Sunday, February 7, 2010

Myanmar: Kachin People(克钦族群)

The Jingpho people , Jingpo (simplified Chinese: 景颇族; Jinghpaw, Tsaiva, Lechi) are an ethnic group who largely inhabit the Kachin Hills in northern Burma's Kachin State. They also form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they numbered 132,143 people in the 2000 census. There is a closely related people in India called Singpho.

In Burma, The "major national ethnic races" are grouped primarily according to region rather than linguistic or ethnic affiliation, There are 8 major national ethnic races in Burma, one of them is Kachin major national ethic race, which included 12 different races or tribes. Kachin people were categorized by the Census as separate different "races" or "tribes" according to languages, including Jingpo(景颇族), Gauri(高伊族), Maru/Lawgore(马尤族), Lashi(勒期族), Azi(阿齐族),Lashi/La Chid(勒期族),Dalaung(达朗族) Hkahku(卡库族), Duleng(杜因族), Nung/Rawang(日旺族), Lisu(傈僳族),and Taron(达永族); as distinct ethnic nationalities. Significant groups of Buddhists and animists are found amongst the Kachin, with about half them professing Christianity.

Their ancestors lived in the Tibetan plateau and they migrated gradually toward the south. To their arrival to the present province of Yunnan they received the name of Xunchuanman. It is possible that they might be related to the Qiang(羌族).




缅甸政府把它承认的135个民族按地理分布分成八大族群.官方的族群划分不能完全体现民族之间语言、习俗等方面的亲疏关系. 比如克钦族群12个民族的语言,有的属于萨尔语群, 缅语支,彝语支,有的属于侬语支。

克钦族群,主要分布在克钦邦,分12个民族,包括克钦族(Kachin),达永族(Trone/Taron), 达朗族(Dalaung),高伊族(Gauri),卡库族(Hkahku), 马尤族(Maru/Lawgore),日旺族(Rawang),勒期族(Lashi/La Chit),杜因族(Duleng),阿齐族(Atsi),傈僳族(Lishu),景颇族(Jinghpaw)。

Early History

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries they continued migrating to being established in their present territory. They have received diverse names along the centuries: Echang, Zhexie, and Yeren, the latter name which was used in China from the Yuan dynasty to the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The Jingpo people are an ethnic affinity of several tribal groups, known for their fierce independence, disciplined fighting skills, complex clan inter-relations, embrace of Christianity, craftsmanship, herbal healing and jungle survival skills. Other residents of Kachin State include Shans (Thai/Lao related), Lisus, Rawangs, Nagas, and Burmans, who form the largest ethnic group in Burma, also called Bamar. During the British colonial period, some tribes were well integrated into the state while others operated with a large degree of autonomy. Kachin people, including those organized as the Kachin Levies provided assistance to British, Chinese, and American units fighting the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Kachin state

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Kachin State(克钦邦) , is the northernmost state of Burma. It is bordered by China to the north and east; Shan State to the south; and Sagaing Division and India to the west. It lies between north latitude 23° 27' and 28° 25' longitude 96° 0' and 98° 44'. The area of Kachin State is 89,041 km2 (34,379 sq mi). The capital of the state is Myitkyina. Other important towns include Bhamo.

Kachin State has Myanmar’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi (5,889 metres (19,320 ft)), forming the southern tip of the Himalayas, and a large inland lake, Indawgyi Lake.




Following the end of World War II and Burma’s independence from Britain, long standing ethnic conflicts between frontier peoples such as the Kachin people and the Burman-dominated central government resurfaced. The first uprising occurred in 1949. The uprisings escalated following the declaration of Buddhism (which is not practiced by the Kachin people) as a national religion in 1961. However, Kachin people fought both for and against the government during most of the ethnic conflicts. Kachin soldiers once formed a core part of the Burmese armed forces and many stayed loyal after the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) with its military wing, the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) was formed in 1961. After Ne Win's coup in 1962, there were fewer opportunities in the Burma Army for Kachin people. Much of Kachin State outside of the cities and larger towns was for many years KIO administered.

The KIO formed alliances with other ethnic groups resisting the Burmese occupation, and later despite its non-communist stance along with China informally supported the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which held strategically sensitive parts of the country vis a vis the Kachin positions. The KIO continued to fight when Ne Win’s dictatorship was succeeded by another incarnation of the military junta in 1988 called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). However, with a gradual withdrawal of Chinese support, in 1989 the Communist Party of Burma soon disintegrated into warlord led groups that negotiated ceasefire deals with the junta. This led to the KIO being surrounded by organizations effectively aligned with the SPDC. It was squeezed by redeployed battalions of the rearmed and ever growing Burma Army, and constantly urged to make peace by a civilian population suffering from years of warfare. In 1994 the KIO chose to enter into a ceasefire with the junta.

The ceasefire delivered neither security nor prosperity to the Kachin. With the end of hostilities the Burma Army presence has increased considerably, along with allegations of atrocities against the civilian population, including forced labor and rape.

History of Kachin state
The Burmese government under Aung San reached the Panglong Agreement with the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples on 12 February 1947. The agreement accepted "Full autonomy in internal administration for the Frontier Areas" in principle and envisioned the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly. Kachin State was formed in 1948 out of the British Burma civil districts of Bhamo and Myitkyina, together with the larger northern district of Puta-o. The vast mountainous hinterlands are predominantly Kachin, whereas the more densely populated railway corridor and southern valleys are mostly Shan and Bamar. The northern frontier was not demarcated and until the 1960s Chinese governments had claimed the northern half of Kachin State as Chinese territory since the 18th century. Before the British rule, roughly 75% of all Kachin jadeite ended up in China, where it was prized much more highly that the local Chinese nephrite.

Kachin troops formerly formed a significant part of the Burmese army. With the unilateral abrogation of the Union of Burma constitution by the Ne Win regime in 1962, Kachin forces withdrew and formed the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). Aside from the major towns and railway corridor, Kachin State has been virtually independent from the mid 1960s through 1994, with an economy based on smuggling, jade trade with China and narcotics. After a Myanmar army offensive in 1994 seized the jade mines from the KIO, a peace treaty was signed, permitting continued KIO effective control of most of the State, under aegis of the Myanmar military. This ceasefire immediately resulted in the creation of numerous splinter factions from the KIO and KIA of groups opposed to the peace accord, and the political landscape remains highly unstable.

Traditional Kachin society was based on shifting hill agriculture. Political authority was based on chieftains who depended on support from immediate kinsmen. Considerable attention has been given by anthropologists of the Kachin custom of maternal cousin marriage, wherein it is permissible for a man to marry his mother’s brother’s daughter, but not with the father’s sister’s daughter. Traditional religion was animist, but missionary activity since the British period have converted the vast majority of the population to Christianity (notably Baptist and pockets of Roman Catholicism).



The population included Kachin(克钦族), Bamar(缅族), Shan, Naga, Chinese(汉人), Indians, Gorkha. The majority of the state's 1.2 million inhabitants are ethnic Kachin, also known as Jinghpaw, Rawang, Lisu, Zaiwa, Lawngwaw, Lachyit, and the state is officially home to other ethnic groups such as Bamar, and Shan.


Official government statistics state that the distribution by religion is 57.8% Buddhist, 36.4% Christian. The Kachin language is the lingua franca in the State, and has a written version based on the Roman alphabet. There is also a small number of Tibetans living in some villages of Kachin State.

Websites related to Kachin:

* Kachin National Organization,
* The Kachin Post,
* KIO News in English,
* News in Jingphaw, English and Burmese,
* The Kachin Today Group,

Related articles

1. World's End in Kachin State Wofgang H Trost, The Irrawaddy, July 1, 2007,

(still under draft, to continue..)

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