Miao women's garments are made from hand-loom cloth that may be hemp or cotton. A woman's costume generally consists of a long-sleeved jacket worn over a full, pleated skirt and an apron worn at the front and back of her dress. The outfit is completed with leggings. Skirts and jackets are decorated with strips of embroidery and woven or batik cloth with wax-resist. While the basic outfit remains the same, the styles and designs differ for the various sub-groups. Men's garments used to have similar decorative elements as women's but they are hardly in use today. Miao designs are geometric and abstract. The variety of cross and motifs in various configurations probably served as protection against evil spirits. For the Miao or Hmong, the process of clothes-making - spinning, weaving, embroidery and dyeing have been handed down for generations, from mothers to daughters, who would learn it from an early age.The Miao, also known as Hmong, comprises several different ethnic groups. They were originally highlanders from southern China. From about the late 19th to the beginning of the 20th century, due to economic, political and environmental factors, they were forced to move southwards into mainland Southeast Asia.