Wrinkles etched into her face, this ethnic Lua women was by far the oldest person in her village. She has seen more changes in her long life than have a hundred generations of her ancestors. Her once remote, self sufficient village has become part of rapidly modernising Thailand. The Lua are the original settlers of northern Thailand with archaeological evidence suggesting that they have inhabited the hills for as long as 20,000 years. When the Thai speakers arrived from the north about 1000 years ago, the Mon-Khmer speaking Lua lived in well-established villages along the mountain ranges of present-day western Thailand. About 500 years ago, at the height of feirce battles between the Thai and Burmese kingdoms, the Lua found themselves at the mercy of ruthless maurading armies. They fled en-mass, almost emptying the mountains for the next 350 years before the Tibeto-Burman speaking hilltribe people moved in to exploit the land. Only a handful of intact Lua villages survived to the far west of Chiang Mai where they tenaciously safeguarded they language, culture and traditions…and now, the last onslaught from the outside world is rapidly eroding what the Lua have saved, and they are becoming another forgotten peoples.
Scanned from original kodachrome 64 asa slide at 3600 dpi. Scrathes and mould cleaned in photoshop. Taken with a nikon FM2, nikkor 135mm lens, 1/125 sec and (probably) 5.6 aperture. Photographed in 1980 in a very remote mountainous area SW of Chiang Mai, Thailand.