Past Exhibition:
May 13 – Sept. 9, 2012:


Download the exhibition brochure.

In the foothills of the Himalayas where Laos, Burma and Thailand once knew no boundaries lies a region of Southeast Asia evocatively known as the Golden Triangle. Home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, the rugged mountains, rivers and forests of this area have proved through the millennia to be a cultural and historical crossroads of ancient migrations from the highlands of China and Tibet, trade routes connecting India and Mongolia, and passages along the great rivers of Asia.

Yet for all the movement and interchange, Southeast Asia’s highlands harbor a staggering number and variety of peoples living in remote hill villages, which have effectively safeguarded their individuality. Numbering over one hundred and thirty groups and subgroups, each tribe represents an extraordinary world, unique in its language, customs, arts, religion, dress and features.

Prominent among this multiplicity are the Hmong, Mien, Lahu, Akha, Lisu, and Karen, six distinct peoples who originally migrated through China, converging in the mountain ranges that sweep the highland region. Each group maintains an ancient, multifaceted musical heritage, exceptional in melody, rhythm and signature style, which represents a living archive of centuries of accumulated culture, history and tenets of faith.

Guest-curated by musician and collector Victoria Vorreiter from Chiang Mai, Thailand, this exhibition features a wide array of musical instruments, traditional dress and jewelry from these societies, augmented by rich photographs and video clips of rituals and performances.

The exhibition was supported in part by Marsha and Philip Dowd, the Jim Thompson Foundation (Bangkok), the Golden Triangle Antique Gallery (Chicago), the Frankel Family Foundation, and Leslie and David Bosch.