Maniq tribe marvels: Southern Thai Buddhist committee champions culture conservation

Photo courtesy of Viator.

A plea for the preservation of the Maniq tribe’s cultural heritage and living standards was recently raised by a Buddhist committee known as the Five Precept Protection Committee, stationed in southern Thailand. Their primary concern is the potential impact of external influences on the tribe.

The appeal was made during the committee’s tour of Satun province, where they were assessing the progress of a national reconciliation project. They also visited the Maniq tribe, who are typically referred to as Sakai, in Thung Wa district during this tour.

The Maniq tribe, currently consisting of 382 individuals, inhabit the Bantad mountain range that stretches across Satun, Trang, and Phatthalung. These nomadic hunter-gatherers coexist harmoniously with nature and communicate with outsiders in Thai, usually facilitated by interpreters.

Phra Sophon Woraporn, the deputy chief of the Songkhla Buddhist clergy order and a committee member, expressed that the tribe is classified into varied groups spread across Satun. The committee is exploring strategies to protect the tribe’s distinctive cultural identity and shield their way of life from external impacts.

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According to Phra Sophon, one potential approach is to reserve specific regions where the Maniq can sustain their usual lifestyle while being accessible for academic study. This could forge a connection between the tribe and outsiders, mitigating any potential conflict-inducing pretexts.

On Thursday, Somchai Seanglai and other senators visited the Maniq community in the Pa Bon district of Phatthalung. This tribe has been conferred with the surname Rakpabon, translating to Preserving Pa Bon, mirroring the district’s name, reported Bangkok Post.

Somchai highlighted that in previous times, the Maniq were provided with citizenship cards, which granted them access to state welfare. This is a significant step towards acknowledging and preserving the tribe’s unique identity and lifestyle.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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