Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The People


The Fanai's first moved from Burma to the Lushai Hills and formed a village near Champhai.  They moved further south-west and occupied successively various sites to the west and north-west of Lunglei.


This clan was found scattered in the Lushai villages to the north of Aizawl. About 200 years ago the Raltes lived mostly near Champhai. Mangkhaia was an important Ralte chief there. He was killed in course of events following his clash with a Lushai chief. Mangkhaia's memorial stone has been famous throughout these hills. The Raltes zealously maintained their individual identity and resisted absorption into the folds of the Lushais.


The Paite's were living in the areas now bordering Manipur and Mizoram.  Most of them are in Manipur and only some, in Mizoram.


Like the Paite's, the Rangte's were living mostly in south western Manipur, adjoining the Lushai Hills. Through  inter-marriages they were integrating with the Lushais.


Unlike the tribes which migrated from Burma in the east to Mizoram in the west, there was one tribe which migrated from the Bengal in the west to the Mizoram in the east. The Chakmas of the Mizo hills migrated mostly from the Chittagong Hill tracts of Bengal to the Mizo Hills in different periods and settled on its western fringes.  The Chakmas are the latest migrants to the Mizo hills.  Their present name is widely believed to have been derived from the word 'Chak' as they were called by the Burmese. They first came and settled in Arakan. Later, they came to settle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  The Chakmas moved further into the interior and started a semi-nomadic life. They came upto Demagiri and settled extensively in areas now bordering Mizoram, Tripura and the Chittagong Hill tracts.

The Chakmas were also called Tui-chek by the Lushais.  The name signified that the Chakmas (chek) lived near water (tui).  Unlike the Mizos, the Chakmas have their villages in valleys and not on hill tops and they prefer to settle down on river banks.  But some Chakmas live on hill tops also.  The Chakmas are grouped into two -'Khyangtha' or those who lived near rivers (Khyan) and 'Thangtha' or those who lived on hill tops (thang) who were also called Jhumias.

In appearance, the Chakmas look like Mongolians of the Tibeto-Burman group.  They have a round face, snubbed nose and high cheek bones.  Their chests are broad and arms and legs are well built.  They are fair and brown complexioned.  Facial hair is sparse amongst the men and women generally do not have long hair.  The skulls of the Chakmas are smaller but broader compared to those of other tribes in the north-east. They are Brach cephalic (short headed having skull whose breadth is 80 percent or more of its length) among the Mongolians.

The Chakmas were believed to have been Hindus during their early period of settlement in Arakan.  Brahmanism was the religion in Arakan from about the fifth century to the eleventh century.  The Chamkas later became Buddhists.

The Chakmas have their own language and script.  The Chakma script has similarity with Burmese and Sanskrit scripts.  The Chakma language sounds almost like a dialect of Bengali.  Agar Tara is their old scripture which appears to be a version of Buddhist scripture, Tripitak in broken Pali.  The Tara is used extensively on ceremonial occasions like marriages, funerals, etc.  The Chakmas also recount their history in ballads called Genkhuli.