Shan States, Northern, 1908

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Shan States, Northern

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.

A group of Native States lying to the east of Upper Burma proper, and for the most part west of the Salween river, between 21 degree 31' and 24 9' N. and 96 13' and 99 45' E. The area of the States is about 21,000 square miles ; their shape is roughly that of an obtuse-angled triangle, with the obtuse angle pointing north. On the north this area is bounded by China ; on the east by China and the Southern Shan State of Kengtung, from which it is separated by the Nam Hka river; on the south by the Southern Shan States; and on the west by the Mandalay and Ruby Mines Districts and Mongmit. A portion of the eastern boundary, from the point where it crosses the Nam Ting to where it strikes the Nam Hka (both tributaries of the Salween), has not yet been precisely delimited, but it roughly follows the watershed between the Salween and Mekong rivers.

Physical aspects

The Salween river is one of the most important features of the States, constituting a formidable natural obstacle between the country east and west. It has a general north to south direction, and flows from China through the entire length of the States, aspects which it roughly divides into two parts.

Through-out its course it preserves the same appearance uf a gigantic ditch or railway cutting, scooped through the hills, which everywhere rise on either bank 3,000 to 5,000 feet above the river. Another important natural feature of the country is the fault or rift, which marks a line of great geological disturbance, running from the Gokteik pass in Hsipaw State, in a north-easterly direction, towards the Kunlong ferry on the Salween, and continuing in the same direction far into China along the valley of the Nam Ting. It is roughly defined by the valley of the Nam Tu (Myitnge), below its junction with the Nam Yao, and by the high range of hills called the Loi Hpa Tan, which joins the eminence known as Loi Sak (6,000 feet) farther to the east, and divides North from South Hsenwi. The greater portion of the Northern Shan States, lying west of the Salween and south of this rift, consists of the Shan table-land or plateau, stretching* from Hsumhsai eastwards, with a mean altitude of about 3,000 feet. This comparatively flat area embraces the greater por- tions of the States of Hsipaw and South Hsenwi.

It is, however, intersected by many hill masses that rise above the level of the plateau, such as Loi Pan in eastern Hsipaw, which attains a height of nearly 7,000 feet, and Loi Leng in South Hsenwi, nearly 9,000 feet above the sea. The intervening and surrounding country consists of grassy uplands. North of the Nam Tu and the fault referred to above stretches the State of Tawngpeng, a mass of mountains culminating north of the capital in a range 7,500 feet high. The northern portion of North Hsenwi is a huge stretch of upland affected by the fault, which has thrown up a series of parallel ranges extending to the Shweli valley in the north-west, without, however, altogether destroying the general north and south trend, which is characteristic of the Shan hills as a whole. Its large grassy upland plains are sufficiently uniform in their altitude (4,000 feet) to be looked upon for all practical pur- poses as a plateau.

The central physical feature of South Hsenwi is the huge mountain mass of Loi Leng, referred to above. East of Loi Leng is a range comprising eminences known as Loi Maw, Loi Se, and Loi Lan, which forms the watershed separating the Nam Pang from the Salween, and runs in a north and south direction along the right bank of the latter stream. East of the Salween in the north, and separated from the hilly district of Mongsi in North Hsenwi by the great gulf of the Sal- ween, which flows many thousand feet below, extends the mountainous tract of Kokang, where many of the peaks rise to over 7,000 feet.

South of Kokang, in the Sonmu State, the country becomes a medley of hills and valleys, and retains this character throughout the rest of the trans-Salween portion of the Northern Shan States, rising higher and higher towards the eastern range which forms the watershed between the Salween and the Mekong. South of this the country of East Manglon consists, broadly speaking, of the mountain mass which divides the Salween from the upper courses of its tributary, the Nam Hka.

The Northern Shan States are in the drainage area of the Irrawaddy and Salween rivers, all the streams on the west of the watershed find- ing their way ultimately into the Irrawaddy by way of the Nam Tu (Myitnge) or the Nam Mao (Shweli), and those on the east into the Salween. The watershed lies at no great distance from the last- named river; and the streams entering its right bank, with the exception of the Nam Pang, referred to below, have consequently a comparatively short course, with a fall which makes many of them sheer mountain torrents. Among the largest are the Nam Nim and Nam Kyet. Those entering from the left bank of the Salween are of greater length, among the most important being the Nam Ting, which flows from the east, rising in the neighbourhood of Shunning Fu in China, the Nam Nang of the Mothai country, and the Nam Hka which flows through the Wa States. The Nam Pang, although a tribu- tary of the Salween, does not join that river in these States. It is the most important of all the Salween's affluents in this part of the country. Its head- waters are in the hills between Loi Leng and Loi Maw in the South Hsenwi State ; and it flows from north to south, parallel to the Salween, for more than 100 miles, separated from it by the intervening hills of Loi Maw, Loi Se, and Loi Lan, and enters the Salween on its right bank four miles below the village of Kenghkam, in the Southern Shan States.

It has many tributaries, which flow down from Loi Leng and Loi Maw, and farther south it is joined by the streams which water the circles of Tangyan and Mongyai in South Hsenwi. The Nam Pang has recently been bridged by the Sawbwa of South Hsenwi at Mankat on the Lashio-Tangyan cart-road, where it has a breadth of nearly 200 feet. The Nam Tu or MYITNGE is, after the Salween, the most important river in the Northern Shan States. The main stream rises in the Salween-Irrawaddy watershed, east of Hsenwi town, and, flowing generally westwards and southwards, is swelled above Hsipaw to a considerable river by the Nam Yao, which comes down from the Lashio valley, and by the Nam Ma, which winds through the South Hsenwi hills from Loi Leng. Farther down it is joined by the Nam Hsim on its right and by the Nam Hka on its left bank. Ever pursuing its southward and westward course, it runs through deep gorges between Hsumhsai and Lawksawk, and finally quits the Shan States near the south-west corner of Hslpaw, The Nam Kiit, one of its tributaries, which rushes down from the north- west, is crossed, not far from where it empties itself into the main stream, by the steel girders of the Gokteik viaduct. A cart-bridge over the Nam Tu at Hsipaw is in course of construction. The Nam Mao or Shweli river (called by the Chinese Lung Kiang) skirts the Northern Shan States on their north-western frontier at Namhkam. One of its more important tributaries, the Nam Paw, has its entire course in North Hsenwi State. There are no lakes worthy of the name, except the Nawng Hkeo lake in the Wa country. This sheet of water is said to be about half a mile long and 200 yards broad, but little is known of its appearance or surroundings.

The geology of the Northern Shan States has not been entirely worked out in detail, but enough has been done to show that the rocks for the most part belong to the Palaeozoic period. To the north, in contact with the gneiss of the Ruby Mines District, there is a broad zone of mica schists, followed to the south by a great series of quartzites, slaty shales, and greywackes, which may be of Cambrian age. These rocks formed an old land surface, along the borders of which a series of rocks ranging from Lower Silurian to Mesozoic times is laid down. All these have yielded characteristic fossils.

At the base there is a great thickness of limestones, calcareous sandstones, and shales, in which the detached plates of cystideans are very com- mon, especially in the shales. Next follow sandstones with Upper Silurian fossils, which frequently overlie the Lower Silurians, and rest directly upon the older rocks beneath. These rocks are folded and denuded, forming a fresh land surface upon which a great thickness of limestone, which has yielded fossils of Devonian type, is laid down. This limestone extends over the whole of the Shan plateau, and may include strata of Carboniferous as well as Devonian age. To the east of HsTpaw thick beds of red sandstone are folded in among the lime- stones, and a calcareous band in these has yielded brachiopods and other fossils which are probably Jurassic or Lower Cretaceous. About 5 miles north of Lashio, in the valley of the Nam Yao river, and in the valley of the Nam Ma, farther south, are patches of Tertiary clays and sandstones, containing workable seams of coal. The fault referred to in an earlier paragraph is perhaps the most prominent geological feature of the country.

The wild crab-apple tree is very common, being met with almost everywhere above 3,000 feet. Wild pear and cherry trees are much in evidence in East Manglon and elsewhere in the States. The giant bamboo and other kinds are frequently met with both in the jungles and round the villages, They form a most important branch of the economic products ; in fact, it is difficult to imagine what the Shan would do without plenty of bamboos. Bracken and other ferns abound in certain localities ; and these, with the wild violets and wild strawberries that are found on some of the higher ridges, recall the flora of the temperate zone, and afford a marked contrast to the vegetation of the valleys.

The fauna of the States includes the elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, bear, gaur, tsine or hsatng (Bos sondaicus), sambar, thamin (or brow-antlered deer), hog deer, barking-deer, the serow, the hare, several species of monkeys, the Hylobates hoolock or white-browed gibbon, hog, and porcupine, with jungle cats, civet cats, foxes, and squirrels. The game-birds include peafowl, jungle fowl, Chinese pheasant, two or three kinds of partridges, quail, duck, snipe, geese, teal, and green and imperial pigeons.

The climate of the States as a whole is temperate and salubrious. With the exception, perhaps, of the valley of the Salween, the HsTpaw valley is the hottest part. The average maximum temperature there at the beginning of April is about 96, and the minimum at the same period about 65.

The rainfall at HsTpaw is less heavy than at Lashio, but in the cold season a dense wet mist hangs over the valley for some hours after sunrise. The health of the police stationed at HsTpaw has always been very bad, owing to the wide range of daily tempera- ture in the hot season, and to the drenching fogs of the cold season, The climate of North and South Hsenwi is, on the whole, temperate. In the uplands frost occurs in January, February, and March, and as much as ten degrees of frost has been recorded in Mongyin in March. Round Hsenwi town and in the Lashio valley the thermo- meter rarely falls to freezing-point, but in the hot season the tem- perature never exceeds 90 for any length of time. The annual rainfall, except on the higher ranges, seems to average about 60 inches. In Tawngpeng it is heavier than elsewhere in the States. Throughout the whole of West Manglon the climate is unhealthy, as the country alternates between storm-swept hills and steamy valleys. The soil, moreover, except in the narrow basins, is distinctly unpro- ductive, so that it seems improbable that this State will ever increase greatly in prosperity or population. The highest maximum tempera- ture recorded in the shade at Lashio is 99, the lowest being 62, while the highest minimum is 70 and the lowest 41. The rainfall recorded at Lashio for the years 1900-4 was as follows: 1900, 60 inches; 1901, 62 inches; 1902, 51 inches; 1903, 61 inches; and 1904, 76 inches.


The Shans are the representatives, within the limits of the Province, of a very considerable Tai migration wave which swept over Indo- China, from the regions about South-western China, during the sixth century of the Christian era. The 1S r7 ' Siamese of the south, the Laos of the country east of Lower Burma, the Hkiin and the Lit of Kengtung, and a host of other communities In the interior of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, such for instance as the Muongs of Tongking, are all the descendants of the primitive hordes which swarmed down from the northern uplands in those early ages. The Shans proper settled first in the valley of the Shweli or Nam Mao in the extreme north of the existing Shan States ; and in course of time a powerful Shan kingdom, known as Mong Mao Long, was established in this region, with its capital at Selan in the north of North Hsenwi, about 13 miles east of Namhkam, where the remains of fortifications are still to be seen. From this centre the movement of the people was westwards and southwards, so that, in process of time, not only had the greater part of the present Southern Shan States been overrun by a Tai folk, but Shans had also occupied a considerable portion of the country lying between the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin (Hkamti, Mogaung, Hsawnghsup, &c.), and had extended into what is now Assam. The ancient chronicles relate that the Mao kingdom, estab- lished about the seventh century, was a considerable political force up to the time of Anawrata, the most distinguished monarch of the Pagan dynasty.

During the reign of this king the Mao Shan ruler appears to have been his vassal, but the suzerainty was temporary. The Shans regained their independence later ; and the break-up of the Pagan dynasty in the thirteenth century was to a large extent caused by a so-called Chinese invasion from the north-east, which, if not wholly, was, at any rate, partially Shan. After this the Shans were a power in Burma for several centuries, and the early rulers of Sagaing, Pinya, and Myinzaing were of Tai descent. But while these monarchs were making their mark in Upper Burma, the remnants of cohesion among the Tai peoples of the east and north gradually disappeared, the Siamese and Lao dependencies broke off from the main body and united to form a separate kingdom, and the Shans eventually split up into a swarm of petty principalities, which, by the beginning of the seventeenth century, had been subjugated by the Burmans and never wholly threw off the Burmese yoke. Sir George Scott has observed in the Upper Burma Gazetteer that the Tai race came very near to being the predominant power in the Farther East. How close they were to this achievement will never, probably, be known with any degree of precision. What is certain, however, is that on the annexation of Upper Burma the British found the Shan States subject to the Bur- mese crown, but administered by their own rulers, and decided to treat them on their existing footing, and not to bring them under direct administration. From the time of the annexation onwards the histories of the different Northern Shan States are distinct, and will be found in the articles on HSIPAW, NORTH and SOUTH HSENWI, MANG- LON, and TAWNGPENG. The most important events were the disturb- ances in Hsenwi which led, in 1888, to the splitting up of the State into two portions ; the troubles in West Manglon which resulted in its incorporation in East Manglon ; the suppression of disaffection among the Kachins in the north ; and the visit of the Anglo-Chinese Boun- dary Commission. The Was have given trouble in the east from tune to time,

The most famous pagoda is the Mwedaw at Bawgyo on the Nam Tu near Hsfpaw. The annual festival held there in Tabaung (March) is attended by about 50,000 people from all parts of the States. At Mongheng in South Hsenwi is an ancient and revered shrine, built on a rocky eminence 200 feet high. Several thousand people (including Was from across the Salween) worship at its annual festival in Tabaung. At Manwap in the same State is the Kawnghmu Mwedaw Manloi, supposed to have been built on the spot where Gautama Buddha died in one of his earlier incarnations as a parrot. The pagoda at Mongyai contains a brazen image of Suddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha. The Kawnghmu Kawmong at Manhpai is popularly sup- posed to be illuminated by nats on moonless nights, and another enchanted pagoda is the large Homang shrine at Tangyan. The Palaungs particularly revere the Loi Hseng pagoda on one of the highest hills in Tawngpeng. Near it stands an ancient tea-tree, said to have been grown from the first seed ever introduced into the State, At Tawnio in Kokang (trans-Salween Hsenwi) is a Chinese ' joss-house ' consecrated to Kwang Fu Tso, the military god of the Han dynasty. Its portals are guarded by statues of mounted soldiers, and within arc statues of armed foot-soldiers. Other North Hsenwi shrines of, impor- tance are the Se-u and the Mongyaw pagodas, and the pagoda of the White Tiger at Namhkam.


The population of the Northern Shan States was not known with any accuracy till the Census of 1901. Even _then the whole country lying east of the Salween Kokang, East Manglon, and the Wa States, as well as West Manglon, a moun- p tainous tract of no great width, extending along the western bank of the Salween was omitted altogether from the operations, while the population of portions of North Hsenwi was estimated. The total of the estimated and enumerated areas was 321,090 (enumerated 275,963, estimated 45,127), That of the omitted areas cannot have been jess than 50,000 (it was probably well above this figure), so that there is reason to believe that, if a complete census could have been taken, the total population of the States would have been found to be about 400,000. The distribution of population for the area covered by the Census of 1901; is shown in the table on the next page.

Religion and language statistics were collected in the enumerated areas only. Here 263,985 out of a total population of 275,963 were Buddhists, more than half the remainder being Animists. The distri- bution of language follows generally that of race, which is indicated below.


The greater part of the population of the States is made up of Shans, who numbered 222,200 in 1901 in the enumerated and estimated areas, and are described in more detail below. They form nine-tenths of the population of Hsipaw, and six-sevenths of that of South Hsenwi. In North Hsenwi they have been forced by the Kachins into the valleys of the Shweli and the Nam Tu, and there form but three-fifths of the total, Besides displacing the Shans in a considerable portion of North Henswi, of which State they form one-fourth of the population, the Kachins have also spread in recent years into the north of Tawngpeng, and as far as the mountainous part of South Hsenwi. In 1901 their total in the enumerated and estimated areas of the Northern Shan States was 34,400.

The Palaungs form a considerable portion of the population of Monglong and of the Kodaung, a hilly tract in the west and north- west of Hsipaw ; and Tawngpeng is practically a Palaung State, two- thirds of its inhabitants belonging to that race. Palaungs are also found in considerable numbers in the hills of North Hsenwi, and have spread into South Hsenwi. In all, the representatives of the race numbered 35,600 in 1901. The Burman population at the Census totalled 8,100, practically confined to the Hsipaw State and more particularly to the Hsumhsai sub-State, which is the home of the Danus (numbering 4,800), The Chinese were strongly represented (7,300) in 1901, especially in the hills of North Hsenwi. In very much smaller numbers are found the Was in the eastern borders of South Hsenwi, the Lisaws in North and South Hsenwi, and the Taungthus in Hsipaw. The new railway, which was under construction at the time of the Census and was enumerated separately, has brought and will continue to bring large numbers of natives of India to the country.

Those returned in 1901 were either navvies on the railway or Government employes at Lashio. Of the population in the omitted portion of the Northern Shan States that is, the trans-Sal ween part of Hsenwi (Kokang, the Wa States, and Mang- lon) nothing but the roughest guess can be hazarded. The Kokang population is mainly Chinese, with a few Palaungs, Shans, Lisaws, and Was ; and much the same conditions prevail in Sonmu, except that Was predominate. The Wa States are inhabited by Was. Mangldn is divided by the Salween into two portions, east and west. The eastern part is estimated to have a population of about 6,000 to 7,000, of whom 5,000 are Was; and it was calculated that the western part in 1892 contained 12,200 persons, of whom by far the greater number were Shans, the other races including Palaungs, Lisaws, and Muhso's. Chris- tians numbered 238, of whom 165 were natives. In 1901 the number of persons directly dependent upon agriculture was 217,775, or 79 per cent, of the total enumerated population. Of this total, 107,482 were dependent -on taungya (shifting) cultivation. The figures do not include the 45,127 persons estimated in North Hsenwi, who were nearly all cultivators, and mostly fowflgjw-cutters. No fewer than 17,354 persons are supported by tea cultivation.

The Tai have been divided into the following divisions : the north- western, the north-eastern, the eastern, and the southern. With the southern, whose principal representatives are the Siamese and the Laos, we have here no immediate concern. The north-western are found for the most part on the west of the Irrawaddy, in the country between that stieam and Assam ; they include the Hkamti Shans, the Tai inhabitants of the now mainly obsolete States of Mogaung, Wuntho, Hsawnghsup, and Kale, and of the Districts of the Mandalay and Sagaing Divisions. The eastern Tai may be roughly said to inhabit the Southern Shan States, including the Shans proper of those States, and the Hkiin and Lii of Kengtung and Kenghung. The north-eastern division comprises the Shan Tayoks or Shan-Chinese of the Chinese border, and the Shans of the Northern Shan States.

The physical characteristics of the Shans differ but little. They are somewhat fairer than the Burmans, their features are rather flatter and their eyes often more prominent, but other- wise there is little to distinguish them from their neighbours. The north- western Shans dress as a rule like the Burmans among whom they live \ the eastern and north-eastern Shans, on the other hand, wear, instead of the" Burmese waistcloth, a pair of loose, very baggy cotton trousers, and their head-cloth is fuller and more like the Indian's fagri than the Burman's gaungbaung. The men, moreover, are seldom seen without the characteristic limp plaited grass hat of the Shan country. The dress of the women is much the same as that of the Burmans, with the addition of a head-cloth. The men tattoo their legs and body even more freely than the Burmans. The Shans are Buddhists, and their yellow-robed monks inhabit pongyi-kyaungs similar to those of Burma proper. Shan is an isolating language, abounding in tones. Burmese Shan (spoken in the States), Hkamti, and Chinese Shan have been placed in the northern, and Hkiin and Lii in the southern sub-group of the Tai group, one of the main subdivisions of the Siamese-Chinese sub-family of the Indo- Chinese language family. The total of Shans of all kinds in the Pro- vince in 1901 was approximately 850,000.


There is nothing peculiar connected with the agricultural conditions of the country. The valleys of the States are devoted to low-lying irrigated rice (Shan, na) and the hills to taungya Shan, hai shifting cultivation. In many parts the numerous deserted paddy-fields appear to point to exhaustion of the soil. This is especially the case at some distance from the hill-slopes ; but nearer the hills, the decayed vegetable matter brought down yearly by the torrents after the destructive jungle fires fertilizes the rice lands, and maintains their yield. Artificial manures are hardly ever used in ' wet ' cultivation. In taungya or hai cultivation the selected hill-slope is prepared by burning the grass, and ploughing and harrowing the ground. The trees are then ringed, the branches lopped off and piled round the trunk, and the whole fired just before the first rains are expected.

The ashes are next distributed in small heaps and loose earth is raked over them, the leaves and stubble below are then fired, and the earth is burnt and becomes brick-red in colour, after which the heaps are again spread out, and the seed is sown when the rains begin. A taungya can be worked for a term varying in different parts of the country, but rarely exceeding three years. It is a ruinous method of cultivation, for the organic matter is volatilized, and the ash constituents only are left in a highly soluble condition ; the available plant-food is in consequence rapidly taken up by the crop, which diminishes each year, and a great quantity of the fertilizing matter is carried down the hill-slopes by surface drainage. In parts of the South Hsenwi State the land has been so thoroughly deforested that little remains but grass, and manure has to take the place of wood-ash in the process described above.

Garden crops are grown on the slopes throughout the States in much the same way as taungyas^ but cattle-manure and ashes are always freely used. The tea cultivation which affords their chief occupation to the Palaungs of Tawngpeng, and to the inhabitants of the hilly Kodaung district of Hsipaw and of Namlawk in the Wa State of Kanghso, is deserving of special mention. In Tawngpeng the dark-brown clayey loam is covered with large quantities of decaying vegetable matter, and, as the tea shrub luxuriates in the shade, a hill-slope covered with dense forest is usually selected. The gardens are not laid out on any system, but at random, Seed is collected in November and sown in nurseries in February or later. The plants are kept there till they reach a height, of 2 feet or so (generally in the second year), and are then planted out in the clearings in August and September. No manure is used and the trees are never pruned, as they are said to die off if this is done. They are first picked in the fourth year and continue bearing for ten or twelve years, pro- ducing three crops a year between March and October. When the yield of leaves begins to get poor, the trees are often cut down. New shoots are thrown up from the stool, and these are in turn picked. In gardens, where sufficient room is allowed for growth, the trees attain a much larger size than where close planting prevails, Trees said to be thirty years old and upwards, and still in bearing, are found here.

The total area under crops in the trans-Salween States is approxi- mately 312 square miles, of which about three-quarters are tinder rice. Tea covers rather over 1 2 square miles. In addition to rice and tea, poppy, sesamum, ground-nuts, cotton, buckwheat, and maize are grown in the taimgyas. Poppy is confined for the most part to the trans-Salween country, the hilliest portions of North and South Hsenwi, and the west of Manglb'n, Rice taungyas are sometimes sown with sesamum in the second and with cotton in the third year. Maize and buckwheat are grown by some of the hill tribes, and peas and beans by the Was. In the homestead plots, onions, yams, brinjals, indigo, maize, sugar-cane, millet, and beans are cultivated. The orange flourishes in many parts along the Salween and some of its tributaries, and along the Namma in HsTpaw ; and the Hsipaw Sawbwa possesses excellent orange plantations on the banks of the Nam Tu. The indige- nous pineapple is good and is freely cultivated in South Hsenwi, the valley of the Shweli, and the Hsumhsai sub-State of HsTpaw, where also papayas are plentiful. The local mangoes and plantains do not compare well with those produced in the plains of Burma ; and the crab-apples, wild plums,, peaches, and pears are more interesting for their associations than for their edible properties. Wild raspberries are found in most parts of the country, and walnuts in the Wa States.

Cattle are bred for pack-work and for sale as draught bullocks to Burmans and natives of India, but are not used for ploughing, slaughtering, or even milking. Buffaloes are bred for ploughing, and are sometimes used for pressing sugar-cane and sesamum oil. By the Was they are employed for sacrificial purposes. There is a good deal of pony-breeding ; but young stallions are allowed to run wild with the mares and fillies, and no care whatever is taken in selecting suitable mature beasts for propagating the breed. The small animals produced are mostly used for pack purposes, or exported to Burma for use in hired carriages. Goats and sheep are imported from China, and the latter have done well at Lashio and Tangyan. Grazing for all animals is plentiful throughout the States.

The area irrigated by means of channels taking off from the streams in the valleys is large. No precise data as to its extent are available, but in the cis-Salween States the total is probably nearly too square miles. Much ingenuity is spent on these canals, and on the embank- ments keeping the water in the terraces of paddy-fields, which follow the contour of the ground. A considerable amount is spent in some States on irrigation works, the actual digging of the waterways being often done by Maingthas. In places fields are irrigated by means of the Persian water-wheel.


Teak is found in Hsipaw, Tawngpeng, and North Hsenwi ; but so far Reserves of teak have been formed in Hsipaw only, which cover i8r square miles, the largest being the Kainggyi Forests. R eserve (121 square miles) and the Namma Reserve (50 square miles). It is not possible to give even the approximate areas of other forest tracts, though there are thousands of square miles of virgin forest. The hill-sides are often covered with pines (Finns Khasya\ oaks (of which there are several varieties, including the Himalayan species), and chestnuts. The pine forests are very ex- tensive and probably cover many hundreds of square miles ; they are generally found on the more exposed ridges at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. Chestnut-trees always form a subordinate feature in the forests in which they occur. Ingyin (Pentacme siamensis) and thitya (Shorea obtusa] are found in many parts of the Northern Shan States, the latter being very common in both South Hsenwi and Manglon, often occurring in the midst of pine and oak forests.

Thitsl (Melanorrhoea usitatd)^ the black varnish tree, grows in Hsipaw, on the northern slopes of Loi Leng, and in the Manhsang circle of South Hsenwi. The gum or resin that exudes from it is much prized for varnishing and for making lacquer-work. The Cedrela Toona is another useful tree common in both North and South Hsenwi. The wood has been found admirably adapted for da sheaths. The paper mulberry (Brow- sonetia papyri/era) furnishes the raw material used in the manufacture of Shan paper; and the silk cotton-tree (Bombax malabaricum) is valued for its down, which is employed for stuffing the pillows or pads inserted below the pack-saddles of bullocks. Both these latter trees are common throughout the States. Bamboos grow freely in the vicinity of the villages, and, as elsewhere, are put to almost every conceivable household use. The right to the timber in the forests is reserved to the British Government.


Coal has been found along the valley of the Nam Yao in the Lashio circle of the North Hsenwi State, and higher up the same stream near Mongyaw as wel1 as alon g tne valleys of the Namma and Nam Pawng in South Hsenwi and Hsipaw. Analysis has shown the coal found at Lashio to be of very inferior quality. The product of the Namma valley is described as

bituminous coal, which should properly be called lignite, and is believed to be good fuel. A seam of lignite was recently struck in the Nam Pat valley in South Hsenwi State in the course of road- making. Tourmaline mines are worked on both sides of the Nam Pai north of the town of Monglong in Hsipaw, where well-rounded pebbles of black tourmaline are not uncommon, sometimes attaining the size of a walnut. Rose-pink tourmaline, on the other hand, is much rarer, and is comparatively seldom met with. Salt is manufactured at Mawhho (Bawgyo) in the Hsipaw State. The Bawgyo salt-well is said to have been worked for the last 500 years, and expert opinion has pronounced the brine from it to be the richest known in Burma, Unfortunately it has a bitter taste, which hinders its sale when other salt can be procured. A good deal of the Bawgyo salt is sold, how- ever, in the Shan States, in parts where Mandalay salt is too expensive and where Yunnan block salt does not penetrate.

Silver and lead mines were formerly worked at Bawdwingyi in the Tawngpeng State, and at Kbnghka on the northern aspect of Loi Leng in the South Hsenwi State. The Bawdwingyi mines are situated in a valley 10 miles south-east of the village of Katlwi, and 5 or 6 miles north of Pangyang. Silver, lead, and copper used to be extracted from these mines, the last only in small quantities. The hills are completely honey-combed with shafts, horizontal and perpendicular, in some of which human skeletons in chains have been discovered. It is said that 2,000 Chinamen were engaged in mining here; and the ruins of stone houses, extending along the valley, and long rows of beehive-shaped smelting ovens and Chinese stone bridges, in perfect preservation, speak to the energy with which these mines were exploited a generation ago. A prospecting licence for this area was issued to a Rangoon firm early in 1902. Silver is said to have been worked in South Hsenwi also, and in the Wa country east of Monghka. Lead is found in East Manglon, and in the Wa States of Loilon and Santong. Iron is extracted at Hsoptung in the sub-State of Mo'ngtung in Hsipaw ; and gold occurs near Hopai in the Lantaii circle, South Hsenwi, as well as in the streams tributary to the Salween. For years Burmans and Shans have cherished the story that gold in dust, nuggets, and veins was to be found in the Nam Yang Long, which runs into the Nam Hka through the Wa Pet Ken. A visit made to the locality in 1897 failed to disclose any traces of gold. Gold is, however, certainly washed from the sands of the neighbouring stream ; in fact, gold-dust is nowhere a rarity in the Shan States, and washing is regularly carried on at many points along the Salween. A mining lease for 3-84 square miles in the valley of the Namma, a small tributary of the Salween, has been granted to a Rangoon firm. The project is to obtain gold by dredging and hydraulic methods. Saltpetre is obtained from bats' guano, collected from the limestone caverns common throughout the

States. Many of the Was are said to be adepts at extracting saltpetre, which they bring from beyond the Salween for sale at the Tangyan bazar and elsewhere.

Trade and Communication

The pickling of tea is the chief industry of the Palaungs in Tawng- peng and HsTpaw. On the evening of the day they are plucked, the tea-leaves are steamed over a cauldron of boiling water They are then spread on a mat where they are rolled by hand, after which they are thrown into pits and compressed by means of heavy weights. The leaves ferment in the pits and become pickled tea. For preparing dry tea the leaves are steamed and rolled, after which they are spread out in the sun to dry. After about three days water is sprinkled on the leaves, which are again rolled and allowed to dry. They are then sifted through a bamboo sieve, only such leaves as pass through the sieve being accepted. The best quality of pickled tea fetches from Rs. 30 to Rs. 45 per too viss (365 lb.), and the best dry tea from Rs. 1-4 to Rs. 2 a viss at the gardens. Pickled tea is exported in conical baskets carried by bullocks. Dry tea is packed in gunny-bags for mule transport, or is carried by porters to the railway.

Cotton-spinning and weaving are carried on by the women in nearly every household in the States, a good deal of cotton being grown in the taungyas and sold in the bazars. The implements used, the spinning-wheel, loom, and other plant, and the methods of cleaning, dressing, spinning, and weaving the cotton, are almost identical with those of the Burmans. The more expensive skirts and blankets are often interwoven with graceful and artistic patterns. Among the Shans of North and South Hsenwi curious sleeping webs of cloth are made with zigzag and diamond-shaped patterns, woven in black, red, green, and yellow, the cross-threads being often of silk. Still more intricate is the Kachin work employed in the adornment of shoulder-bags and of the female costume. The work is usually dark blue, with longitudinal blue stripes, but is sometimes all white or composed of equal stripes of red, white, and blue, into which are woven, at intervals, little stars, crosses, or squares of various colours and irregular shapes. Raw silk is obtained by the Shans from the Wa and Lao States, and finds favour in South Hsenwi in the weaving of skirts and blankets. Dyeing is practised in most Shan households where weaving is done, and in most parts of South Hsenwi State, where the beautiful natural dyes of the country still hold their own against the cruder aniline colours of European manufacture, The most common dyes used by the Shans are obtained from the Bixa Orellana^ from stick-lac, from indigo, and from the yellow wood of the jack-fruit tree.

The Shan gold- and silversmiths are clever workers, and occasionally turn out very good repousse work in the shape of gold and silver lime, betel, and other boxes, and da and dagger scabbards, gold and silver trappings for Sawbwas' ponies, hairpins, rings, jewellery, goblets, and other articles. Blacksmiths are common throughout the States. Ploughshares are forged, and das, choppers, spades, and other agri- cultural implements are manufactured locally. Many of the Was are clever smiths, and Namhkam in North Hsenwi is a great centre for local hardware, which is, however, all manufactured by Chinese or Maingtha smiths, who set up their forges in the town every year. Brass-work is less common, but occasionally large monastery bells are cast, as well as the booming bullock bells which swing on the necks of the leading beasts of the caravans. Images of Buddha and tattooing implements are made at Hsenwi town, also brass buckles for belts and betel-nut pounders.

Pottery, in the shape of clay water-bottles and earthen chatties, is manufactured at Tapong and Namhon and other villages in South Hsenwi, at Manpan in Mongtung (Hsipaw), and at Namhkam, Kokang, and elsewhere. North and South Hsenwi turn out a certain amount of red lacquer-work, the principal articles manufactured being the round trays or salvers standing on legs which are used for religions offerings. The lacquered goods consist of a framework of woven bamboo, smeared over with a mixture of rice ash and black varnish extracted from the mai hak or thitsl tree (Melanorrhoea usitata), which, after being dried in the sun, receives a coat of red sulphide of mercury. A certain amount of wood-carving is done. It generally takes the form of wooden images of Gautama and of gilded scroll-work (known as tawng-lal-mawk to the Shans), used for decorative purposes in the monasteries, and on the tazaungdaings which are placed round or near pagodas. Mat- weaving and basket-making are practised generally. Grass mats are woven at Tangyan and Namhkam ; but the ordinary kinds are the hsatpyu mats, made from the outer, and hsatnu from the inner part of the bamboo. The manufacture of a coarse-textured paper from the bark of the paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyri/era) is carried on wherever that particular tree is found.

The means of transport employed in the trade of the Northern Shan States now includes the railway from Mandalay to Lashio; and the system of feeder cart-roads connecting the railway with the interior has, to some extent, superseded the older means of transport by mules, pack-bullocks, and pakondans (petty traders who carry their goods on their shoulders). A large trade in surplus rice finds its way by means of bullock caravans to Tawngpeng, the great tea-producing area, where very little rice is cultivated. In former days the rice was exchanged for tea, pickled and dry, which the traders brought down and sold in Mandalay. The cash they received for their tea enabled the traders to return to the Shan States with salt, ngapi, salted fish, cotton goods, yarn, matches, kerosene oil, and betel-nuts. Since the opening of the railway, however, the great bulk of the tea produced is exported, and most of the goods for the Shan market are imported, by rail. But few caravans now make the through trip to Mandalay. As a means of transport the pack-bullock is probably as much used as ever ; but the bullock caravans now ply between the tea gardens and the railway, or find their profit in bringing rice to the railway and distributing rail- borne imports throughout the country. Chinese caravans pass through the Northern Shan States every open season on their way to and from the Southern Shan States and Northern Siam.

They bring iron cauldrons, copper cooking pots, straw hats made especially for the Shan market, walnuts, persimmons, satin, opium, felted woollen carpets, and fine tobacco. The Panthay settlement at Panglong in Sonmu is a large trading community which does business with Burma and the trans- Salween States. The Was cultivate and export to China large quanti- ties of opium, and agents from Kengtung come north as far as West Manglon and South Hsenwi to purchase the drug. Karenni cutch is brought north by Mongnai bullock traders, who also fetch up iron agricultural implements from Laihkal. A considerable trade is carried on during the winter months in oranges from Nawnghkam (West Mang- lon), Namma (Hsipaw), and Hslpaw itself, and during the rains in Salween betel-leaf from Nawnghkam. Stick-lac is collected to a large extent by the Kachins of North Hsenwi, who sell it to Indian dealers in the Lashio bazar, whence it is exported to Burma; and carts from Mandalay and Hslpaw now go far afield into South Hsenwi for rice and sesamum. There is a busy local trade in the interior in home-grown tobacco, fruit, and vegetables ; and the bazars are always well attended.

The largest marts are those at Namhkam, Hsipaw, Nawnghkio, My- aukme, and Namlan. Manchester cotton goods are rapidly supplanting home-made stuffs. Imported yarns and twist, aniline dyes, German- made pencils, and imitation two- anna-piece buttons are among the most noticeable of the imported articles. The value of the imports from Burma to the Northern Shan States reached a total of 38 lakhs in 1903-4: by the Mandalay-Lashio railway, 22-6 lakhs; by the Maymyo road, 5-8 lakhs; by Namhkam and Bhamo, 5 lakhs; via the Ruby Mines District, 4-7 lakhs. The principal items were European cotton piece-goods (valued at 8-4 lakhs), salted fish and ngapi (5-5 lakhs), salt (3.2 lakhs), twist and yarn (mostly European) (3-9 lakhs), Indian cotton piece-goods, petroleum, cattle, betel-leaf, and tobacco. The exports from the States to Burma in the same year were valued at 56-!- lakhs: by the railway, 31.7 lakhs; by the Maymyo road, 6-6 lakhs; by Namhkam and Bhamo, 5-7 lakhs; through the Ruby Mines District, 4-5 lakhs; timber and forest produce floated down the Shweli and other streams, 8 lakhs. The chief items were pickled tea (22 lakhs), other tea (9 lakhs), teak timber (7-5 lakhs), husked rice (2-3 lakhs), ponies and mules, til seed, and wax.

Of prime importance in the economy of the country i$ the Mandalay- Lashio railway, 180 miles in length, of which 126 miles lie within the Northern Shan States. The line is a single track, and was constructed in the face of considerable engineering difficulties, of which not the least notable was the Gokteik gorge, now spanned by a viaduct. It had been proposed to continue the railway about 90 miles farther east to the Kunlong, an important ferry over the Salween, and eventually to penetrate into Yunnan ; but this extension is for the present in abey- ance. The railway enters the south-west corner of the Hsipaw State from Mandalay District, and traverses the State in a north-easterly direction, passing through HsTpaw town and ending at Lashio in North Hsenwi.

The Sawbwas of HsTpaw and North and South Hsenwi have spent large sums in constructing feeder roads through their States to the railway. Practically parallel with the railway is the Government cart-road from Mandalay to Lashio, bridged but not metalled, running for in miles through the States. The principal branch cart-roads, connecting with either the railway or the Government cart-road, are : Nawnghkio to Tawnghkam (24 miles), Nawnghkio to Kalagwe (35 miles), Gokteik to Haikwi and Pongwo (18 miles), Pyawnggawng to Monglong (55 miles), Hsipaw to Mongtung (76 miles), with branches to Kehsi Mansam (13 miles) and to the Mongkiing border, connecting with the Southern Shan States system, Hsipaw to Tati (7 miles), Hsipaw to Mongyai (61 miles), Mongyai to Mongheng (37 miles), Lashio to Tangyan (80 miles), with a branch to Mongyai, Lashio to Hsipaw (14 miles), Lashio to Mongyang (21 miles), and Lashio to Kutkai (51 miles). Innumerable rapids and rocks limit navigation on the rivers to short reaches, and the only boats in use are dug-outs, excepting at the ferries. The ferries across the Salween (as we descend the river) are the Mongpawn and the Monghawm, connecting the Kokang district of North Hsenwi with the cis-Salween country, and the Kunlong (near the mouth of the Nam Ting). These lead into North Hsenwi. Below them are the Mo'ngnawng (or Hsaileng) and the Kawngpong, between South Hsenwi and the Wa country ; the Kwipong, the Loihseng, and the Manhsum, used by traders crossing from West Manglon to East Manglon, Monglem, and other places east of the Salween.


Five States are controlled by the Superintendent of the Northern Shan States, the chief civil officer (a member of the Burma Com- mission), who has his head-quarters at LASHIO. These are : NORTH HSENWI in the north, SOUTH HSENWI near the Salween in the east, MANGLON in the south-east, HSIPAW in the south-west, and TAWNGPENG in the north-west. The WA STATES east of the Salween can hardly be said to he under British control. In ordinary matters the States are administered by their Sawbwas, who are assisted by amats or ministers in various departments. An Assistant Superintendent at Hslpaw advises the Sawbwas of Hsipaw and Tawng- peng, officers of similar rank at Kutkai and Tangyan supervise the affairs of the Sawbwas of North and South Hsenwi and Manglon, and an officer of the Subordinate civil service has lately been posted to Namhsan to help the Tawngpeng Sawbwa in the administration of his charge. The extensive Kachin colony in the North Hsenwi State is directly under the civil officer at Kutkai. Lashio itself has been made practically part of Burma proper.

In the Northern Shan States the criminal and civil administration is vested in the Sawbwas, subject to the limitations laid down in their sanads (deeds of appointment), and to restrictions imposed by the extension of enactments and the issue of orders under the Shan States Act or the Burma Laws Act. The customary law of these States has been modified by a notification which specifies the punishments that may be inflicted for offences against the criminal law, limits the inflic- tion of certain punishments to the more heinous offences, and pre- scribes simple rules of procedure in criminal cases. The Superintendent exercises general control over the administration of criminal justice, has power to call for cases, and is vested with wide revisionary powers.

All criminal jurisdiction in cases in which either the complainant or accused is a European or American, or a Government servant, or a British subject not a native of a Shan State, is withdrawn from the chiefs, and vested in the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents. In the cases above mentioned the ordinary criminal law in Upper Burma, as modified by the Shan States Laws and Criminal Justice Order, 1895, is in force. In such cases the Superintendent exercises the powers of a District Magistrate and Sessions Judge, and the Assis- tant Superintendents exercise the powers of a District Magistrate under sections 30 and 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents, if European British subjects, are also ex-offido justices of the peace in the States. The Superintendent has been especially empowered to withdraw from subor- dinate magistrates such cases as he thinks fit. He can now also take cognizance of any criminal case, and try or refer it to a subordinate magistrate for trial. The Superintendent and each Assistant Superin- tendent exercise the powers of a magistrate under the Foreign Juris- diction and Extradition Act, parts of which are in force in the States. In regard to the administration of civil justice, the customary law has been modified by a notification of 1900, which confers original appellate and revisional jurisdiction on the Superintendent and Assistant Super- intendents, creates local courts, and prescribes a simple judicial pro- cedure. Various Acts and Regulations have been extended to the Northern Shan States, and the Gambling, Excise, Cattle Trespass, and certain other Acts are now in force in the civil station of Lashio. In North Hsenwi, the Kachin Hill Tribes Regulation has been extended to the Kachin area. The most prevalent offences occurring in the Northern Shan States are cattle and pony thefts, and (in Hsipaw State) opium cases,

In revenue matters the Sawbwas administer their States in accor- dance with local customs, which have been but little modified. The main source of revenue is thathameda. In Hsipaw it is levied at the rate of Rs. 10 per household; in Tawngpeng, at Rs. 20 on tea-garden cultivators, Rs. 10 on cultivators of irrigated land, and Rs. 5 on Kachins; in North Hsenwi, at Rs. 4-8 on Kachin families in the Kachin tract, and at Rs. 5 on Shans or other races, whether settled in the Kachin tract or in the Shan circles \ in South Hsenwi, at Rs. 10 on cultivators of low-lying rice land and Rs. 6 on taungya-z utters. Taxes on rice and tea cultivation, bringing in Rs. 58,000 in 1903-4, are levied in the Hsipaw State, and a tax, yielding Rs. 62,000, is assessed on every bullock-load of tea exported from Tawngpeng. A tax on opium and liquor is raised by means of licence fees in Hsipaw and Tawngpeng, which brought in Rs. 42,000 in 1903-4. The total revenue collected in the five cis-Salween States in that year amounted to Rs. 6,26,000, the Hsipaw State alone receiving considerably more than half. Thathameda realized Rs. 3,87,000, and the total tribute paid to the British Government was Rs. 1,20,000.

The Sawbwas are responsible for the suppression of crime and the preservation of order in their States, and some of them maintain small irregular police forces. In addition, Government maintains a civil police force, which consists of one European Assistant Super- intendent of police, who is stationed at Lashio, one Burman head constable, and 65 policemen recruited in the Shan States. These police are for the most part engaged in the prevention and detection of crime in the tract of country directly bordering on the railway. There are 3 police stations at Lashio, Hsipaw, and Nawnghkio. The Northern Shan States military police battalion has its head- quarters at Lashio. The force is under a commandant, with one assistant commandant, and the total strength of the battalion is 505 men. The majority of them are stationed at Lashio, and there are 100 at Kutkai and 30 each at Hsipaw and Tangyan.

Hsipaw State maintains a jail of its own, with an average of about 20 convicts. The prisoners are engaged in outdoor work, and keep up the jail garden, which produces vegetables for sale in the local bazar. They also undertake repairs on State buildings, the jail itself being a product of prison labour. Short-term prisoners in other States are kept in the State lock-ups. Long-term prisoners are bent to serve out their sentences in a Burma jail.

Elementary education is imparted in the fongyi kyaungs of the States, but the standard of literacy is low, and in 1901 only 9-7 per cent, of the male population were able to read and write. American Baptist Mission schools are maintained at Hsipaw and Namhkam, and the Hsipaw school has 2 masters and about 40 pupils.

There are civil hospitals at Lashio and Hsipaw, with accommodation for 22 in-patients, and a dispensary at Kutkai, In 1903 the number of cases treated was 10,336, including 366 in-patients, and 119 operations were performed. The income amounted to Rs. 7,800, derived almost entirely from Provincial funds. There is a hospital at Hsipaw, managed by the American Baptist Mission, with 24 beds. In 1903 the number of cases treated at this institution was 1,846, including 20 in-patients. Another hospital, under the same agency, is situated at Namhkam.

In 1903-4 the number of persons successfully vaccinated was 7,233, representing 23 per 1,000 of the population.

[Sir J. G. Scott, Upper Burma Gazetteer (5 vols., Rangoon, 1900-1) ; Burma: a Handbook of Practical Information (1906); C. C Lowis, A Note on the Palaungs (Rangoon, 1906).]

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