designs of mythical animals (dragons and phoenixes) and ordinary insects, fish, and flowers. Vibrant colors—such as scarlet, pink, purple, dark blue, and bottle green—are frequently used.