The Lisu Nationality

Name: Lisu, Lisuchang

Population: 1,000,000

Localization: Yunnan Province, Nujiang Lisu and Nu Autonomous Prefecture. Also in India, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Introductory Articles in Ethnic China

Introducing the Lisu: Communications between different Lisu communities over the centuries has been difficult, which explains their division

The script of Lisu bamboo books: Most of the bamboo books of the Lisu had also a religious purpose, but, as opposed to the foreign scripts, are books related to the Lisu traditional religion, with titles as "The creation of the world".

Animism in Lisu Nationality religion: The Lisu think that every single thing has its soul.

The mystery of the Lutzus: At any rate these people both in physical appearance and dress were quite distinct from the Lisus whom we met later.

Birth customs of the Lisu: When the birth is imminent the husband calls to his ancestors by their spirit name, offering to them sacrifices of salt, poultry and wine whilst invoking their aid in the safe delivery of the child.

More introductory articles:

Scholars Researches available in the Web

A. Arunachalam, R. Sarmah, D. Adhikari, M. Majumder and M. L. Khan.- Anthropogenic threats and biodiversity conservation in Namdapha nature reserve in
the Indian Eastern Himalayas

The core zone of the park has two major Lisu local settlements with a total of 43 households. The local people totally depend on the nature reserve for their livelihood. This article focuses on the human generated threats (due to immigration pressure and its consequences manifesting as clear-felling for settlements and agriculture, overharvesting of NTFPs, hunting and poaching of rare and endangered fauna, uncontrolled fishing in the river, etc.) to biological diversity in the nature reserve.

Prasert Chaipigusit.- Anarchists of the Highlands? A Critical Review of a Stereotype Applied to the Lisu

The Lisu are often characterised as strong individualists, to the extent even of labelling thern as anarchists. This paper will find out where such a decidedly pro vocative stereotype originated and its basis in fact, brief\y touch on the problern of pejorative labels used in reference to the hill tribes and discuss at sorne length why the nature of Lisu culture and social structure does not lend itself to such a description.

Yves Conrad.- Lisu Identity in Northern Thailand: A Problematique for Anthropology

This paper presents a contemporary case study of the problematique of ethnie identification and identity in the multiethnie context of the highlands of north Thailand. ..Here 1will attempt a brief and balanced synthesis of the main ideas and suggestions concerning the definition and use of ethnicity in an "ethnically" heterogeneous society.

Paul Durrenberger.- A Soul's journey: A Lisu song from Northern Thailand.

If the soul should depart from the body, the person exhibits characteristic symptoms of anorexia, insomnia, bad dreams, and general malaise. When an individual exhibits these symptoms, they are often diagnosed as caused by soul loss, either because the soul has been captured by some spirit or because the soul has departed of its own volition.

Paul Durrenberger.- Lisu Occult Roles.

Since Lisu cosmology posits a set of occult beings, there are also various ways of relating to them. In this paper I shall explore the ways Lisu define these relationships with their spirits.

Paul Durrenberger.- Belief and the logic of Lisu spirits.

In the northern Thai highlands Lisu frequently interact with spirits. Each village maintains a fenced compound with an altar for its guardian spirit. Many villages maintain compounds and altars for hill spirits. Each household keeps an altar for ancestor and lineage spirits.

Paul Durrenberger.- Lisu etiological categories.

The first stage of the process of curing is the interpretation of symptoms in terms of a theory of disease causality in order to develop an etiology. When the causes of the malady are known, treatment can begin. The Lisu believe that there is a set of spirits which can cause disease.

Handel, Zev.- Proto-Lolo-Burmese velar clusters and the origin of Lisu palatal sibilants

Hans Peter Larsen.- The Music of the Lisu of Northern Thailand.

The way a person sings and plays betrays his Lisu identity as clearly as his language. The conclusion that can be drawn from my preliminary field work and recordings from the hill tribes in Thailand is that each tribe has its own distinct vocal and instrumental styles. Musical influences between tribes having good social relationships (as for example the Lahu
and the Lisu, or the Karen and the Lawa) is probable, but only in one single case was I able to demonstrate overlapping styles.

Luang Mho phee: Lisu shaman.

I have five spirits that help me. You can tell this from my altar because it has five bowls. In these bowls are offerings to the five helping spirits and a separate offering to the ancestor spirit. The offerings may include honeycomb wax, flowers, and other sacred things.

Joseph Rickson.- Everyday Articulations of Power Narratives of a Lisu Community in Northern Thailand

This paper will explore the multiple dimensions of identity and marginalization read through
life histories, lived experiences and everyday articulations of power in the context of the
modern situation of the Lisu, an ethnic group of northern Thailand.

Books and references

Thesis about the Lisu

Kathleen A. Gillogly.- Transformations of Lisu Social Structure Under Opium Control and Watershed Conservation in. Northern Thailand. 2006

To study the effects of integration into Thai and international global regimes, as executed through forestry and narcotics control policy, I focused on how social structure worked out in practice in Lisu households.

The Lisu in the Books

The Lisu of the Salween in 1909: As depicted in the Book "Across China on Foot", by Edwin Dingle. 1911

Basic Bibliography of the Lisu
Chinese Bibliography of the Lisu

Folktales of the Lisu Nationality: The book translates and adapts to the Chinese language more than one hundred myths, legends and popular tales collected in the main Lisu inhabited areas in Yunnan Province.

Lisu Photo Exhibitions


Lisu music
A guide to download their music

Films and Video

Documentary Films about the Lisu
Available dvds and vcds about the Lisu
The Lisu in the cinema

Art and Handicrafts

The Lisu in the art
Art Exhibitions


Travel to Lisu lands

Please contact us: