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ETHNONYMS: Acha, Aji, Atsa, Chashan, Dashan, Jinghpaw, Kang, Lachi, Lalang, Langshu, Langwo, Lashi, Maru, Shidong, Xiaoshan, Zaiwa


Identification. The name "Jingpo" was officially adopted as the formal name in 1953. Before then the Han Chinese normally called this minority "Shantou Ren" (the people on the mountaintops) and, earlier, "Ye Ren" (savages or wild people). There are four main Jingpo subgroups: Jingpo (i.e., the Jinghpaw of Myanmar, formerly Burma), Zaiwa, Lachi, and Langwo, with the Zaiwa and the Jingpo being the major ones. Because each subgroup has its own dialect, there are many local names for the Jingpo.

Location. In China the Jingpo live exclusively in Yunnan Province. Almost all of Yunnan's Jingpo inhabit the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture (zhou ). Dehong Zhou is a triangular area in the extreme west of the province, between 23°50 and 25°29 N and 97°31 and 98°43 E, oriented against the west slopes of the Gaoligong ranges. With very few exceptions, the Jingpo live on the slopes at elevations of 1,470 to 1,980 meters. The area is dominated by the main range of the Gaoligong Mountains, its two west branches, and the Daying (Taiping) and Ruili rivers. The mountains run south and southwest, diminishing in elevation from more than 2,940 meters in the north to less than 210 meters at the southwest outlet to the Irrawaddy Valley. Thus, the Dehong terrain is a fan-shaped slope embracing the rain-bearing northeastern monsoon of the Indian Ocean, which creates a rich subtropical rain-forest area. The climate is semitropical with an ample amount of rainfall that comes primarily during summer. The average annual rainfall is 200 centimeters. People here used to divide a year into only two seasons: a dry season from November to May and a wet season from May to October.

Demography. In 1990 the Jingpo had a population of 119,209; the Zaiwa number over 70,000 people, making up the majority of the Jingpo population. As a transnational ethnic group, the Jingpo are also found as the Kachin in Myanmar and the Singhpo in Assam. The Myanmar Kachin have always constituted the main part of the people. The estimated Kachin population was about half a million in the 1950s, whereas India's Singhpo were a few thousand.

Linguistic Affiliation. Linguists generally agree that all the Jingpo dialects are of the Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan. A majority of Chinese Jingpo specialists hold that Jingpo and Zaiwa (Atsi) are the two major dialects of Jingpo and that both belong to the Jingpo Branch of the Tibeto-Burman Family, although the dialects are not mutually intelligible. Other linguists maintain that Jingpo and Zaiwa are different languages; the former, including Gaori (Gauri), Monzhi, and N'kung dialects, belongs to the Jingpo Branch, while the latter, including Lachi, Langwo, and Bula, constitutes a separate Zaiwa Branch. All these classifications aside, both Jingpo and Zaiwa are officially and equally recognized.

History and Cultural Relations

The origin of the Jingpo remains open to debate. Chinese ethnohistorians generally hold that the ancestors of the Jingpo originated in the Tibetan Plateau, around the sources of the Irrawaddy, Nu (Salween), Lancang (Mekong), and Changjiang (Yangzi) rivers, and moved south about 1,500 years ago. Their southern migration diverged along eastern and western routes: the western route went along the N'mai Hka and Nu rivers into the triangle between the N'mai Hka and Mali Hka rivers and its western areas; the eastern route went along the Jinsha (upper reach of the Yangzi) and Yalong rivers into the old Langsudi and its eastern area. From the thirteenth century on, the eastern route migrants turned west into the area of Pianma, Togo. Some of them then moved northwest to Hkamti Long and to Assam, some went westward to the Huhkawng Valley and southward to the jade mines near the Burma border, and some migrated southward along the Irrawaddy into the area north of the Shan State of Burma. Among those southbound migrants were the Jingpo, who entered Dehong in about the fifteenth century. The reasons for the southward movement were the harsh environment, feuds and violent reprisals among clans, segmentation of the lineages, and later on, avoidance of military service to the imperial court. Historians believe that many ancient tribal names in Chinese historical records apply to ancestors of the Jingpo: "Qiang," "Sou," "Cuan," "Wu Man," "Xinchuan Man," "Luoxin Man," "Ye Man," "Ochang Man," and "Shantouren." However, early historical records about the affiliation of the people are few and largely conjectural; the records have become relatively elaborate only since the Tang dynasty (a.d. 618-906), when present-day Dehong was included in the western domain of a highly civilized local kingdom, the Nanzhao State. The geographic location and some cultural traits suggest that Xinchuan Man, Luoxin Man, and Ye Man of the Tang time are probably the ancestors of the Jingpo. In records from the Yuan and Ming dynasties (a.d. 1206-1628), information about the "Ochang" is very similar to that pertaining to the "Acha," which is an old name of the present-day Zaiwa and Langwo, whom the Dai still call "Acha," "Achang," or "Ochang." Before the Jingpo entered Dehong, the area had long been inhabited by other peoples: the limited fertile valleys were held by the Dai and Han, while the hills were the homeland of the De'ang (Benglong) and some Han Chinese. The dynasties had already incorporated the area into the tusi system, with the Dai as tusi lords. As unorganized, scattered immigrants, the Jingpo could find room to settle only in the mountains. As a whole, the Jingpo were subordinate to the Dai, and they had to pay tributes to the tusi in whose territory they lived. But since the tusi lands were fiefs of the imperial dynasties and the central court also had some direct relations with Jingpo chiefs, the Jingpo were only under the Dai tusi's nominal rule. Well-known as a warlike people, the Jingpo supplied important military support and services to the tusi and the central authority. Some Jingpo chiefs eventually gained the right to collect a "head-protection" fee from one or several Dai or Han villages as reward for their support or services. This pattern of spatial distribution and these sociopolitical interrelations between the Jingpo, Dai, and Han Chinese were maintained until the 1949 Revolution, and they still remain to a limited extent today.


An average Jingpo village has about twenty households. A few larger villages exist near the major points of traditional caravan trade roads or military strongholds. The villages are mostly permanent, as the people have practiced terraced paddy farming for over a century. Most Jingpo villages are built on the mountain slopes, facing the valley. Within the village, family houses are scattered irregularly on several terraces of the hill slope. The crests of the ridges form rough roadways. Generally, there are two designs among Dehong Jingpo houses; the major difference is the location of the entrance and corridor. One is of traditional style, with its main entrance on the side and its lengthwise corridor inside, while the other is of mixed Han and Jingpo style, with a small entrance hall in the front of the house. The former type is mainly seen in the area inhabited by the Jingpo branch; the latter style is popular in the area of the Zaiwa and other branches. Jingpo houses are wood-framed, thatch-roofed, walled with mats made of thin bamboo strips, and floored with split bamboo. Wealthy families have their house frames mortised and floors planked. The rectangular shedlike structure is usually raised about 1 meter above the ground. A house usually has five rooms, each with a fireplace in the center. As a rule, a room at the end of the upslope side is designated for spirits. It is empty except for a bamboo sacrificial altar against the side wall. For Christian Jingpo the room is no longer for spirits but serves as a bedroom or storage room. For most families the center room serves as a kitchen; a few rich families have their separate kitchen buildings. The house roof extends at either end, supported by a post, and thus forms a porch hut, where the wife feeds pigs and husks rice by hand or with a food pestle, the husband makes farm tools, and the children play. Buffalo-owning families build their buffalo sheds by the house. Many households have separate tower-shaped mud-brick grain bins behind the houses to keep their grain dry and safe from fire.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Jingpo farming is of two types: sedentary terraced cultivation and shifting cultivation (swidden horticulture), with rice as the major crop in both. Although the Jingpo have practiced terraced wet-rice cultivation for over a century and it has become the main source of grain, shifting dry-rice cultivation still plays an important part in their economy. Today the Jingpo farm their paddy fields basically the same way as their grandparents: a buffalo draws a plow and a harrow to prepare the field, which is irrigated naturally by spring water. The major improvements so far are chemical fertilizers and improved varieties of hybrid rice. Traditional shifting cultivation is of two types: shifting field-forest cultivation and shifting field-grass cultivation. Each may be extensive, intensive, or semisedentary. When extensive, cultivation is only one or two years, the fallow period is ten to twelve years, and there is little hoeing; when semisedentary, cultivation lasts for two to four years, the fallow period is six to eight years, and hoeing and sometimes plowing are necessary. Today, field-forest extensive shifting cultivation (yingwang in Jingpo) is mainly practiced by the Jingpo, while semisedentary field-forest and field-grass shifting cultivation (dongyuo in Zaiwa) is done mainly by the Zaiwa, Lachi, and Langwo. Shifting cultivation has been declining because of the rapid decrease in forest and grassland. Crops grown in swidden land are diversified: dry rice of different kinds (glutinous and nonglutinous), maize, foxtail millet, Job's tears, soybeans, kidney beans, potatoes, etc. Before 1958 the Jingpo also commonly grew the opium poppy. They also grow various vegetables, such as chili peppers, ginger, garlic, cucumbers, pumpkins, and wax gourds. In recent years they have grown sugarcane on a large scale. The Jingpo use the slash-and-burn method of swidden cultivation. They clear the hill slope of trees and underbrush, burn it, and then sow their crops before the first rain, which usually comes in May. Farmers mix and broadcast seeds of rice, soybeans, foxtail millet, and cucumbers, and then they plant taro, Job's tears, kidney beans, and other vegetables on the edges of the plot. Weeding is mandatory, as weeds grow faster than the crops. The raising of buffalo, cattle, and pigs has also been of special importance to the Jingpo economy. Buffalo were introduced together with wet rice into the Jingpo society; cattle may have arrived much earlierthey seldom draw plows in the area but have long been used in ritual sacrifice and gift exchange.

Industrial Arts. The Jingpo buy all their metal tools from the state store or market. Men can make some wood and bamboo toolssuch as plows, harrows, curved sticks (used to thresh rice), baskets, and winnowersbut these implements are mostly for their own use, not for sale. Women weave on belt looms, making beautiful tubular skirts, but they buy most of their clothing from shops.

Trade. The combined factors of Jingpo contact with more developed peoples, their location along caravan routes, and their opium growing had a dual impact on Jingpo society. While these factors restricted or replaced the division of labor and thereby crippled exchange within Jingpo society, they promoted trade with other peoples. The collecting of forest products, such as mushrooms, wild vegetables, timber, firewood, fruits, and herbal medicines, has always been an important cash-earning activity. It has become a major source of cash since 1958, when the Chinese government banned opium growing. Some households now grow tea and marketable woods such as the tung tree, walnut, and fir. In recent years, small-scale cross-border trading and labor selling on the Myanmar side have begun to flourish in the villages along the border. The former is a legacy of ancient Yunnan-Burmese caravan trade as well as a by-product of the government's open-door policy. Work as seasonal opium-field laborers in Myanmar's Kachin hills is closely associated with the cross-border trading and with the Jingpo's long history of opium growing.

Division of Labor. The basis of the division of labor is gender. Men do only heavy and technical work such as plowing, harrowing, and watering the paddy fields, slashing and burning dry plots, making tools, and hunting; weeding fields, harvesting, carrying and processing crops, gathering wild vegetables and fruits, and cooking are women's jobs. In the busy seasons of planting and harvesting, men also take part in women's work.

Land Tenure. Present-day land tenure is that of socialist collective ownership. The land, including wet and dry fields, vegetable gardens, woodlands, and hills other than those that are state-owned, are all collectively owned; the legitimate owner of all this land is the co-op (agricultural producers cooperative). In practice, each household cultivates the farmland. By the nineteenth century, limited private ownership of paddy fields already existed in Jingpo society. In some areas the landowners could sell, buy, lend, or mortgage their paddy fields under the condition that the plots must not be sold out of the village, but the Jingpo considered forest land to be communal property, and each village held the right for all the village members to use the forestland for swidden cultivation. In 1957, the land became socialist collective property, owned first by agricultural mutual-aid groups, later by the co-ops, and then by the production team of the people's commune. Since 1981 the Jingpo have used a household contract-responsibility system. Paddy fields are allocated by contract to each household but dryland remains shared by all households. Each contracting household pays an agricultural tax (in grain) and sells its quota of grain at the state-set price (about 40 percent less than the market price). While the households have the right of decision making in farming, they are expected to consider the plan suggested by the local government about the varieties of crops to be grown and where to grow them.


Kin Groups and Descent. All Jingpo people trace descent patrilineally. The individual inherits his or her surname from the father. Each family belongs to a lineage, which belongs to a clan containing other lineages. Individuals with a common surname are thought to be from the same patrilineage and, as a rule, from the same clan; but individuals with different surnames may also affiliate their lineages in differing spans to the same clan. A Jingpo clan is thus a lineage of maximal scale. The lineages from which wives are taken and given become mayu (wife giver) and dama (wife taker) to each other, with the mayu enjoying prestige and privileges over the dama.

Kinship Terminology. Jingpo kin terms follow Omaha-type cousin terminology. Male speakers refer to all the members of mayu-dama families with affinal terms regardless of generation. Ego calls father's brothers' and mother's sisters' children by sibling terms. A man calls his brothers' children and a woman calls her sisters' children by the same terms used for his or her own children. A man calls his sisters' children and a woman calls her brothers' children by different terms than for his or her own children. A man calls his father-in-law and mother-in-law by the same terms used for his mother's brother and the mother's brother's wife, while a woman refers to her mother-in-law and father-in-law the same way she refers to her father's sister and the father's sister's husband.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. A Jingpo clan is not necessarily exogamous, whereas the lineage is definitely exogamous. Lineage exogamy, asymmetrical matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, occasional polygyny by levirate, and class endogamy were the major features of the Jingpo marriage system. Since 1949, class endogamy has disappeared, polygyny has been abolished, and cross-cousin marriage and ultimogeniture have been declining. But the Jingpo still strictly observe lineage exogamy and violators of it incur moral sanction and punishment. Today, the Jingpo prefer that a man marry his mother's brother's daughter, although a man may marry another woman instead. It is not desirable for a man to marry his father's sister's daughter, but it is completely unacceptable to marry someone with the same surname. If a man does not marry his mother's brother's daughter, his family has to pay fines to the mother's brother. Young people have much freedom in dating; flirtation and premarital sex are common, but parents usually arrange marriages. There are four ways a Jingpo man takes his wife: wife stealing (mjicho ), wife engaging (mjitun ), wife snatching (mjihkau ), and wife seizing (mjilu ). The first is the most popular way, in which the "stealing" is mock stealing, as both families and the wife consent to the marriage. In the second, a bride is formally engaged when she is still young and will marry out when older. The third involves a man kidnapping the girl who refuses his love and marrying her. In the last case, a man first has relations with another person's wife or fiancée and then marries her. The last two methods are rare now. In any case, the groom's family pays bride-price (hpaozo ) in the form of animalsbuffalo, cattle, or horsesgongs, and palajing (a kind of silk or nylon scarf). The amount of the hpaozo is decided by the number of the bride's relatives who have a distinct right to take the gifts; therefore, the bigger the wife giver's lineage, the higher the bride-price. In exchange for the hpaozo, the bride's family provides the gift for the son-in-law (moshao ). Just as a gong is required in a hpaozo, the indispensable article in a moshao is a spear, a sword, or best of all, a gun. As a rule, a moshao's value is one-half that of the hpaozo. Residence is virilocal, but after the wedding the new wife customarily goes back home and lives with her parents until their first child is born. Divorce is allowed but is not common, and the wife usually has to pay back the hpaozo.

Domestic Unit. Nuclear and stem families are the basic household units. A family is usually made up of parents, a son with his wife, and unmarried children. The average family size is five.

Inheritance. The Jingpo practice ultimogeniture. In ordinary cases, elder sons separate from the parents' home when they get married, leaving the youngest son to live with and take care of the parents and inherit the family's property (and the title of chief, if any, in the old days).

Socialization. Jingpo parents never beat their children. The Jingpo do not subscribe to the idea that sons are superior to daughters, which is popular among the Han and the Dai. Children now go to public school at age 7 or 8, but many drop out during primary school years and only a few have a chance to attend middle school, which is normally far away, in the valleys. The traditional "public house" is common in the villages as a place for adolescents to gather together and make love. No youth organizations and initiation rites are reported.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Traditional Jingpo communities were split into two classes, aristocracy and commoners, based on the ranking of lineages. A hereditary chief was called duwa (in Jingpo) or bumzao (in Zaiwa), meaning "the ruler of the mountain." The chiefs privileges were the right to take a hindquarter thigh of any game caught in his domain and the right to collect tributes in labor from his commoners. But the chief was more like a public leader and a protector of his community, for his commoners were not his slaves or serfs but free people. As a member and a resident of a chiefs domain, a commoner had the right to use the land for swidden cultivation and to move out without permission of the chief. The Chinese authorities eliminated the distinction between aristocrats and commoners after 1949.

Political Organization. Chiefdom used to be the basic principle that organized the Jingpo into a stratified society. A chief ruled his domain with assistance of the suwen, the guan, and sometimes the gadu. The suwen came from the founder lineage or the major lineages of the domain. Elected by the households of the chiefs lineage and approved by the chief, the suwen formed a kind of house of representatives. The suwen also collected tributes from commoners for the chief and the tusi, took care of the commoners' corvée, assisted the chief in handling and mediating disputes, and led the village's ritual offerings. In return for their service, the suwen were exempt from corvée and tributes. The position was not hereditary. In some big chiefs' domains, consisting of more villages, there were the guan. A guan, as the chiefs agent in his village, took full responsibility for the village's affairs; his position was hereditary. The guan had more real power and authority than the suwen. He not only was exempted from corvée and tributes to the chief but also had the right to ask for corvée for himself. In some villages there was a gadu, whom the chief chose from among the suwen. The gadu could act on the chiefs behalf; his position was inheritable and above the suwen. Different versions of Kachin chiefdomgumsa (traditional aristocracy) and gumlao (rebellious aristocracy)were also found among the Dehong Jingpo, but the two structures changed fundamentally in the last century because of the influence of the Han and Dai as well as the increasing Chinese control through the tusi and civil administration. In most cases chiefs became either local heads of the Han or Dai type or symbolic leaders whose power and privilege had fallen into the hands of new strongmen, mostly suwen and guan. The chiefs' authority now derived less from their lineage background and more from their personal efforts and abilities, profits from opium growing and tolls, and the special relationship with the Han officials or Dai tusi. The Communist Revolution ended the chiefdom system. Local politics today is organized by the party into a unified government structure of five levels: state; province or autonomous region; prefecture or autonomous zhou; county; and xiang (countryside). A xiang, the lowest level of state power and the basic administrative unit, includes several administrative villages, each of which consists of a number of natural villages. The xiang government is appointed by the xiang peoples congress, which is elected from the party-recommended candidates and under the leadership of the xiang party committee. The xiang government appoints the head of the administrative village while the villagers elect the head of the natural village.

Social Control and Conflict. Traditional Jingpo principles (htungtara ) and common law still play an important role in Jingpo life. Faith in gods and commitment to the mayu-dama relationship are the essence of the principles. For example, in the case of adultery or other sex scandals, "face washing" by cattle sacrifice and compensation according to the common law are always taken for granted and tacitly approved by the village heads. Other disputes, such as those over debts, stealing, fighting, or injury are mostly settled through the mediation of the village heads and elders in accordance with htungtara. A traditional way to resolve major conflicts and disputesto grab cattle by forceis still accepted by the cadres and villagers, especially when the offender is a wrongdoer who refuses to pay the compensation.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The essence of the Jingpo religion is belief in the dual nature of man and living thingsthe natural and spiritual aspectsand the belief that the supernatural beings or spirits (nat ) are superior to man. The Jingpo also believe that all the spirits were once nothing but mortals passing out from the present world; however, this passage invested them with supernatural powers and thus transformed them into objects of fear, reverence, and worship. The spirits are innumerable and occupy every imaginable place. Each village, lineage, and clan also has its particular divinities. Capable of good deeds as well as evil, the nat dominate or interfere with the affairs of the present world, bring people illness or health, bestow bad fortune or good fortune, and determine the destiny of people. The nat are disagreeable in character and always ready to take revengethat is, to "bite" people who trespass against them, knowingly or unknowinglyso they must be avoided, feared as well as worshiped, and consulted all the time. Some aspects of Dai Buddhism and Han Chinese Confucianism appear in Jingpo myths and rituals. In recent years, quite a number of the Jingpo converted to Christianity, but the mass of the people still hold their ancestral faith and sacrifice to their numerous spirits.

Religious Practitioners. The Jingpo have part-time religious specialists, the dumsa, who can relieve people of illness and suffering by identifying the offended spirits and supplicating, placating, and making offerings to them. In order to identify the troublesome spirits and ascertain their will and wishes, a dumsa should also be a diviner. Public recognition is the main basis of the dumsa's qualification. Dumsas' popularity, influence, and income depend on their personal abilities and charisma. Certain grades are commonly recognized among these specialists. The first is the jaiwa, or grand dumsa, the highest religious authority and the only priest who can officiate on special occasions such as manao (the greatest festival dedicated to the madai nat, the highest of all ancestor spirits). The second is the dumsa, among whom several grades exist: ga dumsa, who can minister to the earth and sky spirit; tru dumsa, who can authorize the sacrifice to the ancestral spirits; and the normal dumsa. Among this group there is also shichao, a dumsa specializing in releasing and sending the souls of the dead to the spirit world. The third is the hkinjawng, a subordinate and assistant to the dumsa when putting up the altar and cutting up the sacrifice. The fourth is the myhtoi, the medium or nat prophet, who is the oracle of the spirit world, able to get in touch with nat and know their will when in a trance. The fifth is the ningwaw t, the diviner. (Some diviners are also dumsa, but usually capable ningwawt are not.) All of these specialists traditionally receive payment from their clients for their service. With few exceptions, these specialists are male, aged, and capable, with glib tongues, familiar with the religious language chanted at the sacrifice as well as everything about the history, tradition, and legends of their lineages and clans. The dumsa once were leading figures in the society. During the Cultural Revolution and other political campaigns, the dumsa had a difficult time, but now they are practicing again and make a fair income from their services.

Ceremonies. To propitiate the nat by offering them animal sacrifices is the object of Jingpo rituals. Each village is a self-authorized unit of communal ritual, and the village heads (formerly the chiefs) and the dumsa jointly take care of the rituals. Each family also takes full responsibility for its own rituals and is free to invite any dumsa to preside. Two communal rituals, the numshang offerings, are performed each year, one in April and the other in October. Connected with sowing and harvest, the two offerings especially reflect the care taken to secure the goodwill of the guardians of homes and villages. There was another communal ritual, manao, the biggest ritual-festival dedicated to the madai nat. However, the Jingpo commonly did not observe it, partly because it required seven to nine buffalo or cattle, tens of pigs, and hundreds of fowl as sacrifices, but also because only the madai-keeper families (i.e., those from the main chief lineages) were entitled to hold it, and only the jaiwa were entitled to conduct it. The government authorities banned this grand ritual in the Cultural Revolution. Now the government has officially declared the manao a Jingpo national holiday and fixed it on the Chinese New Year; its celebration is officially organized with no nat-offering activities. Individual households hold other rituals on a fixed timetable connected with subsistence farming: the ancestral nat offering in February for the whole family's good fortune in the coming year and in April to guarantee growth of the rice seedlings; the stream nat offering in May to prevent the people being "bitten" by the spirit; the new-rice tasting ritual in October to thank the sky and ancestral nat; the rice-soul-calling-back ritual in November to ensure continued consumption of the rice. Families also perform some situational and problem-resolving rituals. Situational rituals include those for marriages, funerals, new-house building, the regular visiting of the mayu family by the dama, and "face washing" occasioned by adultery or other sexual scandals. People hold problem-resolving rituals to dispel illness and misfortune, to call back a wife who has run away, to find lost things, and so on.

Arts. Jingpo literature includes legends, ballads, and folktales, which are mainly about the genesis and genealogy of the chief clans and are handed down orally by the dumsa. Love songs are very popular among the youth, and the religious group dance of manao is a vivid presentation of Jingpo character. Weaving and embroidery of wool skirts are well developed, whereas painting and wood carving are simple and mainly associated with nat worship.

Medicine. The Jingpo traditionally attributed illness to a bite from a nat, or soul loss. Traditional folk medicine was limited to some medicinal plants and herbs, mainly for injuries or wounds. Modern medicine has been introduced in the Jingpo area since 1949, but the dumsa rituals remain the first resort in any illness. The Jingpo believe that if a person dies outside the village, his or her spirit will become a "wild nat," which can never return to the old homeland but instead wanders around trying to "bite" the living. Because of this belief, many sick villagers are reluctant to go to the hospital.

Death and Afterlife. The Jingpo believe that human beings are multisouled: a man has six souls and a woman seven. Of the souls three are "near" or "real," while the rest are "far" or "false." If the "real" souls are all absent from the bodybecause a nat has "bitten" the person or for another reasonthe person will die; if one or two are away, the person will be ill. A human being will join the nat world after dying. The best death is a natural death (a death at 50 years of age or older) at home; the worst death is to die by accident outside the home, an occurrence that the Jingpo believe to be caused by evil spirits. The funeral rituals are for normal deaths only and consist of the burial, which disposes of the corpse, and the spirit sending, which sends the spirit away to the world of nat spirits. The two parts are usually held at the same time but may be held separately within a month or even a year, if the family cannot afford the whole ritual at once. The spirit sending is more important because the spirit separated from the corpse remains at home, in the spirit room, and can always cause trouble. The Jingpo believe that at least one buffalo should be killed and its skull should be laid in front of the person's grave to please the deceased's spirit and exhort it to leave.

See also Kachin in Volume 5, East and Southeast Asia


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