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‘Hani’ Women’s Headdress (South East Asia) 

Description

The decorative headdress of the Hani or Akha people are decorated by their owner and each is unique. Silver coins, monkey fur, and dyed chicken feathers are just a few of the things that might decorate the headdress.

Cultural notes

The Hani/Akha are a group of culturally and linguistic related peoples that inhabit the southern part of China and neighbouring countries including Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Divided in many ethnic branches with some important differences, the most known of them is the known as Akha out of China (Aini in China).

The Hani people live in small villages at high altitude, and are one of the poorest and least developed of the hill tribes in South East Asia. They are however the most well known to tourists, due to their beautiful, elaborate and distinctive traditional costumes.

The headdresses worn by the women are perhaps the most spectacular and elaborate items of Akha dress. Akha women define their age or marital status with the style of headdress worn. At roughly age 12, the Akha female exchanges her child’s cap for that of a girl. A few years later she will begin to don the jejaw, the beaded sash that hangs down the front of her skirt and keeps it from flying up in the breeze. During mid-adolescence she will start wearing the adult woman’s headdress. Headdresses are decorated by their owner and each is unique. Silver coins, monkey fur, and dyed chicken feathers are just a few of the things that might decorate the headdress.

In Myanmar
In Laos
In Laos
In Laos
In Thailand
In Thailand

Suggested activities

Books/ Story time:

  • Explore different hats worn around the world. Use the book ‘Hats, Hats, Hats’ to start the conversation

Group/ Circle Time:

  • Encourage children to bring in their favourite hat from home – discuss where the hat came from, where it is used

Art and Craft:

  • Create your own traditional headdress using black cardboard and colourful objects and items from the world around you. Each headdress is unique to the wearer, so there is no right or wrong way to decorate – the more elaborate, the better!

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.