where so many forms of speech are come across in so short a time. In some parts it is possible to march for several days, without even exerting oneself, and to find a new language or a new dialect at each halting place. In old days there was no one who wanted to go north, least of all to the North Pole. On the contrary, the teeming north poured from her frozen loins hordes that ever pressed southwards and farther south. It is not possible to say who were the first inhabitants of the Shan hills, any more than it is possible to say who were the first indwellers of Burma. Dr. Grierson thinks that they were of the same stock as the forebears of the great Munda race, and also of some of the tribes whom the French call
Oceanic that are now to be found in and around Australia. Probably the Selung of the Mergui Archipelago and the Akha, or Kaw, are the oldest. Dr. Grierson puts the Akha in the Burmese group, but all who have seen them in their homes disagree with him.
However that may be, it is certain that swarm after swarm pushed to the south for centuries, and that all of them tried to kill off or enslave their predecessors. The women, or at any rate the pretty women, were kept alive, and so complicated the matter, so that many of the peoples are as much an ethnological precipitate of an irreducible character as the inhabitants of the South American republics were dregs of a dictionary.
Local traditions, so far as they can be
traced, or comprehended, seem, however, to agree with philology and ethnology in asserting that the Mon-Hkmer sub-family were the first to come. They were followed by the Tibeto-Burmese, and' behind these came the Siamese-Chinese sub-family. The process went on till quite recent times, and it was only the British occupation which prevented the Chingpaw, or Kachins, from over-running the Shan States and dispossessing many Burmese settlements. There is the same difference between then and now as there is between a meeting where the suffragettes are controlled, and the dismayed rabblement where they are allowed to have their wilful way. It is most unfortunate that Shan States officials have not the leisure to make a study
of the languages, and that others with the leisure and the means do not care to come. It is certainly a far cry to Loch Awe ; a rough road to Jordan ; the Wa and the Akha are not to be reached without wearisome travelling and hard fare when one has arrived.
All the different families and sub-families have left representatives behind. Some were saved by being hidden away in secluded valleys ; many escaped by living on such inhospitable hills that the most truculent invader did not care to come after them. All of them, except perhaps the Akha, belong to the same stock. The Akha are conspicuous in another way. Their women are perhaps the most picturesque among the many singular and striking feminine fashions of the Shan hills. They wear a head-dress of circlets of bamboo, sometimes in the form of a cone,
sometimes placed at an acute angle so as to cap the top and clip the back of the head. On this there are appliques of dark-blue cotton cloth, ornamented with spangles and bosses of silver, and they are also decorated with festoons of jungle seeds, small dried gourds, shells, and coins. The strings of seed and silver necklaces hang round their necks and hide a good deal of a short coat, which often omits to hide the front part of the waist. A short skirt barely reaches the knee and is fastened with a sash, which is sometimes gay and sometimes white. The legs below are quite exposed, except for a very clumsy gaiter, worn to keep off leeches, which spoils the effect of what would otherwise be very shapely limbs. It may be remarked that most of the women in the states display a very generous amount of unclad leg, and the development both above and below the knee is quite high enough to justify the practice. Unfortunately they are usually very dirty. The Akha are the most numerous and widely distributed of the hill-races in Kengtung. They are not found west of the Salween. They are dog-eaters, like the Wa and the Tonkinese. The national religion is ancestor worship, and these forebears are all assumed to be fractious, if not malignant.
The other chief hill tribe in the Kengtung State is the Muhso, or Lahu. They are Tibeto - Burmese, and have a national tradition that they came from near the Irrawaddy River, probably at its source near the Tibetan border. They have much more of a nose than most of the other Tibeto-Burmese, and have straight-set eyes, and rather well shaped heads. The men shave the head like the Chinese, but the resultant queue is of rather sorry dimensions, and does not seem to be often thought worth plaiting. The men are all clad in indigo-blue Chinese cut clothes, and make a very sombre crowd. The women wear trousers and a long coat like a dressing gown, or the Tonkinese coat, with slits down the sides. It is fastened at the bosom with a silver brooch or clasp, and falls backward from this exposing, like the Akha women, a portion of the body over the seat of digestion. The ladiesa coats are adorned with seeds and embroidery, and with red and white stripes, like the frogs on a tunic. They wear silver torques round the neck, or cane necklets if they are poor. Both men and women wear huge ear-rings shaped like an inverted mark of interrogation. The Lahu are great sportsmen, and kill all manner of game with poisoned arrows, shot from powerful arblasts. They also play stirring tunes on a reed-organ like that of the Lao
WAS, SALOMS, ZAYAINS, AND PADAUNGS.WAS, SALOMS, ZAYAINS, AND PADAUNGS.