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Hilltribe Research Institute Museum

museum manikens The Hilltribe Research Institute was founded in part. to increase the knowledge of the citizens of Chiangmai concerning the customs and varied cultures of the different Hilltribe peoples who inhabit the mountains of Chiangmai and surrounding provinces. After thirty years of existence, officials of the Institute realized that many of Chiangmai's citizens were ignorant of the Institute. The museum was uninviting in cramped quarters in a building on the grounds of Chiangmai University. To correct this situation, the- Institute has established a new museum in a three-story pavilion located on the attractively landscaped grounds of Ratchamangkala Park (Suan Lor Gao) on Chotana Rd., just a fifteen minute drive from the center of the city. The Institute officials hope that this new museum will stimulate interest in the Institute's extensive collection of Hilltribe artifacts. It is part of Amazing Thailand 1998-1999 tourist promotion.

Founded in 1965 as a result of a proposal by the noted anthropologist Prof. W.R. Geddes , who was doing research with the Hilltribe peoples at the time, the Institute Museum offers exhibits concerning the lives and cultures of nine Hilltribe peoples in Thailand; the Akha, Lahu, Lisu, Yao, Hmong, Karen, Lua, Khamu, and H'tin. Also included are a non-hilltribe ethnic minority, the Mlabri, associated by some with the 'spirit of the yellow leaves'. The Mlabri population has dwindled to only approximately 180 individuals at present.

model of Hmong family eating The daily lives of the various Hilltribe peoples are illustrated through exhibits of photographs, agricultural implements, household utensils, artifacts associated with the various traditional religions, musical instruments, and ethnic costumes. Some exhibits include models dressed in complete traditional costumes depicting daily activities, such as a Hmong family having a meal or a Lisu man serenading his sweetheart.

Future plan for the museum will include the establishment of exhibits of different types of Hilltribe traditional houses around the museum pavilion, with enactments of daily household routines by representatives of the various Hilltribe peoples. Financial assistance from interested parties is being sought before these ambitious plans can be completed in time for the Amazing Thailand tourism promotion.

Visitors and locals alike can increase their knowledge and understanding of the unusual lifestyles of the different Hilltribe peoples through visiting the Hilltribe Research Institute and viewing its fascinating exhibits in the Ratchamangkala Park.

HQW TO GET THERE: Drive north on Chotana Road to about 1 kilometer from the Khuangsing intersection opposite the National Bank, and look for a sign indicating a left turn to Ratchamangkala Park. After turning, a few minutes' drive will bring the visitor to the Museum, a pavilion near a large lake. An alternative route is to turn right onto the road at the edge of the Mae Taeng irrigation system canal from Huay Kaew Rd. Two kilometers' drive in the direction of the 700 Year Sports Complex and a sign will appear indicating a right turn to Ratchamangkala Park.

At present the museum is open on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm, and a slide and video show is available from 10 am to 2 pm daily. Special group tours on weekends are possible with advance notice.

For more information please contact the Hilltribe Institute Museum, Chotana Road, Ampher Muang, Chiangmai, 50000. Tel:(053) 210-872, 211-933.

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