Thailand: Yao (Mien) woman

Front view
Front view

General description Young Yao woman carrying a basket of fruit and a panier containing wood.

Dimensions 20.5 cm x 8 cm x 11.5 cm

Date when acquired 2013

Original Date 2013

Source Chang Mai Doll Making Center, designed by Vanida S. Mongkhon, Hand made by Yuthana Boonprakong

Thailand (Sally)



Wire covered by material; plastic head with painted features


Back view
Back view


She is wearing black trousers and a tunic, dyed with indigo. The front of the trousers are embroidered in cross stitch from the knee down to the hem, in white, orange, lilac and dark green. The long-sleeved jacket has red cuffs. The flaps of the tunic reach down to the floor at the back and front, but the front is folded upwards to form a large pocket-like structure.

Around her neck is a thick red ruff, typical of the Yao. It has two golden bells on the front. Two bells are also attached on the left side of the ruff and there are two silver chains hanging down in a loop to a bell attached to the left side of her waist.

Around her waist is a black sash tied at the back. It has cross-stitching at the ends of the sash hanging down her back, in white, yellow, brown and blue.

Red woollen bows are attached to her left and right hip and seem to be used to hold up the front flap of the tunic.

On her head is a black hat or turban with a very high brim. There are two “ears” standing out from the crown, decorated in yellow, orange, blue and white cross-stitches.


View from the right
View from the right


The doll has a silver torque around her neck.

She is holding a high-handled basket of fruit in her hands, while on her back is a panier containing wood. The panier is attached to her shoulders by threads.


Background information

The Yao usually call themselves “Mien” and are found throughout Southeast Asia and China. In Thailand, they live mostly in Chiangrai, Chiangmai, Nan, Kempaengpetch and Payao provinces. They are apparently not divided into subgroups.

Yao or Mien women are also highly skilled at embroidery and devote a great deal of time to the decoration of their traditional costume, the lui houx. One particular style of Mien traditional needlework is done from the backside of a piece of cloth. The cross-stitch technique which has become more popular nowadays and was used for this doll was introduced only 50—60 years ago. Women wear pants with two elaborately embroidered panels running the full length of the front. This is topped with a long black tunic decorated with a red yarn ruff around the collar and along the edges. Their hair is bound with a turban (muoc zou) that is also embroidered on the edge. Men wear a suit (lui liez) of indigo-dyed trousers and a loose jacket which buttons across the chest and is fastened with small silver buttons. The hem and the pockets are embroidered.

Like the women of the other hill tribes, the Mien are fond of silver ornaments and accessories. The Mien’s exquisite and meticulous silver craftsmanship is well known among the many tribal groups in Thailand.

Source(s) of information

Blurb with doll. (accessed 1st August 2015) (accessed 1st August 2015) (accessed 1st August 2015)

See Thailand: Hill Tribes

(4.8.9 )



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