Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Hill Tribes in Northern Thailand. Simply Amazing.

I visited a village today that housed several of the Northern hill tribes. They are considered ethnic minorities in Thailand because they speak very different dialects and maintain their old ways. For example, they've been burning the fields to get ready for planting when the rainy season starts in May. BTW, the smoke created respatory problems for Chiang Mai residents, sending many to the hospital. Below, men are building a roof for a hut. They use dried leaves that must be replaced every 3 months. Don't think I'll complain about replacing my roof in the future!
Mama and babe - note her earrings.

Below are pics of the Karen Tribe. It reminds one of African practices.

This is a young girl, just starting to wear the neck brass rings. Karen woman in training.

Weaving-a source of income for the tribe. It looks very uncomfortable, but the women told me that they are used to it, so no problem. Plus, I imagine that it helps these poor tribes to earn money - letting tourists take pictures and paying some money for entrance into the village. This thought helped me get over the idea that it was a privacy intrusion and kind of "zoo-like." But the women seemed to enjoy seeing tourists and there were only a few of us around.

Teenagers, laughing and animated in conversation just like their peers worldwide.

Locally, the nickname for this tribe is "long necks.

The story is this about the hill tribe neck rings: In the past the men would go hunting and sometimes tigers would kill the women left in the village. So, they came up with these brass rings to protect the womens' necks. They also wear a few rings on each leg, right below the knee. Apparently they used to tuck leather under the rings, covering the lower leg and protecting them from snake bites. Although tigers still exist in the wild they are not such a danger but tradition continues.

Lotus flower in the village.

Separating the rice from the outer husk. The women in this village work this gizmo and then put the grain in a basket, shake it, and the husk falls out. Hoarder me, picked some of it up from the ground to bring home and show around.

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