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Connecting with Cross-Stitching

Connecting with Cross-Stitching
hmong club making bookmarks

The Hmong Language Club at Oltman Middle School (OMS) recently received a grant from the SoWashCo CARES Education Foundation to fund a group project to help the student members connect with Hmong traditions.

The OMS Hmong Language Club has about 50 student members and is led by OMS cultural liaison Elliott Vang. The club’s new project provides students the opportunity to learn how to cross-stitch their own bookmarks that are representative of Hmong culture and heritage.    

Hmong cross-stitching along with other textile works are known as Paj Ntaub (pronounced “pahn-dow”). Paj Ntaub designs include symbols that are derived from the lost traditional written language of the Hmong people. The bookmark pattern the students are creating includes the Hmong snail symbol, which represents family.

hmong bookmark

“The students have been somewhat detached from their culture,” said club advisor Elliott Vang. “Learning traditional cross-stitch will be one way for them to regain a piece of that.”

“We are teaching them new skills with each step,” said cultural liasion Mee Yang, who is supporting the club with this project. “Last week we introduced and explained the significance of all the materials, like the different color threads and the Aida fabric, this week they learned about threading the needle and securing a knot.”

Students are able to take pride in cross-stitching their own Paj Ntaub bookmarks knowing they have learned something that connects them with their culture’s stories and values.

"I plan to bring mine home to work on with my grandma,” said eighth-grader Elena Xiong. “Both of my grandmas cross-stitch so they’ll be excited to help me.”

hmong language club members