Sunday, January 24, 2010
Preserving Culture Through Paj Ntaub
The Hmong have been a group of people that has been through endless oppression and hardship. Yet, they have been able to keep their culture, experiences, and stories alive through the textile arts of pai ntaub.
As a Hmong youth myself, I have grown up watching my mother and grandmother work on their paj ntaub. However, I never understood the importance of paj ntaub until I found out that paj ntaub was used as a tool to keep the Hmong culture alive, which is why I posted the picture above, it is a depiction of the ancient Hmong writing system that the Hmong queen requested to be preserved on the paj ntaub when the Hmong Kingdom was defeated by the Han Chinese. After being overruled by the Chinese, the Hmong were able to preserve their writing on the paj ntaub. Through endless years of oppression, the writing system has been lost through time. However, there is a Hmong saying that states, “rau siab kawm ntaub, kawm ntawv" which means today, "do well in school" but it translates into English as "learn the cloth, learn the writing." This is significant because the paj ntaub has been a key factor in the Hmong’s preservation of their remaining culture and history.
Ava L. McCall. Speaking through Cloth: Teaching Hmong History and Culture through Textile Arts.” Class Reader.