Hmong superstitions/taboos (part 2)

21 Sep

You can read part 1 here: Hmong superstitions.

Yangs can’t eat chicken hearts.
A long time ago, the Yang clan was having a party.  They killed cows, pigs, and chickens to celebrate.  They left a young man who was deaf and mute to tend the pot of oil where the chickens were frying in.  Later, as the men of the clan came to get the chickens, they couldn’t find the chicken hearts.  They accused the young man to have eaten them all, so they killed him.  As the men emptied the pot of oil later, they found that the chicken hearts had sunk to the bottom of the pot.  From then on, males from the Yang clan cannot eat chicken hearts.  If they do, they will become blind, deaf, and/or mute.

(Just in case you’re curious, yes, my brothers do not eat chicken hearts.  When I was still living at home, we never cooked chicken hearts.  And if they’re at an Asian restaurant, they make sure the dish they’re ordering does not contain chicken hearts.  And no, I don’t know anyone who has become blind, deaf, and/or mute by eating chicken hearts—not because it’s just a superstition, but because Yang males do not want to risk eating chicken hearts).

Hmoob Vaj caiv txaj: The bedroom taboo of a branch of the Vang clan.
A Vang man entered his daughter-in-law’s bedroom and raped her.  She was so distraught that she killed herself.  The girl’s mother cursed the Vang clan in anger: If a Vang man—from that clan—enters the bedroom of his daughter-in-law, something bad will befall him, most likely a terminal illness.  Additionally, the daughter-in-law cannot enter her father-in-law’s bedroom.

A different version: A Vang man had an affair with his daughter-in-law.  And because of this, a rule was made that a Vang man cannot enter the bedroom of his daughter-in-law and vice versa.

Not all Vangs follow this.  Sometimes people will specify which Vang clan they’re from.  “Peb yog cov Hmoob Vaj caiv txaj?  (We are from the Vang clan that restricts entering the bedroom).”

The bedroom taboo of the Vang clan.

Vues cannot say the word commonly used for blanket.
My friend, who is a Vue, told me years ago that they cannot use the Hmoob Dawb (White Hmong) word for blanket: pam.  Instead they use the Moob Leeg (Green Hmong/Hmong Leng) word choj even if they are Hmoob Dawb.  Why?  Because it is a taboo to speak words that refer to the dead, such as pam for pam neeg tuag (bury the dead).

Tswv Xyas superstitions/taboos:
Tswv Xyas was a necromancer: someone who practiced dark magic and could summon the spirits of the deceased.  Tswv Xyas also had the power to transform into a tiger.  He yearned to be the best of the best, so he preyed on those who were beautiful and talented.  His spirit wanders the jungles of Laos, taking the souls of anyone who publicly displays talent, especially in remote villages.

Don’t sing kwv txhiaj (traditional Hmong chanting song/poetry) or play the qeej (traditional Hmong wind instrument) while in the wilderness.  Showing such talent will only attract Tswv Xyas and he will take your soul.

You cannot say tsov tom (literal translation: tiger bite) in the wilderness.  If you do so, Tswv Xyas or poj ntxoog (his minions) may take your soul.

You cannot whistle at night for it attracts poj ntxoog and Tswv Xyas.

Don’t cry at burial sites.  Tswv Xyas is always nearby at any burial.  He will take the weakest crying soul.

Tswv Xyas had the power to transform to a tiger.

Funeral superstitions/taboos:

Those who play the qeej at funerals cannot look at the body of the deceased.  They will see something dreadful.

Don’t fall at a funeral.  If you do, you have to call the shaman to hu plig—call back your spirit.  That is why a Hmong funeral is not a place to bring little children.  They run around and could fall.

6 Responses to “Hmong superstitions/taboos (part 2)”

  1. Sendie-Lou September 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    My husband is Vang and yes I heard about the bedroom thing. I think that’s one of the 1st thing my sister in law told me. This is really interesting that the superstitios actualy have base (I’m not saying they have merits) As Asian myself, I’m very familiar with all kind of superstitious. In my opinion, if it doesn’t hurt you just do it and respect it. :)

  2. nai vang November 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    I am a Vang also and here’s another superstition to add onto your list if you’d like. Ever since a little girl, my parents would always tell my siblings and us that we cannot eat fruits such as orange, apples, pineapple while we have other food (main dishes) at the table. My mom told me the story behind if once, but I don’t remember it correctly. Also, this mostly affects the males in the family because the girls will be going off to marry into a different last name is what I was told. Again, like the other Vang superstition, I think this one only affects certain clans also.

    I don’t know if I really believe this superstition. We’re allowed to eat watermelon and bananas at the table with other food. I don’t know if they are just referring to citrus fruits.

    Just thought I’d share this with you :)

  3. Soua January 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Wow! I really enjoyed reading your blog. Very, very interesting topics.

  4. my January 26, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Duck, if u go to a relatives house u can’t serve ducks. If u do it is to show them that u’re breaking the family bond. This is only in some Thao clan.

    Also, eating rice after given birth for the daughter-in-law has to be eaten from a different rice cooker. It is said that the mother-in-law killed the DIL by putting a chicken bone in the rice.

  5. Mai Vue June 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Im a Vue but we use the word “Pam” all the time and have never known or heard that we can’t use that word. And my dad is a shaman himself

  6. Phú April 4, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Do you know if there are bad omens from the cries of wild animals in the forest? Such vulture, roe-deer, and monkey? What did people do if they hear or see a bad omen from the forest?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: