The Tribes of Burma/Lisaws

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The Lisaws

Like the Marus, their neighbours, the Lisaws or Lisus (the Yawyins of the Bhamo and Myitkyina Districts) are found far afield, namely, in the Ruby Mines District and in the Shan States as well as on the edge of the Kachin area further north. Their real home is however, the Salween valley from 26° to 27'30° N, latitude, north-east of the Maru country. This statement is made on the authority of the late Mr. G, Litton, who has probably seen more of the pure Lisaws than any other recent observer. The Lisaws are essentially a Sal ween tribe. In Burma they are seldom met with at any great distance from that river, and those that have been found on the Mekong live where the valleys of the Mekong and the Salweeri are only separated by a narrow watershed. Mr. Litton finds an undoubted connection between the tall raw-boned Lisaws and theLolos, which appears to be borne out by the observations of Prince Henri of Orleans, who has seen the Lisaws in their northernmost home. The physical type is quite distinct from that of the more effeminate looking people to the west, and though the linguistic connection of the Lisaws with the Mar us, Khun-nongs and the like is undoubted, it is clear that their development along different lines is of very long standing. The great bulk of the Lisaws live outside the limits of Burma. The few scattered communities that were residing in the regularly enumerated areas of the Province at the time of the 1901 Census totalled 1,427 only, most of whom were counted in the Shan States and the Ruby Mines District. Any Lisaws that belonged in 1901 to the Myitkyina District were dealt with in the "estimated" areas. Particulars regarding the tribe will be found in the bibliographical note at page 79. Their dress consists ordinarily of long tunics of blue hempen cloth, with occasionally red cuffs, and blue gaiters. On the borders of the Myitkyina District some local influence (possibly Lashi) has introduced a patch-work coat. Beads and cowries are common adornments among the women, and earrings are much worn. The men frequently wear a pigtail.