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Interview with Joseph Kai

The Karens, pronounced (Ka-rans), are an indigenous people to the southeast Asian countries of Thailand and Burma. The population numbers around 14 million in that region with the majority of the Karens living inside Burma. Traditionally, most Karens are farmers who farm the nutrient rich soils of southern Burma and eastern Thailand. The religion of the Karen majority is Animism and Buddhism although there is a sizable population of Christians among the Karens. Christians constitute roughly 30% of the Karen population. Karens, unlike other large ethnic groups, are made-up of smaller subgroups who, in some cases, speak in their own dialects. There are, however, two main groups of Karens: the Sgaws(S'waw) and the Pwos. To most people who are familiar with the Karens, Karens are known for their colorful traditional clothes and for their energetic and jubilant festival dances. Foremostly, the Karens are known for their hospitality and friendliness which they readily extend to everyone. Please continue to explore this website to learn more about us, the Karens.


Two types of shirts the chinplo, for the males, and the chimoethu, for females. Young boys can wear any color but it must be long. Young girls wear red and white striped dress. Teenage girls who are single, wear long white shirt down to feet Females who are married wear short black shirts down to their waist and a long red wrap skirt. Males wear red and white stripe long shirt down to their knees. The seams of their clothing have the Karen alphabet sewn in so they can educate themselves in secret. In Burma, a Karen could get their hand cut off for being educated.