The Shan people are a distinct ethnic group that
today constitute Myanmar’s largest minority
group. However, from the 13th until the 16th
Century, they dominated most of the country.
They are largely Buddhist, and their language and
customs are closely related to the Thai and
Laotians, their neighbors to the south and east.
In the 19th Century, long after their power had
eroded, they were distributed among thirty petty
states that paid tribute first to the Burman King,
then to the British. This arrangement remained
more or less in tact until 1922 when the
Federated Shan States were joined together. In
1947, a unified Shan States was created under
the Burmese Constitution. Although much of
their autonomy has been relinquished to the
central government, the Shan retain their unique
cultural identity and ethnic heritage.
The historical figure, Buddha Gautama
Sakyamuni is the Buddha of compassion who,
having achieved the highest evolutionary
perfection, turns suffering into happiness for all
living beings. Born around 560 B.C. somewhere
between the hills of south Nepal and the Rapti
river, his father was a Raja who ruled over the
northeastern province of India, the district
including the holy Ganges River. The young
prince was married to Yashoda when he was
about 17 years old and together they had a son
named Rahula. At the age of 29, he left his life of
luxury, as he felt compelled to purify his body
and make it an instrument of the mind by ridding
himself of earthly impulses and temptations.