[pinterest-pro type=”pinit” pin_url=”http://siam-longings.com/1books/luk-isaan.htm” pin_image_url=”” pin_counter=”horizontal” pin_desc=”An examination of of few things that the term “Luk Isaan” might well refer to.”]
The term Luk Isaan could refer to at least a couple of things. Obviously, since luk implies a child, it could simply be denoting a child of the Isaan Region — in other words, anyone who is Isaan.
It might also refer to a Thai soccer team — or FC (Football Club). There is one called Luk Isaan Thai Air FC. I don’t know anything about the team or club, and I don’t at present feel particularly inclined to search out much on them, since this post is not specifically about them. However, there is a blog (EkaNonthaburi.blogspot.ca) that follows the Nonthbauri FC, or “Eka” (‘The Crows’), that made a couple of posts back in July 2011 following their victory over Luk Isaan Thai Air FC — you can view a video of some of the match here, or view a few photos here.
Then there is the novel A Child of the Northeast (Luk Isaan) written by Kampoon Boontawee. As described at Thai Oasis:
Kampoon Boontawee’s A Child of the Northeast (1976, ISBN 974-92815-8-6) is not an easy book to find, although it’s still in print. Those who succeed in the attempt will be richly rewarded with this wonderful story of an extended Isaan family’s quest for food in an increasingly depleted land. Set in the 1930s, Child is especially informative on the collection of flora and fauna used for food dishes, and their preparation. Fundamental aspects of Isaan hierarchical relationships provide a framework for this story, of particular value to those involved in relationships with Isaan people. Chapter 35, ‘A Wat Fair,’ is particularly interesting for its explanation of morlam music culture.
I notice that Amazon.com has the book, as does Amazon.uk.co, as shown side-by-side below. Probably one or more the the other international Amazon locations will have it too, then.
The book was used for the basis of a movie bearing the same name, as described at a blog called Thai Film Journal:
Son of the Northeast is more of a slice of life film about a group of close-knit familes living in hardscrabble northeastern Thailand – an area known as Isaan – in 1939. A drought has stricken the region, as it always seems to, so rice growing isn’t happening. The families are reduced to eating whatever they can find – lizards, snakes, dung beetles (picked from cow manure piles that are territorially defended by the young boys), spiders, turtles, small birds, etc.
The king of the little manure pile is the titular son – Keng, and his parents are rock solid. Around them are the village drunkard, a younger horny guy, a pretty niece (object of a horny guy’s affections) and a Vietnamese merchant.
Culturally, the area was traditionally rural and settled by farmers who speak a different dialect – more a mix of Lao and Khmer than Thai. This dialect was adhered to in the film. So there were Thai subtitles in addition to some haphazard English subs.
Part documentary, the wildlife photography is particularly vivid – lizards on tree limbs, turtles and snakes crawling through the grass.
The film opens with another group of families leaving the area. It’s just too damn dry. But Father of Keng (as he’s referred to by his friends and neighbors) wants to hold on. It’s his ancestral land.
After about an hour and a half of sweating it out in the arid region – and dealing with an old drunkard, a greedy Vietnamese merchant, a horn-dog guy forced into marrying the pretty niece at machete- and gunpoint – the families decide enough is enough. They pull together and build nets, forge tools and build carts and head for the river to catch enough fish to make it through the season and have some foodstuffs to trade on. So more travelogue. But it’s all really vivid and beautifully shot.
The only quibble I have with the film is one girl’s character – a girl who wanted to run off with a folksinger but was locked up naked in her room by her mother. The girl escapes, gets some clothes and goes to the city. She returns wearing an outfit that is straight out of 1982, or 1965, or 1973. Whatever. I don’t think they were wearing those colorful getups in 1939.
But other than that, the way of life in Isaan is depicted as it had been lived in 1939 and probably for hundreds of years before that and for at least a couple of decades afterward. Today, water buffalo are replaced by diesel-powered tillers and tractors. Pickups have taken the place of ox-carts. Grass and wood huts are replaced by stifling hot, land-eating concrete monstrosities. Rice paddy acreage is gobbled up by superhighways, factories, housing estates, military bases and golf courses — progress.
Son of the Northeast is a love letter, a picture postcard, a souvenir to a long, lost, romantic past – a simpler, though very impoverished and hard-ship filled time in Thai history.
I love researching information like this! However, my wife has the day off work, so I can risk spending no further time on this. She hates it when I spend much time here when she is home. I shall close with a few further related references:
When I first moved to Thailand, I fell in love with luk thung and mor lam (หมอลำ) music. Two genres of traditional Thai ‘country music’ usually listened to in Isaan, few in Bangkok seemed to listen to and even less actually liked it …
Publish Date: 09/23/2012 20:15
While Luk Thung singers are crooners, the Mor Lam (expert singer) is a fast-paced storyteller, inflecting generic accounts of unrequited love with social commentary and bawdy humor.(Click here to hear an Isaan musician …
Publish Date: 01/05/2012 13:55
Luk Thung is een Isaanse muziekstijl. De liedjes gaan over de ontberingen van de armen op het Thaise platteland (Isaan).
Publish Date: 08/20/2012 0:00
Thai Traditional Music, Music from Isaan and modern music and dances. If you enjoy Thai Music and Dances I … Besides being a nice cover of the luk thung classic “Nak Rong Baan Nok,” the video is a tribute to Pumpuang’s early rise to fame.
Publish Date: 06/14/2010 15:07
Bangkok’s consumerist middeclass is dominated by luk jin, so that the image of TV beauty is as far from Isaan as possible – the desired ‘look’ is luk jin or luk kryng. Isaan people are relegated to the sphere of comedy, slapstick, and farce, the …
Publish Date: 03/02/2011 21:36
After returning to Bangkok from his residencies around London, Maft Sai set up Zudrangma Records, a vehicle by which to show off his love for traditional Thai sounds Molam and Luk Thung. His Paradise Bangkok live shows …
Publish Date: 04/01/2012 21:28
Thai Song – Sawan Issan
Uploaded by tippy1097 on May 13, 2008