The Shan symbol is a tiger. The Shan flag consists of a yellow, green and red stripe with a white circle in the middle. Yellow stands for religion, green symbolizes forest, rich in natural resources, people and peace and red symbolizes the Shan's courage. The white moon represents the Shan's pure and peaceful spirit.
Shan is still the first language of the majority, though due to 60 years under British protection and 40 years under Burmese colonialism, the use of English and Burmese has become fairly common. They have their own centuries old literature, art, agriculture and history.
Tattooing is common among Shan men. The tattoos are often Buddhist connotations or signs, placed in an effort to ward off evil spirits and protect the person from danger.
As for attire, women wear wrap-around tube skirts called longyi (sarongs) and snug fitting blouses, and traditionally wear their hair up in a bun. Shan Men wear baggy trousers and a shirt, sometimes with a turban.
Theravada Buddhism is the dominant faith. Hinduism, Christianity, Islamism and Animism also flourish in this land. Monks and the monastery play a vital role in the villages and are highly respected, teaching Buddhist ways and providing schooling for the children.
Shan society is a tightly structured hierarchy and everyone has their place. Families are closely knit and extended families live together. It is common to have many children. The Shan live mainly in the valleys and plains, where they grow rice or practice shifting agriculture.
These multi-racial people are described by ancient travelers as the most peace loving people who trust everyone and envy none. The majority of the Shan are Tai, of the same ethnological stock as Thai and Laotian. There are also several other racial groups including Pa-o, Palaung and Wa of Mon-Khmer stock; and Kachin, Akha and Lahu of Tibeto-Burman stock.
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