Asian Geographic - - On Assignment -

The Kachin group, also known as the Jingpo peo­ple, are one of the three big­gest tribes in Myan­mar, hav­ing a record 1.5 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion. Be­ing de­scen­dants of 13th cen­tury Mon­go­lian war­riors, the peo­ple are ex­pert sword fight­ers. Out­side of Myan­mar, the Kachin are scat­tered around var­i­ous parts of Asia, such as Yun­nan in China and north­east In­dia. The more prom­i­nent sub-tribes are Tarong/taron, Maru (Laung­waw), Jingh­paw, Rawang, Lashi (La Chit/ Lacheik) and Lisu. The sub-groups are con­sid­ered part of the same fam­ily, shar­ing the same sur­names and cel­e­brat­ing the same fes­ti­vals.


Liv­ing on the hilly slopes of North­ern Myan­mar, the Tarons are the sub-group of the big Kachin group. Years of earth­quakes have cut off all re­main­ing con­nec­tions with other Taron groups. At present, left with only 5,000 mem­bers, they are fast be­com­ing an ex­tinct tribe. They do not speak the Burmese lan­guage. Their first lan­guage is the Taron di­alect and their sec­ond lan­guage is the lo­cal Htalu di­alect. Lit­tle else is known about the tribe.


The Maru tribe is the sec­ond largest Kachin sub-group. De­spite its ro­bust pop­u­la­tion, its mem­bers are closely knit. For­merly an­i­mists, the ma­jor­ity of its mem­bers con­verted to Chris­tian­ity when the Bi­ble was trans­lated into their na­tive lan­guage. The peo­ple speak the Maru di­alect, which was adapted from the Chi­nese, Jingpo, Tai Mao and Burmese lan­guages. It is con­sid­ered one of the four dis­tinc­tive di­alects in the Kachin group that has three tones; the other three lan­guages are Jingh­paw, Rawang and Atsi.


This tribe re­sid­ing in Myan­mar are the pri­mary speak­ers of the Jingh­paw lan­guage, which has ap­prox­i­mately 900,000 speak­ers. The stan­dard Jingh­paw is the lin­gua franca among the Kachin com­mu­nity; the mi­nor­ity speak­ers live in the Shan State and Sa­gaing Di­vi­sion. The lan­guage va­ri­eties in­clude the Nkhum, Shadan and Gauri di­alects.


The Rawang tribe lives in North­ern Kachin in the iso­lated Hukaung Val­ley, with a pop­u­la­tion of be­tween 15,000 to 20,000. Only the Rawang chief is seen wear­ing cane hats with wild boars’ tusks. The mem­bers are prac­tis­ing Protes­tant Chris­tians. The Rawang lan­guage con­sists of 75 to 100 dif­fer­ent di­alects, in­clud­ing DaruJer­wang, Khrangkhu, Kyaikhu, Mat­wang, Tangsar East, Tangsar West and Thaluq.


The Lisu peo­ple claim their orig­i­nal home­land to be eastern Ti­bet, but th­ese Lisu com­mu­ni­ties are lo­cated in western Yun­nan, in both the Kachin and Shan states right down to the Thai bor­der. As a re­sult of be­ing widely spread out, the Lisu peo­ple speak Yun­nanese, Shan, Jingh­paw and Chi­nese.

Out­side of Myan­mar, the Kachin are scat­tered around var­i­ous parts of Asia

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