The Tribes of Burma/Other Mon Khmer

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The Tribes of Burma by Cecil Champain Lowis
Other Mon Khmer Tribes (Kamus, Yaos, Miaotzus, Danaws)

the Was are quoted in the note at page 95 below. The fullest account of the wild Was yet published is contained in the Upper Burma Gazetteer. The Northern Was are at a very low stage of civilization and their dress is of the scantiest, whereas the women of many of the tame Was further south cover themselves very fully.

OTHER MON KHMER TRIBES: KAMUS, YAOS, MIAOTZUS, DANAWS.

Reference may be made here to three tribes of Mon Khtner extraction whose habitat lies outside Burma but close to the Burma border and a few of whom have come to settle within British territory. The first of these, the Kamus, Kamets or Lamets (described at pages 521—523 of the Upper Burma Gazetteer, Part I, Volume I) are evidently closely connected with the Was. They inhabit Siamese and French territory, but 141 of them (probably timber coolies and mahouts) were found within the limits of the Province at the 1901 Census, mostly in the Thaton and Amherst Districts. The Yaos and the Miaotzus, the other two of the three tribes aforesaid, are residents of China. Descriptions of the Miaotzu (Hmeng [1]) are given at page 597 and of the Yaos at page 601 of the Upper Burma Gazetteer. They have been classified as Mon Khmers by Major Davies, and there seems but little reason to doubt the correctness of his classification. Both are widely spread through South-Western China. The 1901 Census returns showed no Yaos or Miaotzus, but it is certain that up till recently at any rate there were two or three Yao villages in Kengtung. Such Miaotzu villages as there are in British territory are in the extreme north-eastern corner of the Northern Shan States, in areas which were either omitted from the census operations or "estimated" only. The main feature of the Miaotzu women's dress are the pleated kilt and the jacket with what resembles a sailor collar. The Yao are remarkable for their female coiffure, which has been compared loan " exaggerated mortar board."

A tribe which for want of more specific data the present writer has placed in the Mon Khmer category is that of the Danaws, a now almost extinct community found in the north-western portion of the Southern Shan States (vide page 562 of the Upper Burma Gazetteer, Part I, Volume I). They are not to be confused with the Danus—though possibly, like the latter, they are only hybrids—and their language is somewhat amorphous. It, however, contains a not inconsiderable number of Mon Khmer words, and it is on the strength of this element in its composition that the Danaws (who in 1901 numbered 635 in all) have been classed provisionally with the Palaungs, the Riangs and the Was of the Shan States, There is nothing in the outward appearance of the Danaws to distinguish them from the Shans among whom they live. It is stated that the women used formerly to wear a short thindaing and petticoat like the Taungthus and Taungyos. This is not a usual form of Mon Khmer dress, but the Yanghseks afford an example of its adoption by a tribe of Mon Khmer origin, and there is nothing intrinsically improbable in the statement. There seems no likelihood of the Danaws' origin being ever finally established now.

C.—THE SIAMESE-CHINESE.
SHAN TRIBES : MAINGTHAS, DAYES.

For reasons given earlier the Shans proper have not been dealt with specifically in this note. The manner of their coming into the country has been indicated at page 17. All that need be said about them here is that in 1901 the Shans proper totalled 787,087, the Lem Shans 2,134, the Lüs and the Hküns of Kèngtung 16,227 and 41,470, and the Lao Shans 1,047 ; that they are the preponderating nationality in the Shan States and form nearly half the population of the plains of Upper Burma north of the 23rd parallel of latitude and that an outlying colony of them exists at Hkamti on the Malikha far beyond our administrative border in the north. Reference may here, however, be made to what for want of a better term we may call the Shan tribes of Burma. Several of the communities already referred to when dealing with the Tibeto-Burmans, e.g, the Danus and the Kadus, have Shan in their composition. The Hpons, adverted to on an earlier page, appear at first sight to be of Shan origin, but, as has been pointed out, it is probable that the Shan element in them is of comparatively recent introduction and that originally they were Tibeto-Burmans. Hitherto the Maingthas of the Ruby Mines and the Northern Shan States have been placed in the same dubious category as the Hpons. Their language has been described as a curious mixture into the composition of which both Burmese and Shan enter (page 390, Upper Burma Gazetteer^ Part I, Volume I). It is clear, however, that the name "Maingtha" is a Burmese rendering of Monghsa and indicates that the Maingthas came from the Chinese Shan States of Ho Hsa and La Hsa, and the more recent view is that there is a far

  1. * The Meos or Man Mèos of French observers (vide, e.g., Mission Pavie, Paris, 19O2, Volume V, page 218, and Volume III, page 39, and "Deux ans dansle Haut. Tonkin." A. Billet, Lille, 1896—98, page 127).