Religion, Belief and Akha Scripture
The Akha share the uniform belief found in many ancient cultures that everything has its owner, its spirit which in the Akha's case is called Yaw Shahl. Shamanism predates all other religions and survives today after over 20,000 years, because it is a sustainable philosophical way of life.
The Akha live by the code “all is always now” an inherent belief of the "eternal wheel of time" where there is no separation between mankind and a "material or objective" world. It is the bridging link between the world and the human psyche, the collective unconscious, or the“synchronicity” of human life. In Jungian psychology it is a ‘universal archetype’ - an inner cosmic map of the Universe within ourselves. They have a deep sense of myth which acts as the hinge between the imagination and the sacred world. Through myth the world is intrinsic, it binds consciousness to the imaginative.
The world of early people and the Akha is a presence both numinous and personal, not a 'subject' nor an inanimate object of thought. What they call Nature is not distinguished from their humankind: they belong to the same continuum of feeling. There is no dichotomy between them. Fragile tribal communities share the perception that the universe is an organic, sacred and indivisible web tied to the feminine.
It is of paramount importance that ancient cultures are protected. They are vulnerable because they exist outside mechanistic society. They are part of mankind's cultural and ecological diversity and are a benefit to all humankind, especially at this time of transition in dealing with the environmental crisis.
The Akha’s way of life is under severe threat. Over half of the Akha within Thailand have been converted to Christianity in the last 20 years alone. What is left must be protected. Afect is one of the very few Non Governmental Organizations preserving this culture.
The Akha have no written alphabet, it is a completely oral tradition. Many songs, some thousands of years old, tell the story of the worlds creation, its animals, birds and plants. The Akha believe writing things down would 'fix the world in' and to them that means it would die, echoing the environmental crisis at the moment. To the Akha, the world isn't fixed in by writing things down, but rather formed of relationships and inter relationships. Their traditions and rituals are called Dehvq Zahl Shil Zahl which means ‘to be the living materials’.
There are proverbs and teaching words such as Aqkaq Dawq Daq, and the community law is called Zahl. These words originate from the Akha Zahl scripture which is the core systematic code called Nui Jah.
The Nui Jah respects various Gods such as God of Land, God of Waters, the God of the Hills, the God of the River etc. There are many many of these Gods. The highest God is called “Aq Poeq Miq Yehi” who is respected and worshipped everyday.
Religious Places of the Akha
There are many religious places which hold the rituals and celebrations of life. The Sword Door, the Big Swing, the Community Lawn, the Holy Water Well. The Village Door,
the Household Spirit House and the community Spirit House. The community graveyard is called “Lawq Byuml” or “Jawl pu Nuil yal”.
The Akha Tribe counts the week by using the 12 zodiacs so one week has twelve days.
The days are called “Tiq jaw”
Yawl day means the lamb day
Myovq day means the monkey day
Za day means the rooster day
Kuiq day means the dog day
Zavq day means the pig day
Ho day means the rat day
Nyoq day means the buffalo day
Qaq laq day means the tiger day
Tahq lav means the zebra day
Lahq day means the rabbit day
Shehl day means the high power animal
Mahq day means the horse day
The months are called Ba la la tovq and are counted from the 1st of day of the waxing moon until the 15th day of waning moon . Thus the average month consists of 30. The months are named according to the cycles of nature and their system of agriculture and breeding, the flowers and forest life etc.
The month of Ghehq la ba la is January
Jawl la ba la - February
Boeq zovq ba la - March
Qump shuivq Qumpmil ba la - April
Caq ngawq bala - May
Ghahl la bala - June
Tsel la ba la - July
Cawq la ba la - August
Yaw la ba la - September
Siq yehv ba la - October
Nahq yehv ba la - November
Tahl la ba la - December
Yearly Traditional Rituals
The Akha have rituals for the living and their ancestors. Rituals are inherent in their life because they dissolve the sense of "self" and dichotomy between them and myth. They cover all aspects of life - occupation, health, environment, the human and spirit realms. Some are as follows -
- The Cehl Jil ci-eu ritual is bringing the seeds of rice into the last house.
- The Miq dzaqkeuq miq lah-eu is a Karmic ritual after burning the rice fields.
- The Qump shuivq Qump mil aq poeq is welcoming of the red egg, a bit like Easter time.
The Rainy season
- The Lawl kahq duq-eu is for the poles of the village gate.
- The Kal daq ciq-eu is to dispel the ghosts out of the community with fire.
- The Mil sahl lawl-eu - for respecting the spirit house.
- The cehl ka aq poeq - for tradition.
- The buq del tsehv lah eu
- The boeq ghovq lah –eu
- The qump piq lawl eu
- The Yehl kuq aq poe is to pull the swing.
- The tradition of Zaw la aq
- The Shehl lah –eu
- The Ya civ civ aq poeq
- The zavq lah-eu
- The tradition of Kal yehv yehv
- The tradition of nyeh bahl lah-eu is to stay in karma with the grasshopper.
- The Yaw pu nah muiqtsel-eu is for choosing the best day for the community to join and eat the newly harvested rice.
- The tradition of cehl shuivq jil baq tahq lawl.
- The Bahq yoe pyehv-eu is to celebrate the last harvest.
- The Kal tahl aq poeq is the new year for Akha the top.
- The Kal daq ciq-eu is to fire the ghost out of the community.
A LAST MESSAGE
The Akha believe Western civilization is complex but shares one thing in common. The world is material. Power and Wealth are its forms of language. Domination over the forests and the waters and the animals reflects this. Monotheism has forged Western man and in turn Western man has dominated the world.
The North American Indians, The Australian and Tasmanian Aboriginals, the thousands of Amazonian, Indian, African, Siberian and Asian Tribes SHARE THAT THE WORLD IS SACRED. Western Man does not say the world is sacred. It says man is the dominate principle in the world. Please help us and all peoples who believe the world is sacred, for all mankind before it is too late and we are lost facing only ourselves.