The Akha are an ethnic group that chose to live in the mountainous regions of the Far East. Although researchers agree that their roots are Chinese, the question of whether their homeland is the borderlands of Tibet, as the Akha people believe, or the Yunnan province is a topic for dispute.
Today, the community lives in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Northeast India, and the Yunnan province of China. They live a simple life; they live in homes made of reeds, eat a diet mainly of rice, dry their food provisions on the roofs of their homes, and produce their own fabrics with manual equipment. They own fertile land that add beauty to the geography. The most important agricultural produce of the Akha who live in the rural areas of Thailand are tea and rice. The fields where they are grown stand out with their fertility and their natural beauty. It isn’t that surprising that rice occupies an important place in the community’s cuisine!
The Akha speak a language in the Lolo/Yi branch of the Sino-Burmese family. They call their own language “Avkavdawv.” The Akha have no written language apart from certain forms recorded by foreigners that have visited the regions where they live.
The Akha live a simple and traditional life in mountainous areas, distant from city life. The women of this community stand out with their traditional handmade, embroidered costumes and headdresses. Their headdresses are defined by their age and marital status. Akha women weave and color their own clothing. Cotton spinning, weaving, and dressmaking are among the community’s main skills.
The Akha can also be defined as a community of equality. The men and women work together in production and daily life.
At the end of August or the beginning of September, they celebrate the Swing Festival which is classified as their New Year. The Akha, who live in mountainous regions and borderlands of other countries, enjoy their freedom by swinging on swings during the festival.
As the world continues to become smaller, the traditional life of the Akha is being influenced by other lifestyles. Produce grown by the Akha including tea, soybeans, cotton, and rice are being marketed. On the other hand, the Akha have also realized the trade benefits of ecotourism. Today, for a certain fee, visitors can stay in Akha villages, join their natural production processes, and purchase their handmade products.
The Akha live a natural life, distant from industry, and gather the tea by hand. The hairdresses and clothes of the Akha women indicate to their age and marital status.
The rice fields extend as far as the eye can see, and are one of the main income sources for the Akha. Rice occupies an important place in the Akha cuisine.