About The Book

This book is the product of thirty-six years of research, in the field and through the literature (including a large corpus in Chinese). In scope and depth it offers a unique compilation of information on the 700,000 strong Lahu, a swidden-farming mountain people whose villages are scattered from China’s Yunnan Province through Burma, Laos and Vietnam to North Thailand.

Part One -“A Lahu village in North Thailandand its socio-historical matrices” -grounds all that follows, detailing everyday life and ritual practicesin the village where the author lived for four years. Numerous photographs, drawings and diagrams vividly illustrate this account.

Part Two expands the scope, including much data from Yunnan, to explore the Lahu’s “diverse strands of supernatural ideas and ritual practices”. Traditionally animists who propitiate numerous spirits, Lahu also recognize a crator-divinity, believed by many to impact their everyday lives. Their routine search for merit has been periodically disturbed by warrior prophets promising a future free of domination by valley-dwelling overlords. The author argues that many of the ideras and practices associated with Lahu millennial movements can be traced to the influence of Mahayana Buddhist monks in Yunnan during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Part Three -“The Christian experience: cultural continuities and discontinuities” – traces the growth of this once-alien religion among Lahu, who sometimes viewed important Christian missionaries as successors to the messianic priests of the past.

About The Author

Anthony R. Walker, an Oxford-educated british social anthropologist, has for decades pursued two research interests. He began his anthropological career among the Toda People (1962-3) and has authored The Toda of South India: A New Look (1986) and Between Tradition and Modernity and Other Essays on thye Toda of South India (1998). In the late 1960s he was researach officer for the Lahu people at the Tribal Research Centre, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Dr. Walker’s continuing field research among Lahu now spans 36 years. He has published more than sixty scholarly articles, some of which have been translated into Chinese and published in Kunming (1998). Among other publications on the Lahu and their neighbours are his two-volume report to the Royal Tai Government, Lahu Nyi (Red Lahu) Village Society and Economy in North Thailand (1970). Kahu Nyi (Red Lahu) New Year Celebrations: Ethnographic and Textual Materials (11983), and his edited works Farmers in teh Hills: Upland Peoples of North Thailand (1975). The Highland Heritage: Essays on Upland North Thailand (1992), and Mvuh Hpa Mi Hpa: Creating heaven Creating earth -An Epic Myth of the Lahu People in Yunnan (1995).

Dr. Walker has held teaching and research positions at universities in Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Fiji and currently Brunei.

Table of Contents

PART ONE: A Lahu Village in North Thailand and it’s Socio-historical Matrices

Chapter 1: The Beginnings of an Odyssey: One Lahu Village in North Thailand
Chapter 2: Broadening the Focus: The Lahu People Between Han and Tai

PART TWO: The Diverse Strands of Lahu Supernatural Ideas and Ritual Practices

Chapter 3: Animism and Theism in Lahu Ontology
Chapter 4: Calling Back Souls, Dealing With Spirits: Animism in Practice
Chapter 5: Garnering Merit, Practising Sorcery: The Extremes of an Animistic Continuum
Chapter 6: Mahayana Buddhism in the Lahu Mountains
Chapter 7: Temple Worship: The Cult of the Creator-Divinity
Chapter 8: The Cycles of Year and of Life: The Routine of a World View
Chapter 9: Lahu Messiahs and the Search for Utopia

PART THREE: The Christian Experience: Cultural Continuities and Discontinuities

Chapter 10: Christian Proselytism in the Lahu Mountains
Chapter 11: The Consolidation of Christianity Among the Lahu-speaking Peoples


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