The first time that I met embroiderer Famjoy Sealee was in 2012: She had traveled a great distance from her small village in Northern Laos to Santa Fe, New Mexico in America’s desert Southwest. We were both there to attend the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market on behalf of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a cultural museum based in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Famjoy belongs to the Yao Mien ethnic group which is known for their intricate embroidery and traditional dress. They are ethnically Chinese dating back 2,000 to Hunan province. Yao people can be found today in China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
I didn’t see Famjoy again until I visited her in February of 2014. I had been living in Laos for a year. I wanted to see her before I left Laos, so I made a journey from Luang Prabang to her village outside of Muang Sing, near the border of China. Below are the photos from my journey on a rickety bus, meeting Akha people, and in Famjoy’s village.