Akha are one of the ethnic groups in Myanmar live in small villages at High Mountain around Kyaing Tong which is famous place for trekkers who want to visit mountain tribe villages. Akha tribe can be seen on high mountain of Thailand, Laos and China as minority ethnic.
Akha tribe make their traditional houses with bamboo and thatch, most houses are long leg houses. Some poor family makes low houses built on the ground. At the entrance of the village there is wooden gate decorated with simple carvings and twisted bamboo in star shape.
Akha traditional ceremony
Once a year, when they have harvest time, and their New Year day use to adore new ornaments at the village gate. They believe that, those ornamentation drive away bad spirits.
Some families keep bamboo weaving in star shape at the entrance of their house for good luck and protection from evil spirits.
It is quite similar that Myanmar Buddhist families have tradition that in the afternoon of New Year day, invite monks and make praying and recite Paritta. Each family brings a small terracotta pots with seasonal flowers and a roll of sewing thread. After ceremony, keep flowers at the entrance of the house and the house was tied with sewing thread for good luck and that can protect from bad spirit.
Akha traditional house
Akha tribe live on High Mountain and get high rain fall and suffer from cold weather. They use to build house with low ceiling and small windows. The house was divided with specific area for men and women as well as the common space for all visitors.
At the back of the house there is a small room which is connected to the ladder at the rare part of the house. Guests are not allowed to use that ladder. It means Akha traditional houses have two ladders, the front one can be use family members and guests and the rare one is just for the lady of the family. The small room is for all ladies of the family, men are not allowed to enter.
According to the legend, the Akha are decedent of mother dragon and human father. The lady dragon transformed as a beautiful Akha lady met with a man and fall in love each other. Dragon turns to her nature when she sleeps. It is the reason Dragon lady did not allow sleeping together at night. They still keep their tradition that Akha lady and Akha man (husband and wife) do not sleep together at home.
In the farms there are small hat for their lovely appointment. They do not make love at home.
Sons sleep with father and daughters sleep with mother. Tradition house is small and they all do not have privacy, they all share each other.
Akha man visits to Akha lady’s family (not from front door) from the back door where there is a ladder for ladies. Akha man makes a kind of sound that both of them (man and girl) understand which is as sending a message for appointment. Akha lady follows him and two lovers date successfully.
Originally the Akha are animist. They have ceremony of annual ancestor offering, annual harvest festivals. Each village there is head of the village and shaman who are important person of the village.
Akha animist society, no woman can have twins. If Akha lady gives birth twins, twins were killed, father was sent to outside of the village for a week and a year for mother. Their properties were set fire. This tradition was very hard for all Akha ladies.
Fertility is very important in Akha society. Akha ladies must fertile and must make son for family heritage. If the first wife cannot have son, she has to find second wife. If second wife cannot have son, she has to find third wife for her husband.
Their religion changes
In the year 1912, Christian missionary to Hill- to Eastern Shan State was initiated by Fr.Erminio Bonetta. The mission has been providing an education for hill tribe. Moer Akha follows Christianity than animism.
Akha traditional dress
Akha lady traditional dress is black short skirt and black blouse. Beautiful Akha jacket decorated with embroidered designs. Leg cover clothes are also embroidered in different patterns.
The flattened belt wears over top of the short skirt which is the most important part of Akah lady’s clothes. Akha man can embrace friendly to Akha lady but cannot touch the belt. Marriage with that lady is punishment of touching her belt.
Akha ladies have very beautiful head wearing which represent the crest of Dragon. Traditional adult Akha ladies must have long hair and head wearing. Use silver coins as they practiced barter system in past time.
At the present time silver coins and balls as well as other Akha tribe ornaments can find at Kyaing Tong central market. Their unique head wearing were adored by several silver coins and silver balls.
Their daily head wearing is quite simple but official head wearing for ceremony is shining amazing and really expensive. For simple and elegant hair style which can be seen a little under the head wearing, Akha ladies use black cotton thread. They take off head wearing when they wash hair and when the cup needs to clean.
What is their main business?
The Akha grow variety of crops and rice. They cultivate mountain rice and normal one.
Akha ladies work hard more than man. Husband stay at home and care for family, wife work in the fields. Akha ladies have great talent of sewing on clothes with colorful thread.
27th December is Akah New Year, celebrate in Kyaing Tong.
Where are Akha tribe villages?
There are many Akah tribe villages around Kyaing Tong. Early morning do business at the Kyaing Tong central market.
Pintauk trekking route and Ho Kyin trekking route are recommendable trekking route to visit Akha tribe villages.