Hsenwi, North

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This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Hsenwi, North

(Burmese, Theinni). — A Northern Shan State, Jkirma, lying between 22° 37' and 24° 9' N. and 97° 14' and 98° 55' E., with an area of 6,330 square miles. It lies, for the most part, west of the Salween, and is bounded on the north and cast by China; on the south by the A\'a States east of the Salween and b\- Suuth Hsenwi west of it; and on the west by the Hsipaw, Tawngpeng, and Mongmit States and Bhamo District. The greater part of the northern section is a mass of hills inhabited by Kachins ; Palaung villages are numerous in places, and a good many Chinese settlements are scattered about. Even here, however, a number of valleys under rice cultivation remain in the hands of the Shans. The trans-Salween portion of this northern area forms the rugged district of Kokang, where most of the inhabitants are Chinese. The southern half of the State is at a much lower level, and has more flat land, along the valleys of the Nam Tu and its tributaries. This is the most valuable part of the State, and is inhabited almost entirely by Shans, with isolated circles of Kachins and other hill tribes. The valley of the Shweli along the northern border is fertile, and peopled by Shans.

North and South Hsenwi did not exist as separate States before 1888. The old State of Hsenwi included, besides North and South Hsenwi, the present Southern Shan States of Kehsi Mansam, Mdnghsu, Mongsang, Kenglon, and Mongnawng, and exercised a suzerainty over Manglon and its dependencies across the Salween. The principality disintegrated, however, in later Burmese times into five divisions, each under an independent ruler or more than one ; and in king Thibaw's time it had fallen into a hopeless state of disorder, in consequence of the rebellion of Sang Hai, a subordinate official, whose relations had been murdered by the Sawbwa Hseng Naw Hpa in 1855. At the time of the annexation of Upper Burma, Hsenwi was divided into three camps. The northern portion of the State was in the hands of Hkun Sang Ton Hung, one of Sang Hai's followers and his successor.

In the southern portion a man named Sang Aw, commonl)' known as the Pa-ok-chok, had obtained the upper hand. The titular Sawbwa, Naw Hpa, was at this time in shelter at IMongsi in the north. He, however, had his supporters ; and on the fall of Mandalay, his son, Naw Mong, arrived on the scene and occupied Lashio. Intestine hostilities followed during 1887; but in 1888 a British column arrived at Hsenwi, and a conference at Mongyai resulted in the division of the State into North and South Hsenwi, the former being allotted to Hkun Sang Ton Hung and the latter to Naw Mong. The Pa-ok-chok died in the follow- ing year, and a rebellion, headed by members of his family, was promptly suppressed by British intervention. In 1892-3 the Kachins rose against the Sawbwa of North Hsenwi, and the tracts inhabited by them are now directly administered by a British officer.

Since then there have been no serious disturbances. The population of the State in 1 90 1 (excluding Kokang, which, like the rest of the trans-Salween country, was omitted from the census operations) was 118,325, Shans numbering about 72,000, Kachins 29,000, Palaungs 10,000, and Chinese 5,000. The number of villages (excluding the 'estimated' tract) was 939. The Kachin hill tracts are under a civil officer at Kutkai, north of Lashio, who is also adviser to the Sawbwa in his administration of the rest of the State. The capital is Hsenwi (population, 1,305), north of Lashio, on the Nam Tu river, in the centre of the State. Lashio itself is in the State, and other places of importance are : Namhkam (population, about 2,000), a trade centre in the north-west close to the borders of Mongmit, Bhamo, and China ; and Mongsi and Tawnio, farther to the east. The re\"enue of the State in 1903-4 was Rs. 91,000, mainly from thathaiiicda. The tribute payable to the British Govern- ment until 1907 has been fixed at Rs. 10,000; the other items of expenditure in 1903-4 were Rs. 30,000 spent on public works, Rs. 25,000 on administration and salaries, and Rs. 22,000 devoted to the privy purse.

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