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The few thousand Phrai, a poverty-stricken people historically snubbed, inhabit the mountains in Saysathan District. They have written language, and since metal is taboo, they have mastered bamboo to create almost all their household needs.

This matriarchal group transfers family land and wealth to the youngest daughter, who often marries at 14 years. These are not “fixed” matrimonies, but must receive the families’ and clan elder’s consent. Clans consist of several families, and several clans comprise a village. Clans may live in the same house, with families separated by bamboo partitions. The village chief oversees the clans.

Phrai families prepare food, mostly rice, once a day in the morning, but family members don’t necessarily eat together. Rather, the Phrai eat when they feel hungry.


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