Oldest Brother's Story: Tales of the Pwo Karen

Writer Elizabeth Hinton collected and translated the folktales in this volume during her stay in the Pwo Karen village of Dong Luang in the hills of northern Thailand, in 1968 and 1969. She places the stories in the context of the people she knew there, endearingly framed by their human relationships, daily routines, and cycle of seasons-indeed, the very stuff from which the stories themselves spring. The tales are woven into the village's unchanging agrarian rhythm: sowing in the hot season, weeding during the early rains, waiting through the monsoons, and harvesting in the cool season.In a society where people did not read or write, listen to the radio, or watch television, stories were of great importance. Stories entertained, transmitted history, taught right and wrong, and defined the Karen view of the world. They were also touching human dramas-and literature in their own right.The stories in this collection were recorded during evenings spent chatting by firelight. Most of the stories were told by Grandfather Pai, whose skill in storytelling was unsurpassed, but stories were told by anyone with a story to tell, whenever there were people to listen.Peter Hinton's evocative photographs of village people and society enliven the text, creating a unique and intimate portrayal of a Karen community that has remained intact in the midst of a changing Thailand.