Infobox Ethnic group
poptime=6 million (est.)
Theravada Buddhism, Animism
langs=Shan, Burmese, others
related=The Shan ( _my. ရှမ်းလူမျိုး; IPA2|ʃán lùmjóʊ; zh-cp|c=|p=dǎn zú) are a Tai
ethnic groupof Southeast Asia. The Shan live primarily in the Shan Stateof Myanmar, but also inhabit parts of Mandalay Division, Kachin State, and Kayin State, and in adjacent regions of Chinaand Thailand. [Sao Sāimöng, The Shan States and the British Annexation. Cornell University, Cornell, 1969 (2nd ed.)] Though no reliable census has been taken in Myanmar since 1935, the Shan are estimated to number approximately 6 million.
The capital of Shan State is
Taunggyi, a small city of about 150,000 people. Other major cities include Thibaw (Hsipaw), Lashio, Kengtungand Tachileik.
The Shan people as a whole can be divided into four major groups:
#The Tai Yai or "Shan Proper"
#The Tai Lue, located in
Sipsong Panna( China) and the eastern states
#The Tai Khuen, the majority of
#The Tai Neua, mostly in
Most Shan speak the
Shan languageand are bilingual in Burmese. The Shan language, spoken by about 5 or 6 million, is closely related to Thai and Lao, and is part of the family of Tai-Kadai languages. It is spoken in Shan State, some parts of Kachin State, some parts of Sagaing Divisionin Myanmar, parts of Yunnan, and Mae Hong Son Provincein northwestern Thailand. [cite web |url=http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=shn |title=Shan: A language of Myanmar |accessdate=2006-12-02 |work=Ethnologue ] The two major dialects differ in number of tones: HsenwiShan has six tones, while MongnaiShan has five.cite book |last=Dalby |first=Andrew |title=Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages |year=2004 |publisher=Columbia University Press |id=ISBN 0-231-11569-5 ] The Shan script is an adaptation of the Mon script via the Burmese script. However, few Shan are literate in their own language.
The Shan are traditionally wet-
ricecultivators, shopkeepers, and artisans.
The Tai-Shan people are believed to have migrated from
Yunnanin China. The Shan are descendants of the oldest branch of the Tai-Shan, known as "Tai Long" (Great Tai) or Thai Yai (Big Thai). The Tai-Shan who migrated to the south and now inhabit modern-day Laosand Thailandare known as "Tai Noi" (or "Tai Nyai"), while those in parts of northern Thailand and Laos are commonly known as "Tai Noi" (Little Tai - Lao spoken) cite book |last=Nisbet |first=John |title=Burma under British Rule - and before. Volume 2 |year= |publisher=Adamant Media Corporation |id=IISBN 1-4021-5293-0 | pages=414 ] The Shan have inhabited the Shan Plateau and other parts of modern-day Myanmar as far back as the 10th century AD. The Shan kingdom of Mong Mao(Muang Mao) existed as early as the 10th century AD but became a Burmese vassalstate during the reign of King Anawrahtaof Bagan(1044-1077). Note: the Mao people are considered a Shan subgroup.
After the Bagan kingdom fell to the
Mongolsin 1287, the Tai-Shan people quickly gained power throughout South East Asia, and founded:
Ava(and its predecessor minor kingdoms Myinsaing, Pinya and Sagaing) by Burmanized Shan kings
Peguor Bagoby Monized Shan kings
* Ayutthaya (Siam)
* Shan states--Minor kingdoms in the Shan hills, Kachin hills, Yunnan and parts of Vietnam
Many Ava and Bago kings of Burmese history between the 12th and 16th century were of (partial) Shan descent. The kings of Ava fought kings of Bago for control of
Ayeyarwadyvalley. Various Shan states fought Ava for the control of Upper Myanmar. The Shan kingdom of "Mohnyin" (Mong Yang) defeated Ava in 1527, and ruled all of Upper Burma until 1555.
Bayinnaung(1551-1581) conquered all of the Shan states in 1557. Although the Shan states would become a tributary to Ayeyarwady valley based Burmese kingdoms from then on, the Shan Saophas retained a large degree of autonomy.
Third Anglo-Burmese Warin 1885, the British gained control of the Shan states. Under the British colonial administration, the Shan principalities were administered separately as British protectorates with limited monarchical powers invested in the Shan Saophas. [cite book |last=Mackerras |first=Colin |title=Ethnicity in Asias |publisher=Routledge |id=ISBN 0-415-25816-2 ]
World War II, the Shan and other ethnic minority leaders negotiated with the majority Bamarleadership at the Panglong Conference, and agreed to gain independence from Britain as part of Union of Myanmar. The Shan states were given the option to secede after 10 years of independence. The Shan states became Shan State in 1948 as part of the newly independent Burma.
Ne Win's coup d'état overthrew the democratically elected government in 1962, and abolished Shan saopha system.
List of Shan States and rulers
List of Shan states and rulers.
The Shan have been engaged in an intermittent civil war within
Burmafor decades. Two main Shan armed insurgent forces operate within Shan State: the Shan State Army/Special Region 3 and Shan State Army/Restoration Council of Shan State. In 2005 the SSNA was effectively abolished after its surrender to the Burmese government, some units joined the SSA/RCSS, which has yet to sign any agreements, and is still engaged in guerrilla warfareagainst the Burma Army.
During conflicts, the Shan (Thai Yai) are often burned out of their villages and forced to flee into
Thailand. There, they are not given refugeestatus, and often work as undocumented laborers. Whether or not there is an ongoing conflict, the Shan are subject to depredations by the Burmese government; in particular, young men may be conscripted into the Burmese Army indefinitely, or enslaved to do road work for a number of months--with no wages and no food. The horrific conditions inside Burma have led to a massive exodus of young Shan males to neighboring Thailand, where they typically find work in construction, at daily wages which run about 100-200 baht. However unsatisfactory these conditions may be, all of these refugees are well aware that at least they are being paid for their work, and that every day spent in Thailand is another day that the Burmese government cannot impress or enslave them. Some estimates of Shan refugees in Thailand run as high as two million, an extremely high number when compared with estimates of the total Shan population at some six million.
Independence and exiled government
His Royal Highness Prince
Hso Khan Fa(sometimes written as Surkhanfain Thai) of Yawnghwe) lives in exile in Canada. He is campaigning for the government of Myanmar to respect the traditional culture and indigenous lands of the Shan people, and he works with Shan exiles abroad helping to provide schooling for displaced Shan children whose parents are unable to do so. He hopes to provide Shan children with some training in life skills so they can fend for themselves and their families in the future.
In addition, opinion has been voiced in Shan State, in neighboring
Thailand, and to some extent in farther-reaching exile communities, in favour of the goal of "total independence for Shan State." This came to a head when, in May 2005, Shan elders in exile declared independence for the Federated Shan States.
The declaration of independence, however, was rejected by most other
ethnic minoritygroups, many Shan living inside Myanmar, and the country's leading opposition party, the National League for Democracyled by Aung San Suu Kyi. Despite this dissenting opinion, the Burmese Army is rumoured to have conducted a crackdown on Shan civilians as a result of the declaration. Shan people have reported an increase in restrictions on their movements, and an escalation in Burmese Army raids on Shan villages.
*Susan Conway, The Shan: Culture, Art and Crafts (Bangkok, 2006).
* [http://users.panola.com/AAGHS/help.html H.R.H. Prince Hso Khan Pha of Yawnghwe]
* [http://www.shanrelieffoundation.org Shan Relief Foundation]
* [http://www.shanland.org Shan Human Rights Foundation]
* [http://www.shanwomen.org Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN)]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=shn Shan language page] from Ethnologue site
* [http://www.geopium.org/Photos/Thailand2006/Photos-Thailand-2006-Thai-Burma-Border.htm Photos of Shan State Army-South (SSA-S) military outposts along the border of Thailand, Chiang Rai province]
* [http://www.helpwithoutfrontiers.org Help without Frontiers]
* [http://www.irrawaddy.org/PoiSangLong/index.asp Shan Tradition Rules in a Northern Thai Town] Sai Silp, "The Irrawaddy", April 5 2007
* http://www.claudiawiens.com/englisch/vorlage_e.html Claudia Wiens, a photo essay about tribal people in Shan State
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