Shan are very hospitable people. They always open the doors of their home to visitors, passerby or strangers. Even though they have never met or known each other before they offer a place to rest or stay for a night or two or even for a week. They believe that taking care of the guest is good deed and can earn great merit. At least the visitors or strangers are offered a cup of cold water or hot green tea when they come into the house. Stranger who has happened to be at home at mealtime is always invited to the table. When a stranger comes after mealtime, the visitor is always asked if he has had his meal. If not yet, the host use to prepare meal for the visitor.
Leslie Milne said, “A poor Buddhist nun whom I thus treated, she was so grateful that for days she supplied me and my servants with vegetables and fruit. Her gratitude also taking embarrassing form of coming to say her prayers – presumably for me – in my bed room when I was dressing.”
A small bamboo stand on the side of the road covered with a tiny thatched roof shading water pot is a common scene in Shan village. Women and girls use to fill the water pots with water every day. The water is freely available for passerby. They have been taught that a cup of cold water given to tired and thirsty wayfarers brings much reward in the future life.
Tattooing proper had been practiced in most parts of the world though it was rare among populations with the dark skin color and absent from most of China (at least in recent centuries). Various people believed that tattooed designs could provide magical charm, protection against sickness or misfortune. Some considered tattooing could make people having power, free from evil and danger. Some might even think as a beauty. Some tattoo were useful as identity of a person’s race, rank, status, or membership in a group. Tattoos had also been found on Egyptian and Nubian mummies dating from about 2000 BC. After the advent of Christianity, tattooing was forbidden in Europe but it persisted in the middle east and in other parts of the world.
Tattooing was a culture that existed in the Shan for centuries since they were in mainland (China). Shan believed that, because of wars, they were going to be separated from one another and scattered all over the world. In order to be able to recognize one another in the future they started tattooing one another as an identification mark. That’s why tattoo can be found on the body of Shan, Tai Ahom, Thai , and Laotians. It is somehow an identification of the Shan race. Whenever people see tattoo on his body he is recognized and accepted as a person belong to Shan race. A Shan boy was considered to have reached manhood when he has been tattooed. When a boy reached the age of 11 or 12, the earliest age, a tattoo artist was invited to tattoo his body and limbs with designs of animals, flowers, geometric patterns or the Tai written script.
In the past all male must have tattoo. Without tattoo he was not considered a matured man or brave man but considered as immature and coward. Women did not like a man who had no tattoo. There was a saying, “Yellow leg, get back away from our fields, otherwise our spirit of the field will flee.” In those days a man with no tattoo can hardly find a wife. Some tattooed from neck to ankle covering the whole body. Some only had tattoo on arms and small tattoo on the chest and back. The tattooing instrument is a single split needle set in a heavy brass socket or a few needles tightly tied together. No ink but the bile from the gall of bear was used in tattooing the skin. Women seldom tattooed unless they were crossed in love. Tattooing is still practicing now but many young generations have abandoned it.