BAN ALUE - A TRIBE IN THAILANDThailand is a country with more than 66 millions inhabitants, but alo a country who welcomes a wide varietyof ethnical groups. The majority of the population is Thai or Essan, but there are also several ethnical communities like Chinese, Malay or even Khmer, not mentionning several hills inhabited by tribes, each of them have their own traditions. By visitting the country-side of Thailand with one of our treks, you will be able to meet these tribes.
When we speak to the fans of Thailand, they all think about the "Kui" ethnical group, an elephant village in Surin. However, there is another "Kui" community who lived in another village in the same province and they are absolutely not liked to the elephant village. Ban Alue Village rears the silkworn and weaves silk clothes for more than on century.
They lived in the district of Samrong Thap in a village called Ban Alue (pronounced "un-lue"), about 60km east of the city of Surin and 120 km from the village of elephants. "Alue is the name given to a large tree that was near a natural pond in our village," says Saprang Withunad, the village chief.
"Our ancestors have named our community "Kui" from that tree because there are more than a century, during a large outbreak of dysentery in our village Ban Takhian previous close, about nine families moved and settled here. Our ancestors found the Alue tree. By boiling the leaves, they got a drink that could cure the disease", he said. Unfortunately today there is no more tree in the village and therefore we do not know exactly its common name, but only the name in the Kui language.
Ban Alue now has 141 families. Most of them are farmers. They also grow mulberry trees on their land to feed the silkworms.
Currently, houses in Ban Alue are usually built in a rural style - on poles with a raised floor. Each family grows the silkworms under the house. You will find large flat bamboo trays on a wooden shelf. Each tray has hundreds of silkworms, which is still covered by a piece of cloth to prevent flies from laying their eggs inside. Every morning and afternoon, the silkworms are fed with fresh mulberry leaves.
"They eat a lot. We infants around one month until they make cocoons, "explains Sutjai Sukkhum a local guide from the village.
Then the cocoons are boiled to remove the wire. Nymphs are used later for cooking. Each family keeps cocoons for breeding. After hatching, the butterflies will be placed in bamboo trays covered with a cloth until they mate and lay eggs.
The tradition is that every woman in the village has to learn to weave. Every family has a job related to tissue. According to their tradition, evening dresses for men and women are made of black silk fabric. "The black color is produced from the fruit of the makhluea (ebony tree) planted in our villages. We take some not riped fruit and prune them till we obtain a liquid. We add it in boiling water for dyeing. We dye each piece of fabric the first time for 30 minutes and then 50 times again to make the really shiny black color, otherwise it will not be pretty, "she said.
After dyeing, the fabric must be steamed with herbs, we mix fresh and sliced currcuma roots, and other local fresh leaves to get rid of the smell of the ebony fruit.
They wear their traditional long black blouse and shirt during official ceremonies. Women also wear a pink silk shawl around the left shoulder and right side of the chest and a dark red sarong, while men wear a red-green sarong or black pants tiles.
Children, on the other hand, wear traditional dress Friday as a school uniform. The people also have a strong belief that if someone dies, they should not work on that day.
"If someone weaves a web during the funeral, he will have a shorter life," she said, adding that the weaving activity will resume once the funeral is over. Another highlight of this village is the visit of the traditional Kui house, we talk about the one that is left in the village, the only one at this location. The house is made entirely of wood, with a raised floor of 98 years old. The owner is Jian Bunpha, 74 years old. With a surprising health, she shows us the inside of this house with pleasure.
One part of the house is dedicated to weaving, but Jin is especially proud that his house is the center for the manufacture of traditional necklaces. Jian and the neighbors gather at her house to make the necklaces that are made of "wan pro hom" (aromatic ginger). She spends her time from November to March and to reap its roots an, after the cleaning, she peels off the brown skin, leaving only the white part and cut in the form of beads. Each piece will be roll in talc for nourishing and let dry in the sun for three days. Then immersed in a liquid with a mild odor. The beads are ready to be transformed into a long collar. When the villagers wear the collar with their black traditional dress, collar seems to be ivory. The scent of these collars can last several years, said our guide.
You can also spend a night in this beautiful place, joining tradition and attend local show, yet a place that can guarantee a change of scenery.