The Tribes of Burma/Akhas

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The Akhas

The Akhas or Kaws of the hills of Kengtung are, if language is any criterion, Tibeto-Burmans. Their speech has been classified as such. There is no trace of Mon Khmer in their composition, nor have any valid grounds been shown for placing them in the same category as the Karens. They differ in many wavs from their neighbours the Lahus, but it is almost indubitable that they come from the same stock, though it is probable that they are more closely connected with the Pannas and Lotes of Trans-Mekong territory.[1] There are a few Akhas in French territory beyond the Mekong, but it is believed that the great bulk of the tribe are found in the Kengtung State between the Mekong and the Salween. In 1901 they, with the Akhos, a branch of the main tribe, numbered 27,526. None were enumerated in Burma outside the limits of Kengtung. For a description of the Akhas a reference is invited to the authorities quoted on page 87. They are a swarthy stalwart tribe, dull but peaceable. They mix and intermarry with the Chinese to an extent remarkable among these eastern hill dwellers and have hitherto been best known to those who have not lived among them by their women's dress, which with its abbreviated skirt, leggings and bamboo head-dress, is very distinctive, Missionary work has extended of late years into the Akha country, but apparently, the Akhas are not as ready to embrace the Christian faith as the Lahus.

  1. Vide Upper Burma Gazetteer, Volume I, Part I, page 595.