Hill tribes in Northern Thailand – A Portrait?? of an??Akha Tribe Woman (Chiang Rai)
It took me quite awhile to search for Akha Women??dressed ??in??traditional ethnic Akha??costume. Thanks to Gao, a friend of mine from the Lahu hilltribe who brought me around Chiang Rai on his motor bike?? on a mission search.?? I saw many “Akha Women” at the famous Night Bazaar and?? Sunday Walking Street located at Thapae Gate in Chiang Mai province but none looked authentic to me. They were trying to sell you things that you didn’t really need. This can be quite annoying!
An Akha tribe woman dressed in traditional ethnic costume and beautiful headdress
The Akha are an Asian indigenous hill top tribe originally from Mongolia which has a total population of some 2.3 million people in five countries: Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, China and Vietnam. It is said that in Thailand alone there are 70,000 scattered over some 300 villages and live in the mountains through out Chiangmai and Chiangrai provinces.??They farm mountain rice, corn, soybeans and raise livestock.?? Most of the Akha people have been converted to Christianity. ??The women wear beautiful headresses made of beads, cloth, wood, and pewter or sometimes silver gotten from old coins. Young women get a head dress when they turn 19 or so. The women take great pride in making each head dress, carefully selecting the right color of beads, and sewing each part of the head dress together with skilled precision. Besides the headdress,??a typical Akha woman dress has a pouch in front weighed with strings of colorful beads.
A traditional Akha??hut made from bamboo (Chiang Rai, Thailand)
I??struck the jackpot on 22 July 2009. I??accidentally??came across??two elderly Akha women in Baan Ruammit, a Karen village and elephant camp in Chiang Rai province.I found the one that I was looking for dressed in??traditional??Akha black shirt??over a black knee-length apron/skirt and elaborate headdress. She was very friendy and allowed me to take her portriat photograph. Mission accomplished!!!
For more information on Akha communities, please visit www.akha.org