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Pamee Akha Village
This picturesque village is one of the most accessible Akha settlements in Chiang Rai province,and is located on the way to the summit of Doi Tung.

Akha People
The Akha hill tribe from Yunnan, related to the Hani there, in the Yangtze valley area for 3,500 years. They may have migrated long ago, eastward down the Yangtze valley, from Eastern Tibetan plains. Shaministic, animist, ancestor-worshippers, their all-powerful creator spirit is Apoe Miyeh. The women's ornate headdresses, decorated with silver, get taller or heavier with increased status; they are said to wear their wealth. They wear leggings below their skirts, knees bare. Their jackets are embellished with applique, embroidery, silver, beads, tassels, cowry shells and various seeds. Most speak a common dialect of the Yi/Lolo branch of Tibetan-Burmese language group. While yet not using an alphabet, they did some excellent counterfeiting of money (coin and paper) and documents including passports. Many have phenomenal memories, especially for the names of their ancestors. Noted bushgrass broom makers, they also have good silversmiths. They carve primitive lightwood male and female effigies and incredibly large village gates (please don't touch!), and long ago made splendid shoulder-harness yokes, a plainer version of which is still used. Young Akhas love their festivals, and are great singers and dancers. Sometimes at night they light pine torches and beat drums and gongs to expel evil spirits and disease. Migration into Thailand began over 100 years ago, at a time when there were few people in the North. The U-lo Akha and Loimi Akha came down from Burma; the U-lo, who came first, favor a pointed headdress for women, the Loimi a flat one. More recently, the Pami Akha came from China, in the late 50's and in '66-'67. There are four other main branches. 56,616 were registered in Thailand in 1997, 47,779 in Chiang Rai, mostly west of Highway 1 in the northern part of the province (north of the capital). Many (perhaps over 50,000 more) remain unregistered. Their religion, the Akha Way (Akhazan), involves ancestor-worship and animistic pantheism, with animal sacrifice and other magical rites. Its oral traditions cover ceremonies, cultivation, hunting, sickness and appropriate behavior toward outsides. About a quarter of them have become Christian, seeing Christianity as a more modern version of their Way. They are the most widespread of Thai hill-tribe groups; widespread outside of Thailand also.

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