Visiting Hill Tribe White Maew Group near Chiang Mai july 1966

Four days stay overnight in Mae Nai Village 18. – 21 july 1966

 

 

Text and pictures Erik K Abrahamsen

 

 

 

 

 

Young married woman living in Hill Tribe Village Mae Nai in the mountains 18 km from Chiang Mai, NorthThailand. In the background mountains covered by low-lying clouds.  Click on the pictures and use your zoom control and you will see the pictures in full screen size. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966.

 

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I, 20 years old and my travelling companion Niels, 22 years old on our trip “one year around the world”  arrived with french passenger ship “Laos” from Colombo, Ceylon via Singapore to Bangkok the 6 th july 1966. After 3 days of sightseeing in Bangkok we travelled by train 750 km north to an old capital of northern Thailand named Chiang Mai, the second biggest city in Thailand with 70.000 inhabitants (1966).

Chiang Mai is founded in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains up to 14-1600 m all around. 2-300 years ago the city was 2 times conquerored by the Burmese Kingdom. From Chiang Mai there is only 1-200 km to Burma, China and Laos and only 3-400 km to Vietnam.

After 2 days stay in Chiang Mai in a low-priced hotel we met a 40 years old schoolteacher, who invited us to stay in his summerhouse with all his family. He had 4 years ago builded this small house in a banana- and cocunot plot af land only 12 km from Chiang Mai and close to a small village named Mae-rim.

Mr. Suchat summerhouse near Mae-rim, where we stayed as guest with all his family from 11. – 29 july 1966:


 

Mr. Suchat summerhouse near the village Mae-rim 12 km from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo: july 1966

 

Here we stayed as guest with 9 family members of all ages from 11. july until 29. july with 2 breaks to Hill tribe village Mae Nai 18.-21 july and a visit to Mr. Suchat home village near the border to Burma – 125 km from Chiang Mai from 22.-24. july 1966.

Every day we eat traditional thai food and delicacies 3 times a day sitting in a circle together around all the food plates and on our bottoms with crossed legs. In the evening we discussed life and politics and the children sang and danced traditional thai songs and dances.

 

Social gathering i Mr. Suchat summerhouse in Maerim. At left Mrs. Suchat, her son at 14 years old, I Erik and Mr. Suchat at right. Photo by Niels, july 1966.

 

We all slept directly on the floors on a strawmat under a mosquito net. With no problems. Every day we had so many experiences, that we slept as in heaven and with good dreams!

 

The taste of fresh coconutmilk near Maerim Market Place. From left Erik, Niels and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Suchat. At right Mrs. Suchat.

 

Mr. Suchats sister 19 years old prepairing the supper. She lived in the summerhouse with her child, a boy 6 months old. The is divorced from her husbond, because he dranked and played hasard. We lived 11 people in the summerhouse and we all helped with cooking and washing-up. Photo: july 1966

 

Here I am! Erik Kristian Abrahamsen born 4. august 1945 in Skagen, Denmark with the 6 months child of the sister or Mrs. Suchat. Summerhouse in Maerim, Thailand. Photo by Niels, july 1966

 

Mr. Suchat is a specialist in Hill tribes in Thailand and had studied and lived among two different tribes the last 6 years.

He invited Niels and I to visit and stay overnight 4 days in Mae Nai village, where Mr. Suchat had builded a cottage build in the Maew tribe style.


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Visit to Hill Tribe Village Mae Nai with overnight stay from 18.-21. july 1966:

In Thailand there are about 300.000 hill tribes inhabitants split up into 12 groups with total differences in language and customs. There are differences in clothing, tools, house architecture and religions.

Mae Nai village excits of 12 families, all in all about 100 persons and there are members of the Maew Tribe, which came to Thailand from Laos and South China 2-300 years ago. There founded this village 8 years ago after living in another village since 50 years.

Monday 18. july 1966 I, Niels and Mr. Suchat drove in a jeep 17 km into the mountains and the forest. We left the jeep where the road ended and went on feet through the jungle by small paths in 2 hours before we arrived to Mae Nai village.

In the jungle you can meet tigers, wild elephants, zo jaguars, bears, but there are rare.

More common are apes, wild boars and cobra snakes. We did not meet anything dangerous. Lucky guys!

In a clearing in the jungle Mae Nai village with 12 families turned up!


Mae Nai village in the mountains 18 km from Chiengmai, Thailand:

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Mae Nai village in the mountains 18 km from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

All about 12 houses are situated close to each other on a slope in the jungle. They are all builded by the trees, they have cut down. Each tree had been cutted in width and long pieces, 2-3- cm thick, 20-30 cm width and 1-3 m in length. They are placed as walls with small chinks of 1 cm between planks.

The roof are covered with straw and/or leaves.

The families in the village and from 3-4 neighbouring villages helps each other to build a house.  Mr. Suchat had paid people in Mae Nai to build his study house in the original village style. Here we all three lived, eat and slept on a 100 cm raised floor on uprights (posts) the next 4 days.

 

Niels and Erik in Mae-Nai village:

 

Mae-Nai hill tribe village. Thailand. Niels at left and Erik at right. Photo: july 1966 Mr. Suchat.


 


And by enjoying the beautiful panorama from our cottage I understood, why the Thai Goverment had asked Mr. Suchat to help and educate the hill tribes to understand, what happens with the forest and the soil when they cut new trees down to build new houses and villages and to cultivate  new fields every years:

All over on the  slopes of the surrounding mountains there are large areas of trees cutted down and with only 1-2 years of agricultural production. Over time that habit will create a problem: The trees that make up the forest and the jungle will disapear and the soil on the slopes of the hills will be swept away in the rainy seasons. That will create big problems in the future!

So Mr. Suchat are here in the village to teach the hill tribes in sustainable development!

Cutting trees on the slopesof the hills for agricultural production:

 

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View from Mae Nai villages in direction of hills where trees are cut down for agricultural production. The clouds lies low over the jungle in the back of the picture. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

When the hill tribes had cut down an area with trees they start production of rice, corn, maize and opium.

They plant rice on an area and after only one years of rice production, they move to a new place for next years rice production – they dont build terraces for reuse in the rice production!

 

Cutting down trees and preparing for rice, corn, maize and opium production. In the foreground two trees, where people have cut holes to get the juice from the tree for lighting in the village houses. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966


Family of the medicine man in front of his home in Mae Nai village:


The medicine man in the village is the most prominent person. When there are sick children or sick  adults there will visit the medicine man for help, advice and healing.

In the village there are no written rules. Every family takes care of there own affaires. If someone have troubles with other people in the village, there will visit the elder of the village and he will help to solve disputes and problems between the village members. In Mae Nai this elder is the medicine man.

In this area of the White Meaw hill tribe Group which include 3-4 villages med hundreds of members, they have elected a leader (by a hand) for the whole group for period of ten years. This White Meaw Group leader is accepted of the Province Governor of Chiang Mai.

All the silver jewellery are handmade melt down from indian rupee coins with 95% pure silver content.

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The family of the most important man in the village: the medicine man at right in the picture. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966.

Wife and children of the medicine man in Mae Nai Village:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wife and children of medicine man i Mae Nai village. All suit clothes an jewellery of parents and children are homemade in Mae Nai village. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

Fresh and clean water to all houses in Mae Nai village:

From a spring some hundreds meters away the fresh water is led through half cutted bamboos through the whole village directly to all the houses.

Each house has placed a basin of hollowed tree, where a stick to the running water fill up the basin.

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Medicine man at the fresh water system to all the houses in Mae Nai village. The water runs from a spring hundreds of meters away through half cutted bamboo at right in the picture. From here a stick leed the water into a basin and the people kan use the water for cooking, drinking and for cleaning. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

The medicineman i Mae Nai village clean his opium copper plate:

 

Medicineman of Mae Nai village cleaning his copper plate. This plate he use for drying his raw opium on fire before smoking it in his house. He smoke his own produced opium every day. He is 53 years old with 12 children with 4 wifes. It is the wifes, who does the hard work in the fields and at home! Notice the intelligent water system, which supplies the entire village with fresh water 24 hours – 7 days a week! Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

When we visits the families in their homes, they showed us how they lived and how they use their skills for fabrication of article of clothing and carpentry for house construction.

Husband and wife.

She show us the plant for clothing production and he have just done carpentry work of 2 planks of wood for house building:

 

Husband and wife. She shows the plant for manufacturing white linen cloth and he had just done two planks of wood for the house building. Mae Nae Village. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

And here we all together enjoy the daily life of parents and their children in and outside their homes:

The mothers and their girls sewing ,


 

Dayly life in Mae Nai village. Sewing. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

– and the boys and their fathers practicing their skills in hunting with their crossbow:


 

Learn to hunt. Daily life in Mae Nai village. Fathers fabricate and teach their sons to use crossbow in hunting. They hunts birds and hares with arrows with tail feather of small leaves. Bears, tigers and wild elephants are very rare in the mountains. If they must kill a bear, who damaged their fields or are dangerous to children they fabricate and put a homemade poison on the tip of their arrows. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

Mother with her child:

 

 

 

Mother and child. Outdoor in Mae Nai village. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

The most important event every  year is The New Year Celebration.


It is celebrated the first, second and third day after full moon in december.

It is three days where all families come togehter for good food, ancient ceremonies and dance and singing.

All family members, grandparents, parents and children put on their best suit of clothes and their most valuable jewellery.

All the jewellery  as necklace, belts and earrings are made of a professional silwer craftsman in the village.

Its melt down from indian rupee silver coins with 95% pure silver. Those indian rupee silver coins were means of payments in northern Thailand in 1940-50.

The white linen clothes are made from a linen plant, which they produce in their fields.


As an honour to Niels and my visit to their village they dressed for  photo session of their New Year Celebration suit of clothing:

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New Year Celebration suit of clothes. The most rich family in the village: Mother with her 3 sons. All clothes and jewellary are handmade in Mae Nai village. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

The New Year Celebration suit of clothes. All are handmade in Mae Nai Village. Mother with her children and grandchildren. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

Two girls in their New Year Celebration suit of clothes and jewellary:


 

Two girls in their New Year Celebration suit of clothes and jewellary. All are handmade in the village. Mae Nai village. Photo: 18.-21. july 1966

 

22. july 1966 we are back in Mr. Suchat summerhouse i Maerim.

We stayed and enjoyed a social gathering 22. july to 29 july and a visit to Mr. Suchat hometown near the border to Burma, 125 km east of Chiang Mai.

On a day trip on walk to the waterfalls in Maerim District:

 

 

 

Here we are passing ricefields on our walk to the waterfalls. Photo: july 1966

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We are walking “on top” of the ricefields on our trip to the waterfalls in Maerim District. Photo: july 1966

 

Trip on walk to the waterfalls. Photo: july 1966

 

Swimming in the river at the waterfalls in Maerim District, Chiang Mai:

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming in the river at the waterfalls in Maerim District. Photo by Niels, July 1966

 

We finished our holiday in Mr. Suchat summerhouse 29. july and hitchhiked from Chiang Mai to Bangkok 30-31. july – all in all 950 km:

 

Hitchhiking the 950 km from Chiang Mai to Bangkok 30-31 july 1966. Photo by Niels 30. july 1966


Copyright Erik K Abrahamsen 2011

All rights reserved

Copenhagen, 11. february 2011

To be continued!

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