The Use of Shan Language to Represent Shan Identity in Products

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Phannida Khanthaphad


            This research has two objectives, to 1) study the use of Shan language on the labels of products to signify Shan identity; and    2) investigate factors leading to Shan identity expression through  different Shan products. Data was gathered in the Pa Pao and Ku Tao temple communities located in Mueang District, Chiang Mai Province during traditional observances in 2019. Results were that Shan    people in both communities comprised new (Tai Mai) and former residents (Tai Kao), whose ancestors had lived there historically. New residents lived in the community temporarily, relocating elsewhere for work opportunities. The latter group was minimal due to mixed marriages between Shan and Lanna (northern Thai) peoples. The Shan language on Shan product labels reflected Shan identity in six aspects: 1) historical and political; 2) past ​​Shan Kingdom regions; 3) traditions and culture; 4) nostalgic sentiments; 5) linguistic change; and 6) symbolic use. Three factors led to the expression of Shan identity through Shan products: 1) politics and administration; 2) traditional and cultural cultivation; and 3) migration.

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