Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The modern hmong woman, the modern hmong man

Traditionally, the outfits worn by Hmong women for special occassions were homemade, a way to show off the girl's sewing skill, thereby making her a more desirable potential wife.

These days, many of the girls wear shimmering, store-bought outfits in garish greens and yellows. I guess maybe sewing skills are not as desirable as the ability to pay a significant sum of money (I heard about $50) for an outfit these days.

The men have also generally eschewed the traditionally home-made black outfits fitted with silver coins for a more modern look. Jeans and t-shirts, leather jackets, whatnot.

Looks like these two maybe made a love connection. Don't know if they connected over the ball-toss or not.

Speaking of the ball toss, Xeng explained one story of how the game started. It seems a girl from a wealthy family fell for a boy of lesser means. The girl's father did not approve of their love and forbid the girl from seeing him. The girl, heartbroken, pretended to lose the ability to speak. The father, wanting to find a husband for her, decided to line up all the boys of the village. He then gave his daughter a ball, instructing her to throw it to the boy she wanted as a husband. She threw it to her not-well-to-do love and so her father finally allowed them to marry. He said this was one of many stories of how the tradition started, but was the most popular one.


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