Reflections of Hmong History Through Tapestry

Paj Ntau Example

Recipient: Center for Hmong Studies

An interpretive exhibit, "Hmong History Through Textile", was created to show the relationship between Hmong history and the changing styles of traditional clothing and the "story cloth". Paj ntaub (flower cloth) is a form of textile artwork used to decorate women's skirts, men's collars and story cloths. The design of tradtional Hmong clothing identifies its wearer by familial, political, cultural and geographical connections.

After the Vietnam War, thousands of Hmong were displaced. Pre-war story cloths had geometric designs. Post-war women in refugee camps designed explicit depictions of political turmoil and real-life experiences. Eventually, there was a market outside of the Hmong community for these story cloths and the depictions shifted to folk tales.

The initial research for the exhibit was conducted by a professional exhibit development consultant. This consultant reviewed the literature, consulted with private collectors and museums and took a survey of institutions having Hmong artifacts, exhibits and/or relevant information. Fifty seven artifacts to be used in the exhibit were cataloged and the information put in a spreadsheet by an intern. The exhibit was then designed and the mounts and labels created for the artifact display.

The exhibit ran from September 15, 2011-January 15, 2012 at the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University.

The Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants Program has been made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.