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.
JINGHPAW ( JINGPO/SINGPHO)
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