The Full Wiki

Shan: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Total population
6 million (est.)
Regions with significant populations

Shan, Burmese, others


Theravada Buddhism, Animism

The Shan (Shan: Shan-tai.png; IPA: [tɑ́ɪ], Burmese: ရှမ်းလူမျိုး; IPA: [ʃán lùmjóʊ]; Chinese: 掸族pinyin: Shànzú;傣族) are a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia. The Shan live primarily in the Shan State of Burma (Myanmar), but also inhabit parts of Mandalay Division, Kachin State, and Kayin State, and in adjacent regions of China and Thailand.[1] Though no reliable census has been taken in Burma 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, Kengtung and Tachileik.



The Shan people as a whole can be divided into four major groups:

  1. The Tai Yai or "Shan Proper"
  2. The Tai Lue, located in Sipsong Panna (China) and the eastern states
  3. The Tai Khuen, the majority of Keng Tung
  4. The Tai Neua, mostly in Dehong (China)


Most Shan are staunch Theravada Buddhists, and the Shan constitutes one of the four main Buddhist ethnic groups in Burma; the others are the Bamar, the Mon and the Rakhine.

Most Shan speak the Shan language and 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 languages. It is spoken in Shan State, some parts of Kachin State, some parts of Sagaing Division in Myanmar, parts of Yunnan, and in parts of northwestern Thailand, including Mae Hong Son Province and Chiang Mai Province {p.[2] The two major dialects differ in number of tones: Hsenwi Shan has six tones, while Mongnai Shan has five.[3] The Shan script is an adaptation of the Mon script via the Burmese script.[3] However, few Shan are literate in their own language.

The Shan are traditionally wet-rice cultivators, shopkeepers, and artisans.


The Tai-Shan people are believed to have migrated from Yunnan in 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 Laos and Thailand are 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) [4] 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 vassal state during the reign of King Anawrahta of Pagan (1044-1077).

After the Pagan kingdom fell to the Mongols in 1287, the Tai-Shan peoples quickly gained power throughout South East Asia, and founded:

State Peak territory Duration Notes
Ava (Innwa) Central Burma 1364-1555[5] Burman kingdom
Shans also founded Ava's predecessor minor kingdoms of Myinsaing (1298-1312), Pinya (1312-1364) and Sagaing (1315-1364)[5]
Pegu (Bago) Lower Burma 1287-1539 Mon kingdom
Siamese (Sukhothai) vassal state (1287-1330)[6]
Sukhothai Central Thailand 1238-1448 First Siamese kingdom; Predecessor to Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya Central and Southern Thailand 1351–1767 Predecessor state to present day Kingdom of Thailand
Burmese vassal (1564-1587)[7]
Lanna (Chiang Mai) Northern Thailand 1292–1776 Burmese vassal (1558-1776)[8]
Lan Xang Laos 1353-1707 Burmese vassal (1574-1599)[9]
Assam Assam 1228-1822 Burmese vassal (1817-1822), province (1822-1825)[10]
Shan States Northern Sagaing, Kachin Hills, Shan Hills, Yunnan, parts of Vietnam c. 10th century-16th century Largely absorbed into Chinese and Burmese kingdoms by 16th century

Many Ava and Pegu kings of Burmese history between the 13th and 16th century were of (partial) Shan descent. The kings of Ava fought kings of Pegu for control of Irrawaddy valley. Various Shan states fought Ava for the control of Upper Burma. The states of Monyhin (Mong Yang) and Mogaung were the strongest of the Shan States. Monhyin defeated Ava in 1527, and ruled all of Upper Burma until 1555.[11]

Burmese king Bayinnaung conquered all of the Shan states in 1557.[12] Although the Shan states would become a tributary to Irrawaddy valley based Burmese kingdoms from then on, the Shan Saophas retained a large degree of autonomy. Throughout the Burmese feudal era, Shan states supplied much manpower in the service of Burmese kings. Without Shan manpower, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Burmans alone to achieve their much vaunted victories in Lower Burma, Siam, and elsewhere. Shans were a major part of Burmese forces in the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826, and fought valiantly--a fact even the British commanders acknowledged.[13]

After the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 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.[14]

After World War II, the Shan and other ethnic minority leaders negotiated with the majority Bamar leadership 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.

General Ne Win's coup d'état overthrew the democratically elected government in 1962, and abolished Shan saopha system.


The Shan have been engaged in an intermittent civil war within Burma for 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 warfare against the Burma Army. During conflicts, the Shan are often burned out of their villages and forced to flee into Thailand. There, they are not given refugee status, and often work as undocumented labourers. Whether or not there is an ongoing conflict, the Shan are subject to depredations by the Burmese regime; 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 neighbouring Thailand, where they typically find low-paid work in construction. 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 regime cannot repress 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 Surkhanfa in Thai) of Yawnghwe lives in exile in Canada. He is campaigning for the Burmese regime to respect the traditional culture and indigenous lands of the Shan people, and he works with Shan exiles abroad 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 neighbouring 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 minority groups, many Shan living inside Burma, and the country's leading opposition party, the National League for Democracy led 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.

See also


  1. ^ Sao Sāimöng, The Shan States and the British Annexation. Cornell University, Cornell, 1969 (2nd ed.)
  2. ^ "Shan: A language of Myanmar". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2006-12-02.  
  3. ^ a b Dalby, Andrew (2004). Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11569-5.  
  4. ^ Nisbet, John. Burma under British Rule - and before. Volume 2. Adamant Media Corporation. pp. 414. IISBN 1-4021-5293-0.  
  5. ^ a b Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 282–285.  
  6. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 64–67.  
  7. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 111, 121.  
  8. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 108, 207.  
  9. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 116.  
  10. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 226, 241.  
  11. ^ Maung Htin Aung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. p. 95.  
  12. ^ Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. Phayre (1967). History of Burma (2 ed.). London: Sunil Gupta. p. 108–109.  
  13. ^ Thant Myint-U (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps--Histories of Burma. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 123–124. ISBN 978-0-374-16342-6, 0-374-16342-1.  
  14. ^ Mackerras, Colin. Ethnicity in Asias. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-25816-2.  


  • Susan Conway, The Shan: Culture, Art and Crafts (Bangkok, 2006).

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Shan State article)

From Wikitravel


Shan State is part of Northeastern Myanmar and borders China to the north, Laos to the east, and Thailand to the south.

The Mekong River marks the border between the Shan State and Laos. This border region is generally known as the Golden Triangle, though the actual Golden Triangle point is where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet on the Mekong River. The Golden Triangle region used to be one of the largest opium producing areas in the world. Opium production today is minimal.


The Shan people in Myanmar are the same as the Dai people in China's Yunnan Province. The Shan people are one of the largest minority groups in Myanmar. They have been fighting an on-and-off war with the central Myanmar government for several decades. The central Myanmar government has signed peace agreements with factional groups in the Shan State, which allows these groups to have a high degree of autonomy, including maintaining separate armed forces. The political situation, however, remains relatively unstable. Many military checkpoints exist on few major roads that cross the mountainous Shan State. Each checkpoint marks the border between a territory (usually a Special District or a city) controlled by a different army. In July 2005, the central government official responsible for negotiating these peace agreements was sent to jail for corruption, possibly signalling a renewed attempt by the central government to crack down on the rebel Shan armies.


The daily market in the regional administrative city of Kengtung is a sprawling complex with a wide variety of goods, including tourist souvenirs - though they do not get many tourists. Instead the market is full of local residents and hill tribe people dressed in their colorful traditional clothing, and Buddhist monks and nuns with their begging bowls. A visit can easily consume half a day of people watching, shopping and bargaining (this market is much more interesting than the border market in Tachileik, where hawkers harass tourists with soft porn and cigarettes).

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


See also shan






Shan (plural Shans)

  1. A people living primarily in the Shan State of Myanmar (also known as Burma), and in adjacent areas of China, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with about 6 million people.
  2. The language of this people, in the Tai-Kadai language family.
  3. A state in Thailand.



  1. Of or pertaining to the Shan people or the Shan language.

External links


Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Shan woman]] The Shan peoples (Shan: ; IPA: [tɑ́ɪ], IPA: [ʃán lùmjóʊ]; Chinese: 掸族; pinyin: Shànzú;傣族) are a Tai ethnic group of South East Asia. The Shan live primarily in the occupied Shan State by Myanmar. These people have close religious ties and similarties with Bangladesh's Chittagonian peoples.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address