Achang people

The Achang (Chinese: 阿昌族; pinyin: Āchāngzú), also known as the Ngac'ang (their own name) is an ethnic group.They are one of tibeto burman language speaking people. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They also live in Myanmar, where they're known as Maingtha (Burmese: မိုင်းသာလူမျိုး) in Shan State and Ngochang in Kachin State.

Achang woman's dress
Total population
Regions with significant populations
People's Republic of China, mostly concentrated in Yunnan province, smaller population in Burma
Achang, Xiandao (SIL, khan31tao31), Burmese, and Southwestern Mandarin
Theravada Buddhism, Taoism, and a mixture of animism and ancestor worship.
Related ethnic groups
Bamar, Rakhine, Marma, and other Sino-Tibetan peoples

The Achang number 27,700, of whom 27,600 are from Yunnan province, mainly in Lianghe County of Dehong Autonomous Prefecture. The Achang speak a Burmish (Burmese-related) language called Achang, but there is no indigenous writing system to accompany it. Chinese characters are often used instead. Many Achang also speak the Tai Lü language, mainly to make commercial transactions with Dai people.[1]

Speaking a distinct dialect, the Husa Achang (戶撒) living in Longchuan County (also in Dehong) consider themselves to be distinct and filed an unsuccessful application in the 1950s as a separate nationality. The Husa were more Sinicized than other Achang. For example, Confucian-styled ancestral memorial tablets are common in Husa homes. Most traditional Husa believe in a mixture of Theravada Buddhism and Taoism.


The Achang are descendants of the Qiang tribes that 2,000 years ago inhabited the border region between Sichuan, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.[1] The Achang people lived in the Yunlong area during the Yuan dynasty (1271–1268 AD).[2] The Achang people are considered to be one of Yunnan's earliest inhabitants.[3] Their leader Zaogai made a rule in which the tribe leader could only be succeeded by the oldest son of the former leader.[4] The Achang community became stronger and began to have trade relationships with other kingdoms like Jinchi and Bo.[4] The Achang were descendants of the Xunchuan people during the Tang dynasty.[4] In the 16th year of the reign of Emperor Honghu during the Ming dynasty (1383 AD), under the leadership of Zuona, the Achang people pledged allegiance to the emperor of the Ming dynasty.[3] During Hongwu period, Duanbo from the Han nationality was appointed the governor of Yunlong Region, and from then on the Achang ethnic group was degraded and at the same time they began to move to live in Dehong region in the southwest and as a result lost their home native land.[3] Today more than 90 percent of the 33,936 Achangs live in Longchuan, Lianghe and Luxi counties in the Dehong Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in southwestern Yunnan Province.[2] The rest live in Longling County in the neighboring Baoshan Prefecture.[2]


A great part of the history and traditions of the Achang has been transmitted from generation to generation through music and songs. Music is one of the mainstays of their culture, and they usually finish all celebrations with songs and dances. Unmarried young people usually comb their hair with two braids that gather on their head. The typical clothes of the Achang vary according to village. Married women dress in long skirts, whereas unmarried women wear trousers. The men usually use the colors blue, or black to make their shirts, buttoned to a side. Unmarried men surround their head with a fabric of white color, whereas married men wear blue. In Buddhist funerals of the Achang, a long fabric tape of about 20 meters is tied to the coffin. During the ceremony, the monk in charge of the ritual, walks in front as opposed to holding the tape. By doing this, the monk helps directs the soul of the deceased so that the soul of the deceased arrives at its final destiny. The deceased is buried without any metallic elements, not even jewels, since it is believed that those elements contaminate the soul for future reincarnation.


  1. "Achang Ethnic Minority". Ministry of Culture. 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-01-21.
  2. "The Achang Ethnic Group – The Ballad Singers". Retrieved 2019-11-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Deason, Rachel (2018-06-21). "An Introduction to China's Achang People". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  4. Hays, Jeffrey (July 2015). "Achang Minority". Archived from the original on 2019-11-26. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
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