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A Sense of Place



Hmong Story Blanket
Ka Zoua Lee, <i>Village Story Blanket, </i> c.1980, Cotton, silk, synthetic; appliqué and embroidery
zoom Ka Zoua Lee, Village Story Blanket, c.1980, Cotton, silk, synthetic; appliqué and embroidery

 

Where to look first? People picking corn. Chopping wood. Plowing a field with the help of a water buffalo. Every inch of this blanket is filled with scenes of village life in Laos, a country in Southeast Asia. What else is happening?

These lively scenes were just memories for Ka Zoua Lee, the Hmong woman who sewed the blanket. Embroidered pa ndau , or "flower cloth," had been an important part of her culture for centuries. But when the Vietnam War forced the Hmong people to leave their homes in Laos, the tradition took on a new purpose.

Village life in Laos had been busy, but in the refugee camps of Thailand there was not much to do. To pass the time, Hmong women began sewing their memories of home into "story blankets" like this one. They were able to make some money selling their creations. Just as important, the pictures helped Hmong families keep traditions alive for their children, who only knew life in the camps.

From what you can see in this blanket, how do you think Ka Zoua Lee might have felt about her home?