In the Southeast Asian highlands, different types of hierarchy appear as forms of social organization as well as devices for intersocietal communication. In the present case, ranked titles from centralized Tai Meuang hierarchies such as the Lao or the Lue in southern China have been adopted by Rmeet (Lamet) uplanders in northern Laos, where the main type of hierarchy is the decentralized superiority of wife-givers over wife-takers. In the process of adoption, title-giving was subordinated to wife-giving, and today the wife-givers are the ritual source of ranks. In the course of history, title-giving has thus been integrated into Rmeet forms of sociocosmic reproduction while, at the same time, titles have lost their initial function of communication between upland societies and lowland state formations.

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