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ETHNIC IDENTITY OF KAREN SGAW FROM HOUSEHOLD STOVE Saran Samantarat Division of Landscape, Faculty of Architecture, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand

In 2009, population of Karen ethnic group is four million. They settle in the area both side of Myanmar -Thailand borderline for two thausand year. Ten percent of them live in Thailand with more equilibrium in peace. Indigeneous Karen culture have no manuscript. They built and maintain their culture by enormous tales, speeches and lyrics. Its carry, contain and distribute both signifiences and signifiers of culture and social structuration by several medium in built environment along everydaylife. From literature review on “ethnic identity” discourse, few anthropologists interested in religious diverse on Karen ethnic identity situation. This paper keep on this issue, but presents a new way to understand diversify Karen ethnic identity from decode/read/interpret from reflexive cultural landscape method and vernacular architecture study. Founded that Sgaw household stove with its basic functions keep containing with signifiers and signifiences and continue of Karen Sgaw culture and ethinic identity essencially obvious. Metaphorically, if a karen common house infer to body of productive of a female wife owner, at the heart of the house, a stove infer to her productive womb to continue karen identity culture .

As a political reclaiming in deep ecology movement, Karen referred by many quality academic papers for their behaviour on nature respect within swindle rice field agriculture substitute to slash and burn agriculture.(Yos2008; Pinkaew 1996; Kunderstater 1978, Kannikar1999, Anan2000,Arunratana2003 ) Recently, few important research interests are in change of religion identity from political hegemonization both Myanmar and Thailand. (Kwanchewan2003, Decha2006, Soros1989) However, this paper focuses on interpretation within relativity of built-environment, social Structuration and lives. Sometime call reflexive cultural landscape. Hypothesis assume Karen culture, which settle here for two thousand year, drive by no manuscript as social medium. Karen culture is in between of pre-history period, the otherness of current knowledge. If we understand more here, we understand more on development from no-manuscript social to manuscript culture. Karen Sgaw also recognized as Pakaryor, Pakakeryor and PgazK‟Nyau. Thai vernacular architecture study, keep on search in Karen house since 1981, measuring survey and drawings more than 30 reports. Each site distributed along several provinces in Thailand. (Somkid, 1986) From local school, a research [Ruan Chonabot]Countryside Houses” started a comparative approach of vernacular architecture vocabulary in term of ethnography. (Samart and Surapon, 1994) Table 1 Table of ethnic vernacular architecture vocabulary, edited from Samart&surapon1994

If, woman weeps, the land will be in trouble. (Karen Proverb) “Eat from water, Look after water Eat from earth, Look after earth” (Karen Proverb) As an ethnic group, Karen has approximately 4 million population distributed in large area where nowadays along 2000 km of Myanmar-Thai borderline. As Language Family Group, Karenic branch is a member in Tibeto-Burman group, some classified in Tibeto-Karenic. This branch can divide in 3 zones -northern, central and southern Karenic sub branch. Which southern Karenic composed with 3 language tribes -Lekeh, Sgaw and Pwo. Which majority population of Karen in Thailand are Sgaw and Pwo. (Suriya, 2000), (PMCSA2007) As a hill-tribe, Karen is largest group in Thailand, both population (~400,000-in 2009) and their distribution.







door barn stove stair

batu longkaw tawfai kandai


kerm toja bong

[Kreah] [BuePor]





According to, Ornsiri Panin, a famous vernacular architecture researcher in Thailand suggested for more study in a important component of tradition house –[Maetaofai]- or hearth or household stove along Southeast Asia . (Ornsiri2000, Songyos 2007) This paper ,follow here, show more understand on relativity of Karen household stove[Serkeeter,Mee-ulouh,Peklapoo] from everyday life until as a

The research accepted theory of the reflexive cultural landscape and methodology.Tak province for Western and amphur Kangkrajan . lives. Structuration. Figure 3 [Shorkarkoh] Karen Chicken hut Under platform of the house [DerPala] composed with firewood storage [SuurMuurTri]. which its construction must. Typical site plan of a house combine with a house [Der. with labours within village of 30 families or more only.]. Meaning. KAREN HOUSE Types. An old ethnography report of Karen village-House(Longhouse) showed Blaw referred to guest room or guest house. Those threesome plans as group. In Karen village there are few groups of houses. and little muddy ground under water platform for pigs or plant seedling [TiKohLoah]. second in shade-porch [ToKoh]. male-house [DerKwa].1922. Tree allowed and appropriated to built the house. On platform have four parts-in order of outside to inside.Petchburi province for Southern. In marriage. amphur UmPang. a platform chicken-hut [ShorKarKoh] and a platform barn [BuePor]sometime with pigsty on ground for protection harvested rice from rodent. Chiangmai province for Northern. .59) Figure 2Common site plan of a family Karen House DerKer. which deny directly adjacent front or back of the house.DerKer] with have 6 types base on Karen legend. Last is public house [Blaw]. solar-porch [ToNaGee].DerKer]. first. which have places. As this definition of [Serkeeter] collaborate widest meaning and will be use for Karen household stove in this paper. ground for penetrates rice [SherYorKoh]. Cases of the research survey from 3 regions in Thailand such as amphur MaeWang. She must change her costume from youth status to old status. third lift porch Figure 1 Blaw in Karen long House. Hiypru also mean teak wood or teak tree (Tectona grandis L. Karen has two kind of meaning about house. she will receive her parent family. First meaning is architecture or structure of house [Der. a Karen woman will change her status from childhood to be productive status when she marriages.symbolic of core social structure under Karen culture.femalehouse[DerMuur].(Marshall. (Sirinya and Prapan) Traditionally. along its nature in a current of Time”.HiyPru] a group of houses. each group of houses keep only for brother-sister household by maternity family. a couple of root pork [TorKohTih] and a couple of root chicken [ChorKohTih] for start up along her new family.king-house[DerJorPa. finished in one day. Barn and Chicken hut always set in lower level from the house in topographical site. This qualitative research received more closing information and interpreted them to be body of knowledge.Burma1916 Second meaning is village [Pahiy. Components Like Tai-Lao.orphan-house [DerPlowKaeh].Hiy.f.Der Lay out in the incline slope with grass field kept for maintain the roof. which were “Dynamic Equilibriums of relativity and reflexivity in system.). It is taboo for build house to penetrate between other family relative houses.widow-house[DerPhiMuurMare].

TaNaGae] composed by round shape bamboo stalks allow rain and water go down. Ash in stove could use to shower follow dead body along carrying him to graveyard. she has full authority to allow who can live with. house must change in minor as front panel [Kor Par]. Outside the house envelop under the shade of eaves has shelves for keep heavy everyday life equipments. mean most enclosure of the house. Tanagee also used for sundry activity. JorhNorKee] for upper shelf near roof and [TatSurNur] for lower shelf. Figure 4[Bueporr] Karen Barn with pick sty beneath Figure 5 Common Plan of a Karen house Illustration of Jatupon Angsuwet Figure 6 Common Section of a Karen house Illustration of Jatupon Angsuwet . Karen house be regards as a property and a spiritual place of wife.[JorPlae. called [JorhNorKoh. [SaPraKoh] here keep thread and rope knitting tool and weave staffs and also light weight utensils weaves for female work. when the owner change their religion. Lift porch [Jorplae. Jorplaewoo] sitting step from [Tokoh] is a little bit more inside. (Somkid 2527) If her husband dies. Storage ceiling [SaPraKoh] is place for keep hunting-fishing and elephant stuffs. Tonagee also connect with wet zone [TihTerLoah] where keeps utensils of clean water. Her prime chicken and her prime pigs must be scarified in this funeral. Bamboo-wooden stair [Kloh] can take off in case to protect dog when no one in house. It must be destruction of her house. for her death is much more important. used water here fall to [TiKohLoah] on ground. stair [Kloh] and parts of roof sometime side roof [TaSueSah]. Some. Inside the house [Derpurr]. which is always cantilever part of floor structure. [ToNagee. there is a patriotshrine on a side called [PerhJorKoh].JorPlaeWoo] and fourth inside the house[DerPurr]. Female case. Gender and the House Der always belongs to marriage female. Shade-porch [Tokoh]. It is taboo to reuse things that removed. it can take for older son and guest to sleep. Her house metaphorically means her body. Derpurr composed with essentials [MeeULoah] kitchen-living hall and teenager daughters bed room [LaMeeKoh] also for head side. This patriotshrine ought to transform to Buddhism-shrine or Roman Catholic-shrine. can be sit stretch a leg with backrest here. it take dirt from feet and be place for shoes. There is a wood plate of stair on ground [KlohThi]. It is reason to bring back both her body and her house to nature in funeral rites. made by strips of split bamboo or wooden planks. hygiene cloths and herbs. spices vegetation.

three stone and three fruits of chilli procured for new stove. Luvua stove shelves [Tahn] are hanged from ceiling above. The space on the feet side of stove (when sleep) called [MeyKohLah. It has proverb refer [PahkWah] as parent in house. Household stove are important for both living and cooking.1Celsius) than low land and other region of Thailand. But as multiple functions in Luvua everyday life. (Jakapan 1997) . re-new constructs their Serkeeter again. by the reason of lost something as commons senses in their life. Stove and Ethnicity By configuration of four column. Direction of feet side called [Sikolah. especially. Serkeeter. Compare with matron-shrine. father. herbs. which connotation as stove too. Karen stove shelves are supported by 4 bamboo columns.0m.2007) Serkeeter in Section On section views of stove [piklapoo]. but different in interior planning. Karen stove look like Tai-Soung stove. they disappear all their Serkeeter. there are some different about the configuration form and structure of ethnic household stove. each pieces of refer to mother. dry foods. Here three pieces of stone used as stove called [Lershaw]. and the small hearthside called [PahWaePoh]. whose considered to be different linguistic group also. So it taboos to act without respect here. Upper shelf called [JorhNorKoh] in head side and called [JorhNorKhee] in feet side. frequently in lyrics and proverbs. Sicorkee] where taboo if guests stay here. (Akkarapong. This is basic function of stove . It is smaller than feet side. The fresh air leak in from every little opening replace hot air which drifted upon the stove. It‟s rare to find religion identity changing here.The smoket soot prolong all bio-material which composed the house. and refer columns [SerKeeTer] as sons –in-law. However by considering the karen stove there are more interesting contents. such as collective of essential matters. cause of their same connotation even in different language. it give worm atmosphere foreveryday life. 1. In short side of plan the space on head sleep side called [MeyThaKoh.) from top views. (Ornsiri2006) Serkeeter in Plan Changing of religious always become change sign in the patriot-shrine. (Akkarapong. even for Luvua in longhouse which have same as ethnic community longhouse in IndonesiaOceania. Base tray or hearth framed by wood [pakohla] contained with dirt and ash. This study independently insists of the resent observation of Akkrapong about the head side sleep in Karen Sgaw house. The stove columns may considered as most important essence of Karen stove. Direction of head side called [LamiKoh]. which especially found in Karen culture. According to in-house [DerPurr]. seeds. herbs. both stoves have shelf place for same function. there is a front room [MaeUrLoh]. If it happens. The stove [piklapoo] is rectangular shape (~1. In the other side. Figure 7Compare of Luvua and Karen stove. because of its bonding this deeply connected family relationship. It was in the ritual for start living in new house [TohKehDer] that the dirt. where locate a household stove near the centre part of the room. Sikorkee]. Moreover. not depend on direction. Head sides always keep to lower level of landscape contour. Four columns are sitting on 2 pieces of bamboo trunk bases called [PahkWah]. There was a field report about Luvua funeral lyric ceremony which Karen can help this ceremony in someday. Even that. MeyKohTah] used to keep cooking utensils.6. Luvua and Karen. Illustration of OrnsiriPanin For example. place of family live and even the sacred place of family for ritual ceremony. As a kitchen oven. Both the longer sides-hearthside are place for the parent and little children sleeping big one called [PahWaeLeah]. and predecessor spirit. Serkeeter considered as one of the most interesting things in Karen culture.7-20. it is place for main cooking and also storing several staffs as dry food . will show from bottom to top. some of them. household stove is more stable. Like a fireplace. it‟s more likely to Karen around their household stove hearthside. -Toraja-KaroBatak-.especially in night time.2007) Pieces of used charcoal with ash should be use as medicine with water and ash from Serkeeter use to shower in the air for lucky journey for member of family.SERKEETER: KAREN HOUSEHOLD STOVE Region of Northern highland which settles of several hilltribes the weather are damp alternate dry and the temperature is normally cooler (~8.

Because of material and may be depend on religion changing too. Figure 9 Serkeeter in Western Thailand. Most western and southern Karen stove construct on same structure of the house little upper from the room elevation. Parent must intent to make LonDohKwah as fine as they can both hole and stick. Four Londohkwa in four Serkeeter Figure 10 Common Serkeeter in Southern Thailand . Which also found in Karenic elephant‟Klah riual too that londohkwah is one of ten essence things.(Nathapong ) Especially. two. (Semnopithecus and Presbytis spp. In Southern part.relationship. Northern common Karen has four [LonDohKwah] for four [SerKeeTer].black sesami. only one hole of LondohKwah. red-white thread and last stir rice stick londohkwah case from Kanchanaburi. There are some different for provincial in Thailand.cucurma with Acacia concinna water. bannana. and smocking of fish and meat. construct on floor Figure 8 Life along Serkeeter in Northern . the stick and it keeping place. but in southern the stove„s column made by little trunk of wood. there are three shelves. Western common has just one.Any Serkeeter column has a hole pierce 1.5 feet higher from floor. Middle shelf [SerKeeKoh] use to keep next season seeds. the irregular shape of LonDohKwah may cause of abnormally shape of newborn baby mouth. also use as family remote tele. spices. which have same name [LonDohKwah]. Another meaning in Karen of LonDohKwah is the langur tale. Lower shelf [SerKeeLah] use to keep seeds. sugar cane. Northern and Western built up the stove by bamboo. Upper shelf [SerParKoh] use to keep large basket utensils and mate for rice harvest ground. mold sticky rice . there are not any holes [LonDohKwah] in Karen stove. This sticks always use in the most rites of Karen including comfort ceremony(Klah) [riak Kwan]. depend on the way keeping of the umbilical cord. or four in four column. in some house this continues to structure of ceiling which collect basket staff too.) Upper along four columns. so parent call their remote family members by talking in this holes or in stick like psychic mobile telephone and say something for their remote child. herbs.wood column could not make LondohKwah . Serkeeter in provincial of Thailand Most northern Karen stove separated structure down elevated from common platform of the room. keep children umbilical cord inside and keep a bamboo stick for rice cooking [LonDohKwah]. some have another little shelf hang down with receive more smoke and heat.[tiedboiled rice.streamed sticky rice.

Serkeeter as beautifully warm living as Figure 12 Londohkwah –the stick SERKEETER AND LIFES: DISCUSSION Twinkle. They all have born here. Karen hold place around piklapoo Serkeeter as sacred private zone. It is place of cooking and sometime eating breakfast. not at all. fireplace always fire smoke. assure life when drought” (Karen Proverb) There are more than 30 kinds of seeds kept in shelves of household stove [Serkeelah]. Actually. most seeds plants kept for cultivate along with their swindle rice field. where no male person beside. every old Karen tradition family have to perform ceremony for female clan predecessor. Secondly. kinds of wood are difference in any family. Then it is time of sleeping at the ending of story. insider/ outsider. It is place for keep warm of herb water and foods meal. It’s a hard life. It keeps durability condition to prolong not only food but also the house. toys etc. then ordinary Karen life. every little detail must be done without mistake. After dinner. Karen people always use natural resources as the necessity of life from forest like firewood. which for urban life coming from department store. .fruits. This ceremony is very complicate. There are more than 30 kinds of r-December). by a stove of night. Finally discusses about its significances connotation in Karen culture. then Serkeeter in season life in year. Day by day. Start with Serkeeter in everyday life. All members of family sleep warm and safe near the stove Serkeeter. instruments. This happen here beside the sacred stove. first drinking water for any members in house is hot water boil with a piece of herb wood. Normally. Serkeeter are sign of Matron-shrine in house. Nevertheless bad thing become to some member of the family. any house hold stove boil liquor and return to be a place for welcome guests to thanksgiving ritual for rice keeper bird god. However. There are other 3connotations found in Karen proverb song and lyric. all the root animal the house and off cause stove will pass away too.Apoc/Etoc in anthropology dialogue. Plantbased roof and envelop of the house have lot of little openings smoke vent up which allow exchanging of fresh air from horizon envelop. One day in the year. Dare and jump cross little river. Serkeeter in everyday life Every morning. mother medically heals her body and womb by lie near the stove for warmth. lunch and most of dinner. The perform ceremony will start up again for every mistake. After that their everyday life is going on happy around here until they pass away. But it is in same purpose of health and hygiene especially for protection of the alimentary disease and malaria. During the confinement after birth given. which start and finish with Serkeeter. [ThoBiKah]. This seeds give many kinds of products become Karen everyday life fulfils. Love and lives will find its side. Smoke suit to the bio-based materials which use almost the envelope of the house. First. Center of this performance is to sacrifice pork at this household stove. twinkle light. The healing as well as sanitation. that caused this subject could found previously. Life of a Karen begins at the hearthside of stove. Replica to female body. man is just dry and empty.vegetable. The funerals perform here for 35 day. balancing air quality and moisture-temperature in vernacular comfort zone. Listen to old senile advice. Sincere relative performance as a family member during data collected which agree crumbling the pole as subject/object in research point of view. Normally. herbs. cloths.Figure 11 Londohkwah –the stick and Londohkwah – the keeper hole. ([u‟tah] – common Karen lyric) This part discusses on some views and timing about relativity of Karen people and their Serkeeter. like any other Karen people in the night. like medicine. every house bring their last 2-year surplus rice in barn to boil liquor. it is time for entertaining. Grandmother or Grandfather tells their nephews the story of many tales as number of leaves in the forest. sweets. balanced hormone and immune and breast-feed her baby well. a sick senile sleep with warm sparking fire here before her died. Without wife. which taboo for guests. Serkeeter in seasons of life “Keep thirty kind of seed.

Future question might be how about usage and related to the confinement after birth given in any type of Serkeeter. Actually. His house build as typical of new modern design with oven in kitchen . This precieving ideal biased . He invited us to visit his house accidentally. He and his wife lived in old tradition inside the house. Table 2 Table of morphology of Serkeeter CONFIGURATION PLANNING RITUAL Type 3.climate zone.But he keep his identity by relocated his Serkeeter to the inner side of the house . In the future. It should be discovering about metaphoric in Karen space by other methodology and theory such as Semiotics. Collapse stove columns inside. Dripping water brought backs them with smoke soot. “[Serkeeter Lorchae PahkWah] “Stove columns sitting of its bases” . Related to religious identity. one of their built environments. a Karen man who changed his religion to be Roman Catholic for a long time. Interesting variables for furthermore research such as linguistic group.” Conceal.wind. Type 4. others connotation is family status and marriage. Serkeeter relate to the religion identity in Karen vision.water. Most constructed on reunion of Serkeeter: religion identity Kwanchewan suggested about current of changing religion of Karen. together in one moment of place and time. However. considered as origin too. Knowledges should help to understand more both in ethnic group and local urban society. in a new house of a new protestant Christian changer. actual of. 1 Serkeeter with Londokwah 2 Serkeeter with Londokwah 3 Serkeeter with Londokwah Serkeeter without Londokwah 4 Birth Living –CookingSleeping Died (Birth?) Living –CookingSleeping (Died?) Birth Living-Cooking Died (Birth?) Living –Cooking(Died?) OrhkareOrhBkah - OrhkareOrhBkah - Type 1 is origin form especially in Northern. decode its cultural cosmology meaning. in the way of reflexive cultural landscape from case in Thailand. This document is a result of various disciplines approach as ethnicity anthropology with vernacular architecture study. and dirty cloths and lie down on the floor. Most of them had not any rituals but form of Serkeeter continues to their nostalgia. Semiology or anthropological systems theory in next step in other built environments also. Need to know . Serkeeter inferred to Karen cultural womb. the owner change religion to Buddhism or Roman Catholic but keep their Karen lifestyle. This showed in the following Karen proverbs. be happy in this new room beside a tiny problem. Serkeeter system may up to both religion and region especially. Serkeeter system found on indigeneous karen religion in Northern and Western part only. normally had four Londohkwa in four Serkeeter. This Karen had problem in life and change to Normally indigeneous knowledge keep on man place and society. This paper has shown how to interpret of Karen household stove. Luava and Karen. CONCLUSION & SUGGESTION Sometimes the smallest detail reveals the most about a culture. Because too hot weather to sleep near Serkeeter. He said that he felt not good when lacked of Serkeeter. rebuild Serkeeter inside his asbestos roof house. which have several roles relativity to their identity.which normally could not see from any point of view (from priest?) Second case. The “Serkeeter” notion collect predecescor‟s of 4 elements . Symbolistic Identity are importantly stressed in definding of fine particularity or body of knowledge. most found in western part. First case is concealing of identity. this archeological status social system working. . and had only one or two Londohkwah.and opressed as pre-historical under developed knowledge. Type2 are most found in Northern. found both western and southern. Some evidences of nondescribe society are keep on our society. Symbolic relativity found from social Structuration such as non-manuscript of this part. Moreover. research could approach deep interpretative compare between ethnicity such as TaiSonhg. which construct social coding inside the equipments or in their built environment. which insist of her suggestion. classify Serkeeter and their contexts are in following table.As new family sitting on old family“Fighting between husband and wife. It‟s essence conclusion that metaphorical meaning of Serkeeter in Karen Sgaw ethnicity as a center productive organ of the female body owner. The problem was when vapour condensing to be liquid form of water in winter under the asbestos cement roof tile. (Kwanchewan2003 ) This study also found some case of Serkeeter.

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