Pawi and Lakher
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
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.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
of this group originated at Laisai in Burma. The people mostly live at
Serkawr, Saiha, Latawh, Lawngban, Tongkolong, Lawngdah, Isa, Longmasu and
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.
are mostly settled at Savang, Kaisch, Vabia, Laki and Chheihlu.
people originated in Haka. The villages they occupy now are Chapui, Mawhrs
two groups came to the Lakher land from the Arakan. These people are closely
allied to the Sabeus.
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.
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.