Thai Tribal Fair Trade
I met some people from Thai tribes in the past. It is well-known that their agriculture is based on burning their fields. But in fact, it's a war between tribes. The tribes burn the fields of the other tribes, and vice versa, and so, they must move. They can't go on their semi-nomadic life because there are no new places where to go. The production and the sale of handicrafts is a good answer to their problems. When they make handicrafts, they forget their war and live in peace. We spent a day amongst them, we saw even them melting and working silver and rhodium.
- Akha people : they are approximatively 32,000. They make baskets, musical instruments and crossbows.
- Hmong people : they are 92,000. They are divided in 2 subtribes : the white and the blue (though they have green ornaments). The white women do needleworks. The blue women do batik clothes. The men are marvellous blacksmiths and gunsmiths.
- Karen people : they are 293,000. They are divided in 2 subtribes : the Sgaw Karen and the Pwo Karen. Karen women are known for their ikat weaving. Karen men produce baskets, musical instruments, betel nut boxes and animal bells.
- Lahu people : they are 58,000 in Thailand. They are divided in 4 subtribes : Lahu Na, Laju Sheh Leh, Lahu Shi and Lahu Nyi. Lahu women make clothes. Lahu men make baskets, crossbows and musical instruments.
- Lawa people : they live only in the north. They are 8,500. They make clothes with ikat designs and silver jewelry.
- Lisu people : they are 23,000. Lisu men produce crossbows, bird and animal traps, musical pipes and bamboo flutes.
- Mien people : they are 35,000.