Main road in Siang Sawn Village

©David Eimer/Lonely Planet

Siang Sawn

Chin State

This rather strange, impeccably tidy village is an oddity in that it follows its own religion despite its proximity to heavily Christian Tiddim. In fact, all its inhabitants – about 60 families (some of whom wear traditional Chin clothing) – adhere to a faith that's overseen by the village spiritual leader. It's about 2 miles northeast of Tiddim. Follow the main road almost to the end of town, turn right and head downhill – locals will point the way.

A bird's-eye view of Siang Sawn would reveal that it was intentionally laid out in the shape of a pair of human eyes and accompanying nervous system. The religion's founder Pau Cin Hau is considered a prophet who saw heaven (there are 30 steps or stages to get to this point) and his teachings are collected in a book, essentially about how to live.

Inhabitants of Siang Sawn welcome visitors and if travelling with an English-speaking guide it's worth a visit. You'll be taken to a model traditional home and shown how people lived several generations ago, see the building that functions as a prayer hall (Monday to Saturday at 7pm, Sunday at 6am and 3pm) and meeting room, and a tiny 'museum' with three displays showing how the dress and tools of the people have evolved.

Otherwise, the village has a fairly comprehensive booklet in English available that chronicles the history of the religion and village.

A fairly modern-looking clock tower chimes every hour.

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