The Lisu ethnic group originally inhabited areas along the Mae Kong River and Salween River in China. Over time, they migrated northward to Myanmar and eventually settled in the northern regions of Thailand over the past century. They established villages across provinces including Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Tak, Phayao, Kamphaeng Phet, Phetchabun, Phrae, and Sukhothai. In Mae Hong Son, Lisu communities can be found in Pai, Pang Mapha, and Mae Hong Son Muang districts. The Lisu people have a preference for high-altitude living, around 1,000 meters above sea level. Lisu houses are typically constructed above ground with thatched roofs and bamboo walls surrounding the central ridge. Family size determines the number of bedrooms, with unmarried girls having private rooms. Each home features an altar adorned with vessels and incense sticks for ancestor worship. Lisu households are primarily single-family units, although some may be extended families. Their main economic activities revolve around agriculture, encompassing crop cultivation and livestock rearing. They cultivate rice for consumption and corn for animal husbandry. Additionally, Lisu households engage in cottage industries such as sewing, embroidery, and silverware crafting. Notably, the Lisu are recognized for their striking and vibrant traditional attire, which boasts a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Women’s dresses are particularly notable, featuring wide skirts adorned with colorful strips of fabric around the neck and sleeves, often in contrasting shades.
Lisu New Year Celebration.
The Lisu New Year Celebration, known as “Gin Waw,” is a joyous occasion following a year of diligent work. Celebrated concurrently with the Chinese New Year, preparations include distilling corn spirit, a signature dessert, and slaughtering pigs for ceremonial purposes. Festivities begin with decorating the New Year’s tree, followed by dancing, known as “Jakue,” around the adorned trees. A visit to the witch-doctor’s house takes place, involving protection and the expulsion of evil spirits. The celebration culminates with shooting to welcome the New Year and offerings made at the village spirit house.