The Chin State & People

Geographical features

The Chin state located in the Northwest of Myanmar (latitude 20.40 to 5, longitude 92.37 to 94.9) is a very ragged land. Its eastern border faces Sagaing Division and Magwae Division, while the west faces the state of Mizoram in Bangladesh, north the state of Assam in India and south the state of Rakhine.

Population is approx. 450,000 and they spread around within some 9 provinces, which covers some 130,907square miles. Mountain regions start in the north where steep peaks and valleys continue towards south. The highest peak is Mt. Victoria (10,200feet/ 3,109m).

There run many rivers including River Manipur, River Kaladam in the southwest of the Chin state which starts in India going through Chin state into River Rakhine. Rivers in the south-east area of Chin such as River Yaw Creek, Salin Creek and Mon Creek run toward east. Those streams are fast and strong as they run in the hills and valleys. In recent years due to the deforestation for forest resources and cultivation, lot of mud pour into the stream, causing the frequent flood after heavy rain.


Chins belong to the Tibet-Burma group. There are 52 sub-tribes ( some say 42)among the Chin. Many Chins living in the center to the north of the state tend to call themselves Mizo. There are 9 official groups in the Chin state; Tiddim in north, Falam and Hakha with 27 sub-tribes, southern divisions of Mindat, Kanpellet and Matupi have 12, Paletwa and Daletmay have 8, and others with 5.


In the hilly Chin state farming is done at the terrace fields. It is also recommended as terrace fields will strengthen their land and prevent deforestation . In their mountain areas, cattle farming are difficult. There is no large-scale market because it is too hilly for people to walk long distance and gather at one place for daily needs. Chins grow キビ、corns, rice, beans, potatoes, mustard, coffee, mandarins, apples, mulberry, and grapes.


In the central and northern villages of Chin state, some has more than 500 houses and a single tribe chief governs the whole village, whose position is inebriated only by his son. On the other hand, most villages house as little as 15 to 20 units in the southern region and they all belong to the same family, thus family head governs the others. Even today Chin villages in the Mt. Victoria continues this style.


In the southern Chin regions such as Mindat, stone tables and Y-shaped wooden poles catch eyes of the travelers. They are often found by the road in the forest and mountain area villages and used for the ceremonies as an place to put a cow and so on. Naga also use the very similar type of Y-shaped poles. There are pictures of those items in this web site.

Around Mindat live 3 tribes of Chin called Munn, Makan and Dine. They burn the dead corps and put its ash into a jar, then bury it under a low, stone-made table. Thus These tables are used as tombs and altars. Travelers will see them on the way to Mt. Victoria from Mindat, at the village near Aye where we say for a night. They are also seen at the village of Munn as we stay at a mountain lodge.


Today it is not common to see the female Chins with tattoos on their faces in north and central Chin state, but Mindat and other south Chin villages still maintain this tradition. Especially young women of the Munn tribe in Mt. Victoria region are keen to do this customs.

Munn, Makan and Dine tribes each has different tattoo design. Munn’s tattoo is a line of small circles along the neck, straight lines making half moon shape for the cheeks. Dine put a lot of dots all over the face. Another tribes of Chin group in Arakan state uses a spider-net pattern tattoos which are not found around Mindat. Dine females are also said that they used to be slaves and its evidence was a ring shaped tattoo around the ankles which they still have today.

Nose Flute

Men of Dine plays this very unique musical instrument when he asks a woman to marry him, as a means of proposes! Some say women also play the nose flute as a token of her acceptance to get married.


On the Chin National Day(February 20th ) some people hold a traditional ceremony and dedicate a cattle for their God but the animism festivals are hardly seen today. Yet there still lives several shamans in southern Chin, one of which is said to be as old as more than 100 years old.


A former British military called Maning has married a daughter of northern Chin tribe’s chief before WW2 who fought the war against the Japanese troops with his guerilla party of Chins. He stayed with the Chins till the end and died after the war in the village. It would be very interesting to follow his steps in the Chin regions some day.