National Geographic : 1966 Jul
Living With Thailand's Gentle Lua "He threw the spear," Loong Ta continued, "and it almost reached the palace, but not quite. Cham Tewi, afraid he would succeed on the next try, gave him a piece of cloth from her skirt to wrap around his head. The cloth so weakened him he could hardly throw the spear. After this magical defeat, the Lua fled into the hills." Stone Still Looks for Fleeing Lua Some of the Lua who live in villages to the north of Pa Pae believe they were chased into the mountains by a huge rolling stone. After a desperate flight across the Salween and Yuam Valleys-perhaps a memory of early migrations-they managed to reach the hills. The great stone lost track of them and asked a bird, a secret friend of the Lua, whether it had seen them. The bird, a white- crested laughing thrush, told the stone that it, too, was searching for the Lua and had looked for so long that its hair had turned white. The stone is still looking. During a walking tour to another village, I saw the stone. It is a geological oddity, an im mense rock standing in a small river valley. An ancient shrine crowns its shaggy top. As we were looking at it, some Lua people from a northern village passed us. No one would speak. All Lua know that if they speak their language within hearing of the stone, it will recognize the tongue and start chasing them again. I was impressed that the people hur ried by the boulder in genuine fear. Until the visit of American missionaries to Pa Pae a few years ago, the Lua did not know how to write their Mon-Khmer language. The (Continued on page 144) Wearing an Asian facial of rice powder that makes her even prettier to Lua eyes, Sally watches Ai Nyo prepare a gift to the spirits: banana leaves stuffed with flowers. Like other villagers, Sally received a cere monial head washing as a sign of respect.