Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mlabri or Phi Tong Lueang

Mlabri means literally "forest people". But the name that northern Thai people give to members of a tribal group is Phi Tong Lueang or "wandering ghosts of yellow banana leaves". Because these people did not want -at least in the past- to be seen or found by strangers. When it happens, they will give up their temporary dwelling and move to another place, for they do not trust strangers. Or, when they have been long enough at one place, and at one time green banana leaves, of which their temporary housing was partly made of, turned to become yellow, they will also leave that place and go looking for a new one. They also moved to another place, when the area they have been living could not cover their basic need of food. The Mlabri are hunters and food collectors.
The Mlabri belong to the Mon-Khmer speaking groups. According to their legend, they are believed to have originated in a Mae Khong River valley in a northern province of Laos. In Thailand they are found only in the provinces of Phrae and Nan.
The official counting in 1997 shows that there are only 125 members of Mlabri group (67 men and 58 women) living in 24 households in 3 villages in 3 districts of the 2 provinces

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