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Photographer's Note

This woman was selling beads and necklaces at the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Akha are hill tribe of subsistence famers known for their artistry. They may have originated in Mongolia around 1500 years ago.

The Akha began arriving in Thailand in the early twentieth century and continue to immigrate, with some 80,000 now living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai at high altitudes. Many of these villages can be visited by tourists on trekking tours from either of these cities. They speak Akha, a language in the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman family.

The practice of their mythology includes ornately carved village gates made of wood where the guardian spirits are said to dwell. They have en extensive recollection of ancestors going back 15 generations and exhibited in chants.

The Akha have faced many human rights and justice issues in Thailand. The hillsides where they live are valuable for both timber production and farming, and as such has been the target of seizure by government forces. Akha settlements and agricultural slash and burn sites increasingly encroach on national forests containing native ecosystems, creating another basis for controversy.

Copyright © – Louise Fahy. The reproduction, publication, modification, transmission or exploitation of any work contained herein for any use, personal or commercial, without Louise Fahy’s prior written permission is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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