Shan comprises 33 ethnic groups.
Shans reside in the Eastern plateau. The Shan State of Myanmar occupy principally the plateau east of the Ayeyawady and Sittaung valleys - south of the Bhamo district and north of Kayah State.Shan are settling in valleys and river basins. Most of the Danu, Taungyoe. Intha (Ansa), and Bamar are living in the western part of the Shan State. A lot of Palaung, (Taahn) are usually found in the northern partof the State, especially at Namsam Town. and can also be found in Pindaya, Yatsauk and Maingkaing Townships. Paos are settling in the sourthern part of Shan State, whereas Kachin and Lisu (Lishaw) in the north Kokant Tayok in the Kokant region, Wa (Lweila) in Hopan Township which is situated in the east of Thanlwin river,E-Kaw (Akha), Lahu reside in Kyaingtong region.
Most of the population is Buddhists, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism religions are present. Myanmar language is spoken widely and local nationalities dialect is also spoken.
There is a hilly village called Nant Lin Taung where Eng nationals have been living in that village, 13 miles far from north of Kyaung Tong in Eastern Shan State in Myanmar. It has 20 households which one built with long- footed base and thatch roofed and the location of the village is on the reddish earthen stopped. The meaning of the name of the national tribe “Eng” is “Running in Shan dialect.
Some are Buddhist and some are professing traditional spirits. Now, we see the Eng people offering their spirits and drinking traditional liquor what we call Kaungyay for their new harvest festival. Their traditional national costumes are black attires and both males and females usually wear flowers or earing.
So, Nant Lin Taung village is one of there which is depicting the traditions and customs of Shan tribes, one of Myanmar Nationals. The Eng are possibly related to the Wa tribe. They live only in the foothills of the Kyaing Tong basin and are another diminishing tribe. Eng women often marry at the age of 14 or 15. They wear the colorful ornaments suit. Their villages are built along mountain ridges, and they use bamboo pipes to pipe in water. The Eng are animists and hold a festival at the full moon in November.
The Khamu ethnic tribes are mainly found in northern Laos, Myanmar and South-western China, and Thailand. In China, they usually inhabit around the province of Guizhou.
The Khamu ethnic tribes are categorized under the Shan ethnic group since most of them live in this part of the country.
Some countries do not recognize them as a separate ethnic group and are placed under the broad category of undistinguished nationalities. But they are recognized as the Khamu in Myanmar. Their native language is called Khamu. They do not use money in their village and bata system is still carried out for their lives.
Villages of these colorful people are to be found in the mountains of China, Laos, Myanmar and northern Thailand. Now, most of the Akha tribes are living in Kyaing Ton. There are small villages about 50 minutes drive from Kyaing Ton, such as Ho Kyin, Nan Phi Phank, Pang Ma Phai village.
Every Akha village is distinguished by their carved wooden gates, presided over by guardian spirits. They live on marginal land and find it difficult to eke out a living through their slash and burn method of agriculture. In order to supplement their income, many Akha are now selling handicrafts, employing the traditional skills used in making their own clothing and cultural items.
At the eastern tip of Myanmar, there is the Shan State. The national races Lahu, Ahka, Wa, Gon Shan, Lwe and En inhabit Keng Tung region - eastern Shan State. This village has about 40 households with a population of 200. While we were at the Ahka village, we studied their tradition and customs.
Now, let me tell you about some more notable features of the Ahka’s costume. The ladies’ costume is as pretty as the headdress a short jacket with colourful embroidery, a short, gathered skirt and embroidered leggings of cotton and wool. The headdresses are of two types: the shorter has a rounded back to the cap made of silver while the longer one has a square piece of flat silver standing up at the back.
The ladies’ headdresses are made of tightly sewn rows of beads, embellished in the front with silver coins some of which date back over perhaps a century and on the sides with large globes of silver, strands of beads connect to the cap from behind one ear to the other.
The man’s costume is also embroidered with silver coins and with significant figures hung down. We also observed their daily chores such as weaving basket, spinning wool, pounding and shifting the grain, fetching water and gathering firewood. It is an amazing scene for all of us because we have never seen before. The young boys and girls always participate in the dance. While they are dancing, they beat the bamboo nodes on the wooden log rhythmically. This way the Ahka nationals live united and in amity forever.
I believe this unforgettable experience will linger long in my memory as the best souvenir of my adventurous trip to Keng Tung.
The Kokant ethnic group is found to be locating in Panlon and Laukkai in northern Shan State. In 1997, our government encourage them to grow sugar cane and durian a substituted crops for poppy plantation. The durian planted in the area is now exported to China.
Since buckwheat plantation had been introduced for some years. Kokant nationals are planting buckwheat now as substitution for poppy plantation.
In the villages, Kokant nationals earn surplus income mainly from shoes manufacturing, traditional rain coat manufacturing made from a kind of bear. Kokant traditionally worship the source of their ancestor. The Nat Saya tells their future by using the bones of chickens.
Due to the cultivation of buckwheat in sugarcane as substitution and the establishment of factories, the problems of unemployment had been solved. That is why their socio-economic life has been improved.
There is only a few thousand of Danu who live in the Kalaw and Pindaya areas of Shan State and the Pyin Oo Lwin area of the Mandalay Division. Their language is a dialect of Burmese. The name Danu is derived from the word ‘Donke’ which means ‘brave archers’. The people in this area are named after the brave archers who settled here after fighting wars in Thailand. The Danu are farmers, they speak Burmese but with an accent, they also wear Burmese costume.
The Palaungs, who mainly live in the Kalaw area in Shan State, belong to the Mon-Khmer stock. It takes about two to four hours through the hills to the village of the Palaung tribe. At first a steep track leads down into a narrow valley where the Palaung cultivate cheroot, tea, damsons and mangoes on the hillsides. The track across the valley floor and then climbs very steeply again to the Palaung village of Pinnabin, which sits on top of a hill.
Palaung costumes feature bright and saturated color with married women wearing cane rings around their waists to indicate marital status. Most Palaungs in the village prefer their traditional way of life, and live in the long houses unique to their tribe. Six Palaung families live together without separation in this 30-metre-or-so long house, in which all daily activities take place – weaving, cooking and child caring. Tiny chambers are set up for some degree of privacy. The village has interesting long houses for eight families. Observe tribal village life and how the Palaung people drying cheroot in a specially designed oven. The Palaung originate from Mon-Khmer stock. They mainly live in the mountains and are mostly Buddhist.