Mien People or Yao People

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Mien people, which means ‘Sung Dynasty’, are an ethnic group. However, Chinese people call them ‘Yao’, another word for ‘independent’.

It’s believed that Mien originated from the middle part of China and first started their livings in Yunnan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou. As time went by, they evacuated to northern Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. For Thailand, they’ve inhabited there for over a hundred years.

To be precise, their stories in the past aren’t certain. There is even another history of them. This one says that Chinese people call them ‘Yao’, which means ‘savage’. The government service also give ‘Mien’ as the name of their group. Eiw-Mien, which means ‘humans’, is also an alternative way to call them. There are about 12 families of Mien who went through Laos to access Vietnam and, finally, entered Thailand.

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Lifestyle and Language

For women, they wear black trousers with gorgeous patterns on the fronts, with waist clothes, head clothes and black long-sleeved shirts with red knitting wool.

For men, they wear short-waisted shirt with round-shaped shirt collars, silver buttons. Also, they have dark blue or black trousers with pockets and patterns on the fronts.

Mien People often build their houses using the ground as the floors. Regularly, they don’t live in the middle of valleys or on mountaintops. Their families are enormous. They respect eldest people as family leaders and every families must depend on their leaders.

For food, they usually consume rice using chopsticks like Chinese people. And, their side dishes are cooked and salty, mostly.

Mien People’s language is Hmong-Mien, which is a type of Sino-Tibetan. The language is only for speaking. They don’t have alphabets for writing. Therefore, to write texts, they adapt alphabets from Hanzu language for their language.

Entertainment

Mien People play music like we do. They have copper flutes, brass flutes, drums, gongs and cymbals. These music instruments are used to play for important ceremonies like weddings or funerals.

Not just music. Mien People also have many other ways for their entertainment.

For an examples, Tang-Gong. This is a type of slingshot. To make a Tang-Gong, they use a wooden stick with split ends. After decorating the stick, they tie elastic bands between both ends. Finally, they use some small stones to shoot.

The bamboo gun is also interesting. This is the most popular toy among their children. The gun body is made using a large bamboo stick with a diameter of 1 or 2 centimetres and the trigger is made of a small wooden stick. To shoot, a small fruit must be put into the gun body first.

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Ritual and Belief

Mien People are like many other ethnic people. They respect spirits, which here mean gods, goddesses, spirits of their ancestors, and any other spirits. If you have a chance to visit a community of these people, you might see worshipping shelves in their houses. These shelves are meant to be dwelling places for spirits of their ancestors.

Beside of spirits, they also believe in other types of supernatural things too, like bad luck, good luck, and prophecies.

Mien People have many rituals and tradition, from birth ritual to New Year Festival. Most of these are bounded with their supernatural believes too.

Let’s take the ‘Apology Ritual’ as an example. This ritual is has been past from generation to generation. It’s all about apologising to spirits that they have disrespected. They believe that if they make these spirits angry, villagers can become ill and there would be no way to cure the patients. Therefore, they need to apologise to these spirits with this ritual.

Wedding Culture

When it comes to a wedding, a man must be responsible for the bride-price and all expenses. Then, after getting married, the woman is supposed to move in with her husband and his family. She will stop using her previous last name and use her husband’s instead.

If a man don’t have enough fortune for the bride-price and all expenses, he may move in with his future wife for about 15-20 year, probably. After that, the woman may move into her husband’s houses instead.

A woman may need to take care of her parents. In that case, she must provide a bunch of money for her man to let him live with her family. He is considered to be a big help of her family. Therefore, paying him is a way to show her respect to him.

If you wish to see Mien people, these villages in our site are expecting you.