Dara-ang or Palong
The Dara-Ang tribe usually live in the mountains. The Burmese call them Pa-Long but they call themselves Dara-Ang
which they prefer because it is their own language, not Burmese language. In Asia there are three different groups
of Dara-Ang: Dara-Ang-Won, better known as Black Dara-Ang whose dress resembles the Lahu tribe, Hleng-Dara-Ang
or red Dara-Ang and Lui Dara-Ang or White Dara-Ang. Now the Dara-Ang live in Burma (Naam-Sung, ChaingTung
and Gueng city) China and Thailand. The main group living in Thailand is the Red Dara-Ang. The colours of the clothes
and the women's skirts indicate which of the three groups that the person belongs to. Now, Dara-Ang stay in many areas
in Thailand such as Amphoe Chiang Dao, Amphoe Fang, Amphoe Mae-Eye in Chiang Mai and Amphoe Mae Sai in Chiang Rai.
In Asia there are three different groups of Dara-Ang: Dara-Ang-Won, better known as Black Dara-Ang whose dress
resembles the Lahu tribe, Hleng-Dara-Ang or red Dara-Ang and Lui Dara-Ang or White Dara-Ang. There are many
differences between these tribes such as the pronunciation of the language and the stress on high or low tones.
But although these small differences in language and costume exist, these tribes can all communicate with each other.
The Dara-Ang people have many unique colloquialisms but have no written language. Usually Dara-Ang people
can speak Shan language very well because they live in territory ruled by Shan. The Dara-Ang people like to use
the Shan language as it is the main language used to communicate with other tribes such as Lahu, Akha and Lisu
as these tribes can usually speak Shan as well.
The Dara-Ang people usually speak loudly, clearly and fast. Their intonation resembles Karen language.
They stress high tones. The Dara-Ang people have mastered the basics of the Shan language better than
other tribes and can communicate and speak Northern Thai language. They speak Thai language with clear
intonation and pronunciation.
Lifestyle and House
The Social Structure
The Dara-Ang people hold firm to the principle that respect must be shown to elders. Those seen as inferior must obey,
follow and show respect to their elders. In Dara-Ang culture, young people are taught to show respect to their elders
and follow traditional ceremonies and way of life. The Dara-Ang mix Buddhist teachings with their own traditions.
These philosophies are used to create the rules that the community must live by.
According to the power structure of Dara-Ang communities, changes must pass a group of community representatives
or elders whose position is accepted in the society. This is called “Kun” in Dara-Ang language, meaning committee.
These people have an influential position in administration and manage the community.
Cultural and Traditional
Marriage and Family
In a Dara-Ang wedding, a separate ceremony is arranged for both the man and the woman. Each
of them invites friends and relatives to share a meal. The man will pay all expenses involved in the ceremony.
If the man cannot afford this, the woman will pay and the man must stay with her family.
When the marriage ceremony reaches its last day, the bridegroom and the bride’s guide, “Por-Nang”,
go to the bridegroom’s house. When the bridegroom and friends reach the bride’s house they must
perform a ceremony called “Ga-Hmam” as they believe the ceremony ensures that they will live
in the house for a long time and that bad spirits cannot separate the couple. Therefore, the “Ga-Hmam”
ceremony shows that they are a complete couple and is an important part of the wedding. When the
ceremony is finished, the bride is taken to the bridegroom’s house along with the couple’s friends.
When they arrive at the bridegroom’s house, elders from the community come to hold a ceremony.
The elders give blessings to the bridegroom using tea leaves and then boil the leaves
and drink the tea all together.
Generally, Dara-Ang people will marry between the age of 16 and 20 years old, as this is the period
of time is when the woman is at reproductive age. A woman younger than this age is called “Di-Pea”
in Dara-Ang language, and a man is called “Ga-Yom”. However, in Dara-Ang marriages there is often
an age gap as womens marry earlier than men.
Religious, Beliefs, and Rituals
In March as the harvest season finishes, the Dara – Ang people often give offerings in order to earn merit.
They go to famous temples such as Doi Suthep or Doi Tung or discuss the dharma (Buddhist teachings)
with famous monks. During April temples are decorated with banana leaves and local objects that can be
found in the village for the Sonkran festival. The people pour water on the hands of revered elders
and ask for blessing from monks and an elder in the community.
In May some families send male children to be ordained as monks (this is called “Boad Look-Kaew” in Thai language).
This way the children can learn and experience more about Buddhism.
In June the shrine in the center of the city and the city gate are closed. This time is around the 8th of July in the Buddhist
calendar which is calculated according to the waxing and waning moon. When the shrine has been closed,
there is a strict rule that the people in the community can't marry.
In July, everybody prepares to go the temple to practice Buddhist teachings during Buddhist Lent. The older people
go to the temple to practice Buddhist teachings, listen to sermons, observe religious precepts and pray.
They practice the dharma until the end of Buddhist lent in October. At the end of October the city gate and the shrine in
the center of the city are opened. This is at the waxing of the moon on around the 3rd of December
by the Buddhist Calendar.
A ceremony is performed at the city gate to bring good to the community. The Dara-Ang believe that if the community,
family and people in the village have been peaceful they will be rewarded. But if there is disobedience, the people
will be punished. For example if a woman falls pregnant during the time that the city gate is closed, the penalty is
that she will be driven out of the community by gossip. This is why the Dara-Ang people usually keep strictly to these
beliefs during the three and a half months when the city gate is closed
In November and December communities with Buddha relics or pagodas perform a Poy ceremony,
praying and then resting as they are exhausted after the harvest season.
Men & Women Dressing
The traditional dress of the Dara-Ang tribe is remarkable, just like other tribes who live in the mountains
as it emphasizes color and design. The dress of this group emphasizes three colors which correspond
to the three sub-groups. These are red or “Hreng” in Dara-Ang language, white or “Lui” and black or “Wong”.
Usually men's clothing is fairly simple. They wear a long sleeved shirt and pants and show decorations
on their head. The colors of the shirts are varied. Men's dress becomes more elaborate as they get oder,
beginning at “Gro-Ra” when they are between 9 and 15 years old. If a man remains unmarried he must show
this by keeping his hair long and tying it on the side. When a man marries he cuts his hair and leaves it untied.
However it is now scarce for men to wear the costume of the Dara-Ang tribe. In some communities traditional
dress has almost disappeared. This may be because the men depend on the women to make their clothes,
and it is difficult to get the materials and a lot of work to produce the garments. Therefore traditional
dress may disappear in the future.
Women wear very distinctive clothing, mostly a long red dress, often blue or pink jacket with large silver waistbands
and several silver ornaments. Another striking feature are their gold decorated teeth. Many Palong have converted
to Buddhism mixed with animism and practice ancestor worship.
The Dara-Ang tribe use musical instruments for many different purposes, such as entertainment after the people
are tired from work, dedications to holy things or god, or as a symbol. The extensive list of musical instruments
of the Dara-Ang tribe may divide into four kinds: those that are played, beaten, blown and knocked.
There are many musical instruments of Dara-Ang tribe that are used in ceremonies or festival times
such as the drum or “Grueng”, “U-Mong” (gong) and “Chae” (cymbals).
The Dara-Ang instruments that still remain are:
Flute: called “Hwor” by Dara-Ang
Indian Lute: called “Ding” by Dara-Ang
Drum: called “Grueng” by Dara-Ang
Gong: called “U-Mong” by Dara-Ang
Cymbals: called “Chae”by Dara-Ang
However they cannot play these particular instruments at a wedding, cremation or for entertainment, as they are reserved for religious ceremonies.