30 November 2015

Catching the Thai Smile

Every Tuesday Chiang Dao in Northern Thailand has a bustling and colourful authentic Thai market where people from the surrounding area come to sell and buy local produce and cheap clothing. Its filled with good vibe and energy from the enthusiastic sellers and buyers, mostly smiling local ladies. The market is a perfect place for catching the famous Thai smile and to find out what's behind it...

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; make-up; hat; Panama hat

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; hat; outdoor

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor; make-up; sexy

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; hat; outdoor

According to Henry Holmes' and Suchada Tangtongtavy's precise observations (Working with the Thais), there are at least one dozen of different Thai smiles. They can be found at Chiang Dao's vibrant Tuesday market where both sellers and buyers perform each of the Thai smiles smiles with flawless accuracy:

  • the hearty “I’m so happy that I’m crying” smile (yim thang nam taa),
  • the polite smile from someone you barely know (yim thak thaai),
  • the very controlled yet beautiful “I admire you” smile (yim cheun chom),
  • the stiff smile, also known as the “I should laugh at the joke though it’s not funny” smile (fuen yim),
  • the devious smile which masks something wicked in your partner/opponent's mind (yim mee lessanai),
  • the teasing or the “I told you so” smile of your partner/opponent (yim yaw),
  • the “I know things look pretty bad but there’s no point in crying over spilled milk” smile (yim yae-yae),
  • the "I am not happy" smile of real sadness (yim sao),
  • the dry smile, also known as the “I know I owe you the favour but I don’t want to do it” smile (yim haeng),
  • the “I disagree with you” smile, also known as the “You can take the photo but this is not a good idea” smile (yim thak thaan),
  • the “I am the winner” smile, the smile given to a loser (yim cheua-cheua),
  • the encouraging “you can take the photo” smile (yim soo-soo),
  • the concealing and polite “I’m trying to smile but can’t” smile (yim mai awk).

Well, save face now and find out which photo below represents which smile…

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; wink; bowler hat; drop earrings; depth of field; outdoor

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; motorcycle helmet; outdoor

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; red lips

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market


The expression "to save face" describes the lengths that a person may go to in order to preserve her or his established position in the society, taking action to ensure that one is not thought badly of by their peers. The famous Thai smile in all its versions and nuances belongs to this interesting psychological category.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; wrinkles; outdoor; old woman


More portrait photographs with Thai smiles in Matt Hahnewald's

25 November 2015

Dancing with the Thai Chinese

The Thai Chinese are Thais descended from various Chinese ethnic groups, particularly Han Chinese. Thailand is home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world with a population of approximately ten million people, accounting for c. 15 percent of the Thai population. It is also the oldest, most prominent, and best integrated overseas Chinese community. They have been deeply ingrained into all elements of the Thai society over the past 200 years.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; red; Chinese dress; parasol; red Chinese dress; floral hair wreath; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; red; Chinese dress; parasol; red Chinese dress; floral hair wreath; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; red; Chinese dress; parasol; red Chinese dress; floral hair wreath; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; red; Chinese dress; parasol; red Chinese dress; floral hair wreath; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; red; Chinese dress; parasol; red Chinese dress; floral hair wreath; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Besides the distinctive Thai hill tribes (e.g. Akha, Lahu, Karen, H'mong/Miao, Mien/Yao, Lisu), the Thai Chinese are one of the culturally, historically and linguistically most interesting ethnic groups in the Thai Highlands.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Thai Chinese people; Thai Chinese girl; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Chinese costume; smiling; beautiful; Thai people of Chinese origin; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Hmong woman; Hmong people; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribes; closeup; traditional Hmong costume; Hmong headdress; smiling; beautiful; young woman; Bua Tong Festival

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Doi Hua Mae Kham; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Blue Hmong woman; Blue Hmong people; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribes; closeup; traditional Hmong costume; Hmong headdress; make-up; blue; smiling; mature woman; Bua Tong Festival

Cross-border tourism and visitors from other Chinese ethnic groups and ethnic minorities are a significant factor for the ongoing development of Northern Thailand.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Sani Yi man; Sani Yi people; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; male; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Sani Yi costume

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Sani Yi woman; Sani Yi people; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; closeup; traditional Sani Yi costume


“I love the people I photograph.
I mean, they’re my friends.
I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all,
yet through my images I live with them.”


Portrait photographs of Southeast Asian ethnic minorities in Matt Hahnewald's

Portrait photographs of Thai Chinese people in Matt Hahnewald's

20 November 2015

Joining the Flower-Lisu Tribe

Ethnic minorities living in the mountainous regions of Northern Thailand are often called hilltribes, or in the common Thai vernacular, chao khao (mountain people). Each hilltribe has its own language, customs, mode of dress and spiritual beliefs.

The Lisu aka Lisaw people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group of semi-nomadic origin who are believed to have originated in eastern Tibet during the past 300 years. Their subsistence was based on paddy fields, mountain rice, fruit and vegetables. With the introduction of the opium poppy as a cash crop in the early 19th century CE, many Lisu communities were able to achieve economic stability. This lasted for over 100 years, but the opium production has all but disappeared in Thailand and China due to the interdiction of the production.

Perhaps the best-known subgroup of the Lisu minority is the Flowery Lisu hilltribe in Thailand. The women are notable for their brightly coloured dress. They wear a multi-coloured knee-length tunic of red, blue, or green with a wide black belt and blue or black pants. Sleeve shoulders and cuffs are decorated with a dense applique of narrow horizontal bands of blue, red and yellow. For headdresses, Lisu girls and women wear black, flat circular hats with coral tassels, strings of beads, tiny pompoms and other elaborate accessories (e.g. metal flowers, small stars, pins).

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery


The historic Lisu religion is animism, a belief that all things are embodied with spirit, ancestor worship, and living in harmony with nature and all beings. Over the years many of them have converted to Buddhism and more recently Christianity. Yet even the converts express their spirituality with a unique mixture of the old and the new.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; old Lisu woman; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; Lisu turban


With their elaborate tribal dress, ceremonies, belief systems and customs the Lisu are among the most fascinating of the ethnic minority tribes in Southeast Asia. Along with the H'mong, they have retained their culture and autonomy from outside influences remarkably well as they have been exposed to forces like missionary conversion and globalisation.

Doi Hua Mae Kham; Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery

Doi Hua Mae Kham; Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery

Doi Hua Mae Kham; Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery

Doi Hua Mae Kham; Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; Lisu girl; Lisu headdress; Lisu village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; Thai hilltribe; closeup; traditional Lisu costume; tassels; embroidery



High-quality portrait photographs of Lisu hill-tribe people in Matt Hahnewald's

High-quality portrait photographs of Southeast Asian hill tribes in Matt Hahnewald's

17 November 2015

Meeting the Akha Hilltribe

The Akha are an indigenous hilltribe who live in small villages at higher elevations in the mountains of Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Yunnan Province in China. They made their way from China into Southeast Asia during the early 20th century CE. Civil war in Burma and Laos resulted in an increased flow of Akha immigrants and there are now some 80,000 living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai where they constitute one of the largest of the six major Thai hilltribes (Akha, Karen, H'mong/Miao, Yao/Mien, Lisu, and Lahu/Musoe).

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; elderly woman; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; elderly woman; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; elderly woman; bad teeth; betel nut; closeup


Due to rapid social and economic changes in the regions the Akha inhabit, attempts to continue many of the traditional aspects of Akha life are increasingly difficult. Despite these challenges, Akha people practice many elements of their traditional culture and religion (animism, with an emphasis on ancestor worship) with much success. The Akha society lacks a strict system of social class and is considered egalitarian. Respect is typically accorded with age and experience. Ties of patrilineal kinship and marriage alliance bind the Akha within and between communities. Village structures may vary widely from the strictly traditional to the more westernised, depending on their proximity to modern towns like Mae Salong. Like many of the hilltribes, the Akha build their villages at higher elevations in the mountains, mostly along mountain ridges or on steep slopes from 1,000 m to 1,500 m in altitude.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; old woman; bad teeth; grinning; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; smiling; good teeth; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; chains of beads; Thai hilltribes; old woman; closeup


The traditional form of subsistence for the Akha people has been, and remains, agriculture. The Akha grow a variety of crops including corn, soybeans and vegetables. Rice is the most significant crop and is prominent in much of Akha culture and ritual. Most Akha plant dry-land rice, which depends solely on rainfall for moisture, but in some villages irrigation has been built to water paddy fields. Historically, some Akha villages cultivated opium, but production diminished after the Thai government banned its cultivation.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; old woman; bad teeth; betel nut; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; chains of beads; Thai hilltribes; old woman; bad teeth; betel nut; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; chains of beads; Thai hilltribes; old woman; bad teeth; betel nut; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Golden Triangle; Mae Salong; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; double portrait; mother and son; mother and child; eating; toddler


Although primarily subsistence farmers, the Akha have long been involved in cash cropping and trade. In the last century, cotton and opium poppies were the principal cash crops. One or more families in a village may operate a small shop in their home selling items such as cigarettes and sweets. Increasingly, the Akha find themselves in the business of tourism, specifically ethnotourism. Tourists pay a fee to Akha villages to be allowed to witness and participate in everyday Akha life. In addition to opening the village for visiting tourists, the Akha also sell their tribal handicrafts.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Ban Paoo Nanglae; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; Chiang Rai; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; flash; pop-up flash; old woman; bad teeth; closeup

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Ban Paoo Nanglae; Northern Thailand; 50 mm prime lens; adult; Akha woman; Akha headdress; Akha village; tribal; travel; travel destination; tourism; ethnic; ethnic minority; ethnology; colour; street portrait; headshot; Chiang Rai; culture; world cultures; costume; ethnotourism; eye contact; face; female; Nikon D3100; silver coins; strings of beads; Thai hilltribes; flash; pop-up flash; old woman; closeup


Portrait photographs of Akha hilltribe people in Matt Hahnewald's

Portrait photographs of various Southeast Asian hilltribes in Matt Hahnewald's

15 November 2015

Facing the Kayor and Lahu Tribes

Hilltribe is a term used in Thailand for the various ethnic groups who mostly inhabit the mountainous regions of Northern and Western Thailand, including both sides of the border areas between Northern Thailand, Laos and Burma. These areas are known for their often mountainous terrain which is in some areas covered by thick forests, while in others it has been heavily affected by deforestation.

The Big Ear Kayor or Kayaw is a sub-group of the Red Karen aka Karenni people, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority of Burma aka Myanmar. Instead of the Padaung tribe's brass neck coils, the women of the Kayor aka Kayaw tribe wear colourful beaded necklaces with pendants and large ear gauges (amber stones, silver and other metal cylinders) in their elongated earlobes. The Big Ear Kayor aka Kayaw have their own language and traditions.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; smiling; Kayor; earrings; big ear; elongated earlobes; necklace; silver coins; young women; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; smiling; Kayor; earrings; big ear; elongated earlobes; necklace; silver coins; old woman; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle


The Lahu people are a large ethnic group in China and Southeast Asia. In Thailand, the Lahu are one of the six main groups categorised as hilltribes (Akha, Karen, H'mong/Miao, Yao/Mien, Lisu, and Lahu/Musoe). The Thai often refer to them by the exonym Musoe ("the hunters").

The Lahu are a strong and independent ethnic group who number c. 60,000 in Thailand. They are located primarily in the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces and their settlements are usually remote from roads and towns, due to their strong commitment to the maintenance of the Lahu way of life. Although primarily subsistence farmers, growing rice and corn for their own consumption, the Lahu are also proud of their hunter-warrior heritage. They remain a strict and serious people governed by strong principles of right and wrong.

A few Lahu, along with H'mong/Miao, Lao, and Yao/Mien were recruited by the United States' CIA to help in the fight against the communist Pathet Lao, known as the secret war, during the Laotian Civil War. In fear of retribution when the Pathet Lao took over the Laotian government in 1975 CE, those who had helped the United States fled to neighbouring Thailand seeking political asylum.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Black Lahu; black jacket; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; smiling; Lahu village; Lahu woman; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Black Lahu; black jacket; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; Lahu village; Lahu bamboo hut; Lahu woman; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Black Lahu; black jacket; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; Lahu village; Lahu bamboo hut; old woman; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle


In the past, the Lahu people weaved their own clothes. But nowadays, weaving is mostly only used for colourful accessories (e.g. the famous Lahu shoulder bag) and ornaments.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; young woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; smiling; Lahu village; Lahu woman; Doi Hua Mae Kham; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; young woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; smiling; Lahu village; Lahu woman; Doi Hua Mae Kham; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; young woman; world cultures; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; Lahu hilltribe; traditional Lahu costume; Musoe tribe; Lahu Sheleh; smiling; Lahu village; Lahu woman; Doi Hua Mae Kham; headshot; colour; Golden Triangle


High-quality portrait photographs of Southeast Asian hill tribes in Matt Hahnewald's

14 November 2015

Tracking Lu-mien Yao Women

The Yao tribe (its great majority branch is also known as Lu-mien) forms one of the 55 Chinese ethnic minorities and 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. They became an ethnic group during the Tang dynasty (618 - 907 CE), when the term mo yao ("not subject to corvée") was first used to refer to the upland people living in the mountains of Hunan and northern Guangdong and Guangxi. In the early years of the Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368 CE), the Yao people began to migrate southward to escape from the invading Mongols and the Chinese immigration encroaching from the north. From the 15th to the 19th centuries CE, agitated by the opium trade and disturbed by revolts in Southern China, the Yao people migrated into Thailand, Cambodia and the highlands of Laos. Though they speak several different languages and follow a variety of traditions, the Yao people maintain a unique cultural identity which includes a rich oral literary tradition of song and legend.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Doi Hua Mae Kham; festival; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; Golden Triangle; smiling; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Doi Hua Mae Kham; festival; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; Golden Triangle; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Doi Hua Mae Kham; festival; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; Golden Triangle; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Doi Hua Mae Kham; festival; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; Golden Triangle; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Doi Hua Mae Kham; festival; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; Golden Triangle; smiling; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; double portrait; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens


The Yao people retain a unique style of costume and adornment with certain variations according to the regions in which they live. Their clothes are primarily of blue cloth with various pictorial designs on the fabric. Women wear trousers, short skirts or pleated skirts. Beautiful embroidered patterns and pompoms adorn their fur-like collars, cuffs and the bottoms of their long trousers.
Both the men and women cover their heads with a black or red scarf. Some women substitute this scarf by a blue or black embroidered turban tied in a variety of forms, including pagoda, flat-top, helmet, curving-eaves and silver-hairpin styles. Yao women often decorate their upper clothes with a silver plate and wear silver bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and neck rings.
 
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; red pompoms; smiling; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; woman; world cultures; red pompoms; smiling; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; girl; world cultures; red pompoms; smiling; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens


During the Laotian Civil War, the Yao tribes of Laos had a good relationship with the U.S. forces. They fought in favour of the national government against the communists. This relationship caused the new communist Laotian government to target the Yao tribal groups for revenge once the war was over. This triggered further immigration into Thailand, where the tribes were put into camps along the Thailand-Laos border. After obtaining refugee status from the Thai government, many Yao people were able to obtain sponsorship into the United States (although many remain in Northern Thailand). There are around 60,000 Yao in Northern Thailand, where they are one of the six main hilltribes.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Lu-mien; Yao; travel destination; tourism; hilltribe; ethnic minority; ethnic; traditional Yao costume; traditional Yao headdress; Chiang Rai; Ban Paoo Naglae; old woman; world cultures; red pompoms; eye contact; street portrait; closeup; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens

Portrait photographs of Southeast Asian hilltribe people in Matt Hahnewald's