Infobox Ethnic group
group=Jingpo / Kachin

Jinghpaw, Tsaiva, Lechi
poptime=around 130,000 in China; 540,763 in Kachin State (Myanmar Gov't [http://mission.itu.ch/MISSIONS/Myanmar/religion/Waso%20robes%20offering06.htm] ) to approx. 1-1.5 million in Burma (Kachin National Organization [http://www.kachinland.org/kno_2006/Abrief_Political_Account/index.htm] )
popplace= Burma, China: Yunnan
langs= Jingpo, Tsaiva, Maru, Nung, Lisu
rels= animism, Christianity, Buddhism

The Jingpo or Kachin people (zh-stp|s=景颇族|t=景頗族|p=Jǐngpō zú; MYname|MY=ကခ္ယင္‌လူမ္ယုိး|MLCTS=ka. hkyang lu. myui:; endonyms: Jingpo, Jinghpaw, Tsaiva, Lechi) are an ethnic group who largely inhabit northern Burma (Kachin State). They also form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, where they numbered 132,143 people in the 2000 census. There is a closely related people in India called Singpho.


Two different categorization schemes complicate the terms Jingpo and Kachin (which operate as synonyms). In one, a variety of linguistic groups with overlapping territories and integrated social structures are described as a single people: the Kachin or Jingpo. In the other, linguistic categorization, the native speakers of each language in the area are treated as distinct ethnic groups. Both schemes treat the Shan people who live in the same or contiguous areas as ethnically distinct. Kachins have frequently defied the Western expectation of lineage-based ethnicity by culturally "becoming Shans."(Leach 1965)

In British colonial Burma, Jingpo or Kachins were categorized by the Census as separate "races" or "tribes" according to language, including Kachin (Jingpo below), Gauri, Maru, Lashi, Szi, Maingtha, Hpon, Nung, and Lisu. Other officials, missionaries, and the local administration recognized them as a single ethnic group.(Leach 1965:43ff) The early independence period Burmese government recognized Kachin as an overarching category. The current Myanmar government again views the Kachin as a "major national ethnic race" comprising the Kachin, Trone, Dalaung, Jinghpaw, Guari, Hkahku, Duleng, Maru (Lawgore), Rawang, Lashi (La Chit), Atsi, and Lisu as distinct ethnic groups. [http://www.myanmar.gov.mm/ministry/hotel/fact/race.htm#Kachin]


The people classified as the Jingpo or Kachin in the broader sense speak at least nine different languages, Jingpo proper, Tsaiva, Maru, Lashi, Szi, Achang (or Maingtha), Hpon, Nung, and Lisu.


Main article Jingpho language

Jingpo proper (also spelled "Jinghpaw", also called "Kachin") is spoken by 900,000 people in Burma and by 40,000 people in China. It is classified as Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Jingpo-Konyak-Bodo, Jingpo-Lu. Jingpo proper is also understood by many speakers of Tsaiwa. One standard language that is taught in China is based on the dialect of Enkun.


Tsaiva (also spelled "Tsaiwa"; called "Atsi" in Jingpo proper, "Zǎiwǎyǔ" 载瓦语 in Chinese, and "Zi" in Burmese) is spoken by about 80,000 people in China and about 30,000 people in Burma. It is classified outside China as Sino-Tibetan, Tibeto-Burman, Yi-Burman, Northern Burmic. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, a written language based on the dialect of Longzhun village (Xishan district in Luxi county) and using the Latin alphabet was created and officially introduced in 1957.


Although groups of Buddhists are found amongst them, the majority of the Jingpo are Christians. Before American missionary came to Kachin land, majority of Kachin people were animists. Some worship various gods as well the spirits of their ancestors. The ancestor of all the Kachin, who is worshipped as a spirit or god, is held to be named Madai. They believe that the spirits reside everywhere, from the sun to the animals, and that these spirits bring good or bad luck. For the Jingpo, all living creatures are believed to have souls. Rituals are carried out for protection in almost all daily activities, from planting of crops to warfare.


Their dwellings are usually two stories and built out of wood and bamboo. The houses are of oval form; the first floor serves as a storage and stable while the second is utilized for living quarters. The women dress black jackets decorated with silver decorations. They also wear wool skirts made in bright colors The men also wear black and wide pants. They cover their heads with turbans: the youths with white turbans and the adults with black turbans


Their ancestors lived in the Tibetan plateau and they migrated gradually toward the south. To their arrival to the present province of Yunnan they received the name of "Xunchuanman". It is possible that they might be related to the Qiang.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries they continued migrating to being established in their present territory. They have received diverse names along the centuries: "Echang", "Zhexie", and "Yeren", the latter name which was used in China from the Yuan dynasty to the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The Kachin people are an ethnic affinity of several tribal groups, known for their fierce independence, disciplined fighting skills, complex clan inter-relations, embrace of Christianity, craftsmanship, herbal healing and jungle survival skills. Other residents of Kachin State include Shans (Thai/Lao related), Nagas, and Burmans, who form the largest ethnic group in Burma, also called Bamar. During the British colonial period, some tribes were well integrated into the state while others operated with a large degree of autonomy. Kachins, including those organized as the Kachin Levies provided assistance to British and American units fighting the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Following the end of World War II and Burma’s independence from Britain, long standing ethnic conflicts between frontier peoples such as the Kachins and the Burman-dominated central government resurfaced. The first uprising occurred in 1949. The uprisings escalated following the declaration of Buddhism (which is not practiced by the Kachin) as a national religion in 1961. However, Kachins fought both for and against the government during most of the ethnic conflicts.Kachin soldiers once formed a core part of the Burmese armed forces and many stayed loyal after the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) with its military wing, the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) was formed in 1961. After Ne Win's coup in 1962, there were fewer opportunities in the Burma Army for Kachins. Much of Kachin State outside of the cities and larger towns was for many years KIO administered.

The KIO formed alliances with other ethnic groups resisting the Burmese occupation, and later despite its non-communist stance along with China informally supported the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which held strategically sensitive parts of the country vis a vis the Kachin positions. The KIO continued to fight when Ne Win’s dictatorship was succeeded by another incarnation of the military junta in 1988 called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). However, with a gradual withdrawal of Chinese support, in 1989 the Communist Party of Burma soon disintegrated into warlord led groups that negotiated ceasefire deals with the junta. This led to the KIO being surrounded by organizations effectively aligned with the SPDC. It was squeezed by redeployed battalions of the rearmed and ever growing Burma Army, and constantly urged to make peace by a civilian population suffering from years of warfare. In 1994 the KIO chose to enter into a ceasefire with the junta.

The ceasefire delivered neither security nor prosperity to the Kachin. With the end of hostilities the Burma Army presence has increased considerably, along with allegations of atrocities against the civilian population, including forced labor and rape.

High demand from China is currently encouraging logging-based deforestation in the Kachin region of Burma. (Kahrl et al. 2005; Global Witness 2005). Increasingly impoverished, some Kachin women are drawn into the child and adult sex trade to Thailand, China and in Yangon (KWAT 2005).


*E.R. Leach, "Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure" (Boston: Beacon, 1965 [1954] ).
* Kachin Women's Association Thailand (KWAT), [http://www.womenofburma.org/Report/Driven_Away.pdf "Driven Away: Trafficking of Kachin women on the China-Burma border"] (Chiang Mai, Thailand: 2005).
*Fredrich Kahrl, Horst Weyerhaeuser, and Su Yufang, [http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/publications/Kahrl_Navigating%20the%20Border_final.pdf Navigating the Border: An Analysis of the China-Myanmar Timber Trade] . Forest Trends, World Agroforestry Centre, 2004.
* Global Witness [http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/492/my/a_choice_for_china_ending_the_destruction_of_burma A Choice for China: Ending the destruction of Burma's frontier forests] , 2005.
* Liú Lù: Jǐngpōzú yǔyán jiǎnzhì - Jǐngpōyǔ 刘璐景颇族语言简志——景颇语 ("Introduction to a language of the Jingpo nationality - Jingpo"; Běijīng 北京, Mínzú chūbǎnshè 民族出版社 1984).
* Xú Xījiān 徐悉艰, Xú Guìzhēn 徐桂珍: Jǐngpōzú yǔyán jiǎnzhì - Zǎiwǎyǔ 景颇族语言简志——载瓦语 ("Introduction to a language of the Jingpo nationality - Tsaiva"; Běijīng 北京, Mínzú chūbǎnshè 民族出版社 1984).
* All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU), Kachin Development Networking Group(KDNG), [http://www.aksyu.com/2007/AKSYU-Books/ValleyofDarkness.pdf
* "Valley of Darkness: Gold Mining and Militarization in Burma's Hugawng Valley"
] (Chiang Mai, Thailand:2007).

External links

* [http://www.kachinland.org Kachin National Organization]
* [http://www.china.org.cn/e-groups/shaoshu/shao-2-jingp.htm The Jingpo ethnic minority] (Chinese government site)
* [http://www.monywa.org/kachin/index.htm Jingphaw/Kachin]
* [http://www.kachinpost.com/ The Kachin Post]
* [http://kachintodayusa.org/ Kachin Radio]
* [http://www.kachinstate.com/ KIO News in English]
* [http://www.kachinstate.com/ Information on the Kachins with a short introduction to the language.]
* [http://www.kachinnews.com/ News in Jingphaw and Burmese]
* [http://www.myanmarbible.com/bible/Kachin/html/index.html Kachin Bible]
* [http://www.aksyu.com All Kachin Students & Youth Union (AKSYU) ]
* [http://www.seakachin.blogspot.com Kachin Refugee Comitte (KRC) Malaysia]

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