417. Made with hand woven cloth, hand embroidered in detail and adorned with silver coins and various colored glass beads. Collected some 50 years ago from the Akha in hills around Chaing Mai, Thailand. Excellent condition for its age.
Villages of these colorful people are to be found in the mountains of China, Laos Myanmar (Burma) and northern Thailand. There are approximately 20,000 Akha living in Thailand's Northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai at high altitudes.
This tribe originated in Tibet. Every Akha village is distinguished by their carved wooden gates, presided over by guardian spirits. They life in raised houses on low stilts, with a large porch leading into a square living area with a stove at the back. The roof is steeply pitched.
They live on marginal land and find it difficult to eke out a living through their slash and burn method of agriculture. In order to supplement their income, many Akha are now selling handicrafts, employing the traditional skills used in making their own clothing and cultural items.
Akha women spin cotton into thread with a hand spindle, then leave it on a foot-treadle loom. The cloth is dyed with indigo, then sewed into clothing for the family. The women wear broad leggings, a short black skirt with a white beaded sporran, a loose fitting black jacket with heavily embroidered cuffs and lapels. The black caps are covered with silver coins. Akha men and women produce various decorative items of bamboo and seeds.
The men make crossbows, musical instruments, a variety of baskets, and other items of wood, bamboo and rattan.
The Akha are deeply superstitious, their religion prescribing exactly how each action should be performed. This tribe is the poorest of the hill tribes, but well known for their extraordinary costumes and exotic appearance. (Source: Thailand online)