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SIONG, Tcheu

Tcheu Siong is a Hmoob Dawb (White Hmong) woman from Laos. Textiles form an intrinsic part of Hmong ceremonial custom, alongside oral tradition, poetry and mythological beliefs, while embroidery, appliqué and piecework contain keys to sacred symbols. 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 tourist 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 appliqué, she depicts Chong Xoua, known as a kind man who carries silver and gold trees to those in need. In her other works she depicts 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 appliqué techniques, originally taught to her by her mother, Siong now shares with her daughter, who assists in their creation.