Akha Peh Tah

Detail, Akha Peh Tah
Detail, Akha Peh Tah
Cornell University Anthropology Collections, gift of Ruth Sharp; catalogue # 995.4.24; Photo from the Cornell University Library Digital Collections, https://digital.library.cornell.edu/catalog/ss:3241294

Akha peh tah (Man’s shoulder bag)

Unknown Akha designer, Village of Kaiyeh, Thailand

ID # Anthr1995 004 0017 01

Gift of Ruth Sharp

This bag was purchased from an individual in the village of Kaiyeh, although unlike the two jackets, it is not clear whether that transaction also involved the Reverend Nightingale. Akha individuals carried decorated shoulder bags, such as the one purchased by Sharp from Kaiyeh. Based on descriptions of funerals by Paul Lewis, another missionary, shoulder bags are also important items used in ceremonies held at the gravesite. A new bag is made for the occasion and filled with food, including rice, bananas, and sweet potatoes.

Additional Media:


The National Museums Scotland holds a collection of Akha textiles and clothing as well as a scrapbook donated by a missionary, May Wilson. The museum later conducted a research project on this collection in 2017.


Kammerer, C. (1996). Discarding the basket: The reinterpretation of tradition by Akha Christians of Northern Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 27(2), 320–33.

Kammerer, C. (1990). Customs and Christian conversion among Akha Highlanders of Burma and Thailand. American Ethnologist, 17(2), 277–91.

Lewis, P.W. (1970). Ethnographic notes on the Akhas of Burma (Vol. II). Human Relations Area Files, Inc. New Haven, Connecticut.

Lewis, P.W. & Lewis, E. (1998). Peoples of the golden triangle: Six tribes in Thailand. Bangkok: River Books.

Thompson, A. (2007). Textiles of South-East Asia. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wilshire: Crowood Press Ltd.