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Home About Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand Mien

The Mien

The Mien originated in Southern China, where extensive groups of Mien remain. The Mien language comes from the Meo-Yao branch of the Sino-Tibetan family, but has been influenced extensively by Yunnanese. Yao is one of the few Hill Tribes who have their own written language, derived from historical Chinese lettering.

Traditionally Mien people dwell in highlands at an elevation of around 1,000m. They plant upland rice, corn vegetables and are now turning frequently to cash crops such as cabbages or fruit trees. The Mien live in extended family groups, where polygamy is accepted. Because their agricultural practices, adapted from the Chinese, require considerable labour, children are often adopted to increase the labour available within the family.

Mien women are easily recognised by their charateristic dress. They wear a large flowing black coat, tied at the back. A large red muff lines the front of the coat. In formal dress, the women wear beautifully embroidered trousers.

Their first pair is embroidered for their wedding ceremony. Mien women are well known for the embroidery cross stitch which they work from the back. This allows either side of the embroidery to be used. Unfortunately young women nowdays do not have enough time to learn many of the extensive techniques, and these are now disappearing and being replaced by a much easier flowery pattern.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 27 April 2010 12:52)

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