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    To develop the ethnic groups database where systematized research data are available online and can be made use of by interested parties or individuals, following the subjects or topics of their interests, and thus making it easier for them to sum up the essential points necessary for further in-depth studies. 


    S'gaw youth at Mowakee Chaingmai

    Less savings. Much to share.

    S'gaw's proverb
    Mowakee Chaingmai

    Salak Yom Festival
    Pratupha Temple

    Sea as Home of Urak Lawoi, Moken, Moklen

    Rawai beach Phuket Thailand


    Computer class of S'gaw students
    Mae La Noi , Maehongson

    Khaw Rai (Rice)
    produced from rotational farming
    Li Wo, Kanchanaburi


    S'gaw woman at Hin Lad Nai village

    Fermented Beans

    Important ingredient of Tai


    Phlong(Pwo) woman

    Li Wo village

    Boon Khaw Mai rite

    Phlong at Li Wo


    Little Prince of Tai

    Ordination in Summer of Tai boys


    Boys are ordained as novice monks

     Poi Sang Long is the tradition of the Tai. 

    Be novice monk to learn Buddhism


    Tai-art  mural painting of  Buddha 
    at Wat Chong Kam Chong Klang
    Maehongson Thailand

    Wat Chong-Kam, Chong Klang

    Hmong childs at Ban Kewkarn
  •   Smile

    Smile in problems
    Urak  Lawai at Rawai Phuket
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  Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
Ethnic Groups Research Database
Sorted by date | title


Subject Cyclical farming practice, Karen, knowledge, wisdom
Author Prasert Trakarnsupakorn and others
Title Cyclical agriculture: Knowledge and practices of the ethnic Karen in northern Thailand
Document Type Research Paper Original Language of Text Thai
Ethnic Identity Paganyaw, S'gaw, Kanyaw, Karen, Language and Linguistic Affiliations Sino-Tibetan
Location of
SirindhornAnthropology Center Total Pages 174 Year 2005
Source Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples (IKAP)

The report presents information about and management of cyclical farming areas of the Karen hill tribe in the northern region. The sample group was three villages:

1.  Mae Umpai Village # 5, Tambon Mae Tho, Mae La Noi District, Mae Hong Son Province 58120
2.  Pa Kha Nork Village # 11, Tambon Samoeng Tai, Samoeng District, Chiang Mai Province 50250
3.   Hin Lat Village # 7, Tambon Ban Pong, Wiang Pa Pao District, Chiang Rai Province 57170

The three villages share common knowledge about cyclical farming. They also share the same beliefs, customs, knowledge, and sustainable management ideas about cyclical farming with a firm awareness of national resource conservation that has been passed on from generation to generation. The report also presents the ethnic community’s power to negotiate with the state sector on forest area management and national resource conservation that are in line with their ethnic lifestyle and with sustainable management practices.
In every village, an area must be set aside for residence and house construction. Within the vicinity of the village, trees can be cut down for house construction and other trees must be grown for consumption and use as well as for an environmental balance in the community. It is believed that without this ideal, community leaders would be unable to supervise and make community members happy.
The forested area surrounding the village is a forbidden area exclusively reserved for conducting rituals, such as dispelling bad luck, calling souls or hanging umbilical cords on the trees. Cutting these trees would scare children’s souls, causing sickness in the children. Nevertheless, the villagers carefully exploit the forest e.g., collecting firewood, in such a way that there is the least impact on the forest.
Rituals related to rice planting are conducted at the weir before water is siphoned into rice fields and in the fields while seedlings are growing. The implication of the rituals is to pay respect to Mother Earth in the hope of good yields and to cherish and use natural resources for maximal benefits.
The cyclical system takes four years and over for the areas to be fully rehabilitated. However, it all depends on the conditions of each area. It is forbidden to build residential buildings or to clear the land for plantation in the forest set aside for conservation. It is believed to be a sacred area, providing a watershed for the entire community for consumption and agriculture all year round. However, the villagers are allowed to exploit the forest for food, medicinal herbs and hunting.
Clearing the land for cultivation and burning trees in an area with a creek are forbidden by the ethnic group. It is believed that the area was an abode of forest spirits. Doing so would make villagers sick. It is also prohibited to swim in a watershed, as it is believed that the area was resided by the water spirit. The prohibition goes that if you swim in a watershed, you will get goiter. The belief is based on the fact that a watershed is the origin of many creeks and streams where everyone can collectively benefit. Without such a prohibition, water may be overexploited and the environmental balance can be destroyed. To conserve the natural balance, the ethnic beliefs have been connected in order to prevent overexploitation of water and natural resources (pp. 57-58).
The ethnic group forbids land clearing in big mountains that border villages. If land clearing in such areas were conducted, calamities would befall upon the villagers. It is believed that valleys between big mountains were passages of night spirits. The implication of such a belief is that it preserves natural resources, because big mountains are usually watershed areas with steep cliffs. Land clearing in the areas would have more environmental impact than on other areas, affecting the growth of other crops. Additionally, it is to prevent the danger of storms from causing damage to the village in the monsoon season.
In an area where a river branches off, it is forbidden to farm, build residential buildings, hunt or fish. It is believed that the land is possessed by fierce supernatural beings. The implication is to have equal management of natural resources, since such an area is fertile land. One branch of the river could be obstructed when one village required more water, causing conflicts among villages and affecting the biodiversity and the ecology of the other branch.
When three streams converge, the ethnic group believes that it is a miracle created by the forest spirits who reside there. It is forbidden to use the place for residence or for cultivation. Violators will be punished by becoming sick. The implication is that it conserves a rare natural resource, because seldom do three streams converge. Another implication is that it prevents the loss of lives and property during the rainy season because the area is prone to flooding.
The ethnic group also believes that a marshland with still water in the forest is an abode of water spirits. No human activities are allowed to disturb the spirits. Violators will be made to become sick. The belief indicates a respect for and conservation of a watershed as well as the preservation of a rare natural resource.

Text Analyst Sunisa Fuekfon Date of Report May 02, 2013
TAG Cyclical farming practice, Karen, knowledge, wisdom, Translator Chalermchai Chaichomphu


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