Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Affiliation of LAWA

The Lawa of northern Thailand represent a racial group quite separate form those tribes which have come from regions north of Thailand. Together with the Htin, Khamu, Kha Haw, and possibly the rare "Phi Tong Luang", they are a Wa-related ethnic group whose origins (Austronesian) are from the south. Like the Meo and Yao, their wider ethnic and linguistic affiliations are difficult to trace and there remains some confusion in regard to their ancient migration routes. Most authorities have placed them, somewhat vaguely, as a Mon-Khmer group which has probably scattered northward from regions in the south of Thailand or Malaya or Cambodia. The exact origin of these tribes is yet to be definitely established. It is possible that their ancestors were of Polynesian-Micronesian stock. There are suggestions of the Austronoesian or a slightly negroid feature in these people.
Whatever their actual origin, it appears that these are Wa-relate groups, who were undoubtedly the predecessors of the Thai peoples, and even the Mon-Khmers, over 2000 years ago. Linguistically, they are definitely related to the Wa of northern Burma and southern Yunnan, China, who had, according to tradition, live in Thailand prior to their northward migrations. Their physical features and even the tribal dress suggests at once the Wa types, especially the Lawa of northern Thailand. These Lawa are not to be confused with the so-called "Lawa" of Kanchanaburi Province or Chaobon(also called "Lawa") of Petchaboon and Korat provinces. Their relationships to the Chaobon is certainly remote, but the "Lawa" of Kanchanaburi are undoubtedly also of Wa ancestry.
Location: The Lawa are located within the regions of Mae Hongsorn and Chiangmai provinces, which lie between Mae Sariang and Baw Luang. They have settled within a rough circle, between Baw Luang in the east, to Mae Sariang in the west. Those Lawa who had lived near Chiangmai city have been absorbed by the Thai people, and no longer retain their former ethnic identities. The Lawa of Baw Luang area have been in that same vicinity for hundreds of years.

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