Year published :1993

Pages :279 pp.

Size :18x26 cm.

ISBN: 9789749575710

Plants and People of the Golden Triangle: Ethnobotany of the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand

by Edward F. Anderson

Color photographs throughout. Hardback

Although much has been written about the tribal people of Southeast Asia, little has been written about the plant environment that is so essential to their survival. For the half a million people living in the remote mountains of northern Thailand, day-to-day survival is dependent upon the forest and the many treasures it contains, including material for medicinal use, fibers, foods, and bamboos. These people have an intimate knowledge of hundreds of plants the world cannot afford to lose. Unfortunately, ancient tribal cultures, which include this valuable legacy of plant lore, are disappearing rapidly through assimilation by the dominant Thai culture.

To record the wisdom and experience of these tribal people who for generations have lived in a close, balanced relationship with their ambient environment, Dr. Anderson has gathered this information and studied this people-plant relationship for fifteen years. His intriguing ethnobotanical research, which identifies over 1000 plant species used by the six major hill tribes, includes fascinat­ing anthropological material as well. This book, the result of that research, describes the people, their environment, and the plants they use. Individual chapters deal with the most important plants, such as rice, opium, and bamboo, and with farming practices in general. Additional chapters document plants from the forest that yield fibers and dyes, medicines, leisure-time materials, and prod­ucts used for dealing with the spirit world.

A detailed appendix lists all plants used by the hill tribes, the corresponding scientific name, family, use (s) of the plant, tribe(s) that use it, and herbarium collection voucher numbers. A second appendix lists all medici­nal plants, the ailment treated, the plant part(s) used, and how the medicine is admin­istered. The numerous illustrations, includ­ing 200 color photographs, will assist the reader in better understanding the plants and people of the Golden Triangle.

Jacket illustrations: (front) Akha woman in rice field wearing an ornate headpiece made of woven bamboo and covered with silver coins, dyed feathers, gibbon fur, and seeds of Coix lachryma-jobi (Job's tears): (back) Karen woman making roofing "shingles" from the leaves of Phrynium capitatum.