Paj Ntaub (1996)

About the Film

Hmong textile art, Paj ntaub or "flower cloth" consists of textile arts traditionally practiced by Hmong people. The Hmong, a nomadic group originating in China, migrated through the centuries into Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Closely related to practices of other ethnic minorities in China, the embroidery consists of bold geometric designs often realized in bright, contrasting colors. Different patterns and techniques of production are associated with geographical regions and cultural subdivisions within the global Hmong community.

During the war in Vietnam, Hmong men from Laos were used as a secret army for the United States troops. With the withdrawal of United States troops from Vietnam in the mid-seventies, the Hmong were facing genocide and were forced to migrate into refugee camps in Thailand. From these camps, many Hmong families came to America.

This video was made in Providence, Rhode Island, where many Hmong families emigrated from refugee camps in Thailand. The first section asks, "Who Are the Hmong". This is shown by maps, sections of story clothes showing recent events in Laos and Thailand, and video images of Hmong in Thailand. Local governance of the Hmong is shown which presents members of the Hmong-Lao Unity Association.

The next section asks "What is Paj Ntaub". This is answered by showing examples of Paj Ntaub and giving a general explanation.

The final section shows four different Hmong women, demonstrating detailed production of the techniques of embroidery, batik, reverse appliqué, and "Story Cloth" stitchery.


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Joyce Smith, the distributor, or Folkstreams.

Film Details