Thibaw - Encyclopedia

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THIBAW, or HsIPAw, one of the Northern Shan States of Burma. It is called by the Shans, and officially, Hsipaw, and also frequently Ong Pawug (the name of an old capital). It includes four states - Thibaw, the main state, and the substates of Meng Long, Mong Tung and Thonze (or Hsumhsai). The whole state has an area of 5086 sq. m., and the population in 1 9 01 was 104,700. The main state lies on the geological fault which runs east and west across the Shan States, from the Salween at Kunlong and beyond to nearly the rim of the Shan tableland at Gokteik. It is therefore broken up into a mass of not very well-defined ridges and spurs, crossing and re-entering. The chief plain land is in the valley of the Nam Tu (Myit-ngb), near Thibaw town, and the valley or strath of the Pyawng Kawng, Nawng Ping neighbourhood. Elsewhere the valleys are insignificant. The hills on the Mong Tung border reach their highest elevations in the peaks Loi Pan (6848 ft.) and Loi Htan (6270 ft.). To the north-west of Thibaw town, on the Tawng Peng border, Loi Lam rises to 6486 ft. The valley of the Nam Tu marks the lowest point in the state at Thibaw town, about 1400 ft., and rises on the east in Meng Tung to a plain level of about 2500 ft., and on the west in Mong Long to a confused mass of hills with an average height of 4500 ft., broken up by the Nam Yawn and Nam Kaw valleys, which are about 3000 ft. above mean sea-level.

The chief river is the Nam Tu or Myit-ngb, also frequently called by its classical name the Dbktawadi. The main stream rises in the Salween-Irrawaddy watershed, and is enlarged by considerable tributaries. At Thibaw town it is 250 yds. wide and about 8 ft. deep, with a fairly strong current. The Nam Tu is navigable only in local stretches, and between Thonze and Lawksawk (Yatsauk) it flows through a gorge between cliffs 3000 to 4000 ft. high. At the gorge of Hokiit (Ngbkteik) the Nam Htang and the Nam Pase unite to form the Nam Kilt, which passes into the ground at the natural bridge where the Mandalay-Kunlbng railway crosses the gorge, and reappears to join the Nam Tu. The bed of the Nam Kilt is about 1500 ft. below the general level of the country. Coal is found at various places in the state, but is not of very high quality. Salt-wells are worked by the inhabitants of Mawhkio (Bawgyo) about 7 m. from Thibaw town. The average maximum temperature at the beginning of April is about 96°. and the minimum about the same period 65°. The rainfall averages about 70 in. for the year. The chief crops are rice, cotton, sesamum, tea in the hills, and thanat, the leaf of a tree used for the wrapper of the Burma, or "green" cheroot. Cotton cloth was formerly much more generally manufactured than it now is, and a coarse country paper is also made. Other industries are merely of articles for local use. The government cart road to Lashio passes through the centre of the state, and from this various unmetalled roads radiate to different parts of the state and the neighbouring states. The Mandalay-Kunlong railway, now open as far as Lashio, also passes through the capital. Teak forests exist along the banks of the Nam Tu and in the Ming Long states, but both have been practically exhausted, and will have to be closed for many years. Previous to the annexation, and in a general way still, the state is administered by the sawbwa, or chief, aided by a council of six amats or ministers. Under them are a number of ne-baings, who are in charge of circles and townships. Each ne-baing has an asiyin, or clerk, and each village has a headman, or kin-man. The amats supervise the administration of a certain number of districts. The old system is now being assimilated to that followed in Burma. The chief Sao Hke was for a time in England. (J. G. Sc.)

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