|A Khau cut on the rooftop of a Black Thai stilt house.
Lò Tuyên Dung, a researcher of Thai culture in Yen Bai province, says that when their ancestors left their place of origin one crescent moon night, they pledged that in their new land, their houses would bear a crescent moon symbol to enable them to recognize each other and to remind them of their roots.
The “Khau cut” appears in many different versions. A “Khau cut” that has crossed bamboo sticks symbolizes protection against natural disasters. A “Khau cut” shaped like a buffalo horn is a symbol of wet rice cultivation. A “Khau cut” consisting of crossed swords made of intricately carved precious wood represents power and title. A “Khau cut” with flowers and a vegetable called “bo” on it represents purity, nature, and strong vitality.
|"Khau cut" is a symbol for the Black Thai to recognize each other.
"The vegetable that the Thai call“bo” is a symbol of strong vitality. This vegetable can grow on land or float in the water. It can adapt to many weatherand soil conditions. The Thai people often use if for a “Khau cut” symbol,” Lo Tuyen Dung explained.
The “Khau cut” on a rooftop reveals the family’s status. A beautiful “Khau cut” shows the family to be prosperous and powerful. Lo Van Bien, another researcher of Thai culture said: "Seeing a 'Khau cut' on the roof of a house tells us that the familywho live there are Black Thai. They maybe of the Luong or Hà clan, but they are Black Thai. The Black Thai in Yen Bai, Dien Bien, Son La, and Lai Chau provinces all have 'Khau cut' on their houses.”
A “Khau cut” is made of extremely hard, durable wood such as ironwood orbassia. The “Khau cut” maker should have dexterity, artistic sense, and a profound knowledge of Black Thai culture. Some houses of young Thai people don’t have a “Khau cut” symbol.
"Old people and people who know the meaning of the 'Khau cut' should put one on their house and encourage others to do the same," said Lo Van Bien.
"'Khau cut' is a typical cultural feature of the Black Thai. We should be aware of it and preserve it for the next generations," Lo Tuyen Dung suggested.