Yao Houx

Detail of Yao Houx
Detail of Yao Houx
Cornell University Anthropology Collections, gift of Ruth Sharp; catalogue # 995.4.8; Photo from the Cornell University Library Digital Collections, https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:3241349

Yao houx (Pair of embroidered man's pants)

Unknown Miao/Hmong designer, Chieng Dao or Maechan, Thailand

ID # Anthr1995 004 0008 01

Gift of Ruth Sharp

Women create their embroidery patterns working on the reverse side of the fabric. In her master’s thesis, Elizabeth Hoffman describes how Mien women call the side of the cloth that ends up being worn towards the body kuhngwaaiz-maenax, which translates to “top side,” and the side that is worn away from the body kaih diav-maengx, which translates to “underneath side." This pair of pants feature patterns and structures typically used on Mien pants worn by women, although they are catalogued as men's pants. The embroidered areas are divided into horizontal sections which are bordered by njiuc, stem stitches. Starting from the bottom of the pants, there are typically three rows created using congx-jiemc, parallel running stitches, each of which is separated by a congx-tiu, holbein stitch, row using a som design. The decoration used in the congx-jiemc sections generally consist of one of three patterns, two of which are seen on this pair of pants – congx-nzaangh on the bottom two sections and wuonh guangv congx on the top section. Above this section is a row of congx-tiu embroidered gibbons, named after the primate. The middle section of this pair of pants contains densely embroidered narrow rows, which Ann Yarwood Goldman identifies in 1995 as a more recent style.

Additional Media:


The Iu Mien Community Services is an organization that serves the Iu Mien community in Sacramento, CA.

The Baong Family apparel company, founded by Michael Saelee, creates pieces inspired by Mien embroidery and is also committed to providing resources to the Mien community.

The Lao Iu Mien Culture Association, Inc. serves the Iu Mien community of Oakland. Their website includes information about their organization and photos of community events.


Fraser-Lu, S. (1988). Handwoven textiles of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

Goldman, A.Y. (1995). Lao Mien embroidery: Migration and change. Bangkok: White Lotus.

Hoffman, E. (1982). Dress and acculturation: Clothing transitions of the Mien (Master’s Thesis). Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.