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By Thae Yadanar 

yanmar is one of the Southeast Asian Nations of 135 ethnic groups divided into eight major races: Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan. Each has its own remarkably unique cultures, traditions along with ethnic languages. Myanmar is mostly well-known for its Splendid Glittering Pagodas, Citizens’ Generosity, Religiousness, and Hospitality. There are many magnificent historical sites, breathtaking views of mountain spots, ancient ethnic traditional customs, and occasions like sightseeing.

CHIN, A Wonderful Land To Meet With Preserved Traditional Lives

Chin people are a large ethnic group full of rich traditions. There are a total of 53 ethnic groups in Chin Tribes. The northern Chin live in between Chin Hill and Upper Chindwin districts, while the central Chin and southern Chin live in Pakokku, Sittwe district, Chin Hill, and the southern hills. They live in the west of Myanmar close to the Indian and Bangladesh Borderline. Chin State is famous for the Warmth, Handicrafts, and Civility of its people as well as Striking Mountainous Scenic Spots and Fascinating Ways of lifestyle.

Chin State has altogether 14 towns: Falam, Hakha, Kanpetlet, Mindat, Paletwa, Matupi, Tedim, Thantlang, Rezua, Samee, Lailenpi, Rihkhawdar, Cikha, and Tonzong. “Hakha'' is the capital town of Chin State. The population all over the state is about 478,801 according to a survey in 2014.

The Majority are Christians. Some of them are Roman Catholic but most of them are Baptist devotees. There are about 1,000 local small churches all around the State. The Non-Christian Chin Burmese follow Animism. Although there are about 40-45 dialects of the Chin language, 80 percent of residents speak Burmese. 

TRADITIONS, CULTURES, AND LOCAL LIFESTYLES

The most significant fact about Chin People is their “Facial Tattoos”. The tribes get the tattoos by either attaching three pieces of Bamboo together or using Spines.  The tattoo ink is made up of mixing Cow bile, Soot, Plants, and Pig Fat generally. The tattoo artist is a specialist or in some cases a parent. But these “Facial Tattoos” are practiced by only Chin Women. Soon after the girl enters the age of Puberty, between 12 and 14 is the best time before the facial skin is mature and hard or painful for having tattoos. The Historical Background of these tattoos comes in two reasons: expecting to be ugly in order to avoid being chosen as a concubine by Burmese Kings or others say they were for identifying their tribes in case of being kidnapped by Enemies. But today, tattoos have become a sign of Beauty for Chin women.

The “Munn” Chin tribes, commonly found in Kanpetlet Region have distinctive letter “B” pattern tattoos on their cheeks and “Y” patterns on their foreheads. Some have the shape of “Circle” tattoos on their necks. The “Lai-Tu-Chin” tribes have obvious “Spider-Web” forms on their faces. The “Daa-Yindu-Chin” people are noticed by their Straight-downward lines tattoos. The “U-Pu”, the rarest of the Chin tribes, has their entire face tattooed in Blank Inks. It normally takes a day to finish the standard tattoo and two or three days to complete the whole blank inking. They say that the most hurtful sensitive parts are the neck and eyelids.

Most homes have a small post with an egg on its top beside their front doors. They assume it as not only driving out the evils but also bringing good luck and happiness. There is doctrinally forbidding on men eating meat at his wife’s family house as a consideration of having bad luck and an emphasis on having sons who will a family member be murdered or be expected to avenge their death in person.

The husband is the head of the household. Sons and Daughters are equally valued in Chin families. Inheritance has conventionally been from father to son. Yet some property of a chin woman can be given to her daughters. Children are habitually arranged into marriages after birth. Marriages are confirmed with the payment of the bride price. When divorce occurs, men generally try to prove that it's the fault of women so that they can get the bride price back. Divorce of a chin woman without any reason is considered an insult to the clans.

Another notable interesting event among Chin races, M'kann Chin, Daw Yaw Shen, 90 years old lady is one of the last known masters in nose flute players. She started playing the nose flute when she was 15 years old. Playing the flute by the nose is not easy, and it needs lots of stamina and energy to make it sound perfect.

Chin women are renowned for their backstrap weaving for many decades. They are fully involved in the whole process of weaving, from the plantation of Cotton to spinning the yarn, dyeing the cloths, and weaving the fabric in various styles. Chin textiles are typically woven on a back-strap loom. It takes about 3 months to finish weaving traditional shawls and blankets up to different designs. Chin traditional dresses are attractive and appreciated all over the places in Myanmar.

The local Chin women wear long “Longyi'', enough to cover their ankles, which is designed with horizontal stripes, diamonds, or flowers. Furthermore, they circle an extensive band of silver and bronze wires around their waists. On Festivals Days, they usually wear beautifully woven silk blankets and long beautiful hairpins as well. They also put colorful long necklaces, big earrings, and many bracelets with reverence on their bodies. Both boys and girls had to get their ears pierced after their naming ceremony. 

Chin men commonly wear shirts and trousers but wrap themselves with colorful blankets on special occasions. They also get headdresses, some involve vertical black stripes on a white turban and some have a cluster of feathers on the front of the Red Turban.

Hunting is second nature for Men. They used to hang the animals they got from hunting in front of their houses to show their skills and courage. Agriculture and animal husbandry are widely done for a living. Their terrains are mostly mountainous so the plants are more likely to thrive.

Cultivation is entirely by hand. They grow a variety of vegetables like crops, chili peppers, melons, pumpkin, and various kinds of peas, beans, cabbages, and potatoes. Cotton is spread grown for use in commercial traditional clothes. Today, there is also commercial growing of apples, oranges, tea, and coffee. Not only that, Tobacco has been continuously planted in all villages. Chin men smoke tobacco in clay pipes and nearly all women smoke with clay bowls. They use the cups in the form of ivory for drinking water or liquors. 

LOCAL FOOD

“Sabuti”

The word “Sa” means “meat” and “buti” means “corn broth”. The main recipes: are corn, meat, tomato, onion, cabbage, and eggplant. You can try this broth with peas and potatoes instead of meat if you’re a vegetarian. This is the one traditional food that every Chin eats wholeheartedly.

“Hakha Donuts”

The most famous local food is similar to Donuts- a round-shaped with a hollow in the middle- made with flour, sugar, and eggs. You can have these fresh Donuts near Hakha Baptist Church, the old bazaar block every day.

“Traditional Wine (Khaung Yay)”

One of the popular products of Chin Land. There are 3 kinds of tastes: Grape, Peach, and Rhododendron. As the fruits are purely fermented, it is suitable and worth buying for health and souvenirs, too.

“Sailawn Rawl”

This traditional set menu – <a round tray inside where rice, vegetable, pounded chilies, and some cuisines such as boiled chicken, chicken salad, or other meat are all put together in order> is mostly attracted tourists and visitors. Many people can sit and eat at the same time - that’s a way of showing the Unity, Warmth, and Affection of local Chin tribes.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Chin Land is a really good destination for activities like hiking and trekking. The untouched natural beauty of huge mountains and scenic spots can make visitors feel like rambling.

“Mount Victoria”

Mount Victoria is the third highest peak in Myanmar as well as the highest in Chin State. It is 10,016ft high and is located in  Kanpetlet region. The mountain exists in the center of large Rhododendron trees that bloom a luxuriant combination of red, yellow, and white flowers between October and February. Mt.Victoria is unavailable to visit during the rainy season (Mid-May to Mid-October).

“Rih Lake”

For the Mizo people who live on both sides near the Myanmar-India border, Rih lake is a small significant heart-shaped spiritual lake. The lake is full of tranquillity and is surrounded by huge forested hills. It’s regarded as the Gateway of heaven to Mizo tribes. People come to swim, drink, and vacation at weekends. The lake has fewer people and is much more peaceful on weekdays.

“Matupi Bungtla Waterfall” 

This waterfall is situated near Matupi region and it’s the longest waterfall in Chin State, standing over 1,500 ft high. Even though the waterfall is flowing on 9 levels, it’s possible for only 5 levels to reach. You can see the attached honeycomb on the wall of the rocky waterfall.

“Kennedy Peak”

The second highest mountain of Chin, 8868ft high, is located in Tedim Township. Near this peak, there is a natural splendid site called  “Sea of Clouds” - clouds are crowded in the form of the sea. It is very pleasant and worth going for nature lovers.

FESTIVALS & CELEBRATIONS

Chin Land is flooded with ethnic occasions and some of those are held in a wide range. 

“Khaudo Festivals”

This festival falls between October and the start of November after the crops are harvested. It is the most important ceremony held in Tedim Township. 

The purpose: To celebrate successful harvesting, banish evils for good productivity, for health and prosperity of villagers and to have a pleasant life in the country.

“Chin National Day”

National day is recognized on February, 20. On this day, they hold wrestling, competitions, and traditional dances. They place their “Khaung Yay” on the front top of the table as it is the most important ingredient. Then, there are traditional cuisines including plenty of fish and meat cooked with peas, corn, and others.

“Traditional Chin Wrestling”

The referee has to fire the gun in order to both open the contest and chuck the evils off from the ceremony. Women and dogs are not allowed to pass the ring as there is a belief that there can be some injuries during the contest. Sometimes, the referee opens the ring by cracking eggs instead of firing the gun when there is an illness or disease around the area. The winner comes out when he beats more than 10 opponents with unique skills. The champion of the wrestling ring is honored everywhere. Chin people really appreciate such honor in their whole life.

Conclusion

The best time to visit this fascinating Land is between November and March. For Outdoor Activities, you should travel from Late-March to Mid-May and for Summer Activities, it’s suitable from Early-April to Late-May. Perhaps, the roads are full of mud, and clouds and mists obscure the mountains from May to October. I believe every single traveler who is willing to feel adventurous experiences wonder about the unique lifestyles of local tribes, and who loves hiking and walking around to seek spectacular nature will never regret visiting this wonderful State.

If you’re interested in Myanmar Ethnic cultures and local lifestyles, this article will help you to find out about Chin culture and local lifestyles.

Rih Lake

Rih Lake 

Sea of Clouds

Sea Of Clouds In Chin State 

Sabuti

Chin Traditional Food Sabuti 

Chin Woman with faceTattoo

Chin Woman With Face Tattoo 

Pink Rhododendrons

 Pink Rhododendrons 

Hakha Donuts 

Chin Woman with Face Tattoo ( Spider-Web )

Chin Woman with Face Tattoo ( Spider-Web )



 


Posted 
December 25, 2021