On 10 February 2014 Hmong Archives quietly completed 15 years of collecting and preserving 165,000 Hmong materials (Hmoob teej twg) from over 950 donors worldwide. Our exhibit is to thank our donors and volunteers for their contributions, and to honor the skills, imagination, and innovation of Hmong women’s thread and needles that have created paj ntaub over the centuries.
Paj ntaub, or Hmong embroidery, has become a Hmong artistic gift to the world. For centuries paj ntaub was the specific distinctive costume detail that belonged to each of the many Hmong groups scattered across the mountains of southwestern China and northern Southeast Asia. Women were known for their skill with needle and thread in producing their family’s clothing for Hmong New Year and other special occasions. They raised hemp, wove it into cloth, and dyed it with indigo and other natural dyes. This continued with little change for centuries in the mountain villages unless wars disrupted their peaceful subsistence farming lives.