Textiles form an intrinsic part of Hmong ceremonial custom, alongside oral traditions, poetry and mythological beliefs, while embroidery, applique and piecework contain keys to sacred symbols. Tcheu Siong moved from the mountains in northern Laos to the city of Luang Prabang in 1996, where, like many Hmong women, she made traditional embroidery to sell in markets. She then started to experiment, eventually giving up traditional styles and methods in favour of her own distinct practice, through which she could express her dreams and visions and their relationship to the Hmong spiritual world.
In the centre of her largest applique, she depicts Chong Xoua, known as a kind man who carries silver and gold trees to those in need. On either side are the Black Wolf Spirit, a fierce jungle animal from ages past, and the Ice Spirit, which can change the weather to freezing conditions. Phasao Lao, the artist’s husband and a Hmong shaman, identifies the figures and creatures from the spiritual pantheon for his wife’s works, while the applique techniques, originally taught to her by her mother, Siong now shares with her daughter, who assists in their creation.
Delve deeper into APT9 with Enkhbold Togmidshiirev
Enkhbold Togmidshiirev staged an improvised roving performance in the outdoor spaces surrounding GOMA for the opening weekend of APT9, as part of his ongoing Ger Project. Since 2008, Enkhbold has created a number of personalised structures derived from the form of the traditional Mongolian ger or yurt, in order to forge a connection with his surroundings. Setting up a ger creates a temporary home that Enkhbold equates to a spiritual space.
Feature image detail: Tcheu Siong creating her decorative and narrative textiles