Some information concerning the " Phi Tawng Luang " obtained from a few residents of a village in the Nam Wa district, east of Nan. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย Phra Winit Wanadorn.   

WINIT, WANADORN, PHRA. SOME INFORMATION CONCERNING THE "PHI TAWNG LUANG" OBTAINED FROM A FEW RESIDENTS OF A VILLAGE IN THE NAM WA DISTRICT, EAST OF NAN. VOL.20 (pt.2) 1926. p.171-174.

 

 

 

                                                                (171)

 

              Some information concerning the " Phi Tawng Luang "
                         obtained from a few residents of a village
                               in the Nam Wa district, east of Nan.

                                        By Phra Winit Wanadorn.

                                                    __________

 

(1) The    Phi   Tawng   Luang,  a   forest  roaming  tribe, have  in

general  the  stature, appearance  and complexion akin to the Khamu

type, and talk their dialect  with  an  accent  which  sounds  something

like that of the Khamu  or  Khamer. Those  members  who   have  had

some connections with villagers speak the Lao tongue  tolerably  well.

Both male and female wear loose hair, and wear garments of the Lao

when   coming   down  to  villages  on  business. In  their  wild  habitat,

both  male  and  female alike  wear  two  bits  of  loin  cloth, one  hung

in    front   and   the  other  behind. This  cloth  is  simply  the  naturally

woven   bast  fibre  of  the ยางนอง Yang Nawng tree (Antiaris toxicaria)

beaten  out  and  separated  into  sheets  of   the  thickness  required.

Mattresses  and  blankets  are  also  made  out of  the same material.

(2) These people come down to villages (usually those  skirting

the forest)   at  most  once  or  twice  a  year, to  barter  their  collected

forests products such as hides and horns and honey and beewax,for

knives, spades, matches, flints, rice, and  even  for  articles  of  luxury,

by  the  way, such  as  tobacco  and  betel  nuts  and  leaves, the  use

of   which   they  at  times  take  fancy  to. The  female  members  very

rarely leave their  jungle  abode, and  will  on  no  account   knowingly

allow    themselves  to  be  seen  by  outsiders, and  when  they  ever

accompany male members to villages they remain far out of sight.

(3) Their  temporary  dwelling  camp  consists  of  a  rough  and

ready shed made up of bamboos and tree branches,and roofed over

with leaves ; the roof being  just high  enough  for  a man to sit  up  in

without    his  head  touching  it,  and  having  one  side  of  it  sloping

down and touching the ground.

Within  the  shed  is  raised  a  low  platform  floored  with  split

and   flattened - out  bamboo  (ฟาก)  for  sleeping  on.  Invariably  this
platform is found to have its surface  inclined  towards  the  foot  and
in order to prevent the sleepers (the whole company sleep together)

 

 

 

 

 

                                                         (172)

 

sliding down a piece of bamboo is tied across the lower side to  serve
as   a   foot-hold.  Around  the  shed  is  built  a  fence  or   barricade  of
branches and brushwood, to keep off unwelcome intruders, both man
and animal. The duration of  each  camp  depends  on  the  conditions
of  the  surroundings : it i s  left  when  food  is  found  scarce  or  when
other things become unfavourable to existence.

(4) They   live  on   all   kinds  of  animal  and  vegetable  products

 so long  as  these are  edible. Among  their  animal  foods  are  honey,

 meat of all sorts of animals ranging from mouse and rats to deer and

 buffaloe, and   even   to   elephant   if  necessary. Cannibalism  is  not

 known. Among foods of the vegetable  origin  are  yams  (Dioscoreas)

 and   other   edible   roots  and   tubers, herbs  and   fruits, which  last

 include the seed of มะขม (Makhom) produced in the rainy  season  by

 an   Icacinaceous  shrub   which  is  pretty  common  in  moist  shady

 ravines. This seed  when   roasted, has  a  bitter-sweetish taste, and

 also   forms   a   popular   article   of  diet  among  the  village  people.

 Another item of food, and a queer one, is  a  rotten  wood  mixed  with

 honey.

 (5) When going about they carry a  knife and  a  long -  handled

 spear, with the other end of the handle shod with a  narrow - bladed

 spade. The spear handle is made of palm-wood, probably the outer

 part of the stem of Khüang เขือง (Caryota urens), or  of  some  other

 palms such as Arenga and Livistona, which are common in the heavy

 forest.  With  this   spear-spade  implement (poisoned  spear  when

 required) they hunt animals, unearth vegetable tubers and  roots, and

 dig  at  burrows  inhabited  by  food  animals. They  use  no  hunting

 dogs. When having to tackle a biggish and dangerous  animal  they

 do so from a tree branch  or  from  some  other  safe  station. In  the

 case of ordinary game they sometimes beat  the  jungle,  otherwise

 they hunt singly.

 (6) The poison used for the spear is said to be the  milky  sap

 of   the   well - known  Antiaris   toxicaria  mixed   with   some   other

 ingredients the nature of  which  is  unknown  to   outsiders.  Some

 people say that, as   sometimes  used  by  the  villagers, the  usual

 ingredients are cotton-seed oil, ginger, Kha- ข่า (Alpinia) and  lamp-

 black, with an addition of human saliva. According to Mr. Wergeni's

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        (173)

 

statement in Major Seidenfaden's  paper  on the " Kha   Tawng   Luang "'
which appeared in the previous  issue  of  the  Siam  Society's  Journal,
the  poison  used  by  the  tribe  is  derived  from  a  bush  with  leathery
leaves growing on  certain  hill  slopes. From  this  meagre  description
it   is  very  difficult  even  to  guess  what  the  poison  plant  in  question
may   be. It   would   be   interesting  to  know  what  the  plant  is.  There
are many plants belonging to several diverse  families  that  have  been
known to produce deadly poisons,and among them may be mentioned
several  species  of  Strophanthus  of  the  Apocynaceae  family,   which
give from their seeds one of the deadliest and quickest poisons known.
This genus of plants is also represented in our neighbouring countries
such as Burma and the Malay Peninsula, and the occurrence of   some
species  of   it   in   Siam   is   possible.  May   the   poison  plant  of   the
" Phi Tawng Luang " mentioned  by  Mr. Wergeni be  an  erect - growing
species of Strophanthus, as some species of this  are  used by certain
wild tribes of Africa for such purposes.

(7) Hunting dogs and other domesticated animals some say are

 kept   by   this   tribe, some   say   are   not.  Possibly   some  clans  do

 keep them and some clans don't.

 (8) These people  are  very  good  at  spear-throwing,  rarely

 missing a small leaf placed 3 or 4 wah  away. This  performance

 was once exhibited to one of my informants.

 (9) They have not many belongings; when moving camp the

 few things they have are packed into bamboo baskets, which  are

 slung round the shoulders after the Myao's or Nyao's fashion and

 not round the forehead  as  in  the  Karen's  mode. They  have  no

 cooking pots ; the raw food is cooked in a bamboo joint.

 (10) Marriage    is   said  to  be  contracted  on  a  purely  mutual

 ground, there being no sanction or consent of a  third  party  required.

 (11) When  a  member  dies, the  corpse, some  say, is  buried

 underground, some say is hung up on  a  tree. The  latter  custom  of

 disposing of the dead is said to have been first suggested to the Phi

 Tawng Luang, who formerly used to  leave  the  corpse  on  the  open

 ground, by the Myao or Nyao, with the explanation  that  if  it  were  not

 done the tiger might eat the dead body and  getting  to  like  the  taste

 of human flesh, would attack and kill living people and eat them also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                        (174)

 

These fragmentary notes are compiled from information given
to   me   by   uneducated   and  unintelligent  villagers. Should  there
be something in them that seems in any way to differ from or  to  be
contradictory  to  Mr.  Wergeni's  statement, I  must  say  that  I  have
not written them with  the  purpose  of  contradicting  or  in  any  way
disparaging   those   given   by   that   gentleman. Where  things  do
not   agree, I   myself   would   prefer  to  accept  the  facts  given   by
Mr. Wergeni, who has had the advantage of  studying  the  subjects
personally.  Possibly,  however,   different   clans  of  the  tribe  have
different ethnological minor details, as an adaptation to localities.

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