Mien or Yao
The Mien lived in the surrounding mountains near Tibet. The Mien moved constantly because they did not like
the controlling ruling from the Han. There were as many as 28 sub-names under the Mien. There were 4 major groups
of Mien, the Phan (Bienh), the Bunu, the Cha Sun, and Ping Ti. Out of the 4 groups, the Phan (Bienh) group had
the most man-power, and that was the group that constantly moving from place to place. Migration from China
to Thailand and Beyond, the Mien who are also related to the lowland-living Lanten peoples of Laos and Vietnam,
are believed to have begun migrating from Hunan province in China during the 15th-16th century
and spread throughout northern Vietnam, northern Laos and northern Thailand.
Linguistically, the Mien language belongs to the Miao-Yao family. It has been rendered in at least three
Thai-based orthographies and four romanisations. The Mien, however, have a tradition of writing based
on Chinese characters.
Lifestyle and House
The Taoist rituals are expensive, and the Mien appear to spend a great deal of their time struggling to save enough money
to afford the various ceremonies, such as weddings, merit-making and death ceremonies. The Mien economy was previously
based upon shifting cultivation of dry rice, corn, and small quantities of opium poppy. Today, the Mien are establishing
farms and are more settled.
The Social Structure
The Mien communities in the past depend on them self such as the way of living and the communities manage.
In the village they have a positions and support to manage in the village. The Mien families are increasing
the member in the families. The head family is the oldest might be grandfather or father and the firstborn
will be descended from.
The main occupation of the Mien people is working in a drift plantation. Now there are more silver makers because
the Mien people favor accessories made from silver. In the Mien village, there is a traditional accessories maker
and is favored by the Mien people also. Despite the social changes, the Mien people can adapt themselves
and have more occupations such as agriculture. Mien people plant the vegetables for their own consumption
and not for sale. The Mien people will store the excess food for the dry season. They do not sell the crops
that are grown in the first year of their plantation.
Bamboo stilts (Ma-Gea-House)
Now, the amusement of Mien people in their daily is fading away especially amusement for the older or the teenagers.
The amusements for the kids as chase about that they play together boys and girls, a top spin, make a bamboo as
a long leg to walk. Mien do not have the amusement in each culture or in the festival, they have amusements in
the worship or ceremonies, frequently in wedding ceremony and the New Year that can have absolutely party,
amusements. Mien forms of entertainment:
Catapults (Tang-Gong): These are made from axils that look like the capital letter Y.
Put a slingshot in the top of capital later Y, then they can use this as put the stone in the middle
of the slingshot and shoot.
A bamboo gun (Phang-Phang):
This is a favorite plaything of children. They use bamboo to make the gun,
whiten other bamboo to serve as arrows and make bullets for shooting from fruit.
The pump (House-Dong-Fae): This is made from bamboo. makes the lift pump and put in the pump. Mien play
with this by pumping the water in and squirting their friends. They play this game in the summer time.
Bamboo stilts (Ma-Gea-House):
This is made from bamboo that lifts the wearer about two metres off the ground.
For the pedal high from the ground around 50 centimeters or higher than depending on the player. This playing very
enjoyable for the kids. This game can play in every season or ceremonies. They play this game by stand in
the long leg bamboo and run.
The string trestle (Mah-Gea-Hang): It made from the stringThey take 2 bamboos and punch out the bamboos
and put the string in the both of it. They play by nip the string by the finger toe.
Top spins (Ta-Hlow):
This game is enjoyable but only for a boy. They play this game when have a free time
from their work in the farm. Man will go to the forest to cut the wood to make the top. They made it by whittles
it to acute or some people put the steel in the acute to make the top long cycle. They play by separate 2 teams
The marbles (Pu-See): The marbles is the one of the game of Mien’s kid. The kids will change the playing
as the season change.
They play by flick the marble to the hole by hand. Banana leafstalk (Nom-Jew-Fad):
They cut the banana leaf
from the stalk and cut the stalk and cock up, and then flick the hand on it that will has the voice from it.
This game very safety and it favorite for the kids.
House of Mien people when they build is depending on the comfortable for their occupation and the government
administration. The house of Mien people turn one’s back forward the mountain. If locate on the plain usually turn
one’s head to the road. They have separate the room for their daughter, the kitchen room and the rest room
for the people who come to visit and do not have a window in their house but have many doors to enter the house.
The most importance door for the Mien house is a big door. This door can contact with the sprit or tell the family’s number.
When the house has a funeral or wedding ceremonies, they will use this door to be the enter way.
Cultural and Traditional
Marriage and Family
Young Miens (both boys and girls) begin looking for a mate. Boys are usually the ones who initiate the flirtation.
When a boy has a crush with a certain girl, or found his “thought to be a lover;” he would then inform his parents
about the girl. Soon his parents would go to the girl’s parents asking for a duplicate of her birth certificate to take home
for a matching purpose. The matching includes both boy’s and girl’s birth date, month, year. It is somewhat similar
to the astrology, horoscope reading, or the 12 Zodiac. If the matching part goes well, the boy’s parents would
return to the girl’s home with a silver bracelet, which is to be displayed atop of the discussion table.
The girl side prepares a small meal, so the two sides can sit on the table together to introduce themselves,
and get to know one another. After the introduction between the two parents, the girl would come over
and help clean up the table. If the girl likes the boy, she would accept his bracelet and keep it in a safe place.
But if she dislikes the boy, she would not accept his bracelet, she may return it immediately, or within 2 days.
with a silver bracelet, which is to be displayed atop of the discussion table. The girl side prepares a small meal,
so the two sides can sit on the table together to introduce themselves, and get to know one another.
After the introduction between the two parents, the girl would come over and help clean up the table.
If the girl likes the boy, she would accept his bracelet and keep it in a safe place. But if she dislikes the boy,
she would not accept his bracelet, she may return it immediately, or within 2 days.
New Year (Jiex Siang-Hnyangx or Jiex Hnyangx)
Like other cultures, the Miens celebrate their new year once a year. Mien observe New Year’s Day to wish for peace,
good health, prosperity, and happiness. Miens use a lunar calendar derived from that of the Chinese. and one can find
a Chinese calendar hanging on the walls of almost every Mien home. New Year's Day for Mien people falls
on the same day as that of the Chinese.
Miens prepare for their New Year celebration at least a month ahead of time. To prepare for the celebration,
Mien families busy themselves gathering firewood for cooking foods, roasting meats, and for keeping the house warm.
They store away foods for animals, and they bring home rice, fruits, and vegetables from their farms;
they fatten their animals (cows, pigs, chickens) for the New Year feast. Parents usually buy or sew new outfits
for their children to wear on the New Year’s Day.
On New Year’s Eve:
New Year's Eve is a day for family unification, for the immediate families, relatives,
and cousins to come home to visit their moms and dads. Its purpose is welcoming the New Year,
and thanking the spirit ghosts for keeping everyone safe till this day.
New Year’s Day:
“Saengh-Ietv Dorm” is the first morning of the New Year. On the New Year’s Day, every adult in
the family gets up very early in the morning to walk outside the house to collect a few small rocks and bring them
to the house. These stones represent wealth and prosperity for the family. The adults then boil the eggs
and dye them red. When the children get out of bed, their New Year charms are waiting for them.
To welcome the New Year, Mien kids light firecrackers; adults fire a gun in the air.
Chinese New Year
The New Year for the Mien people usually falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year around 14-16 February.
There is a ritual on the eve of the New Year, where the villagers will prepare offerings for the ceremony,
such as gold and silver incense papers and fire woods for the ritual. On this day, the villagers cannot go to
work or pick fire woods and instead, the villagers will make a sweet called “JeabFueiYou”
in Mien language.
The Mien people believe that on the 14th, it is a day for Man. The villagers do not go to work in the fields,
or go hunting. On this day the villagers will give offerings to the ancestors’ spirits. On the 15th, the ancestor
spirits will return to protect and take care of the grandchild, which means that the spirit is freed and have
came to eat the food that the grandchildren had offered. The people from outside can not enter the village also.
They also forbid cutting of banana leaves because the Mien people believe that the spirits will use these leaves
to take the food back to the nether world. On the16th, the villagers will go back to work again because
they believe that the spirits have returned and cannot create trouble. The Mien people will perform the rituals
every year to offer food to the spirits so that the spirits will protect their families and their village.
The Ordain ceremony
To be ordained (Gwatung) -“Gwatung” in Mien means hanging a lamp. This ceremony was influenced
by the Taoist ancestry. This ceremonial for a man and it is a make a prestige for the person who to be
ordained, give a merit to the ancestor.
The Gwangtung ceremony involves hanging the 3 lamps and is very important because this is to devolve
upon the heir and give merits to the ancestor. In this ceremony, the people will hang up pictures of gods
for worship, and all of the people who ordained can go to heaven when they die. The importance
of this ceremony is to pass the influence from the teacher who conducts the ceremony to the person
who wants to be ordained. Whoever went through this ceremony will call the person who influenced him
teacher as long life. For the person who will be the teacher is not the same person who give the ceremonial
but pass the Gwatung ceremonial or the pas the first of the ordain ceremonial.
The ordain ceremony has 3 levels:
: GwaFarmToyTung, this ceremony is the first step for the ordain ceremony and takes place over 3 days.
: GwaCheatFitTung, this ceremony is the second step, and takes place over 7 days.
: TowChai or GwaLorTung, this is a big ceremony, and takes 7 days to complete.
Religious, Beliefs, and Rituals
Be under interdiction
Be under interdiction in wickedness day. The Mien call this day ging. This day comes from the beliefs
of the ancestors and is passed down from generation to generation. Mien people will be under interdiction
from the Mien New Year ( that being the same as the chinese calendar). The first day of the new year starts
in january or february in the Thai calendar and on this day Mien people stop working the field, do not kill
any animals and do not hang clothes out. They believe that if they do not strictly follow the "no work"
rules during this time bad things will happen to the village and the person who does not obey.
Each village follows the chinese calendar and therefore each follows interdiction on the same day.
Mien wear a long pants with many stripes and a cloak to the ankles. Around their neck has a knitting wool,
has a clothes on the waist, wrap the head. Wrap the head has two steps, the first wrap by the clothes
and the second wrap a stripes clothes cover on the first, it has two forms, the first is a big head and a headland
and the Mien people wrap their head even they sleeps.
A cloth for Mien are a undershirt. Wear with a short pant, a shirt and pant made from a navy blue cotton
or a black cotton. The older wear a velvet cloth when the village has a ceremonial.
A child cloth, similar to the elder, a child will has a small group of color like a do not have a stripe on the pant because
her could not preserve or keep it clean. For a boy be the same the elder man, a boy has a cap such as a girl also
but has a small detail different like a boy sew by alternate a black and a red cord.
Mien women wear a black long pant with many beautiful stripes. The stripes take a long time
to make like 1-5 years depending on the detailed and a time of Mien women.
A flute or Jyud in Mien language
The musical instruments of Mien people are not complicated, but the only chance to hear Mien instruments is during big
and important ceremonies and worship – they are not played just for leisure. Instruments are used in the Mien wedding,
ordainment, funeral and Chew-Ta-Hyua (calling a spirit back from hell) ceremonies. Some ceremonies do not have
the whole set of musical instruments – it depends on the ceremony in question and the person hosting the ceremony.
For example, music in a funeral ceremony that do not be ordained cannot use the flute, while in the ceremony to call
the spirit back from hell, a cymbal and drum are used. We can not hear the music from Mien people if they do not
have the ceremonies or we can not hear the voice even they practice the Mien music.
Mien musical instruments
A flute or Jyud in Mien language:
There is one wind instrument: A flute or Jyud in Mien language. Miens have only one flute. It is made from copper and brass.
Mien percussion instruments
The Mien calls this Choy or Lor-Choy. It has two faces. The drumhead is made from cowhide.
Around 300 small sticks decorate the drum.
Gong: Mien calls their gong Mung. It is made from a metal alloy and is similar to the Thai gong.
Mien calls their cymbal Chao-Juey orChaw. It is made from brass. It is similar
to the Thai cymbal and has two pieces, which are hit together.