11 November 2012

Meeting the Vietnamese H'mong

The H'mong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand; they are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China.

Bắc Hà is a rural district of the Lào Cai Province in the Northeast region of Vietnam. It is the capital of the region of the Vietnamese Flower H'mong, one of the more than 50 minorities of Vietnam and of the six main groups of the H'mong people. Bắc Hà town is famous for its Sunday morning market, where thousands of locals gather, the older women dressed in their handmade, very intricate and colourful traditional costumes (it takes three to five months to embroider one by hand) and the younger women in their tribal costumes manufactured in China. Another large market is the Saturday morning market at Can Cau, c. 20 km north of Bắc Hà. 

Many H'mong practice shamanism and ancestor worship. Like other animists, they also believe that all things are endowed with spiritual beings and so should be respected. Significant numbers of the Vietnamese H'mong who seek to worship independently of the regime of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have reportedly been subjected to military attacks, police arrest, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, and torture.

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume


During the Indochina Wars, the United States recruited thousands of H'mong people to fight against forces from north and south Vietnam, known as the Secret War, during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands of H'mong refugees fled to Thailand seeking political asylum. Thousands of these refugees have resettled in Western countries since the late 1970s, mostly the United States, Australia and Canada.


Portrait photographs of Northern Vietnamese H'mong people in Matt Hahnewald's

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