Peoples and Cultures Museum - PIME verified

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ongoing On the skin of a water buffalo

The show

On May 4th the exhibition “ On the skin of a water buffalo opens at the Museo Popoli e Culture del PIME . The complexity of Thailand told through the cultural heritage of PIME ", which is part of the" Salt of the Earth "campaign launched on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of PIME's presence in Thailand and which will accompany us throughout the year 2022. The The title we have chosen for the exhibition refers to the myth of Apoe Miyeh through which the akha community explains the origin of the akha ol Akhazaunh path, that is, the social and spiritual code that governs every aspect of life.

Today the akha way and the ways of other ethnic groups are in danger of disappearing and the myth therefore offers an opportunity to address issues related to the linguistic and identity protection of the different communities that inhabit Thailand.

Currently the country has a population of about 70 million inhabitants: 95 percent belong to the Thai majority group, while less than a million people belong to different ethnic communities. In the mountains, in the northern regions, live the communities already known as "mountain tribes", struggling with the attempt to preserve their roots and their identity as a people in a constant fluctuation between the desire to maintain continuity with the past and the need for change.

The exhibition focuses in particular on two aspects. The first is the linguistic one. In fact, the languages of the ethnic communities run the risk, in a few years, of being abandoned and forgotten. For PIME, in the specific context of the communities of Northern Thailand, giving value to local languages has always meant contributing to social development and helping to proudly recognize oneself as a people. Furthermore, for missionaries, knowing the local languages in depth means really getting in touch with people and in this regard, Father Marco Ribolini, PIME missionary in Thailand, says: «You can only touch the heartstrings when the language enters the heart".

The second main theme of the exhibition is linked to clothing, a characterizing element of the identity of these peoples and which plays a key role in distinguishing one group from another. The style of the clothes is handed down from generation to generation, but each continues to interpret tradition in a personal way, through their own tastes and preferences, inserting innovations from time to time, still in progress. Today the growing accessibility of these once very remote regions has made the use of T-shirts and jeans a daily reality. Alongside this, the new manufacturing techniques, such as the advent of sewing machines, have allowed a different approach to the creation of these clothes still traditionally worn on important occasions for the community.

We wanted to tell this complexity through the rich cultural heritage of PIME, drawing above all on the goods preserved in the deposits: in fact, numerous fabrics and ornaments of some ethnic communities, never exhibited before in the museum, will be exhibited, together with books from the library and dictionaries and documents from the archive. Finally, some historical video documents will be shown that testify to a country in transition and the role of PIME missionaries in those places.

Works on display

Timetable and tickets


Via Monte Rosa, 81
20149 Milan


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