|The Karen are the
largest hilltribe group in Northern Thailand. They account for almost half of the entire
hilltribe population. They are located in many provinces along the Western border of
Thailand and also further into Thailand. Mostly they are located in Mae Hong Son, Chiang
Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Tak and Kanchanaburi. The Karen tribe originate from Burma and
the Thai- Burma border area. Over the past century they have moved further into Thailand
to avoid political unrest.
The Karen belong to the Sino-Tibetan linguistic group and they can be divided into 4 major
sub groups: the Skaw (White Karen), the Pwo, the Pa-O and the Kayah. The two most numerous
subgroups are the Skaw and Pwo. The Pwo tend to have more weaving in their costumes and
the men have a distinctive way of fixing their long hair with many clips; the girls also
do this too.
are normally at a lower altitude than other hilltribes - approx. 500m above sea level.
They often reside in valley areas. Karen villages don't move their location often, and
many villages have been in the same place for hundreds of years. They have clear
boundaries and rights over agricultural land and practice land rotation, leaving land
fallow for recovery. They raise many kinds of domestic animals including elephants. The
Karen are renowned for their skills with elephants.
Karen women are skilled at weaving. The young women wear long white
dresses and married women wear sarongs and shirts mostly in a red colour. These are woven
by the tribewomen as well as bags and clothes for the men. You can often see the women
working on their backstrap looms. Men are skilled at basket weaving and produce large
baskets to store rice or clothes.
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08 ตุลาคม 2002 16:02:13