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ORIGINS OF THE TANGKHUL NAGAS


The meaning and derivation of the word 'Nagas' has long been disputed. There have been several attempts made by anthropologists and historians to trace out the origin of this word. In the 2nd century A.D. Ptolemy, the famous Greek geographer of Egypt, in his Ancient Geography refers to a group of people known as 'Nangalogae'.Nangalogae (Nanga Log) means in Sanskrit,'Naked People.' The Nagas have their legends tracing their origins to various places. The Tangkhul and Maos trace their origins to various places to Makhen (Makel) presently situated in the North district of Manipur, India.Rengmas however claim that they come out from a hole presently situated in East Khezakehoma in Nagaland, India, Aos from stone in the West beyond the Debhu River in Assam, India.Maring from Burma, Zeliangrong in Western Manipur, from a mythical cave known as Taobhie, and Angamis somewhere from East.
 

Mr.T.Luikham of Ukhrul maintained that Nagas came from Mongolia crossing the Himalayas, and as far as Indonesia and finally settled in Nagaland (Nagalim).He said folk songs often spoke of the people coming out the caves. The North Eastern Tribal people have migrated from other part of Australia and Asia.Infact, it is shown that the majorities of mountain people are of Indo-Mongoloid origin and have been propagated with the Indo-Chinese or the Tibeto-Burman racial stocks. 

Different views have also been given by various historians and authors. But in fact, no one could trace the unique history of the 'Naga' genesis.
 

The evidence of the origin of the Tangkhul Nagas was given by
T.C.Hodson who recorded that Hungpung (Hundung) is the center of their dispersion. And he stories declared that they sprang as immigrants from the village of Maikhel Tunggam ( a village which is the traditional home of the common ancestors of Quassi-Angami in Mao group).Another means of proving given by T.C.Hudson was that when the Shan invaded Assam in 1220 A.D.the Nagas were already there to resist their advance.(T.C.Hudson 'The Naga tribes of Manipur London'1911)Above all, the Nagas generally agreed that they belong to Mongoloid race.Unfortunately,the history of the Tangkhul Nagas were not written in the early days. Still then, history can be read and understood through oral conversation, songs and cultures of the people. Indeed most historical scholars have quoted that the Nagas belong to Mongoloid race who came from the East and this have been agreed by all the Tangkhul Nagas. 

Tangkhul Nagas are very ancient people, the most ancient Maharaj (king) of Manipur like Samalung, Morthao, Ayangba and Luitongba are all Tangkhul names. In this case these people who reigned the kingdom of Manipur were from the same origin. Thus the Tangkhul Nagas had their own custom and culture since thousands of years
 


PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF THE TANGKHUL


Nagalim (the land inhabited by Nagas) is situated in the midst of the World's most populous nations namely, China, Myanmar (Burma) and India. It is located in between 93-3° to 42-2° longitude North East and 24-4° to 28-2° latitude North East. The National Highway (NH) 150 pulses in the area. To quote the unique boundaries of the Tangkhul Nagas is very complicating. The area is about 6,000 ft.above the sea level.
 

PHYSIQUE, NATURE and ADMINISTRATIVE SET-UP

In most cases, the Tangkhul people are smart and good looking. Skin colors of the people are light and dark brown, with blue-black eyes and usually have black hair, they are of medium height and are mostly slim. Generally, people are strongly built. The nature of the Tangkhul people are simple, free and loyal, brave and reliable, sincere and generous, friendly and humorous, straight forward and self reliant, hard working and adventurous.V.Elwin,Nagaland,1961 wrote; 'They are fine people of whom their country is proud, strong and self reliant with the free and independent outlook characteristics of highlanders everywhere good to look at with an unerring instinct for color and design, friendly and cheerful with a keen sense of humour gifted with splendid dances and a love of song'.
 
Ukhrul District was first marked out as a Sub-Division in 1919 by the then British-India. Later it was upgraded to a District in the year 1969 by the Govt. of India. The District now has 5(five) Sub-Divisions which are co-terminus with the 5(five) Development Blocks. In addition to these administrative units the District has 4(four) Sub-Deputy Collectors Offices.
 

INTRODUCING UKHRUL DISTRICT


Ukhrul District, the land of the colorful Tangkhuls was marked out first a Sub-Division in 1919 during the British Raj. Then in November 1969 it was upgraded to a full-fledged district, bearing the nomenclature of Manipur East District. The area of the district was 8,200 Sq.Km. according to the CSI Publication 1976. Later Tengnoupal District, now called Chandel District was carved out from this district on 15th July, 1983 and the area of the then Manipur East District was sliced down to 4,544 Sq.Km. and the title of the district was changed into Ukhrul District in 1983. Ukhrul is the District HQ. which, now, is extended down to Hundung.
 

FLORA AND FAUNA

Ukhrul District is best introduced by its beautiful
 Shirui Lily,Lilium Mackleanae Sealy, grown only on the peak of Shirui Kashong, some 18 Km. East of the district HQ. Ukhrul. This world famous Shirui Lily, which belongs to the Lilium family was discovered by Frank Kingdom Ward in 1946 when he came to Manipur Hills for botanical collection on behalf of the New York Botanical Garden. The rareness and the uniqueness of this Lily is that, it has seven colors when examined through a microscope. Later, Frank won the prestigious prize of the Royal Horticulture Society Award, Landon in 1948. This Lily plant is 2ft. to 3ft. tall, consisting of a hard stem around which lance late leaves are spirally arranged. 

Shirui Lily was declared the State Flower in 1989 on March 21. Native to Tangkhul Hills and grown only on Shirui Peak, it is endemic to the region and considered as the most fabulous wealth of the Tangkhuls. The District is gifted with rich flora and fauna. There are hundreds of varieties of trees, barderian flowering plants, orchids of enumerable hues and kinds, Epiphytic ferns, varied species of plants and shrubs. Some of the known species of plants and trees are : Alder (Alnus nepalensis), Prunus cirosirdes, Symingtonia, Acacia auriculifornis, Parkia javanica, Paraserrianthes falcotaria, Michelia oblanga, Cmilina arborea, pinus kerya, robinea psedudoacacia, besides various iris species, wild roses, red and white rhododendrons etc.
 
This tropical forest is also the habitat of many valued species of birds and animals. Many threatened species like, the tragopan blythii, pangolin (ant eater), salamander, tiger, porcubine, hooting monkey, leopard, big-small and medium size black bears, elephant, wild buffalo, wild boars, deers and stags, wild goats and many unidentified species are found in this region. Birds of various colours and sizes are also found here including some migratory birds.
 
An area of 100 Sq. Km. around Shirui Peak has been declared as the National Park in 1998 by the Government of Manipur.
 
Some of the important species of fish are; Golden Mhaseer (Tore Putitora) locally known as Ngara, Snow trout (schizothorax), locally know as khainguila, Barilius guteltus, locally called ngapaila, Mastcembelus, locally known as chipang, Botia species, locally known as masengla, Naemecheilus species, locally known as hangkorkhai,
 
Chana species, locally known as khaiva, Pontius species, locally known as khaiwonla and khaipukla, Esomus species, locally know as wonsangla, Gara species, cyprinio semiplotus, glyptothorax plailigopanoide, botisdorio, xenden cacila etc.


DRESS AND ORNAMENTS

Weaving is a part in woman's life in the Eastern region in general and Tangkhuls in particular. Weaving is closely associated with the self and soul. Despite tedious hours she spends with the back strap loin loom which take time and concentrated she considers it as her prized possession. Dress and ornaments of the Tangkhul Nagas is fantastic and fabulous. The people are artistic and imaginative, different designs and style have been made with bright colours.Usually the Tangkhul shawls are of black and red stripes. The village headman has a distinctively large and costly shawl. Common people too have a special for festivals and special occasions. The Tangkhul Necklace (Kongsang has 10-18) strings of cowries beads and precious stones with different colors and is usually very costly and essential for weddings. The expensive dresses and ornaments are usually worn by rich bride in her wedding. The Tangkhul war dress consist of spear, head gears, bangles, breast plate, armlets, stocking made of bamboo, war tail, horns, shield, bows and arrows and a Dao. Dresses of Tangkhuls are Haorah,Leirum,Thanggang,Chonkhom,Khuilang,Raivat Kachon,Kahang Malao,Phangyai,Yangrey Kashan,Chonkhom Kashan,Kahang Kashan and others.
 

WEAPONS AND TOOLS

The weapons of the Tangkhul Nagas are very primitive. They consist of bows, poisoned and non-poisoned arrows, spears, dao, fire arms, sickle, hoe, spade, knife and others.
 

OCCUPATION AND INDUSTRY

The Tangkhul are basically agriculturists, but they do run small scale industries in the village level. Industry consist of weaving,pottery,blacksmithy,salt manufacturies,wood and stone works, leather works,carving,wine brewing, basket making and other handicrafts. The Tangkhuls employ three methods of paddy cultivation namely; jhuming, terracing and wet cultivation. Rice is the main food. Other crops and vegetables are chilli,cotton,tobacco,corn,oranges,lemons,plums,brinjals and other fruits.Hunting,fishing,trapping birds are also practiced.
 

POLITY

The ancestors of the Tangkhuls follow a kind of hierarchy but democratic in practice. It is a combination of hierarchy and democracy, and hence, it can be termed as Hierarchical-Democracy or Democratic -Hierarchy. Thus, their ways of ruling and governance follow the principle of Federal Democracy. With the King or Chief of the Village at the head, there are the Clan Chiefs, who constitute the HANGVA, the Village Authority. The collective wisdom of this Hangva governs the village administration. The decision of the village authority is based on consensus unanimity. The pattern of sharing of power is federal in nature and apart from the central subjects the units/clans have their lists of subjects to regulate on their own. This is akin to the present division of subjects into the center and the state lists of modern governments. There is also the wider administrative category at the regional level, though it has slightly less subjects but organized for serving common interests of the area.
 

ECONOMY


Till about the middle of the 20th century the business transactions of the people were almost nil albeit occasional market days on festival days, but that too was on barter system and within the limit of the village only. We can, therefore, say that there was no commendable trade and commerce. Some stray animal, salt, handloom materials, pottery products, wood and bamboo craft works, balcksmithy etc. were there, even as we still them today. But till then, the people could maintain and afford to meet their requirements for their day to day subsistence's and livelihood. This way, one can conclude that they were self-reliant and self-sufficient. But with the advent of modern civilization, they were suddenly exposed to capitalistic trend of fierce market competitions and urbanization. Their limited sources of income and resources could not meet both ends and sooner they were reduced to a people living below poverty line. Even to this day, they have yet to pick-up with the trends of modern economy. The main sources of income of the people can be broadly divided into 5 (five) divisions: Agriculture, Industries, Forest Wealth, Riverine wealth and animal husbandry (primitive method).
 

PEOPLE

Tangkhul Nagas constitute the major bulk of the population. Others are some small percentage of Kukis, Nepalese and other Non-tribals. The Tangkhuls are fair in complexion and more akin to the Mongolians in facial appearance and stature. The population of the district is 1,09,275 (1991 Census) with a population density of 24 per Sq. Km. the male to female ratio is 1000 : 878 with a decennial growth rate of 32 %. The total population of the district constitutes 6.02 % of the total population of the state, spread over about 230 villages. Literacy percentage is 62.54 (1996).
 

TOURIST SPOTS


 1. Shirui Kashong (Shirui Peak),the floral
 garden of 

    Shirui Lily. 
 2. Khangkhui Cave
 
 3. Hungpung (Hundung) Mangva Cave.
 
 4. Dilily Water Fall near Khayang Phungtha.
 
 5. Azoa Jenephiu Magi Lake near Kachouphung.
 
 6. Cold Water Fishery Project near Zero-Point Phangrei.
 
 7. Saline Springs at Razai Khullen and Razai Khunou,

    Marem,Maramphung, Kalhang,Luireishimphung. 
 8. Longpi Pottery at Longpi.
 
 9. Khayang Peak
 
10. Chingjui Matha.
 
11. Zero-Point (Phangrei) Picnic Spot
 
12. Nillai Tea Estate on the way to Talla
 
13. MATA Industrial Complex, Lungpha
 


UKHRUL DISTRICT AT A GLANCE

 1.
 Area - 4544 sq. km
 

 2. Population 
 A. (i)    Total            - 1,09,275
 
    (ii)   Male             -   56,997
 
    (iii)  Female           -   51,278
 
    (iv)   Scheduled Tribe  - 1,01,878
 
    (v)    Scheduled Caste  -      221
 
    (vi)   Others           -    7,178
 
    (vii)  Literacy rate    - 62.54%(approx.)
 
    (viii) Density          - 24 per sq. km.
 
    (ix)   Growth rate      - 32 Decennial
 

 B. 
Sub-Division wise population distribution 
    (i)    Chingai          - 18,536
 
    (ii)   Ukhrul           - 61,444
 
    (iii)  Phungyar         - 10,830
 
    (iv)   Kamjong          - 12,124
 
    (v)    Kasom khullen    -  6,341
 

 3.
 No of inhabited villages 
 

 A. Total -230 
 

 B. Sub-Division wise village distribution 
    (i)   Chingai  - 35
 
    (ii)  Ukhrul   - 78
 
    (iii) Phungyar - 41
 
    (iv)  Kamjong  - 51
 
    (v)   Kasom    - 25
 

 4. Altitude - 913 m - 3114m (MSL) 
 5. Temperature - 3 Degrees Celsius to 33 degrees Celsius 
 6. Rainfall - 1600 mm to 2100mm 
 7. Location 24 N to 25.41 N, 94 E to 94.47 E 
 

 8. Dates of administrative establishment 
    A. Ukhrul Sub-Division   - 1919 A.D.
 
    B. Manipur East-District - 1969 A.D
 
    C. Re-Christening of Ukhrul District -1983 A.D.
 
    D. Ukhrul Autonomous District Council -1984 A.D. 
 F.
 Sub-Divisional Offices 
    (i)   Ukhrul
 
    (ii)  Phungyar
 
    (iii) Kamjong
 
    (iv)  Chingai 
    (v)   Kasom Khullen
 

 9.
 Police Service 
    (i)  Superintendent of Police - 1 No.
 
    (ii) Police Station - 9 Nos.
 

10.
 Main Roads 
    (i)  Imphal - Ukhrul-Jessami (NH-150)      -199 km.
 
    (ii) Imphal - Kamjong (BRTF) road          -127 km.
 
    (iii)Imphal - Phungyar -Tengnoupal (NH-39) -104 Km.
 
    (iv) Imphal - Kasom Khullen (PWD)          - 55 km.
 

11. Assembly Constituencies 
    (i)   43- Phungyar (ST) AC
 
    (ii)  44- Ukhrul   (ST) AC
 
    (iii) 45- Chingai  (ST) AC
 

FESTIVALS


The ancestors were agriculturists and the year cycle festivals are associated with the year-round seasonal agricultural activities. All these festivals associated with sacred religious rituals and there were strict codes of conduct for all these feasts. The major year cycle festivals are: 

1. LUIRA- The seed sowing festival which falls around the month s of January to March. This feast is celebrated with great fervor at Longpi and Hungpung (Hundung). Longpi, befitting their generosity, entertain their guests with lavish eats and drinks, whilst in Hundung one can see the maiden virgin dance performance. 

2. YARRA- This is ante-cultivation festival and it falls around the months of April and May. Thought it celebrated by all, it is a youth festival. 

3. MANGKHAP- This is a post-trans-plantation festival. This festival falls around the month of July. During this festival the people pray for luxurious growth the crops after thanksgiving prayer for the timely rain. 

4. DHARREO- This is a pre-harvest festival. Dharreo means the plucking of the new crop. On this day the first crops, fishes, live-stocks and other items are brought out for sale in the village market. It is fete day for the village. This day specially observed in Hungpung (Hundung) village. 

5. CHUMPHA- This is a festival of thanksgiving for rich harvest, now gathered in the granary. The mother performs special offerings to the God of harvest and the keeper of the granary. While the mother performs her rituals all males are not allowed to enter the house, hence they outside the house for the night but with lavish supplies of eats and drinks. Because of the nature of its celebration, it is sometimes known as the Feast of the mother or the Feast of the granary. It falls around the months November and December. 

6. LONGRA KHAMANG- This festival is not general in nature but the family which had a rich harvest celebrates this festival inviting the group of the son's or daughter's party who had worked in groups rotation-wise. This is a festival for giving special treatments to the sons and daughters. 

7. THISHAM- Thisham is a festival in commemoration of the dead. It is on this occasion that the dance of the Dead is performed. This is the final rite performed by the family for the dead. It falls around the month of January. 

Apart from these 6 (six) major festivals, there some event-occasioned festivals like; Kashong Kahao Zakhalat, a sacred ritual for dispelling pests and germs; Maa Khungkashat, acknowledgement of the rich crop. Ears of corn are plucked and placed at a post set apart for this sacred ritual in the house; Mawonzai, a feast to invoke the graceful blessings of God to human labour; Khana Kasa, a purification and naming feast; Ming Kaphok, this is a title endowment feast; Chumsin Sa Kashai, this is the ordaining feast of the daughter-in-low to priestess-hood, thereby endowing her with all the rights and duties of a family mother. Prior to this, she is no allowed to enter into the granary; Shimsak Kasa, this is the royal or noble house construction feast; Maran-sak & Tarung Khangkasang, stone or tree trunks erection feast to display the wealth and power of the noble
 

TOPOGRAPHY


Ukhrul District is bounded by Myanmar in the East, Chandel District in the South, Imphal East and Senapati Districts in the West and Nagaland State in the North. The terrain of the district is hilly with a varying height of 913 m to 3114 m (MSL). The district HQ. Ukhrul is linked with Imphal, the state capital by a NH 150about 84 Km. By ordinary passenger bus it takes about 3 hours.
 
The climate of the district is of temperate nature with minimum and maximum degrees of 3 C to 33 C. The average annual rainfall is 1,763.7 mm (1991). The exact location of the district in the globe is 24N - 25.41 N and 94 E - 94.47 E. The rainy season in the district is from May to beginning of October broadly but winter is chilly.
 

The highest peak is the Khayang peak-3114 m (MSL), though the more popularly know peak is the Shirui Kashong Peak - 2,835 m (MSL). Ukhrul, the District HQ, is 2,020 m (MSL). Most of the major rivers originate from the crevices and slopes of this Shirui Peak. The terrain of the district is rippled with small ranges and striped by few rivers. 1. Somrah - Angkoching range, striped by Sanalok and Namba Lok; Shangshak - Phungyar range adjacent to which is the Shokvao - Mapithel - Kasom range striped by Tuyungbi and Taret Lok in the middle and Thoubal river in the West and Kachai - Hoome - Tampak Ngashan (Mahadev) range, striped by the tributaries of Thoubal river in Eastern side and Iril River in the Western.
 

ART AND CULTURE

The life and art of the Tangkhul are attractive and captivating. Their different costumes and wears, utensils,architecture, monumental erections and memorial set-ups depict their dexterity in art, which also speak of their sense of beauty and finesse. Though there are common costumes and wears, both for male and female, there are also some costumes and wears exclusively meant for male and female.
 

SOME OF THE TRADITIONAL CLOTHES AND WEARS


CLOTHES/SHAWLS           MAN'S          WOMEN'S 

 1.Haora (Man's)         1.Malao        1.Phangyai
 
 2.Chonkhom(Women's)     2.Laokha       2.Kahang Kashan
 
 3.Thangkang             3.Kahang Malao 3.SeichangKashan  

 4.Luirim (man's)        4.Thangkang    4.Thangkang Kashan 

 5.Raivat Kachon (Common)               5.Khuilang Kashan 
 6.Khuilang Kachon(woman's)             6.Kongrah Kashan
 
 7.Phingui Kchon (common)               7.Shanphaila
 
 8.Phaphir (common)                     8.Kuiying Muka 
 9.Phorei Kachon (man's)                9.Zingtai Kashan
 
10.Luingamla Kashan (woman's)


TRADITIONAL TOOLS / IMPLEMENTS ORNAMENTS

 

Man's         Woman's          Man's          Woman's 

1.Varao Kazei 1.Zeithing       1.Mayong pasi 1.Huishon 
2.Kazei       2.Vakui          2.Khommasing
 
3.Malah       3.Mayongcha                    3.Haar Kazao
 
4.Khairei     4.Pheimakhei                   4.Nakhui
 
5.Kuisikhai   5.Kangra                       5.Mani
 
6.Ngalasop

7.Ngalasop Kasai


Common items Common items

1.Khaiva          6.Yorpak       11.Kazao
 
2.Khainao/shori   7.Kiantin      12.Charei
 
3.Changkui        8.Changphar    13.Kongsang
 
4.Raikhai         9.Lingriham    14.Narengthei
 
5.Ngaha           10.Kazei       15.Cha


HOUSE

 

The house structure is more or less similar for all the villages, but the carvings on the posts and blinks vary from village to village and area to area. To display the splendor and wealth of the rich and noble families, tree trunks - TARUNG are erected in front of the house. Some even erect Monumental/Memorial stones in the courtyards or at some prominent sites in the village area. Construction of all these entails strict ritualistic procedures and norms. 

MUSIC & DANCES

 

Tangkhuls are music lovers and their songs are soft and melodious. Apart from encoding into the music the varied seasonal and cultural ideas and philosophies, music is a medium wherein historical events are also related in the lyrics. In as much as religious fervor is incorporated and composed in the songs, the romantic nature of the people also finds its expressions in the music. There are various varieties of songs, some are mood special, and some are festival/seasonal specials. These folksongs and folklores can be taught and sang by anybody, anytime, but there are also some specific musical expressive melodies of every region or area. The Tangkhuls are very fond of Western music where country songs,sentimental,soft + hard rock,hip-hop. The Tangkhuls love the hustling-muzzling rhyme.Rap scene among the Tangkhuls goes at par! 

These folksongs and folklores can be played or accompanied by musical instruments. Some of the musical instruments are: 1. Tingteila (Violin), 2. Talla (Trumpet), 3. Phung (Drum), 4. Mazo (Woman's mouth-piece), 5. Sipa (Flute), 6. Kaha Ngashingkhon (Bamboo pipe) etc.
 
Corresponding to the rhythmic composition of the songs, the dances of the Tangkhuls are also rhythmic and these are eventful and vigorous. Thrilling as they are, there are also some special occasional dances, like the Kathi Mahon - dance for the dead, Laa Khanganui - virgin dance during Luira Festival, Rain Pheichak - war Dance etc.
 

RELIGION

The Tangkhul Religion, known to some as 'Hao Religion,' is a monotheistic religion with a little blend of animism and they worship with reverential owe The 'KAZING NGALEI KASA AKHAVA' - The God, creator of Heaven and Earth. To this God, they have different titles of addressed like 'VARIVARA' 'KAZINGWUNG' NGALEIWUNG' 'LUIPHILAVA- KASHONGWUNG' 'ONGSORWO' ETC. CORRESPONDING TO THE THEME AND OBJECT/PLACE OF ACTIVITIES. The reason why the people could not address the God directly is that the 'HE' was so great that it was incomprehensible to the mind of the ancestors. Hence, they are monotheists with a slight mingling of pantheism. This religious background makes them receptive to Christian Faith, and hence its ready acceptance.
 
This district is the birthplace of Christianity and Western education in Manipur State, brought as early as 1896 by a Baptist Missionary called Rev. Pettigrew. The district, now, has one college after his name, the William Pettigrew College at Somsai, Ukhrul. Now, almost 99 % of the populations have embraced Christianity. The main Christian sects are: American Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Church Of Christ etc. There are also some small groups of Hindus, Muslims, and others from among those who come from outside.