Now we are Hmong them

Young Girl in Hmong costume

Young Girl in Hmong costume


We were fortunate to be in Luang Prabang in the beginning of December when a Hmong festival happened in a nearby town. As we arrived at the festival we noticed many local people arriving in Songtheaw and dressed in vivid colors. We followed beautifully dressed young people down a dirt road until we reached an open area full of makeshift tents.

Coming to the festival

Coming to the festival

Barbecue and beautiful colors

Barbecue and beautiful colors

There was a section of the fair with many little shops and things to buy like shoes or a new knife.

Selling natural and local medicine

Selling natural and local medicine


Selling ice cream bars

Selling ice cream bars


There was a larger section full of festival foods, barbecue, and pavilions for for sitting. Another section, like a fair, where throwing darts at balloons or riding a baby roller coaster are the things to do. There was an entire area with many large colorful printed and painted backdrops for having a photograph taken.

Family at table for lunch

Pavillon


Family at the table for lunch

Family at the table for lunch

We noticed right away that no one had any objection to having their picture taken. When asked the girls would politely smile and then pose for the picture. They all LIKED to have their picture taken today. Many times I saw a young girl dressed in a beautiful outfit being proudly escorted by her parents to the fair. Courtship was definitely in the air.

Beautiful daughter and family

Beautiful daughter and family


Young Couple

Young Couple

As we wandered farther into the fair we saw beautifully dressed young people standing in rows and tossing balls back and forth to each other. I learned later this is a courtship ritual. Tossing the ball back and forth is a way of proving that you can work together. Also, the ball is tossed at a relaxed rhythm and leaves plenty of time for making conversation with a potential husband or wife. In fact, there were hundreds of people standing in lines and tossing small balls back and forth.

friends and couples standing in lines and throwing ball

friends and couples standing in lines and throwing ball

Hmong courtship and just fun

Hmong courtship and just fun

Closs up of the ball and toss

Close up of the ball and toss

Later, Michel found an old wall which he particularly enjoyed photographing the locals in front of. I spent an hour or so being completely entertained watching him gather people for pictures. He would head down into the crowd and select the young people he wanted to photograph. Then, using a combination of sign language and showing them photographs he had already taken, convince them to walk back up the hill to the wall for a picture. Usually showing them the previous photograph taken was all that was needed, even if the wall was not conveniently located, they wanted to have their picture taken too.

2 couples very well dressed

2 couples very well dressed

Little girl against the wall

Little girl against the wall

2 Girls in very authentic costumes

2 Girls in very authentic costumes

What makes these pictures and this festival so exciting is the authenticity of the clothing. The Hmong have been making these costumes using these colors and styles for generations. The colors are more vibrant now that they are no longer using natural dyes. The fabrics are not all made from local materials. But the tradition of the patterns and the styles represent the Hmong tribe that these people come from. The customs and the costume styles have been passed down for generations.

Young girl in blue

Young girl in blue

Adult women dress up too

Adult women dress up too



Categories: Laos travel

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14 replies

  1. The costumes are fantastic

  2. c’est vraiment superbe !!! i just love it ! and jules got his maths test !! halelullia !!

  3. Wow, love it! I can imagine Michel convincing the locals to follow him to the wall for a picture! His charm knows no boundaries. Love you guys.

  4. Wow, that is a must to go see. I will get up there in the new year. Beautiful photos and stunning colours. That world would totally interest me.

  5. How beautiful the costumes are! Sounds like you are having a great time. So did you a Michel try the ball throwing having a conversation all while working as a team courtship game? How did it go! Love that. Problem today in our modern world is that we are trying to do that with several balls and the TV on while checking email all at the same time. lol 🙂 Hope you are enjoying the simple beauty of being there.
    Love to you both,
    Kathy

  6. What a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing it all. Safe travels!

  7. Merry Christmas to you both. We’re enjoying your blog and wish you many more adventures in 2014.
    Lots of love, Brigitte and JC

  8. The photos are exquisite. The fabrics, colours, costumes, head gear….. More than stunning. I never knew these people existed.

  9. Hello Michel,
    J’étais au même endroit début décembre, c’était le nouvel an Hmong. Je crois même reconnaître certains Hmongs parmi ces photos…
    Pierre ( rencontré à la voie ferrée du Bokor…)
    Photos superbes

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