The Southern Tai have a distinct dialect which was developed around the Nakhon Si Thammarat area in the 13th century. No one is certain when these people first left China and came to the Peninsula. Some scholars suggest it was during the 10th century. On arrival they then mixed with the Mon, Malay, Neritoes and Khmer peoples.
The language group for the Southern Tai is Tai Southwestern and their alternative group names are Pak Tai and Dambro . They number in excess of 5 million and live in the Southern Provinces of Pattini, Satun, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Ranong, Trang, Surat Thani, Songhkla and Phatthalung.
Customs Of The Southern Thai
The Southern Tai are divided into 2 social groups, Muslims and
Buddhists. This is not an ethnic difference but a social customs
difference brought about by two religions each bringing diverse customs
and traditions. Similarly the Muslim Southern Tai are not to be
confused with the Pattini Malay who number over 2 million in Thailand
and who live in the very South Provinces of Satun, Pattini, Yala and
Narathiwat and who are also Muslim.
The Muslim Southern Tai follow Islamic dress custom and women wear the
Hijab. The Buddhist Southern Tai dress in a similar fashion to the
Central Tai. About two thirds of these people are Buddhist and one
third Muslim. Muslim villages are recognizable by their Mosques as are
Buddhist villages by their Buddhist Temples. Theravada Buddhism was
introduced from Ceylon in the 13th C and from here it spread throughout
the Khmer Empire and the Tai Kingdoms. The Muslim religion was
introduced in the 13th century by Arab traders. The form of Islam is
the Sunni Islam division of the Shafi school.