The Lahu are believed to have originated in Tibet and then migrated down to China, Laos, Burma and Thailand. In Thailand most Lahu are located in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Tak.
Lahu are divided into many subgroups: Lahu Nyi (Red Lahu), Lahu Na (Black Lahu), Lahu Shehleh, Lahu Laba, Lahu Phu and Lahu Shi.
The Lahu Shehleh also call themselves Black Lahu but customs and dialect are different to the Lahu Na.
The Lahu belong to the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group and amongst them, the dialect of the Lahu Na is recognised as a standard; Lahu Nyi and Lahu Phu are closely related, Lahu Shehleh is more divergent and Lahu Shi is the most different of all.
The Thai word for the Lahu is "Mussur", which means hunter and the Lahu are very adept at hunting. Often in the dry season the Lahu men go into the forest to hunt for many days at a time.
Lahu Shehleh woman
The Lahu Na and Lahu Shehleh wear a lot of black. The women wear a knee length robe made from black material and decorated with a white border and trimming, sometimes other colours are also sewn in to the sleeves. They also wear black trousers and puttees. The Lahu Nyi wear a short jacket usually blue, green or black with a large red border; they wear a sarong made of the same colours. Lahu Shi wear a similar short jacket but in black and more intricate and detailed applique design.
Clan and kinship doesn't play a large part in Lahu villages, although kinship will be traced back through both mother and father when a couple decide to marry. In Lahu villages the headman or the elders have most power and the rules of the village are decided through consensus. Mobility of Lahu amongst villages is quite common and if they don't like the rules of one village they find another which suits them better. This isn't a problem as all Lahu think of other Lahu as brothers and sisters.
Lahu Shi
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    Last updated:    08 ตุลาคม 2002 16:02:13