Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
Additional members of the Achang minority live in the Husa region, but this study refers only to that branch of Achang which claims to be descended from Chinese soldiers stationed in the region during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). As one writer notes, "They differ from Achang people elsewhere in their customs and religious beliefs. The Husa Achang claim to be distinct; in the 1950s they lodged an unsuccessful application with the government to be recognized as a separate nationality.
The Husa Achang have a common affinity for each other because of their historical roots. "The Achang of Husa are said to be descended from Achang women who married Han Chinese soldiers serving in the Ming army who were left behind to farm and garrison this area after three successful campaigns against the rebellious clan of Si in 1448. After more than five centuries, the Husa Achang still consider themselves ethnically separate and possess numerous cultural and religious observances that are not found among other Achang. Husa is also the site of a famous Qing Dynasty tomb from the late nineteenth century.
The military background of the Husa Achang is probably the reason for their great skill in making knives, daggers, and swords. The Husa woodcutting knife is famous all over southwest China. The swords they make are similar in design to those used in the Imperial Court of China around the year 1388. The sword is reputed to be "so pliable that it can wind around your finger, and so sharp that it cuts iron like mud.
The historical origins of the Husa Achang have also provided them with religious practices distinct from other Achang people. For instance, "quite a few Achang homes in Husa contain a memorial tablet of the Confucian type ... evidence of Han Chinese cultural influence." Some Husa Achang practice a mixture of Theravada Buddhism and Daoism, while many of the current atheism-educated generation are nonreligious.
There are a small number of Christians among the Husa Achang. Surrounded by strong Jingpo churches, most Achang in Husa are aware of the gospel. The Kachin church in nearby northern Myanmar offers Bible training to believers from the Achang region.