Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom

Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey of Freedom

by Dia Cha, Cha Chue, Chue Cha
     
 

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For centuries, needlework has been part of Hmong culture. But it has only been since the war in Vietnam and Laos, which displaced many Hmong, that the new, narrative form of 'story cloths' has emerged, a bridge between past and present.

Dia Cha and her family experienced this displacement. Born in Laos, Dia fled with her family to Thailand as a child, spending

Overview

For centuries, needlework has been part of Hmong culture. But it has only been since the war in Vietnam and Laos, which displaced many Hmong, that the new, narrative form of 'story cloths' has emerged, a bridge between past and present.

Dia Cha and her family experienced this displacement. Born in Laos, Dia fled with her family to Thailand as a child, spending four years in a refugee camp before arriving in the U.S. Her story is shared by many Hmong Americans.

As told through the story cloth stitched by her aunt and uncle, the Hmong people's search for freedom began long ago in China. Dia's Story Cloth explores many aspects of the Hmong experience from peace and war in Asia to new beginnings in America. Through Dia's story, young children can see that the search for freedom transcends all cultures.

This book includes a compendium of Hmong culture: their history, traditions, and stitchery techniques.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A folk art masterpiece from a Southeast Asian culture stands at the center of this thoughtful book. Intricately composed, painstakingly stitched by hand, the "story cloth" of the title was created by the author's aunt and uncle, Hmong who fled their native Laos for a refugee camp in Thailand. The story cloth records their experiences-which are also the author's own. Using details from the cloth as illustrations, Cha retells her life story, a meeting of Hmong history and a classic American immigration tale. Now an anthropologist in Colorado, Cha spent her early years during the 1960s in a Hmong village in Laos, where her family worked long days growing rice and corn. War tore the country apart; Cha's father was killed and she and her mother made a dangerous escape to Thailand, emigrating to the United States in 1979. The text is subdued; it is the needlework that drives home the poignancy of this cataclysmic account. For advanced readers, a lengthy afterword, by Joyce Herold, Denver Museum of Natural History's curator of ethnology, sets out historical background and assesses the story cloth as an art form. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Dia L. Michels
Accompanied by a beautiful story cloth stitched by her aunt and uncle, Dia Cha has written a short history of the Hmong people. It begins in China and continues with emigration into Burma, Thailand, and Laos. Dia tells of the peaceful life of her people until war broke out in Laos in the 1960's. She goes on to tell of her family's escape to the United States and of their adjustment to life in this country. The story cloth is intricately stitched and brightly colored, showing the dress, labors, and struggles of the Hmong people. Joyce Herold, curator at the Denver Museum of Natural History, ends the book with her own description of the Hmong, and provides photos of Hmong embroidery. 1998 (orig.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
A story cloth is a way that the Hmong chronicle their journey through the past and the present. Dia's Story Cloth is a work of art that is also a history lesson. No patterns are used, no measurements are made. The needlework is done by eye, and comes out perfectly every time. The cloth shown in detail in this book is the one sent to Dia by her aunt and uncle who made it. It details their story, their search for freedom. This is a unique book that will inspire discussion and appreciation for the artwork and the sacrifices the Hmong have had to make for freedom.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6An interesting and unusual title that resists neat categorization. The main body of the book, a first-person narrative in picture-book format, is illustrated with details from a Hmong story cloth designed and embroidered by the author's aunt and uncle. One double-page spread shows the cloth in its entirety. The rhythmic composition depicts lines of small figures, viewed from above, flowing around trees and buildings, across the landscape of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Cha's family lived happily as mountain farmers in Laos until the `60s, when the country was divided by war. Her father joined the loyalists and disappeared. Fleeing the fighting, the author's family ended up in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her story ends with their emigration to America. A four-page encyclopedic description of the Hmong people and the importance of textile arts to their culture follows Cha's narrative, along with a bibliography. Part autobiography, part history, part description of a changing culture adapting life and art to new circumstances, the book serves as a brief introduction to the Hmong people. A good supplement would be Blia Xiong's Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr! (Children's Book Pr., 1989), a retelling of a Hmong folktale, with illustrations influenced by the Hmong story cloth, a new kind of folk art created in refugee camps.Margaret A. Chang, North Adams State College, MA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781880000632
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
04/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
24
Sales rank:
545,825
Product dimensions:
8.42(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.11(d)
Lexile:
1050L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

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