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Shan Tribes (Pa-O)


The Pa-O or Taungthu as they are known by Myanmar are the second most numerous ethnic group in the Shan State after the Shans themselves, and are estimated to number about 700,000. They are an important branch of the Kayin ethnic family and speak a related language, although many Pa-Os in the Shan State are unaware of any connection. Itinerant traders and Buddhists, many today live in the mountains around Taunggyi and Kalaw in western Shan State , where their main cash crop is the thanapet leaf from cordia trees, used for rolling Myanmar traditional cigar, the cheroot.

Pa-O men wear loose-fitting trousers, jackets and turbans like the Shans, but they can be easily distinguished by their black dress and towel turbans. The women wear longyis, long sleeveless shirts and cropped long-sleeved jackets, but with a brightly coloured turban.