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Dia's Story Cloth

The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom

By Dia Cha
Dia's Story Cloth
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Review by Allison Martin

The Hmong people have endured an arduous and traumatic journey to their new home in the United States. Originally from central and then southern China (where they are known as Miao), Hmong migrated to Laos, Thailand, and Burma. There they were identified by their colorful embroidered and appliquéd clothing as the Green Hmong and White Hmong. After 100 years of peaceful existence as farmers in Laos, they were devastated by war and its aftermath in this last century. 40,000 Laos Hmong lost their lives during the Laotian war and as many as 100,000 died afterwards. Thousands of Hmong escaped by crossing over the dangerous Mekong River into Thailand. Eventually, 125,000 Hmong people immigrated into the US. In the refugee camps and in US, they have rekindled their sewing skills to produce beautiful works of traditional and modern embroidery.

Dia's Story Cloth recounts this tragic journey with a remarkable embroidery created by Dia's aunt and uncle in the Thai refugee camp. This long journey is laid out as a map of South East Asia, decorated with detailed images of the refugee camps, strafing planes, jungles and the quiet village life. Dia Cha's personal story accompanies the striking images from the cloth. Intricate, colorful scenes of the Hmong's tragic journey, as they flee from country to country, are dramatically pictured in this amazing design. The Hmong walk and walk, as the Mekong River runs through the cloth like a shining dragon. This remarkable cloth is now displayed in the Denver Museum of Natural History and the Ethnology curator provides historical background for the book. A remarkable haunting image, that deserves to be shared with the world.

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