In Memoriam: Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun, Textile Artist, Musician, and Pew Fellow

14 Jan 2021

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Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun, Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Folklore Project Archives.

Pew Fellow Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun passed away on December 22, 2020, at the age of 76. She was known best for her mastery of the Hmong embroidery technique paj ntaub, or “flower cloth.” She demonstrated the practice twice at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife in the 1980s and has exhibited her work at the Philadelphia Folklore Project and Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, among other venues. 

Born in Laos, Pang fled to a Thailand refugee camp in 1976 and moved to Philadelphia in 1979. In addition to her own practice—which also included singing, storytelling, dance, and other folk arts in addition to paj ntaub—she was a devoted teacher of Hmong traditions.  

“It was all integrated, all part of what being a Hmong person is,” Philadelphia Folklore Project founder Debora Kodish told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “And the fact that she could keep this art relevant and present for multiple generations is so inspiring.” Kodish worked with Pang for more than 30 years. 

In addition to receiving a Pew Fellowship in 1996, Pang has also received awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Social Science Research Council, the Leeway Foundation, and Independence Foundation.  

Read more about Pang at the Philadelphia Folklore Project website