Villages of these colorful people are to be found in the mountains of China. Laos. Myanmar and northern Thailand. Now. most of the Akha tribes are living in Kyaing Ton. There are small villages about 50 minutes drive from Kyaing Ton. such as Ho Kyin. Nan Phi Phank. Pang Ma Phai village.
Every Akha village is distinguished by their carved wooden gates. presided over by guardian spirits. 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.
At the eastern tip of Myanmar. there is the Shan State. The national races Lahu. Ahka. Wa. Gon Shan. Lwe and En inhabit Keng Tung region. eastern Shan State. This village has about 40 households with a population of 200. While we were at the Ahka village. We studied their tradition and customs.
Now. let me tell you about some more notable features of the Ahka’s costume. The ladies’ costume is as pretty as the headdress a short jacket with colourful embroidery. a short. gathered skirt and embroidered leggings of cotton and wool. The headdresses are of two types: the shorter has a rounded back to the cap made of silver while the longer one has a square piece of flat silver standing up at the back.
The ladies’ headdresses are made of tightly sewn rows of beads. embellished in the front with silver coins some of which date back over perhaps a century and on the sides with large globes of silver. strands of beads connect to the cap from behind one ear to the other.
The man’s costume is also embroidered with silver coins and with significant figures hung down. We also observed their daily chores such as weaving basket. spinning wool. pounding and shifting the grain. fetching water and gathering firewood. It is an amazing scene for all of us. because we have never seen before. The young boys and girls always participate in the dance. While they are dancing. they beat the bamboo nodes on the wooden log rhythmically. This way the Ahka nationals live united and in amity forever.
I believe this unforgettable experience will linger long in my memory as the best souvenir of my adventurous trip to Keng Tung.