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The Kamein (Burmese: ကမိန်လူမျိုး), also known as the Kaman (ကမန်), are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group that primarily reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The name Kaman comes from Persian, meaning a "bow."[2] The Kaman are formally recognized by the Burmese government and classified as one of the 7 ethnic groups comprising the Rakhine national race.[3] The Kaman are considered indigenous and are widely acknowledged as Burmese citizens who hold national identity cards.[4][5][6]

Regions with significant populations
Arakanese language

The Kaman have been disproportionately affected by riots in Rakhine State in 2012.[7][6]

The Kaman people are religiously less conservative as the Rohingya people. Most, but not all Kaman women do not wear a hijab, as many of them work in agriculture.


In 1660, a Mughal prince, Shah Shuja, escaped to Arakan (now Rakhine State), after unsuccessfully attempting to ascend to the Mughal throne.[8][9] The prince, along with his family and followers, relocated to Mrohaung, with the understanding that the king of Arakan would shelter him and provide ships for the prince to undergo pilgrimages to Mecca.[2] His escape was followed by a wave of Muslim immigrants from the Mughal Empire to Arakan.[8]

The king of Arakan, Sanda Thudhamma, first warmly received the prince, but relations soon deteriorated.[8] The prince, along with 200 followers and local Muslims, decided to overthrow the king of Arakan, who had reneged on his earlier promises.[10] In February 1661, Shah Shuja and some members of his entourage were killed by Arakanese soldiers.[8] In 1663, Shah Suja's children, including daughters who were taken into the Arakanese king's harem, were also killed.[8] Shah Shuja's surviving soldiers were inducted into the Arakanese special palace guard, in a special archer's unit called Kaman (کمان, Persian "bow").[8][11]

These Kaman units, alongside Afghan mercenaries from Northern India, became influential in the political machinations of the Arakan kingdom, until 1710, when King Sanda Wizaya I was able to suppress their power and exiled most of the Kaman to Ramree Island (Yanbye Island).[8] The descendants of these Kaman units still live in Ramree and in villages near Akyab.[8]

There were 2,686 Kamans in Arakan in 1931.[8]



  • "The silence of the muezzin". The Economist. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  • "Burma: Rohingya Muslims Face Humanitarian Crisis". Human Rights Watch. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  • "Ethnic Kaman in Arakan Still Face Travel Restrictions". Narinjara. 25 June 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2013.[permanent dead link]
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
  • Schearf, Daniel (29 November 2012). "Kaman Muslims Raise Concerns of Wider Conflict". Voice of America. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  • Than Tun Win. "Composition of the Different Ethnic Groups under the 8 Major National Ethnic Races in Myanmar". Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Brussels. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  • Thant Myint-U (2011). The River of Lost Footsteps. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571266067.
  • Yegar, Moshe (2002). Between Integration and Secession: The Muslim communities of the Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand, and Western Burma / Myanmar. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 0739103563.