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Taungtha people

Taungtha people
Total population
30,000 – 35,000
Regions with significant populations
Magway Region, Myanmar
Rungtu, Burmese language
Theravada Buddhism, animism
Related ethnic groups

The Taungtha people (Burmese: တောင်သား လူမျိုး) or Rungtu (Burmese: ရောင်တူ)[1] are an unrecognized ethnic group primarily found in Magway Region, a central region in Myanmar (Burma).[2] The Taungtha are not officially recognized by the Burmese state as one of the country's 135 ethnic groups.[3] The Taungtha population is approximately 30,000 to 35,000 strong.[4][5]


The Taungtha primarily live in villages scattered throughout the Chin Hills of Gangaw District, which is flanked to the west by Chin State, the westernmost part of Myanmar (formerly Burma) as well as in Mindat Township of Chin State.[6][7] There are 23 Taungtha villages in Htilin Township, 3 in Gangaw Township, and 22 in Saw Township.[6]


The origins of the Taungtha people are unclear. The Taungtha claim descent from the Pyu people, who had established a number of city-states in modern-day Myanmar. The Taungtha believe that during the rise of Pagan Kingdom in subsequent centuries, the purported ancestors of the Taungtha fled north from their original home near Mount Popa[5] to their present-day location, earning the moniker "Taungtha" (lit. "sons from the south" or "sons from the hills").[6] Some Taungtha date their migration to the reign of Thamoddarit, a legendary king of Pagan.[8] The historical origins may be that the Taungtha are in fact Burmanized Chins; their native language, Rungtu, belongs to the family of Southern Kuki-Chin languages, and like other Chin-speaking groups living outside of Chin State, they do not self-identify as Chin.[9]

Official recognition

The Taungtha formerly self-identified as "Taungtha" on identity documents, until stricter enforcement of the recognized ethnic groups in recent times required them to begin self-identifying as Bamar.[10] On 17 January 2018, Kyaw Myint, a regional lawmaker at the Magway Region Hluttaw convened a proposal to submit a formal request to the national-level Assembly of the Union in order to gain official recognition of the Taungtha people as an indigenous ethnic group, but the measure failed.[3] The basis for the proposal, according to Kyaw Myint, who is of Taungtha descent,[11] was to preserve the cultural heritage, literature, and language of the Taungtha people.[12] Opposing lawmakers voiced concern about the need to fund and conduct additional research to further examine the history and origins of minority groups such as the Taungtha as a precursor to further action.[3]


The Taungtha speak the Burmese language in addition to Taungtha, which is considered a part of the Southern Kuki-Chin language family. During the British colonial era, scholars observed that Taungtha and Mün were akin to the neighboring Shö language (Asho Chin).[13] Taungtha is an unwritten language, and the spoken language is endangered, as the primary medium of education is in Burmese. There is regional variation in the Taungtha language, specifically between the dialects spoken in the north (Htilin Township) versus the south (Saw Township).[6]


While Taungtha men are indistinguishable from their Burman counterparts (traditionally donning taungshay longyi), Taungtha women traditionally wear a costume called taung thamawut (တောင်သမဝတ်), consisting of a red shawl worn as a body wrap, over a long white robe or gown.[2] Historically, the color of the shawls reflected a female's relative age and marital status: girls wore white shawls, single young women wore red shawls, while married women wore darker-colored shawls.[2]

The majority of Taungtha are farmers who cultivate rice paddy, beans and pulses, lemons, oranges, onions, and peppers.[2] As of 2018, community-based tourism initiatives are also being established in Taungtha villages.[14][15]

Traditional meals consist of an assortment of dishes eaten on a daunglan.[2] Hospitality and generosity are important facets of Taungtha culture. Traditional houses are built of wood, and without nails, with structures fastened together using wooden hinges.


The Taungtha have syncretic beliefs, practicing Theravada Buddhism while worshipping traditional nats (spirits).[2]

See also


  1. ^ တောင်သား(ခေါ်) ရောင်တူမျိုးနွယ်စု တို့ရဲ့ လူနေမှုဘဝများ (in Burmese), archived from the original on 2020-06-16, retrieved 2020-05-17
  2. ^ a b c d e f မြန်မာ့စွယ်စုံကျမ်း (in Burmese). Vol. 5. Sarpay Beikman. 1961.
  3. ^ a b c "ပျူမျိုးနွယ်စုခေါ် တောင်သားလူမျိုးများအား တိုင်းရင်းသားလူမျိုးစု စာရင်းသွင်း၍ ကုတ်နံပါတ်ရရှိရေးအဆိုကို မကွေးတိုင်းကိုယ်စားလှယ် ထက်ဝက်ကျော် ကန့်ကွက်ခဲ့သောကြောင့် မှတ်တမ်းအဖြစ်သာ ထားရှိ". Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2023-03-24. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  4. ^ "ဆောမြို့နယ်၌ ပျူလူမျိုးစု (ခေါ်) တောင်သားလူမျိုးစုများ တွေ့ဆုံပွဲကျင်းပမည်". Lotaya (in Burmese). Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  5. ^ a b "မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတိုင်းရင်းသားများ၏ သမိုင်း၊ ယဉ်ကျေးမှု၊ စာပေ၊ ဓလေ့ထုံးတမ်းများနှင့် ပတ်သက်၍ မှတ်တမ်းများ ပြုစုထားရှိရေး " အဆိုကို ဦးခင်မောင်ဌေး (ထီလင်းမဲဆန္ဒနယ်) ကဆွေးနွေးခြင်း | Pyithu Hluttaw". Pyithu Hluttaw (in Burmese). Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  6. ^ a b c d နေအောင် (2018-05-23). "ပုံတောင်ပုံညာတောင်တန်းကြီး အကွယ်က တောင်သားလူမျိုးစု". The Myanmar Times (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2021-02-20. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  7. ^ "မကွေး တိုင်းဒေသကြီး အတွင်းရှိ ပျူလူမျိုး(ခေါ်) တောင်သားလူမျိုးများ ပထမအကြိမ် တွေ့ဆုံပွဲကျင်?". Yangon Media Group (in Burmese). 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  8. ^ မောဟေမာန် (2019-12-28). "တတိယအကြိမ်မြောက် တောင်သားလူမျိုးများ တွေ့ဆုံပွဲကျင်းပ". MDN - Myanmar Digital News (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2023-03-24. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  9. ^ Mang, Kee Shein (November 2006). "A Syntactic and Pragmatic Description of Verb Stem Alternation in K'chò, a Chin Language" (PDF). Payap University. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-05-01. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  10. ^ "တောင်သား လူမျိုးတွေ လူမျိုးစု ကုဒ်နံပါတ်ရဖို့ အစိုးရ ကိုတောင်းဆို". DVB (in Burmese). 2019-12-28. Archived from the original on 2020-06-16. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  11. ^ "မကွေးတိုင်းဒေသကြီး ယောဒေသအတွင်း အများဆုံးနေထိုင်သည့် ရှေးဟောင်းပျူလူမျိုးများဟု သိရှိကြသော တောင်သားလူမျိုးများသည် ကုတ်နံပါတ်ရရှိသည်အထိ တင်ပြဆောင်ရွက်သွားမည်ဟု ဆို". Eleven Media. 2017-12-05. Archived from the original on 2022-03-07. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  12. ^ "တောင်သားလူမျိုး ကုတ်နံပါတ်ရရှိရေးအဆို ရှုံးနိမ့်". The Voice (in Burmese). 2018-01-17. Archived from the original on 2021-02-21. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  13. ^ Grierson, G.A. (1904). Linguistic Survey of India - Tibeto-Burman Family: Specimens of the Kuki-Chin and Burma Groups. Vol. III. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India. Archived from the original on 2023-03-24. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  14. ^ "တောင်သားလူမျိုးစုတို့နေထိုင်ရာ မကွေးတိုင်းဒေသကြီးတွင် ဖွင့်လှစ်နိုင်ရန် စီစဉ်". MRTV (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2020-06-16. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  15. ^ "တောင်သားလူမျိုးများတွေ့ဆုံပွဲ နှစ်စဉ်နတ်တော်လပြည်နေ့ ရောက်တိုင်းပြုလုပ်မည်". MRTV (in Burmese). Archived from the original on 2023-03-24. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
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Taungtha people
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