Wednesday, April 26, 2006

“Evil Kwv Txhiaj: Intersecting Oral Traditions in Hmong Rap”

I'm presenting at the upcoming Midwest Society for Ethnomusicology Conference at the Ohio State University, this weekend (schedule). The paper is part of a larger project on relating current Hmong verbal arts to oral traditions I'll hopefully be presenting at the annual American Folklore Society Meeting.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ntuj No Tuaj Lawm

A classic Hmong song that continues to inspire new generations of musicians and music fans. It's iconic status provides a good example of how what is usually consider popular music can take on a "traditional" character over time.

From what I have been able to piece together, it was written by the prolific Lis Pov (Paul Ly/Lee Pao) currently of the Pheej Ywg Band (website). The earliest version I'm aware of is by the Kaab Nqausvas band with singer Vaaj Ntxawg, but I'm not sure of the date. This version is also available on the "Kaab Nqausvas Best Collection" album, which contains songs from their four previous albums. Information about Kaab Nqausvas is difficult to come by, but I'll post again as I learn more.
The Kaab Nqausvas albums are for sale at Long Chang (LoobCeeb) Entertainment
[note: the page contains audio examples of all the songs, including Ntuj no tuaj lawm]

Here is a clip from a movie (purportedly "Kev Hlub Txiav Tsis Tau") using the song over an emotional reunion. YouTube - Ntuj No Tuaj Lawm

Cover versions (that I know of):

Luj Yaj - unknown album [song retitled: Koj nyob qhov twg]

Rasmi Moua - currently posted at Cyber Brain

Jay Xiong (of - Jay sings over a karaoke version of the song (.mp3 download)

An excellent version also appears in Kang Vang's new movie "Tou and Mai" (more info). A demo version (vocals by Becky Vang and music by Kenny Lee) is currently available on YouTube

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hmong Research Fulltext Online Resources

As part of an ongoing bibliography project, I'm keeping track of online resources for research in Hmong studies (not including the Hmong Studies Journal and other sources associated with the Hmong Resource Center.) I'll update it as necessary.

The REN, Inc. Bookshelf The Refugee Educators' Network makes available several out-of-print titles as part of their library. The variety and rarity of the titles is amazing and the quality of the scans is excellent. Many of the books are standard texts for anyone interested in Hmong studies, although some of the information is outdated. A sample of titles offered as .pdf for download (* marks outstanding titles):

A Life Apart: Viewed from the Hills, Boyes/Priban
Allons Faire le Tour du Ciel et de la Terre: Le Chamanisme des Hmong Vu dans les Textes, Mottin
English-Hmong Primary Word Book (Revised), National Center for materials and Curriculum Development
History of the Hmong, Mottin
The Hmong in the West: Observations and Reports, Downing/Olney
The Hmong in Transition, Hendricks/Downing/Deinard
Hmong Folktales, Johnson
Hmong Recipe

Kr'ua Ke (Showing the Way): A Hmong Initiation of the Dead, White [English translation of Lemoine's French transcription of the Hmong funeral ritual in L'Initation du Mort]
L'Initiation du Mort chez les Hmong, LemoineThe Meo of Xieng Khouan Province, Barney/Halpern
Minority Groups in Northern Laos: Especially the Yao, Iwata
Songs and Stories of the Chu'uan Miao, Graham

The Hmong in the West
contains three articles, significant for their contribution to the study of Hmong music in the United States, which began shortly after Hmong immigrants arrived.
"Speech Surrogate Systems of the Hmong: From Singing Voices to Talking Reeds." Amy Catlin
"Aesthetic Language in White Hmong." Brenda Johns and David Strecker
"Some Secret Languages of the Hmong." Maria Derrick-Mescua, Judith Berman, and Mary Beth Carlson.

The Hmong: An Introduction to their History and Culture (2004) A fairly up-to-date and comprehensive introduction to Hmong history, language, and culture produced by the Center for Applied Linguistics. Features multiple authors and input from Dr. Gary Yia Lee and Dr. Martha Ratliff.
Chapters are available online at (links at the top of the page):
The entire booklet can be downloaded as a .pdf:

Field Guide to Hmong Culture (2004): written by Dia Cha (PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, St. Cloud State University) and produced by the Madison Children's Museum. A booklet aimed a a young audience. Those looking for a general introduction to Hmong traditions (art, folklore, history) may find this to be useful. Includes several pictures.

Hmong World (1986): a fulltext pdf of this important (and out-of-print) volume. Contains oral histories, stories, and scholarly articles.
Link to the page at Yale:
Link to the pdf:

The Hmong Primer (last revised 1999): extensive collection of language learning materials via the Refugee Educator's Network (including a glossary, frequently used word list, and graded Hmong language stories.)

REN also has a downloadable copy of Grandmother's Way, Grandfather's Path (Yang/Lewis) an outstanding collection of stories and songs in Hmong and English. [One of the sections does not download properly.]

Hmong Visual, Oral, and Social Design: Innovation within a Frame of the Familiar (1993) by Judy Lewis: also hosted by REN, Lewis's masters thesis

La Musique des Hmong (1976) is Eric Mareschal's groundbreaking document on Hmong music practiced in Laos. 

Linguist David Mortenson has pdf copies of several unpublished articles about (H)mong language on his academic website (scroll down for the list):

Markedness of White Hmong Tones (1996) by Brian McKibben.
Available through via Internet Archive:

Of course, there is always the extensive collection of articles at Gary Yia Lee's website:
and Kao-Ly Yang's trilingual website:

I know there are a multitude of resources available, but hopefully these are few of the less obvious ones that people will find useful. A frequently updated list of of the Hmong related websites I find is available at: