Kachin History


Comprising six ethnic sub-groups (Jinghpaw, Lawngwaw, Lashi, Zaiwa, Rawang, Lisu) are called Kachin. These six groups are the same traditions, customs, dialects and practices live mainly in northern Burma, as well as parts of China and India. The Kachin in Burma are estimated to number between 1 - 1.5 million.


Total area of the Kachinland measures about 33,903 square miles, located between 23o-3' to 28o - 29' N Latitude and 96o - 99o E Longitudes. Kachin land is adjoining with Peoples Republic of China in the East, Democratic Republic of India in the West, Tibet in the North and Burma in the South. About 50% of the total area of the Kachinland is hills and mountains up to the height of 5,881 metres above the sea level.
Kachin land is rich in natural resources, like Jades, gold and teak-timbers etc.. The land is covered with undisturbed-natural forests. The rarest natural species like Black Orchids, White Pheasants, and golden fishes in the confluence of Mali and Nmai rivers are observed. There are mainly three seasons in the Kachinland, Rainy Season., middle of May to middle of October; Summer Season is from middle of February to middle of May, and Winter Season starts from middle of October and ends in February. Annual Mean Daily Temperature ranges from 4 - 36 oC with 60 - 95% Relative Humidity. Hill cities, like Putao, have a very low temperature ranging from -4 to 18oC with low humidity. The uppermost part of Kachinland, including the Putao falls in temperate zone. The maximum temperature of 40 oC was recorded in 1996. Annual rainfall ranges from 80 to 200 inches. More rainfall has been observed in mountainous parts of the land.

How did the Kachin People Convert into Christian?

The Kachin of Myanmar originally religion was animism. Christianity spread among the Kachin people since 1837, like Eugenia Kincaid was the first Baptist missionary met Kachin people in northern Burma, Kachinland in 1837. He wrote letter to the mission society in America to send missionaries to Kachin land of northern Burma ( Myanmar). The first Baptist missionary to Kachin people was Albert J. Lyon, he died from malaria on March 15, 1878, one month after his arrival. Then William H. Roberts came to over to Bamo the Kachin Land, northern Burma, on January 12, 1879,he re-accomplished great mission work among the Kachin people and the first seven Kachin had been converted into Christian and baptized at Bumwa in 1882. He also started opened primary school for Kachin people.

Dr.Ola Hanson came over to Bamaw in December 22, 1890 and created Kachin's alphabet from Roman alphabet in to the first kachin literature. Dr. Ola Hanson also compiled a Kachin-English dictionary and translated hymnal and the Holy Bible into Kachin.

Late after another twenty-four American missionaries where opened mission schools, hostels, hospitals, health centers and other development programs over the Kachinland, but on August 1960, the first Priminster of Union Burma banned and abolished the freedom of religious regulations act and declared Buddhism as the State religion. Since all the western missionaries where left from Burm (Myanmar).To day majority Kachin are Christian.

How does the government systems of the Kachin (1947) before Independent of Burma (Myanmar)

The Kachin' Government system is used to be ruled by village and clan chiefs. The territory of Kachin State never came under direct British administration, nor had they been directly under the authority of the Burman (Myanmar) court before the Kachin Hill Tribes Regulation Acts 1895 was introduced. However, many of the areas actually within the orbit of the regulation were still governed through a system of indirect rule, which relied upon the authority of selected local chiefs and elders for the successful implementation of Government policy. During British rule of Burma (from 1886 to 1947), most Kachin territory was specially administered as a frontier region (Kachin Hill Regulation Act 1895).|

How did the Kachin jointly gaining Independent in (1947) with Burma (Myanmar ) from British

The Union of Burma (Myanmar) is  a nation-state of diverse ethnic nations(nationalities),founded in 1947 at the Panlong Conference by pre-colonial independent ethnic nationalities such as the Kachin,  Chin, Shan, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Arakan, and  burman (mayanmar), based on the principle of equality. As it was founded by formerly independent peoples in 1947 through an agreement, the boundaries of the Union of Burma today are not historical. Rather, the Union of Burma, or myanmar in its current form, was born of the historic Pang long agreement signed in 1947, Shan state of eastern Burma . Burma (maynmar) gained Independent from British on Feb 12, 1947. Today in Burma' government is military dictatorship.The population is about 50 millions, and half of them are Burman (mayanmar) and the rest of them are ethnic minorities. 30% are Christian.

Kachin Culture
Kachin Festival

The Kachin State lies in northern Burma with snow-capped mountains in the far north. It is also where the confluence of the Maykha and Malikha rivers gives rise to the mighty Ayeyarwady. The Kachin national has a developed culture or their own. The six different ethnic sub-groups belong to the Kachin; their dresses are colourful but different and their dialects also differ. But they share the tradition of the Manau Festival and the dances of our Kachin kinsfolk at their traditional Manau Festivals are a blend dignity and delight. The men look warrior-like with their swords held in front and the women in their colourful and varied national costumes are captivating. Of the variety of Kachin dances, the Manau dance is performed at Manau festivals, which originated as part of the ‘Nat’ or spirit worship of the past. There are ten kinds of Manau festivals held in commemoration of some special event such as a successful harvest. But only five of these festivals are considered to be of great significance.

These five principal Manau festivals are;(1) Sut Manau (2) Rawt Malan or Padang Manau (3) Ju Manau (4) Kum Ran Manau and (5) Sha Dip Hpawt Manau festivals.

The Rawt Malan or Padang Manau Festival. This festival is held to ensure victory in battle. In ancient times, it was like a battle cry issued forth to recruit warriors to march on enemies.

Then there is the Ju Manau, which is a festival to pray for health, protection from harm, for offspring to carry on family traditions and other religious occasions.

The Kum Ran Manau is traditionally held to bless a family member who has decided to leave the fold and set up his own household and work his own land.

The Sha Dip Hpawt Manau is held to exorcise any evil spirits that may be present in a new plot of land that is to be cultivated.

The Sut Ren Manau or Sut Manau is the most important of the festivals. It is a grand festival to celebrate outstanding charitable and philanthropic acts by the "Duwagyi" or "Great Chieftains". Today the State together with wealthily Kachin people sponsor the Sut Manau in honour of the endeavours made by the Kachin national races for the progress and development of the Kachin State. It is also said to be a festival to welcome new kinsmen and friends.

The venue of the festival is also specially arranged and decorated. Twelve poles are fixed in the very centre of the enclosure set aside for the celebrations. six of these poles are placed upright, with two other pairs, each arranged in the form of a cross. The remaining two are then placed parallel to the ground with one much higher than the other. However, depending on the purpose of the occasion, the Manau poles are arranged in a varying patterns. The configurations on the Manau poles are stylized designs that depict the trail of ants, birds, butterflies in flight, bulls with horns locked, waves, and seeds that have sprouted and proliferated.

The basic designs however are diamond shapes and curved lines. The top and bottom of the poles are panted with pictures of the sun, moon and earth. The topmost side of the pole is cut, shaped and painted over in the form of bird’s beak.

The principal musical instrument is the booming drum, which can be heard within a radius of 4 or 5 miles. It is a long two-faced drum made of calf or water buffalo leather. It is called the Long Drum or Great Drum. Then there are the large gongs and a flute called a "Dum Bar" on which is fixed a horn of the buffalo. The Manau dance does not feature the one-sided. "Ozi" drum or cymbals as in another Kachin traditional dance, the "Htawng Ka".

The leaders of the Manau Festival wear long robes with headdresses of hornbill or peacock feathers. The headdresses are also adorned with tusks of wild boar.

The Kachin Manau festival is inaugurated by the highest-ranking chief or official present after which follows the beat of the drums and the echo of the gongs to invite all those far and near to join in the festivities.
The ‘Manau dance’ is performed by two groups with two persons leading each group. Behind the leaders come the members of various clans, the Maru (Lachieik), Lashi, Azi, Zaiwa, Rawang, Lisu and Jinghpaw in full ceremonial national dress. All those following behind have to watch the leaders and follow their dance step and change steps and rhythm when they do.

When the dance begins the Manau leaders and their respective group members face the guests in the pavilion and perform a dance or obeisance. Then they turn towards the Manau poles and bow and dance in homage. The two groups first dance in rows, gradually forming crescents and finally forming one large circle that goes round and round the Manau poles, but later as the drum beat and rhythm of the music change the large circle converges to the centre, and all bow from head and waist and then step backwards to form a wide circle again. When all the dance steps have been completed, the guests and anyone who wishes to are invited to join in the dance. Sometimes, the leaders form the patterns painted on the Manau poles with special dance steps.

A Kachin ‘N’Htu’ or sword is an important feature or the Manau Dance and is held upright by the ancer. In Kachin culture the sword or knife is the most unique and indispensable tool of life. W ith this knife, land is cleared for cultivation, trees felled for timber to build house and vows are exchanged with the Kachin ‘n htu’ as witness in betrothal ceremonies much as a Bible is used in Christian ceremonies.

It was also with this sword that Kachin nationalists revolted against colonial rule. So it is no wonder that the Kachin sword features so prominently in the most important of the Kachin Manau festivals. The Manau dance consists of at least 7 to 9 dance movements and the dance itself last form a minimum of one to three hours to a maximum of four to eight days.
Any one, irrespective of race, religion or status, is welcome to participate in this traditional dance festival. It is a very pleasant enjoyable way to get to know at first hand the culture and traditions so dear to the heart of the Kachin peoples. With this dance can also be strengthened the foundations of friendship and national unity.

From ; http://www.kachinland.org