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The hidden Kingdom
Kayin Anyd Thar
By vincenzo floramo
17 Jun 2014

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.

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The Hidden Kingdom 1
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
14 May 2014

A teenager in the Kayin Anyd Thar Village. Teenagers here do not go to state Burmese school and the King decided to build their own primary school in the village.

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The Hidden Kingdom 2
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

The full moon day celebration ends late at night. The only light in the Kayin Anyd Thar Village comes from the moon.

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The Hidden Kingdom 3
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

A King's monk preparing the last decorations inside the Hopy Hta Mote where His Majesty will pray for the village.

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The Hidden Kingdom 4
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

On the full moon night the King, on top of his regal litter, circles the holy Hta Mote nine times. After this walk he goes inside the holy temple to address the village with his prayer.

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The Hidden Kingdom 5
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

An image of King Phoe Takhit in a little shrine where local villagers of Kayin Anyd Thar Village give offerings and praise him.

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The Hidden Kingdom 6
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

Devotes of the King sit outside the Hta Mote listening the prayers coming out of the speakers.

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The Hidden Kingdom 7
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

At Kayin Anyd Thar Village horses are free to roam the surroundings. According to the old Karen traditions the presence of cows, buffalos, horses, and elephants in the village, is sacred .

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The Hidden Kingdom 8
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

A local Karen villager prepares the speakers for the full moon night prayer.

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The Hidden Kingdom 9
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

Villagers from Kayin Anyd Thar Village pray in front of their King, during the ceremony of a wedding celebrated on the full moon day.

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The Hidden Kingdom 10
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

King King Phoe Takhit blessing one of the villagers during the holy festivities of the rainy season's full moon.

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The Hidden Kingdom 11
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

A newlywed couple perform a traditional rituals around a tree. They tie tree trunks with twine which symbolises a strong union.

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The Hidden Kingdom 12
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

The monks, chosen by the King, are the only ones allowed to enter on the holy Hta Mote, where the King prays on the night of the rainy season full moon.

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The Hidden Kingdom 13
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
13 May 2014

Two villagers walk and pray around the holy Hta Mote, a bamboo fenced field with a red Pagoda style building in the middle, from where the King give his sermons.

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The Hidden Kingdom 14
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

A young girl decorates the grave of the King's father during the full moon celebrations.

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The Hidden Kingdom 15
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

A Young monk rides a horse during the holy full moon of May when all the village prays for a new and prosperous harvest season.

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The Hidden Kingdom 16
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

King Phoe Tha Khit and his 'right hand man' walk around the village observing the full moon ceremony preparations.

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The Hidden Kingdom 17
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

A giant concrete painted statue of King Phoe Tha Khit situated at the entrance of the village.

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The Hidden Kingdom 18
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

Villagers of Kayin Anyd Thar live inbetween modernity and very ancient rituals and rules designed by the King.

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The Hidden Kingdom 19
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

A villager performing her "Bao", a kind of spiritual withdrawal for 12 days during two weeks around raining season full moon. In the back is the holy Hta Mote building.

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The Hidden Kingdom 20
Hpa An, Kayin Anyd Thar Village
By vincenzo floramo
12 May 2014

Two boys chosen by the King to take care of his pets. At Kayin Anyd Thar Village the King is regarded as a divinity.

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Christmas at The Maela Refugee Camp
Myanmar, Karen State, Burma, Thailand
By Transterra Editor
24 Dec 2013

The Thai-Burmese border area is an exotic and dangerous paradise at the same time. However, for most people, it is unknown.

Nearly 30 years ago, the first Karen minority refugees who escaped Myanmar arrived to this area. Today more than 50,000 people are living at the Maela refugee camp, situated 70 km north of MaeSot, a recently economically booming border city.

Although at first glance this might seem like an idyllic village, where the quality of life of its inhabitants is much higher than the "normal" standard of other refugees around the world, the Burmese who live in the camp have suffered the most atrocious violence by the Myanmar army. The majority of the camp resident are Christians. During Christmas Eve and holy days, they celebrate in the numerous Churches spread around the camp. Night shows and masses attract the devotes to the Churches and presents are distributed. The camp's residents have been stuck in a small corner of tropical forest with no choice but to live with dignity between the barbed wire fences surrounding the camp, under strict control of the Thai army.

A ceasefire was signed between the Karen leaders and the Myanmar authorities. However,there are many rumors about the Karen being repatriated back to their country which is a first step on the long way of reconciliation.