Karen culture in Northern Thailand!
The Karen people live in Burma and Northern Thailand, and the groups we work with live in small villages dotted across the remote mountains in Mai Hong Son.
Whilst Thailand is predominantly a Buddhist country, the Karen are Animist, Buddhist and 30% Christian. Religion is central to many aspects of identity and culture: moral and cultural values are passed down through stories and songs. In Animist villages the witch doctor plays an important role.
The Karen make their own costumes and shoulder bags which are hand woven by the women sitting on the ground using a traditional strap loom. Patterns are handed down from generation to generation.
Some natural dyes are used, produced from tree and plant extracts, and artificial dyes are also used to create the brighter colours. Weaving is a skill that remains important to the culture. They also commonly carry cotton shoulder bags, also woven in the villages.
The traditional Karen diet is made up largely of different rice dishes. That is why rice is of outmost importance for families to grow!
Almost every farming family grow chili, garlic and coriander, as these are importance spices for the dishes.
The Karen also keep chickens and pigs, as well as occasionally go fishing in the rivers.
Many families also grow papaya, banana and mangoes.