Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Akha Tribe Of Thailand

Akha is a tribal group that originated from southwest China. Besides north Thailand, this tribe is also found in China, Laos and Burma. Today there are approximately 20,000 Akha living in northern Thailand in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in the higher altitudes.

There are four main groups in this tribe namely the U Law, Law Mi, Pa Mi, and A Keu. All four groups speak the Akha language besides their own dialect. The dialect spoken by the U Law, the Law Mi and the Pa Mi is very similar; however, the A Keu speak a very distinctive dialect.

The Akha live in homes made from bamboo. They use cogon grass to build roofs of their homes. They built their homes on stilts. Akha villages are generally large in size comprising of thirty houses. Their houses are built on hill tops, as an attempt to avoid the diseases and outbreaks. The most important leader in an Akha village is the Spiritual Leader or the Shaman. Akha are animists and they live their lives according to their beliefs. If a member of the tribe becomes a non-believer, he / she usually leaves the village for good.

The Akha lifestyle is based on their agricultural system. They work very hard in the fields, spending more time there than with their families. They grow rice and a variety of vegetables on mountainsides. They also grow cash crops like chilies, soybeans, cabbages, and tomatoes. The Akha women are noted for their expertise in weaving. They sell cloth, clothes, decorative items made up of bamboo, wood and rattan to supplement to their meager income.