The Kachin People

Burma's most inhospitable and northern state.

"The Kachins are not really Kachin, for the name was given to them by the Burmese to refer to the wilder people of the hills and denotes "savage" or "wild man". The Kachins themselves use the term Jinghpaw (Chinhpaw or Singpho) which most commentators translate simply as "man", although it is actually of Tibetan origin, being derived from the Tibetan word , sin-po, meaning cannibal. 


The Kachins are the Tartars from the region south of the Great Gobi Desert in Mongolia (Major Shingra Bum), from where they migrated south in separate tribes, possibly at long intervals. Before the 13th century, they can be traced fighting with the Shanson the hills drained by the upper waters of the Ayeyarwady River. As the Shan Kingdom broke up, the Kachins established themselves further south and southeast, building their villages on the hills, and taking tolls and slaves from conquered and other tribes in the valleys below. In the 19th century, they were still spreading south into the Shan State as far as Kyaingetong. The arrival of the British stopped their further progress.

They could no longer acquire new territories by conquest nor could they raid, rob or levy on the lowlands. They had to live in peace with all and do honest work for their living. This is the hard school in which they had been placed. 

The Kachin are such fierce warriors that during WW2 the OSS confirmed that  a force 11,000 Kachin tribesmen  eventually killed 10,000 Japanese at a loss of only 206 of its own. with their ability to turn the jungle into an ally to force the Japanese into close quarter combat.


The Kachin people are a warm sincere friend   welcoming you with open arms and a forbidding enemy causing American service men to nickname them the amiable assassins. This passage from a history of the OSS  is an apt description. "Other OSS operations took place in Asia, most spectacularly in Burma, where OSS Detachment 101 organized 11,000 Kachin tribesmen into a force that eventually killed 10,000 Japanese at a loss of only 206   of its own Despite vastly different cultural backgrounds, Kachins and Americans, on the whole, got along quite well. Although the members of Detachment 101 found the local diet barely palatable and were repelled by the Kachin practice of collecting the ears of the dead, they appreciated the courage, loyalty, and honesty of the tribesmen. When a payroll bag containing $500,000 in rupee s ruptured in a supply drop, for example, local natives returned all but $300 of the missing money. OSS U.S. military personnel belonging to Detachment 101 came to appreciate the Kachins as "friendly, open faced, natural mannered, [and] smiling.... In an exchange of glances with a Kachin, you felt a rapport you might not achieve with others for years, if ever." The Americans found the Kachins to be natural guerrilla fighters. They showed great care in the planning and preparation of an ambush, particularly in their use of the pungyi stick, a smoke-hardened bamboo stake of one to two feet in length. In preparing an ambush, the Kachins camouflaged the site to appear as natural as possible, placed their automatic weapons to rake the trail, and planted pungyis in the foliage alongside the path. Once the Japanese entered the area, the Kachins drove the surprised enemy troops into the undergrowth, where they impaled themselves on the pungyis. Having inflicted losses, the lightly armed Kachins usually left the area quickly, avoiding prolonged engagements. In contrast, the Americans often displayed too much readiness to stand and fight, not recognizing a guerrilla's responsibility to minimize his own casualties while maximizing those of the enemy"