Childbirth and Tradition in Northeast Thailand

Forty Years of Development and Cultural Change

by Anders Poulsen

283 pp., illustrated
NIAS Monographs # 109
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

Paperback - 2007, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 003 4, £18.99

•Reports the results of a rare 40-year long study
•Unmatched description of details in birth traditions and their changes over time
•Includes ritual texts in Isan-Thai and with English translations

Anders Poulsens term as a UNESCO expert terminated in 1962, but he has returned to the same area of Northeast Thailand many times since, most recently in 2005. As such, this beautifully illustrated volume offers a rare study of Isan-Thai customs and belief associated with pregnancy and birth and how they have changed over almost half a century.

Using a psychological and socio-therapeutic framework, Anders Poulsen discusses the function of various birth rites as well as giving an unmatched description of all traditions specifically connected to pregnancy and birth. He includes an interesting description of the tradition of confinement by fire (yuu-fai) and documents that it is still widely practiced, contrary to what has been reported. He also puts forward a theory of why some traditions maintain their importance while others fade away.

The findings of this study are supported by the transcription in Isan (and translated into English) of the ritual texts that are used in these rites.

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