Black Lahu man playing leaf Soppong

In all groups it is traditional to play tunes on a leaf- often a mango leaf, sometimes peach. I have recorded Shan, Lisu, Lahu, Akha, Hmong, Lua, and Tai Neua including a Lua ensemble with strings and a leaf. They were often used to call friends or family while in the forest or for courting. Lao Yang describes the way the Hmong use the leaf: “Leaf blowing is like the telephone we use today. Sometimes it is the only way to communicate with a friend who farms on another mountain. There is a leaf blowing language that you must know in order to communicate. .. You must understand basic tunes about missing each other, wanting to see each other.”

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