Saturday 28 September 2013, members of the UK’s Kachin community (an ethnic minority group from northern Burma) led this event at Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome wearing their spectacular traditional clothes. The event enjoyed a good turnout with participants from many different backgrounds coming together to celebrate Kachin culture.
The event began with a series of talks exploring Kachin history, politics and culture. Contributors included Mandy Sadan, author of a new book on Kachin history, Martin Smith, foremost authority on ethnic politics in Burma, and Gumring Hkangda, a Kachin researcher working at the museum, Speakers drew attention to the often-overlooked current political and humanitarian crisis facing Kachin people in Burma. A representative from the Kachin Relief Fund emphasised the important work being undertaken by this charity which has been set up by members of the international Kachin community.
In the World Stories: Young Voices gallery a Kachin woman demonstrated weaving on a backstrap loom, the traditional method of producing Kachin textiles. The weaving demonstration was accompanied by traditional songs played acoustically. Museum visitors also got the chance to try on some traditional Kachin clothes and to explore Kachin items in the museum’s collections not usually on display. Many people joined to watch the fashion show. Kachin women modelled different types of traditional and modern forms of Kachin dress.
The event concluded with a joyful Manau dance in the Brighton Dome foyer. Event attendees and museum visitors and members of the Kachin community all danced together. The enthusiasm of participants made it hard to stop the dance!