The term "Mien" is used to describe several mountain peoples of Southeast Asia, who migrated from China in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their strong family structure serves their agricultural way of life. The language, though tonal, exhibits many similarities to English. Religious beliefs are animistic, centering around spirits of ancestors, the home, and nature. Mythological designs find their way into artwork, which is predominantly bodily adornments. The several names given to boys include a spirit name. Having been forced to move from place to place for centuries, the Mien are in general uneducated, though a few are conversant with Chinese and with the special knowledge needed by shamans. Recent contacts with other indigenous Southeast Asians, and with Americans, have resulted in a slight broadening of the educational base. Mien customs, many centering around fear of evil spirits, should be known and respected by Americans responsible for their orientation in this country. Conversational customs are especially important to those who want to communicate with the Mien. Teachers of English as a second language should bear in mind certain characteristics of the Mien language, such as the small number of final consonants. (JB)
December 19, 2020 Subject:
Significant other in search of Context
I am with a very wonderful Mien woman. For the longest time I have allowed myself to be ignorant to the culture and what their customs are because of the language barrier. Never disrespecting, but certainly not fully appreciating their rituals and ways of life. I was glad to have found this. Smaller things like the knife spirit and saying bad things about babies I experienced first hand. Thank you so much.