The Virtual Hilltribe Museum
January 31, 2006 1:48 PM   Subscribe

"The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is a project of the Mirror Art Group of Chiang Rai, Thailand to document the rapidly changing cultures of hilltribe people in northern Thailand. While countless volumes have been compiled about the touristically popular hilltribe cultures, almost all of these works have been written by Thais or Westerners and, therefore, carry the bias and mistakes of an outsider. The Virtual Hilltribe Museum is the work of the tribal people themselves."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson (7 comments total)
And, as such, carries the bias, prejudices, and mistakes of an insider instead.

Interesting link.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2006

This is great, especially since I just started reading this book. I've been wanting to learn more about the Hmong.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2006

Wow, this page is fantastic:
In addition to the names that each tribe has for themselves, and the names of the tribes in English and Thai, each tribe also has its own name for every other tribe (these terms are called autonyms and exonyms, respectively). It can be very, very confusing. Below we have assembled a matrix of what each of the seven main ethnic groups of the area call each of the seven ethnic groups. If you are counting, that's 49 different names...

In the interest of not overwhelming the reader, we have omitted from this table several other ethnic groups which are prominent cultural and social forces in the area. Most notably among these are the Chinese and Shan.

The opinion a tribe has about the Chinese replects a long history of dealings with them. Not surprisingly, tribes that have borrowed heavily from Chinese culture - the Mien and Lisu, for example - have a higher opinion of the Chinese than, say, the Hmong who have had a long history of brutal warfare with them. Almost universally, the tribes view the Chinese as hard-working, clever in commerce, and loud. Arrogant is another adjective that pops up often, though not universally...
Great post—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on January 31, 2006

Oops, I forgot the part that makes that page interesting to non-linguists:
We have also included the traditional opinions or stereotypes that each tribe has towards the others and themselves. We haven't listed these to assign any sort of value judgment or superiority/inferiority among the different ethnic groups, but, instead, to show how complicated the relationships between the various ethnic groups in Northern Thailand are.
posted by languagehat at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2006

Interesting...great link. I have been to this region of Thailand-I'll be passing this link on to others.

Coincidentally I carried my Lisu bag to the gym today-it's a special bag with a sling that they store their carryables in. Roomy and comfortable.
posted by konolia at 5:44 PM on January 31, 2006

OOps....Lahu bag. Sorry. Been awhile!
posted by konolia at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2006

Verrry interesting. A model of cultural documentation that I'm sure we'll see a lot more of in future. Thank you!
posted by Miko at 5:54 PM on January 31, 2006

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