Isan (Isan/Thai: ภาคอีสาน [pʰâːk.ʔiːsǎːn] ( ); also written as Isaan, Isarn, Issan, Esan, or Esarn; from Pali ईशान्य īsān or Sanskrit ईशान्य īśān “Northeast”) is the northeastern region of Thailand. Isan is Thailand’s largest region, located on the Khorat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River (along the border with Laos) to the north and east, by Cambodia to the southeast and the Prachinburi mountains south of Nakhon Ratchasima. To the west it is separated from Northern and Central Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, northeastern Thailand has been generally known as Isan, a term adopted from Sanskrit ईशान्य Ishan, meaning in a “north east direction”, while in official contexts the term phak tawan-ok-chiang-nuea (ภาคตะวันออกเฉียงเหนือ; “Northeastern region”) may be used. The term “Isan” was derived from Isanapura, the capital of the Chenla kingdom. The Lao-speaking population of the region, who comprise the majority, distinguish themselves not only from the Lao of Laos but also from the central Thai by calling themselves Khon Isan or Thai Isan in general. However, some refer to themselves as simply Lao, and academics have recently been referring to them as Lao Isan or as Thai Lao, with the main issue with self-identification as Lao being stigma associated with the Lao identity within Thai society. The Khmer-speaking minority and Kuy (Suai), who live in the south of Isan, speak dialects and follow customs more similar to those of Cambodia than either the Thai people or the Lao people. Isan’s culture is predominantly Lao, and has much in common with that of the neighbouring country of Laos. This affinity is shown in the region’s cuisine, dress, temple architecture, festivals, and arts.
The traditional dress of Isan is the sarong. Women’s sarongs most often have an embroidered border at the hem, while men’s are in a chequered pattern. Men also wear a pakama, a versatile length of cloth which can be used as a belt, a money and document belt, as headwear for protection from the sun, as a hammock or as a bathing garment. I often follow @botankanya and here photography and writing about Thailand
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