The Golden Triangle - a term that conjures up images of opium, warlords, lawlessness and unimaginably rich drug barons. Tourist brochures bear exotic depictions of bamboo huts and people in bright traditional costume. In the West, however, little is really known about the real living conditions of the population. It is precisely this point that this exhibition addresses.
The exhibition shines a spotlight on six ethnic groups in the north of Thailand, which can be found on either side of the border in Laos and Myanmar (Burma). On show are over 200 objects taken from one of the Ethnological Museum's most recent collections. The exhibits range from textiles (including some acquired just this year in 2011), to jewellery and rattan, via Daoist scrolls. Numerous photos enrich the panorama still further. The exhibition does not limit itself to material culture, however.
The minorities are struggling with the effects of modernisation. Their villages are frequently becoming connected to transport routes; new consumer patterns are arising. They are increasingly becoming waged labourers and turning their back on an existence as subsistence farmers. Furthermore, in Myanmar, they are under great threat from the army. And yet, in spite of poverty and suppression, the hill tribes have again and again found strategies to preserve their identity. In this, they stand for many other minorities around the globe who are standing up for their indigenous rights.
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