17 Jun 2014 17:19
In a remote corner of Karen, Burma, isolated for decades under Myanmar’s military dictatorship, the village of Kayin Anyd Thar stands as a rare reminder of the area’s animist beliefs before the arrival of Buddhism and of Christian missionaries. 30-year-old king Phoe Ta Khit rules over 500 people who believe in his powers as a shaman. He beleives that he has a connection with the spirits of the past eight monarchs, each of them one of his previous existences. Everyday life in the village - barely above the subsistence level - is entirely organised by the king. His doors are open to anybody as long as they follow the monarch’s rules. Halfway between the eccentric and the supernatural, the village is derided by some Karens in the area, while others respect Phoe Ta King as a spiritual leader without question.