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Kadu people

Kadu people
Total population
180,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
Kadu, Burmese
Theravada Buddhism
Related ethnic groups
Chak, Kanan

The Kadu people (Burmese: ကတူးလူမျိုး; also spelt Kado) are an ethnic group in Myanmar. They speak the Kadu language.[1] They mostly reside in the country's northwestern hills, centred around Katha, and are ethnolinguistically related to the Ganan and Sak peoples.[2][3] The Kadu traditionally cultivate rice on irrigated terraces.[4]


In Old Burmese, the Kadu were referred to as the Kantu or Sak-Kantu.[3] Their endonym is Asak, commonly shortened to Sak.[2][5] Speakers of the Ganan and Mokhwang Kadu dialects do not self-identify as Sak or Asak.[6] In the 13th century History of Yuan, they are recorded as the Jiandu (建都), while the Travels of Marco Polo recorded them as the Caindu.[3]


The Kadu likely descended from the Qiongdu [zh] (邛都), a sub-group of 'southwestern barbarians' described in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian.[3] They settled in present-day Myanmar during the Tang dynasty, becoming a dominant group in the Tagaung Kingdom.[3][2] Scholars like Gordon Luce posit that the Pyu people were converted to Buddhism by the Sak-Kadu peoples.[3]

With the rise of the Pagan kingdom, by the 12th and 13th centuries, the Kadu inhabited the border areas between the present-day Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of China and Burma.[3] By the 13th century, they had largely assimilated into more dominant Tibeto-Burman speaking groups in both China and Burma.[3] By the mid-13th century, the Kadu had diverged from the Sak (or Thet people), who now reside in southwestern Myanmar's Rakhine State.[3] By the early 20th century, most Kadu had assimilated and adopted Burmese customs, including Theravada Buddhism.[5][4]


The Kadu population is estimated to be approximately 180,000.[7] The 1901 census counted 16,300 Kadu speakers, while the 1911 census reported 11,069 Kadu speakers.[5] The 1931 census counted 36,400 persons of Kadu descent.[3]

The Kadu primarily live in the country's northwest in Sagaing Region, scattered across 98 villages, including 38 villages in Banmauk Township, 34 villages in Indaw Township, 16 villages in Pinlebu Township, 5 villages in Katha Township, and 5 villages in Mogaung Township.[7]


  1. ^ "Kadu".
  2. ^ a b c Bradley, David (2002). "The Subgrouping of Tibeto-Burman". In Beckwith, Christopher I. (ed.). Brill's Tibetan studies library. 2,6: PIATS 2000: Tibetan studies: Leiden 2000 / ed. by Christopher I. Beckwith. Proceedings of the ... seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Leiden Köln: Brill. pp. 73–112. ISBN 978-90-04-12424-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ping, He (2006). "Rise and fall of Kantu: A historical study of an ancient Tibeto-Burmese speaking group". Frontiers of History in China. 1 (4): 535–543. doi:10.1007/s11462-006-0018-9. ISSN 1673-3401.
  4. ^ a b Seekins, Donald M. (2017-03-27). Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 287. ISBN 978-1-5381-0183-4.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, R. Grant (1920). "The Kadus of Burma". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 1 (3): 1–28. ISSN 1356-1898.
  6. ^ Huziwara, Keisuke (2020). "On the genetic position of Chakpa within Luish languages". Himalayan Linguistics. 19 (2). doi:10.5070/H91150999.
  7. ^ a b "Third Kadu ethnic cultural festival held in Bamauk Township". MDN - Myanmar DigitalNews. Retrieved 2024-01-07.

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Kadu people
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