Culture include the thoughts, language, communications, actions, customs and traditions, beliefs and values, history, and social institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. It is the totality of ways of doing things that is passed on from generation to generation. In this passing down and every day practice, some features will be lost due to their selective use, and new ones replace them. Culture is thus never static, but a dynamic part of society.


For the Hmong, culture can be represented through the following:


  • Tangible components: national musical instruments (the reed pipe or “qeej”, the Hmong flute and mouth harp), traditional costumes and ornaments, tools (the carrying basket “kawm”, Hmong hatchet and ax), house designs, preferred physical environment, arts, rituals (wedding, funeral) and written literature.


  • Intangible components: language, religion, shamanism, traditional music and singing, social values, norms, history, myths, folk tales, oral texts and ritual chants such as the “Showing theWay” and the “txiv xaiv” funeral songs, and zaj tshoob wedding songs.


These visible and invisible elements can be regarded as forming the traditional Hmong culture that is found among villagers who live in the highlands of China and Southeast Asia. Much of this culture has changed for the Hmong who have settled in the West as a result of modern education, exposure to other cultures and assimilation to them, or the adoption of cultural features from other people.


In this section, Hmong culture is discussed in the following articles:


  1. Hmong World View and Social Structure – on Hmong Religion and Social Organization

  2. Household and Marriage in a Thai Highland Society – Marriage And Residence Rules Among the Hmong in Thailand

  3. White Hmong Kinship – Hmong Kinship Terms and Structures

  4. Culture and Settlement – The Impact of Settlement in Australia on the Culture of the Hmong

  5. The Shaping of Traditions: The Impact of Agriculture on Hmong Customs and Traditions

  6. Dreams Across Oceans: Hmong Media and its Influences on Hmong Cultural Change and Global Identity

  7. Post-War Identity Production: Changes in Hmong Culture as a Result of the Civil War in Laos and Forced Migration to Other Countries

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© 2020 by Gary Yia Lee