North Thailand People

The Karen People In Thailand

  • The Karen are an ethno-linguistic minority in Thailand who are ‘’Karen’’ speakers . There are major divisions within this group and these classify the various tribes.
  • The major groups [ tribes ] in North Thailand are Paganyaw Sgaw and Pwo .
  • Each group is distinguished not only by language but also by their women clothing design.
  • A third Karen group, and a very small one is the Paduang [ or Padong ]. This minority group are the most famous in tourism for the now outlawed practice in Myanmar of subjugating women to wear brass necklaces [ which ultimately will kill them if removed without another neck support ].
  • The Karen are significant in Myanmar and have their own State, often at conflict with the Military dictatorship.
  • The Karen are famous for their relationships with elephants and are often seen as the mahouts who work with elephants.



Thai Karen Ladies In Costume


  • The essential Karen characteristics in North Thailand are,
  •  [ 1 ] A common Tibeto-Karen language,
  •  [ 2 ] An animistic religious tradition which is common to the Tai and Austro-Asiatic speakers.
  • With the Karen people, plants and animals are believed to posses a vital spirit essence. Humans are believed to posses some 33 spirits. The Tai Yuan have a similar concept but with 32 khwan. Spirits are also with rice and animals such as buffalo and elephants. There are ancestral spirits and there are locality spirits such as the spirits who own land.
  • The Karen people inhabit the Provinces of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai.