DER Documentary

Threads of Life: Hemp And Gender In A Hmong Village

by Susan Morgan and K.A. Culhane-Pera
color, 28 min, 1994
In Hmong with English subtitles and narration

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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For centuries Hmong people have lived in the mountains of China and Southeast Asia. They have in more recent history fled Laos as refugees and resettled in the Americas, Australia and Europe. This documentary was filmed in Chang Khian, a village in the mountains of Northern Thailand.

Through the traditional, year-long process of transforming the bark of hemp plants into cloth the complex relationships of men and women are revealed. Women produce the cloth and clothing as the men perform healing ceremonies, settle marriage agreements, and conduct funeral rights. The ready availability of mass produced, inexpensive cloth combined with the fact that the cultivation of hemp (marijuana) is now illegal has brought the continuation of this traditional practice into question.

This film is of great interest to the study of gender and kinship, textiles, traditional crafts, shamanism and social change.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Asian Studies Association Selection, 1994
Earthwatch Film Series Selection, 1994
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival, 1994

Related Resources:

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Ksai Chivit: Threads of Life
Weaving The Future

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts