Monday, March 05, 2007

191206 Muang Sing tribal museum

In a beautiful 2-storey Tai Lue style wooden building along the main street:

PC190072 PC190073

Used to be the residence of a prince, & recently renovated with German help:


Ground floor has the traditional dress of the major ethnic groups of Muang Sing on display, accompanied by detailed write-ups in Lao & English:


One side (far end, above) also has the different types of weavings from various ethnic groups, & 3 tables have an array of items used in daily life, such as baskets for carrying goods & harvested crops, baskets for religious offerings, bowls, utensils, knives, chopping boards, gourds for containing water, water scoop, musical instruments (including the familiar jew's harp), straw raincoat, crossbows & arrows, bird traps, fish traps, etc:


All carefully labelled =)

Akha, Yao, Tai Dam, Tai Neua, Tai Lue, Lolo, Phu Noi, Khmu (more on Khmu) & Hmong are all represented here. The cat learnt that the Khmu also have spirit gates in their villages, like the Akha...that the Lanten & Iu Mien are subgroups of Yao...that Lanten ladies shave their eyebrows & to recognise Tai Dam headcloth patterns...that for the Phu Noi, one third of all assets goes to the wife in event of a divorce, but zero if it is deemed her fault (compare with other ethnic groups)...etc...such is the detail of the accompanying info. Definitely not the 'let's gawk at exotic primitive people' kinda set-ups like the 'Union of Hilltribe Villages' crap in Chiangrai & Paduang 'zoos' in Mae Hong Son.

Two of the many Akha subgroups not found in Thailand:


Whenever the cat looks at these it will think of Ata & the rest of the Akha 'aunties' & the HOURS & HOURS of sewing till your eyes pop in order to make yourself & your kids & your husband the best-dressed in your village =P

North Lao has Akha Puli (coloured collars for tops & rather elaborate headdress for men), Kopien (guys wear black instead of the usual red 'turbans'), Tchitcho, Eupa, Agui, Nagui, Mutchi, Oma, etc...more than enough to confuse the clueless cat who can only recognise Lomi, Ulo & Phami. While travelling through Phongsaly it would see many Akha ladies with this kind of headdress with heavy chains (can imagine Agong's wife complaining about the weight & headache if she had to wear this!), & others with skirts that have a long decorated panel in front (even Agong & wife agreed that it looks like an Akha wearing a Hmong skirt =P)...can anyone help identify the subgroup(s)?

A Lao guide was waiting for his tourists to finish viewing the video upstairs, & like many Lao he was puzzled to see a tabby cat travelling solo, which led to an interesting chat in English + Thai. Like many young Lao guys, he picked up English while spending time as a novice monk in Luang Prabang. He's one of the lucky ones who has managed to realise the 'learn English/Japanese to become a tour guide' dream that many of the Luang Prabang novices have, & freelances for 5 Luang Prabang tour agencies that offer trekking tours.

This museum was also where the cat realised that Muang Sing now has the luxury of electricity around the clock =)

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