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|Jan 15, 2008, 6:07 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2005
The Karen, or Yang,(called Kaliang or Yang in Thai), belong to the Sino-
Tibetan linguistic family. They are found along most of the length of the Thai
Burmese border. Their population is about 350,000 in Thailand, with over four
million in Burma. This group is the biggest in Thailand.
Over the past 200 years they have tended to move eastward away from Burma
into Thailand because of political conflicts with the Burmese.
There are five main subgroups:
They are the Sgaw Karen and Pwo Karen, two types of White Karen. The
famous Padung, or "long neck" Karen, the Kayah [ Red Karen] and the Pa-0
known as Black Karen. If you have not guessed the color designation relates to
the predominate color in their apparel.. The Karen group represented here are
the Black Karen.
The Black Karen
costume for women is very attractive and distinctive. Unmarried girls wear
loose white V-necked shifts, decorated with Job's Tear seeds at the seams.
Married women wear blouses and skirts black or dark blue with beaded
leggings. Black Karen men wear black shirts with a red cummerbund or head
Karen villages are located in valleys or mountain slops at an average height of
500 meters. Karen houses are not usually large. Adult children usually leave
the home when married - there is no extended family housing in most Karen
villages. Houses are on stilts, made of bamboo or teak. Central steps lead to a
porch, with a storeroom or kitchen to one side, a living area and bedroom on
the other. Beneath the house is a working area, often with foot-operated rice
ponder. The Black Karen have Victorian morals to a fault. Love and sexuality
are confined to a monogamous bond. Maybe the penalty had something to do
with it, the sentence for adultery issued by the tribe leader was death.
Black Karen Elder 1
Black Karen Elder 2
The Black Karen women practice a long tradition called ear loading or
stretching. They start the girls out with small light objects when they
reach puberty. The weight and size is increased through the years. This
age-old ritual was and is practiced in many cultures throughout the world.
Ear piercing began with the first tribes and clans, the oldest human races
from the jungle tribes in Central, South America, Africa, Asia and
Ear piercing is one of the oldest and most interesting forms of adornment
and/or body modification, yet the reasons for piercing the body are as
diverse as the cultures they come from.
Evidence suggests that ear piercing has been practiced by
peoples all over the world from ancient times. Mummified
bodies with piercing have been discovered, including the
oldest mummified body discovered to date, that of Ötzi the
Iceman, which was found in an Austrian glacier. This mummy
had an ear piercing 7¬11 mm in diameter.
Black Karen Elder 3 with Sun Glasses
Black Karen Girl
Elder smoking.. don't ask don't tell.
All the Tribes were heavy users and producers of drugs, Opium, Marijuana and tobacco. Some habits are hard to break.
When the Tourists Leave.
A final word about the tribes. These are not the tribes of Thailand nor Burma
Laos China or Tibet. They are the tribes of Asia; it is modern political borders
that fence them in and stop the age-old agrarian practices of nomadic travel.
Most of them practice slash and burn agriculture, when the soil was depleted,
they moved on. Only the Karen had less of a wandering nature with
sophisticated crop rotation with irrigation and purification techniques.
|Jan 15, 2008, 7:57 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2006
Jerry, this has been a wonderful series of your travels to Thailand and quite educational also. As has been stated previously in prior part, I almost feel like I was there with you. All the photos are great. Bayoubelle has looked at some, but was happy she never had to endure the neckrings, and now, the earrings have freaked her out.
A great series of a very interesting part of the world.
|Jan 16, 2008, 5:24 PM||#3|
Join Date: Feb 2005
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