I ducked into a small store off a side street to find row and rows of intricately made, brightly colored pouches and purses. I was immediately drawn towards these beautiful pieces. The shop owner emerged from the back to explain the materials to me. These are purses made by the Hmong, and the fabric comes from a large market in Sapa, Northern Vietnam. Scraps from skirts and other traditional garments are cut up into these small purses and pouches and are a way for the women to make money.
The Hmong have a rich story which they often tell through fabric and weaving. The Paj Ntaub (pronounced Pan-Dow) means "Flower Cloth" and holds special significance. It is made from hemp and designed with intricate embroidery and applique techniques. This and batik dyeing are common in Hmong tradition textiles, as are the Story Cloths, which are visual stories of their history, from agricultural life to war and exile. (Source: Wikipedia and VisualCulture09)