Here is a fun fact for you: The “Siv Ceeb” is an important symbol of Hmong marriage. The Siv Ceeb is a thin piece of black/white striped cloth, folded many times to look like a long ribbon. You may have seen it many times, wrapped around the outer edge of a Hmong women’s purple hat. The purple hat, which looks like a turban, is “txoj phuam” -which is actually, traditionally also not a hat, when translated, it’s “ascarf.”
My father once told me that when he was much younger, back in Laos, during the Hmong New Year, the Hmong women who were married would not wear the “Siv Ceeb” around their purple hat and only those who were single were allowed to wear it, so the single men would know who they could talk to or who was already taken. Thus, the single men would go looking for their soulmate, who would wear this Siv Ceeb along with their finest and most expensive clothing that they owned.
After a while, he said married women wanted to look beautiful too, so they started to wear the black/white Siv Ceeb stripes around their hat along with other variations that are beaded and much more elaborate in design and patterns.
During a Hmong Wedding, the Siv Ceeb would be wrapped around a black umbrella –which is representative of the woman, or symbolic of a man and his family. So when you see a black umbrella with “txoj siv ceeb” wrapped around it, you’ll know that a wedding is taking place!
Once the Hmong wedding is over, the couple would be instructed to hang their umbrella, with the Siv Ceeb in a high place, in their home.
The umbrella is also an important symbol in Hmong culture, which is.. another lesson, another day, but in case you wanted to know you can listen to the song by Rihanna “Umbrella” because it’s actually a great representation of what the Umbrella is in Hmong family culture! 😂