My Hmong Girl Illustration & T-Shirt – Inspired by my history & heritage

The Hmong Paj Ntuab story cloths that my mom used to sew by hand always fascinated me. I wish that I was as talented as her but unfortunately all I could do were some cross stitches and hanging beads.

We live in a different time now than our parents. I have always wanted to preserve the art and creativity that my mom created in past times by reinterpreting it into our modern world. I think that I have finally gotten there with this illustration of a Hmong Girl. This is a series of illustrations that I’ve been working on. I hope to share more with you in the upcoming weeks so feel free to bookmark this page and check back often!

Where there once were little flat figures sewn against a piece of cloth, it seems we are now in the Icon and Emoji stages. How vastly different these two mediums are, yet how similar they are in that they tell stories about how we feel and what we do on a daily basis!

When I see the dancing red emoji girl and other emoji icons being used, I often think about the little figures that my mom used to sew onto these story cloths.

The Hmong Paj Ntaub story cloth was a way for Hmong women to tell their stories about war, poverty, labor, family and love. Like many Hmong women in the refugee camps in Thailand, my mom sewed these beautiful, elaborate story cloths and sold them to make a living. Can you believe all of this was done by hand with just thread and a piece of cloth?!

Hand sewn Hmong Paj Ntaub “Story Cloth”

I have always thought the faces of the women were ugly and didn’t quite represent the beautiful faces I saw when I think of Asian women, and so that is really the only change that I made here when I recreated them in a digital format!

When I think of the typical Hmong woman, I think of my mom and how hard working she was. In Laos, day in and day out, she would wake up before sunrise and come home after sunset from a long day of working in the fields. Even when we moved to the United States, she kept up her garden, full of herbs, fruits and vegetables.

My mom and me

The saying “Life is tough but so are you” is so indicative of the Hmong women and men like my parents, who worked hard to raise their families, despite turmoil and poverty that they faced during wartimes!

Hmong Girl illustration by Hlee Kue © Copyright 2018
Hmong Girl “Life is Tough” – Limited Edition Gray T-shirt, $25.99
Hmong Girl “Life is Tough” – Limited Edition Blue T-shirt, $24.99

Want one of these limited edition t-shirts? Click here to place your order!

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