The Tribes of Burma/Kachins

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The Kachins

From the Tamans we may pass to the last of the Western Tibeto-Burmans with whom we are concerned, namely, the Kachins (Chingpaws, Theinbaws or Singphos). There are few hill tribes that have been so thoroughly described as the Kachins. In a bibliographical summary Dr. Wehrli gives 145 works of reference more or less utilized by him in the preparation of his scholarly monograph published at Leiden in 1904. A large number of these deal with the Singphos of Assam. The most important of the references to the Ching-paw proper of Burma are given in the bibliographical note printed on page 70. The manner of the Kachins coming into Burma is indicated in an earlier portion of this note. Mr. George is still our main authority on the Chingpaws, though the information he has compiled has been supplemented by a mass of useful data supplied by Captain Walker and Major Davies (whose Kachin Gazetteer furnished a large proportion of the matter relating to the Kachins embodied in the Upper Burma Gazetteer), Mr. W. A. Hertz, Dr. Wehrli and others. It is only necessary to remind the reader here that the Kachins are of much the same stock as the Nagas of Assam, known in the west of the Kachin country as Khangs, but that their wanderings have taken them into the midst of hill tribes of a totally different origin (the Marus, Lashis, etc.) to the east of the Irrawaddy with whom they have to a somewhat confusing extent amalgamated.

It may be convenient here to1 refer to the tribes who at page 389 of Volume I, Part I, of the Upper Burma Gazetteer are spoken of as being indirectly connected with the Kachins, namely, the Khangs, the Kaphawks, the Kaluns, the Khun-nongs, the Khenungs, the Khamangs, the Murus, the Sons and the Bilus. The Khangs, Kaphawks and Kaluns are no doubt of Naga or Mishmi origin. Care must, however, be taken to distinguish the Khangs referred to by Mr. Hertz in his report on the Hukawng valley (who are of Naga stock), from the Khangs found by Mr. Errol Gray in the neighbourhood of Khamti. There is nothing of the Na^a in the latter, who originally came from the Sal ween, and are either Prince Henri of Orleans' Lutzes or Nanwu Marus, probably the former. The Tarengs are merely a tribe of Kachins, vide page 44 post. The Khunnongs, whom Mr. Errol Gray found on the hills to the east of the Namkui near Khamti are the Kiutzes described by Prince Henri, vide page 9 ante. They must not be confused with the Khamangs, who are Mishmis, or with the Khenungs, who wear felt hats and pigtails and are probably more closely connected with the Tibetans than with any of the other tribes we are here concerned with. The Murus are probably Marus, as also, it seems likely, are the Sons and Bilus. The Sassans, referred to at page 381 of the Upper Burma Gazetteer, are a branch of the Marip tribe of Kachins. In 1901, the total of persons who were returned as Kachins in the enumerated of areas was 64,405 and it is probable that the great bulk of these were actually Kachins, though some of them must have been Marus, Szis and Lashis. Including the inhabitants of the areas " estimated " at the 1901 Census, where race data were not given, the aggregate of real Kachins is probably about 120,000. No idea can be given of the Kachin population living in the unadministered area to the north of Burma proper, but its total must be considerable.