Thursday, January 28, 2021

The People

Pawi and Lakher

In the south Lushai Hills one found the Fanais (earlier known as Molienpuis) inhabiting the land between the rivers Tuichawng and the Kolodyne on the west and the Tao and the Kolodyne on the east.  Their southern boundary was the ridge running from the Darjaw Range towards the Blue Mountain.

Further south the Pawi tribes inhabited the territory on both the Indian and the Burma sides.  The term 'Pawi' was not strictly speaking, the name of a clan, but it was the term used by the Lushais for all the people living near the Kolodyne.  Further south, were the people belonging to the Lakher tribe.

Several tribes called themselves as Lai, which literally meant middle.  They got this name probably because they were inhabiting the central area of the Chin Hills.  One of the sub-tribes of the Lais had a chief named Tlang Hang who used to frequently raid villages in the Arakan and Chittagong.  These tribes along with sub-tribes were known as Shendus.  The Lushais used the name Pawi for the Lai tribes.  The Pawis were settled in Lunglei sub division.  They had their own distinct language and wore their hair in a knot on top of their head. Their distinctive cultural features were in songs which were broadly categorised into two groups -funeral songs and songs for other occasions. The Lakhers lived in the villages immediately in the south of the Pawi villages.

There were inter-marriages between the Lais, the Tlang and the Lakhers.  In the Lushai hills most of these people were living in the north and the east of the Blue Mountain.  They were collectively called Shendus by the tribes in the western hills and the plains which dreaded their frequent raids. The Shendus were also referred to as Lakher-Pawis or Lakhers.

The Lakhers call themselves Mara, but the Lushais call them Lakhers. The term appears to have originated from the practice of plucking cotton.  The Lushais used to pluck cotton from the fruit with their hands whereas the Lakhers did it with a stick.  The name Lakher came from this method of plucking cotton with stick, la meaning 'cotton' and kher meaning 'to pluck or remove with stick'.

There are various conjectures as to the origin of the name Mara.  Probably it came from 'Mirang', a name of one of the hordes of the tribes presently inhabiting the Arakan Hills. The Mirangs who migrated from central and eastern Burma were also called Rakhong or Kalasa or Mara.

The Lakhers are physically well built and strong. The average height of the men is about 5 feet and 6 inches. They are taller than the Lushais and their physical fitness compares very favorably with that of their neighbours. The women are taller than Lushai women and are of very good physique.  The Lakhers have brown complexion but are darker than the Lushais.  They have broad noses, high cheek bones and mongoloid eyes.

There are six principal groups of Lakhers, each with a number of sub-clans. The six principal groups are: Tlongsai, Hawthai, Zyhno, Sabeu, Lialai and Heima. Of these, the first four are more prominent.


People of this group originated at Laisai in Burma. The people mostly live at Serkawr, Saiha, Latawh, Lawngban, Tongkolong, Lawngdah, Isa, Longmasu and Naubawk.


People from this group came from Haka and migrated to the Lushai Hills after the Tlongsais.  They are settled at Tuisi, Theiri, Theiva and Chhuerlung and some other villages.


They are mostly settled at Savang, Kaisch, Vabia, Laki and Chheihlu.


These people originated in Haka. The villages they occupy now are Chapui, Mawhrs and Satlawng.

Heima and Lialai

These two groups came to the Lakher land from the Arakan. These people are closely allied to the Sabeus.

In the Lakher region there are a number of villages not inhabited by pure Lakhers, but by some people of mixed origin of Lakhers and Pawis. These villages are Ainak, Siata, Lungbun, etc. The sub-groups of the Lakher people have their own dialects, which differ in varying degrees from each other.  The four principal dialects are Tlasai, Zyhno, Sabeu and Hawthai. Of these dialects, Tlasai is the one most commonly used and is spoken by the largest number of Lakhers.

The Lakher and the Pawi tribes were for a long time resident together in the Haka region of the Chin Hills in Burma.  They migrated to the Mizo Hills more or less at the same time in the early seventeenth century.  Inter-marriages between the Lakhers and the Pawis have been quite common both in the Chin Hills and in the Mizo Hills.  Such inter-marriages between the two tribes are common in some particular villages like Chapui, Chakhang, Chhuerlung, Ainak, Siate of the Lakhers and Bualpui, Lungtian, Lungpher, Fungkah, Rutkual of the Pawis.