“Chiang Mai Hill tribe village“, Learn the lifestyle of hill tribe people such as Lahu, Padong and the Long Neck Karen. You will be amazed with their native talents including daily farm work such as making scarecrows, ridding weeds in the paddy fields, and demonstrating rice pouring from the watermill. one of several in the region where the various hill tribes have been gathered to live in permanent settlements and practice their life styles. part of the deal is that tourists come to take photos and purchase their crafts and the government gets them in one place.
The Karen began to move into Thailand around the 17th century and occur in large numbers in the western part of Northern Thailand, in particular on the ranges west and south of Doi Inthanon. The main groups in Thailand are White Karen composed of the Skaw and the Pwo sub groups.
The Karen live in villages of around 25 houses raised on stilts. The villages tend to cluster. Each household consists of the parents and their unmarried children. Married daughters and their families may also live in the same house. The highest authority is the village priest who runs the village along with the elders.
The Karen have rituals to live harmoniously with the “Lord of the Land and Water”, as well as with nature spirits in the rocks, trees, water and mountains that surround them. They also have guardian spirits and believe in the soul.
Their desire for harmony with nature may partly account for why the Karen have evolved the most ecologically sound system of swidden agriculture. They use a system of rotation over a large area of land and do not cut all the large trees down when they clear a plot.They are also the only group to have built terraces to grow wet-rice.
Karen cloth is hand-woven on back-strap looms and is predominantly red with white, blue or brown vertical stripes. Stitching is clear and decorative. The men may wear simple forms of this material in a sleeveless tunic (or northern Thai clothing), while the women wear more elaborate styles on their sarongs.
The women’s blouses are made of dark homespun cotton with horizontal embroidered patterns decorated with seeds woven onto the lower half. Unmarried girls of the Skaw group wear plain white shifts.
Those of the Pwo are more decorated. The Karen are famous for their use of beads for ornamentation.
About the Karen Long Neck Hilltribe – Padaung
The Padaung are a sub-group of Karen (Bwe Group) living in Kayah state of eastern Burma on the Thailand border. They number less than 40,000 people in total. The Padaung call themselves “Lae Kur” or “Kayan”. They have their own language which belongs to the Kenmic group in the Tibeto-Burman language family.
The Karen themseves are not one homogeneous group but rather a loose confederation of heterogeneous and closely related tribes. Among the smallest of the Karen tribes in Thailand are the Karen Padaung.
In Thailand, only a few families of Padaung have settled temporarily as refugees in Muang District of Mae Hong Son Province, near Ban Tha Ton in Chiang Rai Province, and as of June 2005 a small group near Chiang Dao. Generally they live among other hilltribes groups, mostly Karen.
The Padaung escaped from the Kaya State in Burma to Thailand in the mid to late 1900’s and are actually refugees of a political turmoil. They belong to the Karenni sub-group of the Karen People, which are still fighting for their independence in Burma.
The Karen-Padaung occupied central Burma before the Burmese arrived from the North and they, together with the ancient Mon, farmed the Irrawaddy and Salween Valleys and built civilizations based on their unique cultures.
The Padaung women famously wear brass rings around their necks. This distorts the growth of their collarbones and make them look as if they have long necks – which they don’t. This row of brass rings do not actually stretch their necks but in fact squash the vertebrae and collar bones. A woman generally has about twenty or more rings around her neck. This neck ring adornment is started when the girls are 5 or 6 years old.
The rings on the arms and the legs are not quite as prominent as those on the neck simply because the neck rings are so pronounced. However, these rings are just as important. The rings on the arms are worn on the forearm from the wrist to the elbow. Those on the legs are worn from the ankles to the knees, and cloth coverings are kept over most of these rings, from the shins down to the ankles.
Most of Padaung are animists, but about 10 percent are Buddhists. Now, the number of Christians is increasing because of the Roman Catholic mission. The annual festival for the fertility and prosperity of the whole community is usually held at the beginning of the rainy season. Sacrifices are made to the spirits for good health and bountiful harvests. Rice is the Padaung main crop.
For your information, the village was especially built for these villagers, as they came from other lands. According to the Thai law, they’re not allowed to work anywhere else. They live their lives by selling souvenirs and being agricultural employees. They also don’t want to return to their homelands. Therefore, the village has been being their home all long. The village is an interesting conservation tourist attraction. This is not a ‘human zoo’ like many people may think, but it’s just a peaceful residence of a group who have minds and hearts just like us. If you wish to learn about ethnic culture and see beautiful nature, choose this trip.
Note : Wheelchair user is accessible (Dirt road)
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