100 years ago, the Hilltribe peoples migrated south from China
into what are now Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The
six major tribes are the Karen (Kariang, Yang), the Hmong
(Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw),
and the Lahu (Mussur). The main profession of all these tribes
is farming, and all of them tend to migrate whenever they
feel that the soil at their present location is becoming depleted.
Each tribe is distinct, with its own culture, religion, language,
art, and dress.
undergoing rapid growth, it is unclear whether these tribes
will continue their traditional way of life, or whether they
will be absorbed by ever-encroaching Thai society.
prefer to live in the foothills. Their bamboo houses are raised
on stilts, beneath which they keep domestic animals: pigs,
chickens, and buffaloes. Like all the Hill Tribes, they are
skilled farmers who practice crop rotation. They also hunt
for wild game with spears and crossbows, and use domesticated
elephants to help clear the land.
women are skilled in sewing and dyeing, and dress in white
blouse-sarong combinations with colorful patterns or beads
for trim. They wear their long hair tied back in a bun and
covered with white scarves. The Karen are gentle, peaceful,
and cooperative people who reserve their highest veneration
for their ancestors and living elders.
Tribe Silver is handmade by the Karen Tribe. Each piece
is crafted by hand using techniques passed down from generation
to generation. The mix used has a higher silver content at
95% - 99% than "sterling silver," which is 92.5%. More silver
in the mix makes for a softer metal that is easier to bend
and shape into the wonderful designs typical of Karen art.
reflect the Karen observations of nature: bumblebees, dragonflies,
stars and flowers. In addition, abstract designs like spirals,
weaves and braids attach a spiritual significance when used.
No two pieces are exactly alike.
and hammer marks are part of the allure of this artisan jewelry.
Explaining this to your customers will help them appreciate
the work that goes into each piece and make it all the more
desirable. Purchases of Hill Tribe Silver help to sustain
an indigenous cultural handicraft and provides the Karen people
with a reliable source of income.
article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally
We encourage republication but stipulate the piece be copied
in its entirety with links and attribution.)