Poy Sang Long in a cave

John Spies

Mae Hong Son, Thailand

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The Poy Sang Long festival is the most colourful event for the Shan people of Nothern Thailand and Burma. Young boys, colourfully dressed as princes, as was the man who became the Buddha, are paraded around the village and environs before they are initiated as novices in the temple, where they will stay for several days or months. Carried by their proud relatives who also carry special umbrellas for shade, the boys feet cannot touch the ground until they become novice monks. This particular festival took place in the late 1980’s in Ban Tham Lod in Mae Hong Son province, Thailand, the village where I live. The local Shan decided to carry the boys through the massive Lod cave in the Nam Pai Wildlife Sanctuary, placing them on bamboo rafts while others pushed the crafts through chest-deep water. At the cave entrance and exit they beat drums and gongs and danced with the the boys on their shoulders. The acoustics in the cave are superb, and with the contrast between the bright costumes and the gloomy cave, the scene was spellbinding. This photo was taken with a Nikon FM2, 28mm Nikkor lense and kodachrome slide film. The original slide was relatively dirty, so after scanning I cleaned it with ACDSee pro tools, as well as I could, and made a few minor adjustments with levels and colour.

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  • John Spies
  • Margaret Harris
  • John Spies
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  • John Spies
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