The Lu พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย R.S.LF May, M.R.A.S.   


LE MAY, R.S.,TRANS. THE LÜ. JSS. VOL.19 (pt.3) 1925. p.159-169.



                                                    THE LÜ.

                    A paper (name of author unknown), written
                           in reply to the Questionnaire of the
                                Siam Society ; and translated
                                    BY R. S. LF  May, M. R. A. S.
                                            A. Anthropology.

               General Physical Characteristics of the Lü.
          1. Their general appearance, as far as the form of their
body, their height, and normal physical characteristics are concerned,
approximates to that of the Lao.
          2. On the whole they are rather inclined to be fat.
          3. Looked at from in front, their faces are flat; but in
profile they are practically the same as the Lao. Similarly their
noses, when seen from in front, are flat at the tip, and do not stand
out or project in profile.

          4. Their lips are thin, but red in colour.
          5. They have no beard or whiskers. The hair of their
head is stiff and black : but that on the body is soft and rather
yellowish-black in colour. In the ordinary way their hair grows
abundantly and stiffly ; and their locks are straight and not curly.
          6.   The colour of the eyes is an intense deep black.
7. The axial line of the eyes is horizontal, the internal
corner of the eyes being level with the external.
          8. The skin of those parts of the body which are usually
covered with clothes is a whitish-yellow, while in the exposed parts
the skin is a yellowish-black. When children are born, they usually
have black or blue patches on their backs, but after eight or nine
months these patches disappear.
                                Peculiar Features with regard to the
                                               Anatomy of the Lu.
          (a)   There are no deformities or peculiarities noticeable in
the shape of the skull, whether from birth or from accident sub-
sequent to birth,




          (b) As a rule the ears of both sexes are pierced with holes,
but otherwise they are not abnormal.
          (c) The Lü are fond of staining the teeth black, and of
cutting the teeth. But this latter practice has only come into vogue
during the last four or five years.
          (d) With regard to the other members of the body not yet
mentioned, such as arms and legs in particular, there are no special
deformities or abnormalities worth recording, due to the wearing of
anklets, rings, bracelets or sandals.
          (e) There are no natal peculiarities of the genital organs to
be noticed, nor are there any customs of castration, or other means
of preventing sexual intercourse, known among the Lü.
          9. Among the Lü men the custom generally prevails of
tattooing the legs, as they believe that this operation entails bravery
and endurance. Any one who is not brave enough to endure it is
classed among the women-folk.
          (Translator's Note). It is generally stated that, when the Lü
folk first came to Siam, they did not observe this custom, but have
copied it since from the Shan and Lao.

                                              B. Ethnography.
                            The Habitat and Customs op the Lü.
          1. General Habitat. With regard to the general habitat of
the Lü, this people likes to live in the valleys near the banks of a
river. As a rule they choose a site which, on the north, adjoins the
jungle, on the south a river, on the east a stream, and on the west
their arable land.
          As a race, they are intelligent and industrious, and their
chief occupation is ploughing and cultivating the soil. They call
themselves Lü, and the same name is given to them by their neigh-
bours. Their manners and behaviour are gentle and orderly, and
they know how to adapt themselves to changing conditions and
          2. Particular Habitat. As far as individual and particular
habitations are concerned, the Lü always live in villages by them-
selves and do not mix with other races.   They usually build a good,




stout wooden stockade round the village. Originally in the olden
days they used to build their houses in one storey with a high,
raised flooring. The tie-beam of the roof was very high, and the
kitchen was inside the house together with the sleeping rooms. At
the back of the house, called "nā hong", there was a barred window,
while the front of the house faced either the south or the north.
The steps led straight up to the principal door of the house.
          Nowadays this type of house is not built any more, and a
new style of architecture has been adopted, in accordance with modern
Siamese fashion.
          Inside the house will be found the usual furniture, including
beds, pillows and mosquito-nets. Their rice and curry pots are of
earthenware. The jar for storing rice is made of wood, perforated
wich holes.   There is a sufficiency of cups and bowls.
          As regards sleeping arrangements, the general custom is for
young men and unmarried girls to use many layers of mattresses,
2, 3, 4, or 5 as the case may be : so that, when they get married,
they need not obtain any more mattresses.
          As a rule it may be said that they keep their houses clean.
          3. Clothing. In the ordinary way, about a hundred years
ago or more, the men wore bell-bottomed trousers with wide legs
and a blue coat : they kept their hair long tied up in a "bun" in the
middle of the head, and wound a red or white cloth round it in the
form of a turban. They pierced their ears with holes and inserted
gold earrings.
          The women used to wear the " sin " ( " kan taw kwai " )
with stripes of red, white, and black : and a red chemise, with a
black coat.   They also wear their hair done up in a " bun ".
          On their arms they wear bracelets of twisted silver.
          All their clothes they make themselves, and do not buy or
sell them. As a rule they make two sets, the one for ordinary every
day wear in the house, and the other for ceremonies and other special
occasions. But during the last hundred years they have gradually
been giving up their own peculiar costumes, and now most of them
dress in the Chiengmai ( Lao ) fashion.




          4. Food. Their normal food consists of " khao nio " or
glutinous rice, as the principal cereal, and pork, beef, ducks, chickens,
fish, as well as various kinds of vegetables. They drink a little
alcohol on occasion. They chew betel nut with the " plū " leaf, and
smoke tobacco in just the same way as the Lao.
          For cooking their food, they use either brass or earthenware
pots. Other domestic and household articles in use are the same as
those used by the Lao.
          5. Hunting and Fishing. The Lü do not indulge very
much in either of these pursuits.
          The guns in use   among  them are either muzzle-loaders
( ปืนแก๊ป ), or of the flint-lock type. Otherwise they use the cross-
bow and arrow.   For fishing they use various kinds of nets, such as
the ข่อง แร้ว ค่าย น่าง แห ยอ สวิง จิบ แซะ เบ็ด ไซ ต่อง เต้น.
          The chief animals they hunt are the deer, wild-pig, rabbit,
          6. Means of Transport. For purposes of transport they use
"kwien" (carts) with oxen or buffaloes for draught.
          7. Agriculture. For tilling the fields, ploughing, and rice
cultivation generally, they use either oxen or buffaloes.
          They first of all grow the seed in nurseries, and then, after
about a month or more, they pull up the seedlings and having
tied them up in bundles they transplant them in the fields, which
have in the meantime been prepared. The seedlings are usually
planted about 20 inches apart.
          As soon as the rice season is over (i.e. in January) and the
padi has been gathered into the barns, parties of Lii go out into the
jungle some two hours' distance from the homestead, and make a
large clearing. As soon as the timber which has been felled is dry,
they burn it completely up, and then by means of manual labour
only, i.e. spadework, they dig up the soil. No ox or buffalo labour
is employed in this work. When the land has been prepared, they
plant cotton, maize, wheat, beans, sesame, and pumpkins, and the
family will build a small hut near by, so as to sleep there and guard
the crops.   As soon as the rains begin, they return to their homes.




          They  do not breed either silk-worms or bees.
          8. Trade and Barter. Their shops and marts for exchange
are on a very small and primitive scale : but their weights and
measures, as well as their trading customs, are the same as those in
use in Chiengmai.
          9. Industries and Crafts. As carpenters they have a good
reputation. They also do a certain amount of weaving, but for
personal use only and not sufficient for sale. Otherwise they have
no handicrafts.

          10. War. Their only weapons are muzzle-loading (ปืนแก๊บ)
and flint-lock guns : spears : swords : and cross-bows and arrows.
          11. Social Organisation. The social customs of the Lü
are of a good standard, where the husband is regarded as the estab-
lished head of the family, and the wife and children are firmly
under his discipline and control. This extends so far that whenever
the wife or any of the children wish to go anywhere (presumably at
some distance from the village), they must ask permission from the
head of the house first.
          In the old days, as soon as any of the children arrived at an
age when some kind of work was necessary and good for them, they
were trained in the work of tilling the fields and planting gardens :
but nowadays customs have changed, and when children reach the ago
of five or six, they are sent to the nearest school. Adopted children
are looked after by parents as well as their own, and usually receive
the same amount of affection. The disowning of children is un-
          As far as courtship and marriage are concerned, if a man
falls in love with a girl, he will go and pay her a visit at night time ;
and if his feelings are reciprocated, and the parents of both parties
are agreeable, then the young couple must obey the orders of their
guardians. About ten of the elders of the village representing both
parties appoint a date to meet at the house of the bride-elect for the
purpose of betrothal. On the day appointed the bridegroom will
bring a cluster of betel nuts (about 100 nuts), and the bride will
bring the same. These will form a common bond to unite the parties
of the bride and bridegroom.   When it has been mutually agreed




that the couple shall become man and wife, the man will deposit
with the girl two "hoi" (12 Rupees) as the purchase price. At the
same time the girl will present a dish of flowers with four pairs of
wax candles, and ask the man to accept her as his child.
          The two clusters of betel nuts are then distributed among the
families of both parties, all included whether such are near or far
removed, the intention underlying this being that both families
should be one and the same in the future, and never separate again.
          When the man has received the dish of flowers from the elder
acting on behalf of the girl, both parties then promise and swear
that, if either of them misbehaves in any way, he or she must inform
the other : and the elders (with the bridegroom) then depart from
the house.
          In the evening, as ,soon as dusk falls, the bridegroom will
take a party of friends and proceed once more to the house of the
bride. The bridegroom must take with him two things in particular
namely a sword and a bag for carrying betel nut. These are abso-
lutely essential, as being the most important possessions of a real
          Once the man and girl have become husband and wife, they
must remain in the house of the girl's parents and look after them
for three years. When the prescribed period is at an end, the
parents of the bridegroom can then ask that the married couple
should live with them also for a period of three years (this is called
" three years go and three years come "), unless the husband and wife
decide to separate from the parents and go to live elsewhere in a
house of their own.
          Children, at any rate girls, remain under the complete control
of their parents until they obtain a husband.
          As regards inheritance, this also rests entirely with the
parents : for instance, if they see that a daughter is not behaving in
accordance with their wishes and orders, they will give her nothing,
as is also customary among the Lao.
          The status, i.e. independence of women, is now on a satisfac-
tory footing.




          As regards divorce, if a man wishes to divorce his wife, he
must pay her the sum of two "hoi" (12 Rupees), and the act is
          With regard to the feeding of infants, a mother will suckle
her child from the age of one day upwards. A few days after the
child is born, the mother will take strips of bananas and dry them
in the sun. She will then steam them, and afterwards chew them
with glutinous rice, until they are a soft mass together. She will
then sit down and stretch out her legs in front of her, putting a
piece of cloth on them, and put the child down on its back on the
cloth with its head towards her, and place portions of the banana
and glutinous rice which she has chewed together into the child's
mouth to eat. She will go on doing this until the child's teeth are
cut, and it can eat grains of rice by itself. After a year or more, the
child is usually given a certain amount of meat to eat with its rice.
          The laws of the people, both criminal and civil, are the same
as those in use now among the Lao : as are also the holding of
property, and the methods of judicial proof.
          Dangerous crimes scarcely ever occur among the Lü.
          12. Art. The Lü are only moderately proficient in drawing
and painting.
           As regards games, they have held these from a very long
time ago on holidays and ceremonial occasions.   They play at chess,
 (หมาก ถอน), (หมากเก็บปู).
          At these times every house will distil some alcohol, and kill
pigs and cattle, as well as catch fish, to entertain their friends.
          They are fond of playing the " fiddle " and singing.
          13. Science. Their method of computing time is the same
as that in vogue at Chiengmai.
          For medicinal purposes they use roots, bark of trees and
leaves principally.
          14. Religion. The Lü are now professing Buddhists. In
olden times they were pure animists and used to worship " phi
sang " (spirits), but nowaday they have ceased to do so to some




          They have become Buddhists because the teachings of
Gautama appealed to them, as showing the true way of life. The
reason why they were formerly animists pure and simple was because
they firmly believed that, if they did not propitiate the spirits, they
would not prosper and would suffer harm in various ways. Accord-
ingly they invoked the spirits, whom they called " The Lords of the
Upper Way," to keep and guard them.
          Nowadays they believe in Gautama and that, if they venerate
him and act according to his teachings in this life, their next life
will be one of joy and happiness. But the spirits only belong to
this life, and if a man propitiates them, well, he will live to a good
old age and the spirits will not be able to kill him.
          Their temples, image-houses, and pagodas are spacious and
large, and have existed in Siam from olden times. As a rule they
build a special "Bōt", or church, for the Image of the Buddha, and
a large hall for the assemblies of the devout to come and listen to
the sermons of the priests. The priests live in the temple grounds
and look after it ; and they encourage the people to behave properly
and not to sin, according to the doctrine of Buddhism, also to vener-
ate the Buddha and to say their prayers every morning and evening.
          When a child is about to be born, there is usually a ceremony
according to the following custom.
          Before the birth takes place, a midwife, either man or woman,
must be found to receive the child from the mother. The midwife
will ask the mother to sit up and lean against the bedstead with a
pillow at her back.
          When the child is born, the midwife will cut the birth-cord
receive the child from its mother and wash it in cold water.
          She will then put two or three folds of cloth in the cradle
prepared for it, and lay the child gently therein.
          The cradle will then be set up opposite the opening of the
steps of the house, and the midwife will stamp on the wooden or
bamboo flooring two or three times to make the child frightened and
cry out, at the same time calling upon the spirits, if the child is
theirs, to come and take it away ; since, if  they do not do so




at once, but allow the child to enter the human family, they will
never have the chance again.
          This is done because it is believed that it will ensure the
child living a healthy and happy life, and not being of an excitable
          There are no further ceremonies of either sex, when they
reach the age of puberty, or at any other time. But death is always
accompanied by ceremony.
          Before death takes place, the relatives of the dying man will
go and ask the priest to lend his begging bowl and set of yellow
robes, and place them at the head of the bed on which the man is
lying. They will then preach to the dying man " the Buddha, the
Law, and the Order " and make him repeat this formula until he
dies, in the belief that they are helping him to take the right path,
and not to forget The Buddha, The Law, and The Order.
          After death has taken place, the body is washed and a new
coat is put on it. It is then laid on its back, and both the hands are
tied together with white thread so that the palms lie flat together,
pointing upwards. Flowers and candles are then placed between
the palms of the hands, and the toes of the feet are tied together
as well. In addition to this, a piece of wax moulded in the form of a
boat is also placed in the dead man's hands. The symbolism of this
ceremony is that the flowers and candles are given to the dead man
to offer to the relics of Buddha in the Crystal Pagoda of Heaven, and
the boat is supplied to carry him across the vast Ocean of Eternity,
and to help him escape from the relentless Wheel of Life.
          Priests" are summoned to chant prayers over the body, which
is afterwards removed for cremation or burial to the "cemetery" :
this latter is the forest, and no special spot is prepared beforehand.
What happens is that, when the body arrives at the burying-ground,
a single egg is placed in a bag with other eatables, and the bag is
flung away at hazard.
          Wherever the bag falls and if the egg breaks, there is the
spot chosen for the cremation or burial. But if the egg does not
break, the bag is picked up and thrown again until the egg is broken.




The place where the egg breaks is considered as the "home" of the
dead man.
          The manner and forms of worship and prayer, as well as the
greater and lesser festivals, are the same among ,the Lü as among
the Lao, except that the actual vocalization is different.
          For example, the Lao say "  พุทโธ " but the Lü say " พุด๊โท ".*
          Whenever a new house is built, or the lands are tilled,
or on any special occasion, such as the making of merit, or the
giving of alms, the guardian or tutelary spirit of the house, or of
the locality, must always receive offerings and sacrifice.
          For instance, the following ceremony is always observed at
the building of a new house.
          First of all a soothsayer must be found, who can exorcize the
spirits, to come and hold a bowl (on the floor or table), in which
must be placed five old ticals, and name the auspicious day for cut-
ting the timber with which to build the house.
          Again, when the timber has been cut, the same gentleman
must be persuaded to name the auspicious day for beginning to build
the house.
          When this has been done, and priests have been called in to
chant prayers and call down blessings, then the building operations
may begin.
          The land on which the house is to be built must first of all
be ploughed and raked by buffaloes. Then the soothsayer, who
holds the bowl, will bless water and sand, and sprinkle them in
showers over the whole of the land to be occupied. After this
ceremony has been performed, the soothsayer will name one of the
most important wooden posts of the house as " The Pillar of Life
(or Fortune)", and another as (name omitted in original Siamese). To
both these posts will be tied banana stems, sugarcane stems and
coconuts : and the persons performing this must be named Nai Ngön
(silver). Nai Kham (gold), Nai Mī (riches) and Nai Keo (jewel).
Unless persons bearing these names do this act the omen is bad.


          [Note. *The difference noticeable here is that the Lao uses the
aspirated " p ", while the Lü uses the middle-class " p-b" sound.]




Moreover, the articles mentioned must be tied with white thread, and
no bamboo strip or other kind of string or cord must be used.
          There is no set formal method of propitiating the " phi sāng "
or (Spirits), but the Lü have acquired the habit from their ancestors
and from a long time ago. They call them " the guardian spirits,"
as well as their " father and mother." Tree worship is indulged in
at certain times, as for instance if a Lu is travelling and has to
sleep in some part of a wild jungle. Then he will choose a certain
tree under which to sleep, as symbolical of the Lord Buddha and his
guardian angel, and for that night at least will commit his body and
soul to its temporary protection. There are no traditions among the
Lü of worshipping animals or streams.
          As regards the creation of the world they believe that
"Father Sâng-Sï " and "Mother Sâng-Sai" created it, and that
mankind was fashioned by these two out of earth as a pair of beings,
one male and one female. These two became man and wife, and had
children, who spread all over the earth and inhabited it, finally
becoming different clans and peoples, who could not understand one
another's speech.
          When a man dies, his life-spirit ( winyân ) does not become
extinct and disappear entirely. The Lü believe that if a man does
good and behaves well in this life, he will reap the reward in the
next : that is, become a member of some high-born family, with much
property and of a high degree of intelligence ; or even perhaps be
born in Heaven. But if a man does evil in this life, he will also
reap his reward and be reborn as one of the lower animals, or at
least as a mean wretched man, without property or any means of
existence.   This belief of the Lü is founded directly on the teaching
of the "Pra Phüm Pra......." which has as its basis the doctrine of
merit and demerit.
          Put briefly, good in this life meets with a good reward here-
after, and evil with an evil reward, according to this creed or




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