Ref. Number: 253

Country: Northern Thailand

Material: Wood

Dimension: 84x26cm

Akha Village Guardian

Akha Village Guardian

The Akha are a hill tribe of subsistence farmers. If we try to trace back their history based on their oral traditions their native place is Mongolia like many other Asiatic peoples. Later due to various situations such as war, they migrated down with possible influence from Tibet and later ended up in Yunan province of southwestern China. As of today, most of the remaining Akha people are now distributed in small villages among the mountains of China, Laos, Burma, and northern Thailand.

According to the oral traditions, the first 11 ancestors or generations belonged to the spirit world when in the old days the spirits and human beings stayed under the same roof, born from the same parents. Later due to some disagreement between spirits and human beings they parted company and the spirits agreed that they would stay in the forest and the humans would live in villages. The humans would work in the day time and the spirits would work at night. Although the spirits could see the human beings the humans could not see the spirits any more except certain individuals with the power to do so.

The Akha Way combines animism, ancestor worship and their deep relationship with the land. For an Akha, the Akha Way is a way of life which extends beyond simple religious practice and infuses every aspect of their existence. The Akha Way emphasizes rituals in everyday life and stresses strong family ties; every Akha male can recount his genealogy back over fifty generations to the first Akha, Sm Mi O.

Akha Village Guardian

Akha Village Guardian

The practice of their mythology includes ornately carved village gates made of wood where the guardian spirit is said to dwell. The guardian statue is placed by the Akha at their village gate and represents the ancestor who has made an agreement a long time ago with the spirits concerning the partitioning of the ground, the delineation between the forest and village.

More information:
Ethnographic Notes on the Akhas Vol 1 pdf
Ethnographic Notes on the Akhas Vol 2 pdf
Ethnographic Notes on the Akhas Vol 3 pdf
Ethnographic Notes on the Akhas Vol 4 pdf

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