According to Kachin mythology, Manaw was first performed by Nat, spirits, and birds. Nat, spirits invited living creatures from land to participate in the Manaw dance in heaven. Only birds have participated. Afterward, birds came down to land and they taught humans how to dance Manaw dance.
From another folk-tale, there were 9 Suns appeared on earth. Humans were suffered a lot from that incident. They decided to send birds to heaven for mercy. Birds were performed Manaw dance and sang for Nat, spirits. They were pleasured by their performance and they let them dance Manaw dance on earth. Later, men have emulated the dance from birds and started dance Manaw dance to worship Nat, spirits.
Manaw (Manau) was called after the proverb " Masaw Nau Ningsan Jau". 'Masaw Ningsan' means heaven and above. 'Nau', 'Jau', 'Jaw' men give and worship. Manau means worship to God or heaven.
In 1947, a Manau was held to celebrate the end of Japanese occupation. Following independence, the Burmese government helped provide finances for the Myitkyina Manau annually on Kachin State Day up until 1958.