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03/09/2010

Lao Sung, Akha Hill Tribe Woman, Laos


This photo was taken in an Akha hill tribe village in Nothern Laos.
The Akha are hill tribe of subsistence farmers known for their artistry. The ethnic group may have originated in Mongolia around 1500 years ago. Most of the remaining Akha people are now distributed in small villages among the mountains of China, Laos (where they are considered
Lao Sung), Myanmar (Burma), and northern Thailand.
The Akha generally live in bamboo houses raised on low wooden stilts in hilly areas. These huts are divided by gender - one side is for the women, and the other side, occupied by the men, is used as a more public area. The Akha subsist through an often destructive form of
slash and burn agriculture which can result in elimination of old growth forest, native animal species and serious soil runoff problems. They are expert farmers who focus on mountain rice, corn, and soybeans that are planted in seasonal shifts. The Akha are also very efficient hunters, though their prey sometimes includes endangered species.
The Akha put a particularly heavy emphasis on genealogy - they are taught their family history at a very early age, and their culture has a strong focus on honouring ancestors and their parents, though they dispute that this represents a form of ancestor worship. A better description of Akha religion would be animism, as they believe in a world filled with spirits, both good and bad, that have a definite physical impact on the world. They believe in a natural cycle of balance that, if disrupted, can result in illness, hardship, or even death.

2 comments:

Poetic Shutterbug said...

What a beautiful photo and a rich history that means so much and tells so many stories.

Edu Crispi said...

superb portrait!