Wednesday, January 08, 2014

[Art] Lisu elephant mask

A Lisu elephant mask. The colors are fading but you can get a sense of how vibrant everything was originally. This particular example was found in Burma, but the Lisu can been found throughout Southeast Asia, along with many other cultures such as the Akha, Lahu, Lue, Khmu, Tai Dam, Ta Oy, etc. in the region some consider Zomia, although it's never been formally called or organized as such.

Lisu history is passed on from one generation to the next through song, and it reputedly can take an entire night to sing the whole history of the Lisu now. Some scholar believe they had roots in Tibet, migrating into Yunnan and then into Southeast Asia. 

There are approximately 58 Lisu clans, with many historically practicing a form of animism and shamanism, but Christianity is currently in the process of attempting to convert the majority of Lisu wherever they are found. They have had less success in Thailand, at the moment. In Thailand, the most prominent group of Lisu are the Flowery Lisu, who often receive tourist visitors who come to gawk at them as part of a guided hill-tribe trek.

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