While I was happy to stay and relax in Pai forever, my main objective while in the North was to seek out more hill tribe silver and some textiles for sewing projects. Since most of the hill tribes live in the mountainous North, it is much easier to find their goods up there than down in Bangkok. So I left the boys in Pai and went to Chiang Mai to do some market scouring. And the markets did not disappoint!
Away from the tourist crowds of the Chiang Mai night bazaar, I found a small local H’Mong market brimming with handmade textiles in colors more vibrant than the brightest summer day. My fingers traced the intricate embroidery while my mind conjured images of the women who spent countless hours bent over their needlework, gossiping about the men and imagining the admiring looks they would receive when finally able to show off the fruits of their labor.
The H’Mong, one of the ethnic minority groups (or “hill tribes” as they are often called) in Southeast Asia, had no written language until a few decades ago, so their oral traditions and cultural identity were expressed through their art and clothing. Their dedication to their craft and level of skill is astounding. Within its stitches, each piece contains a culture’s history and a woman’s dreams of her future. True treasures.
More on the H’Mong people and the meanings imbued in their textiles later. For now, let’s take a stroll through the market, shall we?
|H'Mong woman sewing while she sells|
|a spirit house amid the market|
|children excitedly selecting fruit|
|H'Mong woman in traditional attire|