A Pa-Oh woman near Kalaw, Southern Shan State
|Total: 600,000 (2010 est.); 600,000 in Shan State|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Pa'O language, Shan|
The Pa-Oh (Burmese: ပအိုဝ့်လူမျိုး or တောင်သူ [pəo̰]; Shan: တွင်ႇသူႇ or ပဢူဝ်း; also known as Taungthu and Black Karen) form an ethnic group in Burma, comprising approximately 600,000. The Pa-Oh form the second largest ethnic group in Shan State, and are classified as part of the "Shan National Race" by the government, although they are believed to be of Tibeto-Burman stock, and are ethnolinguistically related to the Karen. They populate Shan State, Kayin State, and Kayah State. The Full Moon of Tabaung is celebrated as the Pa-O National Day, traditionally set on the day of King Suriyachanda’s birth.
Pa'O people have been living in Myanmar since before Shan people began to settle in Myanmar.
The Pa-Oh settled in the Thaton region of present-day Myanmar about 1000 B.C. Historically, the Pa-Oh wore colorful clothing, until King Anawratha defeated the Mon King Makuta, who had established his reign in Thaton. The Pa-Oh were enslaved, and forced to wear indigo-dyed clothing, to signify their status. However, there are regional variations of clothing among the Pa-Oh. Many have adopted Bamar clothing, while men may wear Shan baung-mi (long baggy pants). The majority of Pa-Oh are Buddhists, but a written language was created by Christian missionaries. The Pa-Oh predominantly engage in agriculture, cultivating leaves of the thanapet tree (Cordia dichotoma) and mustard leaves. The Pa-Oh have largely assimilated into Bamar society, adopting many Bamar traditions and wearing Bamar clothing.
Aung Kham Hti, the leader of Pa-O National Organization (PNO), Thamanya Sayadaw, a well-known Buddhist monk, and Daw Kyaing Kyaing, Than Shwe's wife, Nang Khin Zay Yar, Miss Myanmar International-2012, are well-known Pa-Oh.
- Gordon, Jr., Raymond G. (2005). "Karen, Pa'o". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Retrieved 2006-06-11.
- Nandar Chann (May 2004). "Pa-O: The Forgotten People". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 8 March 2012.
- Tosa, Keiko (2009). "The Cult of Thamanya Sayadaw: The Social Dynamism of a Formulating Pilgrimage Site". Asian Ethnology (Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture) 68 (2): 239–264.
- Than Shwe—Man in the Iron Mask
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