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Living in harmony with nature - Karen tribal wisdom

Chinese Guangzhou Acrobatic Show in Chiang Mai

Living in harmony with nature - Karen tribal wisdom

Saksit Meesubkwang

In 1957, 80 percent of Thai natural resources were remaining, but nowadays this has decreased to 18 percent. The government currently pays more attention to economy and technology, resulting in consumption of more natural resources and destruction of the environment. Air pollution and garbage is increasing, businessmen compete to possess the forests; drought, flooding, earthquake and various weather conditions, are increasing the problems every day, but some sectors have realized we must preserve natural resources.

An old Karen woman.

Chiang Mai NGOs and several sectors in the north have told residents living in the forest that they are drafting a law to offer to the government to allow residents to live there legally, but some governors disagree and will not approve the law.

One example of residents living in the forest is the Karen tribe. They have lived in the wild for a long time, and understand nature and wildlife.

One old man Jawni Odochao, 67, living at Tambon Mae Wang, Mae Wang district, Chiang Mai who knows the forest informed me that there were students from several institutes who had traveled to the forest and asked for information from him concerning bugs, trees, animals, herbs every year. There was also a doctor from France visiting his village and who lived with him for a year to study the Karen tribal lifestyle of living with nature.

Elders provide chickens to thank the angels protecting forest.

Jawni said that in order to get along with nature, it was necessary to be honest, as there were angels protecting the forest, and if humans destroy the forest, they would be harmed by nature such as becoming lost in a forest, or flooding, drought and mudslide. Humans should understand nature’s rules and should not destroy natural resources and then nature would give many beneficial things to human kind. The old man said that a forest can be compared to a large refrigerator providing fresh food to humans at all times, because the forest was full of animals, vegetables, fruits and many other items. But one important thing humans should remember was natural rules such as not hunting during the breeding period, and not to destroy trees or plants that were the food of wildlife.

Wild mushrooms.

The Karen tribe was also thankful to the angels as they are protecting the forest, by presenting special food for them. They believed that each mountain and river had its own angel taking care of it, and the Karen people would provide a couple of male and female chickens and two bottles of homemade alcohol to cook in the forest and treat the angels. They would have that meal together in the forest but could not bring out that food out of the forest even if some of it was left.

There was a formal activity that first took place in 1996 to conserve 50 million trees by wrapping monk’s robes around the trees. This kind of activity could protect trees because most Thai citizens believed in monks and their robes were important so people did not dare to cut down a tree covered by monk’s robe.

Karen tribesmen make a promise to conserve the forest.

Praying for blessing.

Making a meal using wild mushrooms.


Chinese Guangzhou Acrobatic Show in Chiang Mai

Five Elements’ spectacular

Michael Vogt

The Guangzhou Acrobatic Troupe of China brought its new show with over 100 performers to Chiang Mai’s 700 Year Anniversary Stadium. The spectacular show called “The Five Elements” is based on the ancient Chinese belief that the world is composed of five basic elements, Earth, Wood, Water, Fire and Metal.

The agile women performing with grace.

The audience was treated to a very fast-paced spectacle of acrobatic expertise, beautifully expressive costumes, light and sound displays, and was at times left completely breathless by the explosive performances. Traditional Chinese acrobatic art meets modern dance, artistic gymnastics, drama, fashion and computer-generated stage effects.

These performers have stunned audiences all over the world. Accepted as China’s most celebrated acrobatic company, it was founded in 1959, and has gained the highest acclaim nationally and internationally, winning well over 50 medals for its extraordinary and inventive feats, which have inspired and been imitated by other troupes all over the world.

The many high points of the show comprised shows of strength and skill, control and balance, and movement and stillness. The show’s dynamic rhythm builds up through ever higher levels of excitement, each act suddenly blooming into impossible flowers - frozen tableaux of human sculpture - bringing the audience to its feet.

It has to be said, however, that the venue was far from perfect. On the day Chiangmai Mail visited the indoor stadium where the performance took place, the lack of air-conditioning (for whatever reason) made it extremely uncomfortable for the audience, let alone the performers.

A 10 cm wide swaying piece of wood was the take-off and landing base for the performers.

Don’t try this at home.

A human statue!

Pure perfection. This catapulted performer lands safely in his high chair.

The “Ball feature” was part of the element “Metal”.

High-flying action.

The human pyramid, part of the first element “Earth”.