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Hani (Akha) references

Jim Goodman in his book "The Akha: Guardians of the Forest" refers to the Akha, in Yunnan, China as being part of the officially recognised Hani miniority and as Yunnan being the original Akha homeland.  He refers to the Akha language belonging to the Yi branch of the Tibeto-Burman family and being related to Lahu, Lisu and various Hani dialects. It is linguistic evidence that identifies the Akha as originally a Yi sub-group. The Yi are China’s fourth largest minority nationality and in Yunnan make up 11% of the population'. In China the Akha are classified as a branch of the Hani and are officially known as 'Aini'.  On page 170 Goodman says ' In Yunnan the Akha still tend to call themselves ‘Akha’ but, because that name resembles the local word for ‘slave’ the government renamed them ‘Aini’ (the first character of which is the character for ‘love’).'  Photographs taken in China and illustrated in the book show the 'Akha' wearing clothing similar to that in Rusty and Crista Hippchen's photos of Hani textiles collected in Menghai county, Yunnan, southwest China whilst photos of 'Hani' in the book show quite different clothing. Goodman makes several references to Akha in Menghai county.

Paul and Elaine Lewis in their book "Peoples of the Golden Triangle" on page 204 refer to the Akha calling themselves " ‘Akha’ (with both syllables spoken on a low tone). The Tai groups in Southeast Asia call them ‘Kaw’ or ‘Ekaw’ (‘Igor’), a name the Akha do not like. In Laos they are often called ‘Kha Kaw’. In China and Vietnam they are included in the group referred to as ‘Hani’ (a name which may derive from the term ‘Za Nyi’ which they call themselves in their poetic and ceremonial language), although this designation may include other Yi (Lolo) groups.

The Akha language falls within the Yi (Lolo) branch of the Tibeto-Burman fmaily. ‘Jeu G’oe’ is the dialect spoken by almost all Akha in Thailand, and is the major dialect spoken by Akha who live in Kentung State, Burma, the southwestern section of Yunnan, China and in northeastern Laos. "

The Akha clothing (from Burma and Thailand) shown in the Lewis's book has considerable similarities with that in the Hippchens' photos.

Michael C Howard & Kim Be Howard in their book "Textiles of the Highland Peoples of Northern Vietnam: Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien, and Tibeto-Burman" refer in their section on Tibeto-Burman peoples on page 89 to Hanhi as 'an official ethnic category in Vietnam and China that includes people speaking various Akha languages, including Hanhi.'

for Hani (Akha) textiles from China from the collection of Rusty and Crista Hippchen
for U-Lo Akha from Thailand
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this page last updated 17 July, 2011