The Hmong are divided into local sub-groups: the Green Hmong, the Red Hmong, the variegated Hmong, the Black Hmong and the Na Mieo.
The Hmong (The Miao or Miêu in vietnamese) actually living in Vietnam are descendants of emigrants from South China. Around the end of 18th century and the beginning of 19th century, the Hmong emigrated to Indochina peninsula (Laos, Vietnam and Thaïland) and settled away from plains already occupied by majority ethnic group in mountainous areas of Hà Giang and Lào Cai provinces.
Their migration story was closely related to the insubordination to the Chinese culture and the policy of asssimilation practiced by northerners. According to mythic tales passed down from generation to generation, their ancestors lived in snow and ice covered regions where the night lasted almost 6 months. That is why, being accustomed to living in tropical regions and not having the opportunity to see the snow, the Hmong use terms such as “nước cứng” (or solid water) and “cát trắng mịnh” (or fine white sand) to designate respectively the ice and the snow. According to historians, their origin would be in Siberia (Tây Bá Lợi Á) and in vast plateaux of Mongolia. Some Caucasian proeminent traits are detected among the Hmong today. Others preferably opt for Tibet because shamanic rituals. One has speculations more than certainties about the accuracy of the Hmong geographic origin. In the Chinese writings, the Hmong were designated under the Miao name including initially all the ethnic peoples non han living in South West China. Today, this name is reserved to the population group specifically identified and distinct to which the Hmong living in Indochina peninsula and the Miao ethnic minority populations (The Hmong, the Hmou, the Qoxiong and the Hmau) closely related at the linguistic and cultural level in China belong.
Originally related to the drawing of rice field (Điền) above which is added the pictogram Thảo” (cỏ) ( herb )(key 140), the Chinese character Miao (or Miêu in vietnamese) clearly shows the way that the Chinese adopt to call the people knowing the rice cultivation with their language. The Miao Being initially rice farmers, the Miao had the sedentary lifestyle in plains. As the Miao were chased by successive waves of the Chinese who dispossessed them of their arable land and theire rice field, they were forced to become highlanders and stayed until today. Being rushed to high altitudes in inaccessible and hostile mountain areas, they were forced to adapt themselves to each environment where they looked for an agricultural model allowing them to practice the rice cultivation (rice terraces). In spite of that, the Chinese had the habit of traiting them as the barbarians. The Chinese have gone as far as making a distinction between the shu Miao ( or the Hmong cooked) and the sheng Miao ( the Hmong uncooked), that means the assimilated Hmong and the diehard Hmong on the margins of Chinese civilization. They had the task of transforming these sheng Miao into shu Miao. Myths and facts are not miss to enrich the history of the Miao (or the Hmong). The latter is punctuated by endless conflicts with the Chinese since time immemorial.
Cette longue histoire de résistance à l’oppression leur confère une réputation particulière: ce sont des gens inassimilables et belliqueux. Les Miao ( ou les Hmong) voisinèrent aux temps préhistoriques (4000- 5000 ans avant J.C. ) avec les tribus Hsia (1) dans le bassin moyen du fleuve Jaune (Honan ou Hà Nam en vietnamien). Etant associés à Chi You ( Suy Vưu ), ils engagèrent la première confrontation qui se solda par leur défaite et la mort de ce dernier à Trác Lộc (Zhuolu) dans la province chinoise de Hebei (Hồ Bắc) (à peu près 2690 ans avant J.C.).