Photos - Ann Wang

The Kachin people mostly live in the most northern part of Myanmar around the areas where the Ayeyarwaddy and Chindwin Rivers begin.  They also live in neighbouring areas of China and India.

The Kachin population is around 1.5 million and they are believed to have originated from Tibeto-Burman people who migrated from the Tibetan area into Myanmar. They are traditionally known for their disciplined fighting skills, complex clan interrelations, craftsmanship, herbal healing and jungle survival skills.

Kachin are also known as Jinghpaw, which reflects the language spoken by the majority of Kachin people. There are seven distinct languages spoken by Kachin people and although the people of each language group have their own traditional dress they consider themselves to be of the same ethnicity, all sharing a group of last names and dancing festival traditions.

This is because all Kachin belong to clans and Kachin people consider themselves related to other Kachin whether it is by blood, marriage, family name, language group or clan.

The majority of Kachin people are Christian, mainly Baptist or Roman Catholic. Their conversion to Christianity occurred as a result of the influence of American and European missionaries who arrived in Myanmar in the late 19th century.

Kachin are keen on dancing and singing and are also well known for their weaving skills.

Festivals in Kachin State are colourful events when people wear their traditional dress that is bright and heavily decorated with silver and woven fabrics.

The Manau festival held in January is the largest and most important annual celebration in Kachin State when people celebrate the New Year. People wear their best traditional dress at this time and dance collectively around the tall Manau poles. The men wear woven shoulder bags and a silver sword in a sheath and women decorate their predominantly red dresses with silver all across the torso.

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With a strong passion in writing and travelling, Shwe Yinn Mar Oo enjoys producing stories on culture, heritage and travel experiences. Currently working as a communication professional, the ex-journalist sometimes invests some of her leisure time in freelance writing both in Myanmar and English for some journals and magazines.


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