Bigger Picture

One of my favorite things to do growing up was paj ntaub. Paj ntaub is Hmong embroidery, that is a simple cross-stitch however, the simplicity of the stitches only add to the complexity of the overall design (complete piece). If you look at the bigger picture you will find something extravagant.

The stitch starts in one corner and ends in the opposite corner, pull through and resurface one hole down, pull through and finish by bringing the needle to the opposite corner again. These stitches are made until the design is complete.

The blue lines indicate when the thread should be on the top and the green lines indicate when the thread should be on the bottom.


This is a piece that is nearly finished sewn by my mom. As you can see paj ntaub is about design and colors, you will see a lot of alternating colors.


From a young age, I was taught to embroider. It may just be a lifestyle thing, but my mom taught me how to sew because this was one of the main ways that families earned money when living in refugee camps. Women would work day after day, neck craned over the piece of cloth so they can finish and sell the beautiful pieces to provide for their families.

Knowing how to sew paj ntaub is something I pride myself in because the pieces of cloth mean more to me than just clothing. This cloth represents the beauty and creativity that Hmong people have. It is a representation of hardship and resilience. Finally, within each stitch made our Hmong tradition continues.


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