KatDee’s collar

The outfits are eye-catchingly ornate: tasseled hats, beaded belts, embroidered jackets and blouses and skirts worn by Hmong women and girls at cultural events and other special occasions.

There are centuries of Hmong history woven into those clothes.

At a Hmong-American Veterans Memorial Day event at Mountain View Lions Park Saturday, 18-year-old KatDee Yang told an old tale about the colorful embroidered collar she wore at the back of her neck.

“There’s an old legend to it. The king asked the men, he was like, ‘If you guys want to be king, tomorrow, bring me your wife’s head.’ He said that to all the guys — he gathered all the guys in the village and told them that. And when they came, nobody had their wife’s head.

So then he did the same thing to the women. He said, ‘If you guys want to be queen, tomorrow, bring me your husband’s head.’ And they  all came with their husband’s head.”

“So this is basically showing that women are greedy, and they’re mean,” said KatDee, touching her collar and smiling. “But I think they’re really pretty.”

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