In Search of the Comb

In Search of the Comb

Today, you may only identify the Kui (pronounced Gway) people by a comb worn in the front of the women’s hair. And not all the women wear this. However Say, our driver, guide and true lover of the unknown, was in search of a Kui village, an ethnic group he had not met.
On arrival, our first house encounter does not bode well. The women do not look happy and the men have the appearance of substance abuse. Everyone is inactive, and not smiling. So Say gets them going, he asks about their traditional dress, where they originally came from, how many villages and people they are, then he coerces them to dress in their traditional clothes. They begrudgingly do so, and next he is telling them to be proud and wear their beautiful clothes. I listen to all this with bemusement, his genuine interest shows and his own pride is infectious.Photos are taken, a small amount of money is exchanged for their efforts and we move on up the small dirt road further into the village. 


Signs become more promising. Bubbly children are busy in the water, bathing, pouring water over each other with enamel dishes and studiously washing their clothes. 

And then we meet Madam J’Adore.  She is immediately engaging. She beckons us to join a group chatting behind a house and then the fun begins. Costumes are pulled out, the tourists are dressed up, laughter all around. Information is exchanged, only several villages of Gui are in Luang Namtha province. The comb, it probably was special once, but now it is just any old comb, and I wonder if it will still be worn that way in years to come.

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