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Hmong in Vietnam

Discussion on the Hmong groups as referred to in literature on the tribal groups in Vietnam.

Books referred to below are linked to the Vietnam bibliography where full details of each volume are given.

"Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam" by Dang Nghiem Van, Chu Thai Son and Luu Hung published by The Institute of Ethnography in Hanoi. The 2000 edition repeats the text from earlier editions and speaks of the Hmong sub-groups present in Vietnam as including  Hmong Xanh (Green Hmong), Hmong Do (Red Hmong), Hmong Hoa (Variegated Hmong) Hmong Den (Black Hmong) and Na Mieo.  It refers to the Hmong as numbering 558,000 and being part of the San Miao (Tam Mieu) of South China. Around the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th they emigrated from China to Vietnam and built villages in highland regions of Ha Gian and Lao Cai provinces.

"Textiles of the Highland Peoples of Northern Vietnam, Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien, and Tibeto-Burman" by Michael C. Howard & Kim Be Howard on pages 3 and 29 refer to the relatively large numbers of Hmong in Vietnam - around 600,000. Howard and Howard confirm the migration in the late 18th and early 19th centuries into the mountains of Ha Giang and Lao Cai provinces from where they have spread into upland areas in most northern provinces.

The Hmong languages can be divided into four branches: Chuanqiandian, Qiangdong, Xiangxi and Bunu and the majority of the people speaking these languages live in China but Hmong belonging to all four branches live in Vietnam. Howard & Howard refer to the majority of Hmong in Vietnam speaking Chuanqiandian languages which include Flowery Hmong, White Hmong and Blue Hmong. The Flowery Hmong are also known as Variegated Hmong, call themselves Hmong Lenh and are the largest group of Hmong in Vietnam. The White Hmong call themselves Hmong Do and are the second largest group in Vietnam. The White Hmong include a sub-group known as Striped Hmong or Hmong Qua Mba. The Blue Hmong living in Vietnam are also referred to as Chinese Hmong. They call themselves Hmong Sua and are also sometimes called Hmong Njua. There are only a small number of Blue Hmong in Vietnam but over a million in China.

The Qiandong branch of Hmong is divided into three su-branches: Northern, Eastern and Southern. The only Qiandong branch of Hmong found in Vietnam is the Black Hmong, speakers of a Southern Qiandong language. The Black Hmong refer to themselves as Hmong Du. There are only a relatively small number in Vietnam but over a million in China.

The Xiangxi branch of Hmong includes the Red Hmong who call themselves Hmong Si. They are one of the smallest Hmong groups in Vietnam although a very large group in China.

"Hill Tribes of Vietnam - Volume 2, Profile of the Existing Hill Tribe Groups" by Joachim Schliesinger seems to base his outline of the Hmong on the text in the Ethnic Minorities of Vietnam referred to above. His identification of the different Hmong groups as shown in photos is completely different to that in Howard & Howard. His Red Hmong would appear to be Howard and Howard's White Hmong of the Striped Hmong sub-group. Schiesinger's Striped Hmong would appear to be Howard & Howard's Red Hmong. In the photos in both books the women's costumes for each group have striped sleeves!

On this website I have decided to follow the identification indicated by Howard & Howard.

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this page last updated 8 February, 2004