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The Swing Festival

The Akha Swing Festival comes in late August each year. It falls on the 120 day after that village planted its rice. The festival marks the end of the hard weeding work on the rice and is a time of celebration for all.

The Akha say that they came down from God through the swing.

The swing is built by an elder called a Dzoeuh Mah. A village which does not have this elder can not build a regular swing or gate.

The swing is used for four days, then the braided vine rope is wrapped around one of the four very long legs and the swing is left there till it is rebuilt the next year. Swinging on an Akha swing is fast and takes one very high, an old rope is not safe.

Akha swings can be seen in traditional villages. Swings and other traditions are eliminated from christian villages.

Western guide books and Thai tourist guides all like to claim that some kind of sexual circus goes on at a swing festival, often portraying tribal people with less dignity than themselves.

 

Swing Festival 2005

The Akha Swing Festival is on, the biggest part of the rainy season is over, we enter a new month. The hardest part of the rice weeding is done, now we move into the downhill side to the harvest.


This is one of the happiest times of Akha life. One can see the lush green all around them, the plants that are going to bear fruit, no shortage of water, the soil soft and supple, cool under the feet, the paths carved like pliable byways in the brow of the mountains, vivid with all sorts of bugs going to and fro. Yes bugs, we often stop and stoop to watch them, they too enjoy the paths where we more clearly pick them out.

The joy of soil giving life to plants and hope, where humans have not learned to abandon the farming, the ways of nature, in a world that has forgotten her.


Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation