Minorities in Vietnam – The Hmong

The Hmong, also known as the Miao, originated from Southern China started to settle in Vietnam during the 19th century when they built hamlets in the highland regions of Ha Giang and Lao Cai provinces. The history of this emigration is closely linked to that of the Hmong struggle against the Chinese feudal authorities. The Hmong in Vietnam consist of three main sections: Color, White and Black.

The Hmong belong to the Hmong-Mien group of the Austro-Thai language, dress and customs, which may vary greatly from region to region and even from village to village. Their language has been divided into four main groups, consisting of over 80 sub-dialects. There are about 750.000 Hmong in Vietnam (over 1% of Vietnam’s population. The Hmong are widely spread across the highland areas of Vietnam, but particularly near the Chinese border.

The Hmong particularly value silver jewelry as this signifies wealth and a good life. Men, women and children wear silver necklaces and bracelets. The Hmong society is characterized by great solidarity among members of the same family and among villagers. Hmong value their independence and tend to live at high altitudes, away from other tribes. The principal food plant grown is corn, while rice taking second place. Besides irrigated rice fields, they also cultivate rice on terraces.

The Hmong are spirit worshippers. They believe in household spirits and those of the door and cattle. Every house has an altar, where protection for the household is sought. Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism have left their mark on a number of concepts and social institutions.



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