National Geographic : 1966 Jul
that are a part of the family inheritance. The spirits, however, may not be kindly disposed to every farmer. Therefore, each man goes to his chosen field and sacrifices a chicken to check the omen for his own place. Ai Nyo, one of the older men, failed to get a good omen. He could have traded fields and sacrificed another chicken, but he was dis couraged. "I'm not going to plant a field this year," he told me. "I got a bad omen. If I eat rice from that field, I will get sick and probably die." "How are you going to live?" I asked him. "I'll eat off my relatives. I've been feeding them long enough." Everyone Knows of Wedding but Bride One afternoon Ai Po, whose wife is from the nearby Lua village of La Oop, climbed the ladder to my porch. "I'm going to La Oop tonight. One of my in-laws is getting married. Would you like to come? Weddings are fun!" The invitation surprised us, since the wed ding season at Pa Pae is ordinarily after the harvest, when there is leisure time. But they do things a little differently at La Oop. We arrived in La Oop after a three-hour walk. I asked the groom's older brother, an assistant headman, whether I could take some pictures. He told me it might be difficult, since the bride had no idea the wedding was about to take place. Otherwise, all right. A band of ten conspirators soon gathered in the groom's house. As night deepened, the Farming with fire, Ai Pan ignites parched hillsides to clear the ground for dry rice and cotton. Wisely, the Lua al low burned-over upland fields to lie fal low after each planting for seven years or more. Intense heat from this fire forced Peter and Sally Kunstadter to take refuge in a streambed. Shower of seeds, sprayed from Ee Tip's bamboo stick, sows cotton on the charred but fertile hills. Later, men and women, digging in their toes to maintain balance, will clamber over the same precipitous slopes to hand-plant dry rice. Fragrance of flowers wrapped in ba nana leaves summons the Thai spirit who will guard Pu Di's dam when he floods his wet-rice fields. The spirit may use the little bamboo house, complete with ladder. Pu Di will help him eat the white chicken trussed beneath it.