Window to Chiang Mai Thailand
Mudplaying with Elephants
The Mien are commonly referred to as the Yao in Thailand. They originated from China, but much of Thailand's small population settled in the eastern part of Northern Thailand after migrating from Laos during the Vietnam conflict. Mien villages in Chiang Mai province are found off Highway 118 near Pong Nam Ron and north-east of Thaton, but the majority are found in Chiang Rai and Nan provinces.
Villages are small with up to 25 houses built on the ground. The Mien are divided into 12 clans, with more than one clan living in a village. Households consist of extended families that include the married sons and their families and can be very large.
The Mien have rituals that must be performed correctly for a hierarchy of ancestral spirits. This system appears to have been influenced by Taoist beliefs that originated in China in the 13-14th century. Priests attend to the Taoist rituals, while shamans will cure the sick affected by lesser natural spirits.
Mien women are unmistakable for they wear a long black tunic with a bright red ruff around their neckline. Black trousers beneath the tunic are heavily embroidered. In addition they wear a black turban cloth embroidered at the ends. Men wear loose black jackets which tend to be only lightly decorated and loose fitting black trousers.