NORTHERN THAILAND'S TRIBAL HERITAGE: THE LAHU

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Lahu Lahu Lahu

Lahu

Lahu

The Lahu, called “Musoe” by the Khon Muang, belong to the Tibeto-Birman language family. It is believed that they originated high on the Tibetan Plateau and migrated along the Mekong River into China’s Yunnan Province where they lived mostly in the mountains of Xishuagban-na. From there, they migrated via Kyaing Tong in Myanmar’s Shan State to northern Thailand, where they live in the western part of Chiang Rai Province. In Thailand, the Lahu tribe is divided into Red, Black, and Yellow sub-groups, which are further sub-divided into smaller ones, dependent of the predominant color in the costumes of the women.

Lahu villages are usually located at an altitude of 1,000 meters, giving the people the option of growing opium. When they establish their communities at some distance from a water source, they build a series of bamboo pipes to bring water into the village. Like other “shifting cultivators,” the Lahu clear fields in the forest with “controlled” fires. When the soil becomes exhausted after some years of growing dry rice, maize, and a variety of cash crops, the Lahu abandon their village and look for other places to exploit. They raise pigs, chicken, cattle, and horses for feast and ceremonial offerings as well as work and transport.

It is interesting to note that the Lahu are theistic animists ruled by the local god Guisha, but that they also worship their ancestors. In China and Myanmar, the Lahu came in contact with Buddhists and Christian missionaries. A large number became Christian during the British rule in Burma, but in Thailand, most Lahu follow their old religion of spirit worship, so that religious practitioners remain prominent in Lahu society. The New Year ceremony to thank their god Guisha for a good harvest is the year’s most important event. It lasts five days, and is held between January and March.

The Legend : Chiang Rai Office
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Email : info@thelegend-chiangrai.com