Lisu Village maidens

thai 014

The silver ingots represented the wealth she would bring to a potential mate.

The silver ingots represented the wealth she would bring to a potential mate.

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Lisu Village

Alipa, our host.

Alipa, our host.

It’s a long story, but myself and then-boyfriend wound up as guests in a Lisu Village in the most northern part of Thailand close to the border with then-Burma, now Myanmar. It was early February, 1987, and the village was celebrating their new year. At that point I’d been traveling for about 6 months and had started to realize that people generally trusted me and they let me take their photograph and I felt a responsibility to document the human condition, not simply take pictures for the photo albums or the slide shows I would present to friends and family when I got home. Though I had no overtly political or journalistic intentions, I began to feel it was important to document what I was seeing.

All the maidens came out to dance in the circle, each dressed in finery they made themselves by hand. The more finery, the more marriageable they were considered to be.

All the maidens came out to dance in the circle, each dressed in finery they made themselves by hand. The more finery, the more marriageable they were considered to be.