Evidence of Mien (Yao) history as far back as 5th BC.
For the past 2000 years, the records show that the Mien lived in the
surrounding mountains near Tibet. The Mien moved constantly because
they did not like the controlling ruling from the Han. There were as
many as 28 sub-names under the Mien. There were 4 major groups of Mien,
the Phan (Bienh), the Bunu, the Cha Sun, and Ping Ti. Out of the 4
groups, the Phan (Bienh) group had the most man-power, and that was the
group that constantly moving from place to place. The Phan group had
concentrated in one large area of the country, where the Mien language
was developed. The Bunu and the Luc Jaa developed into separate
Legend of the Creation of the
In heaven, there were Daa Ong (Grandfather) and Daa Gux (Grandmother).
One day they decided to create the Yao, or the Mien people. They
planned to transform themselves and live on Earth . During that time,
there were two kingdoms already exist on earth, one ruled by Baeng Hung
(the good side), and the other by Gux Hung (the bad side). They hated
each other very much .
As they two had planned in heaven, Daa Gux
would come down to earth reborn as a third daughter of Baeng Hung (with
a birthmark on one leg), while Daa Ong would transform himself into
whatever was needed. During the war between Baeng Hung and Gux Hung.
Baeng Hung announced to his whole kingdom, "whoever can bring me Gux
Hung's head, I'll reward you with marriage to my third daughter and
some land ." No one answered the Baeng Hung's demand.
One day Daa Ong transformed himself into a
five-colored dragon-dog named Phan Hu . The dog showed himself up at
Baeng Hung's palace . The emperor had never seen a dragon-dog such as
this one, full of talent, with 120 beautiful spots on the top of its
body, and could talk . The emperor ordered his people to take a good
care of the dog . The dog had become Baeng Hung's trusted, loving pet .
One day, Baeng Hung and his staff had a
meeting, planning the war with Gux Hung. The dragon-dog was there at
the meeting as well. At the end of the discussion, the dragon-dog spoke
up, he said "Baeng Hung doesn't have to send thousands of armies,
military equipments to fight Gux Hung. I will volunteer to fight Gux
Hung myself. Since I'm a dog, the least respected animal, Gux Hung and
her military probably will not think I can cause any harm to them."
Baeng Hung agreed with the dog. He wanted to see what the dog could do.
Phan Hu (dragon-dog) prepared for the departure. He asked heaven to
send him a magic pill, which helped him endure his 7 days 7 nights
swimming accross the sea to Gux Hung.
The dragon-dog arrived Gux Hung's empire.
Gux Hung admired the beautiful talking dog. She kept it as her own body
guard. The dog became Gux Hung's favorite pet as well. Gux Hung was
confident with the dog, therefore, she no longer needed her servants
and body guards at all times. One day, Gux Hung sent her servants and
body guards out for the daily chores. The dragon-dog took that
opportunity, and bit Gux Hung's head off then swam back across the sea
with the head as proof to Baeng Hung. In return, the dragon-dog was
married to Baeng Hung's third daughter (as promised).
As the wedding day neared, Baeng Hung, the
emperor realized he didn't really want his third daughter to marry a
dragon-dog. So, Baeng Hung called nine women who looked identical to
his third daughter and then dressed them up with identical gowns. The
dragon-dog had to pick from the ten identical women. Daa Gux (the third
daughter) was one of the ten. This ruse, however, did not fool Daa Ong
a.k.a. Phan Hu (dragon-dog). The dog looked for the birthmark on the
leg. The dragon-dog picked the third daughter of Baeng Hung and was
married to her. They moved to an isolated piece of land given to them
by Baeng Hung and had 12 children, six sons and six daughters. These
six sons and the husbands of the six daughters became patriarchs of the
twelve Mien clans.
The Iu Mien 12 Clans
When talking about the original twelve
clans, it is difficult for almost any Mien to name all of them since a
few of the clans got lost or left behind when escaping from mainland
China many generations ago. Another complicating factor is that the
names that the Thais gave to each clan (which are the basis for today's
Mien surnames in Thailand and the United States) not only depended on
what each Thai interviewer heard their clan name to be, but also
differs from the names that Miens call themselves. For instance, Ann
(Saefung) and Laosan (Saefong) spell their
official last names differently, yet each will identify themselves as a
member of the Bungz (pronounced Bpung) clan.
Notice that when Ann introduces herself, she first says
her Thai name, then her Mien clan (in this case calling it La Bpung),
then finally her Mien given name.
descending from the six sons of Baeng Hung
descending from husbands of the six daughters of Baeng Hung
clans not in the original twelve clans,
possibly second sons-in-law of Baeng Hung's daughters
Note: The "Sae" prefix was appended by Thai
authorities to designate a last name derived from a Chinese clan.
Hmongs and ethnic Chinese, especially Hakka and Teochiu, also were
originally given names of this form, though most have changed their
names since; Hmongs doing so by dropping the Sae, Chinese by requesting
an official four-syllable Thai last name from the Thai government. Most
Miens have kept the Sae appended to their names.
The letters q, z, h, and c at the end of the clan names are silent and
are used to indicate the tone in which a word is said.
Migration from China to Thailand and
The Mien, who are also related to the
lowland-living Lanten peoples of Laos and Vietnam, are believed to have
begun migrating from Hunan province in China during the 15th-16th
century and spread throughout northern Vietnam, northern Laos and
northern Thailand. Immigration into Thailand was sharply accelerated
after the Indochina War when victorious Pathet Lao forces began seeking
reprisal for the involvement of many Mien as soldiers in a
CIA-sponsored secret army. As a token of appreciation to the Mien and
Hmong people who served in the CIA secret army, the United States
accepted many of the refugees as naturalized citizens. Now there are as
many as 50,000 Miens living in the United States, largely concentrated
on the West Coast, particularly northern California.