Brief Theory of Chin History

Presented by Mark Hau Lian Khup (M.A. History)

In honor of Chin National Day

By the grace of God, we are going to hold our 65th Anniversary of our Chin National Day, which falls on 20th of February of 2013. First of all, I would like to exaggerate about the term, “Chin”.

Tibeto-Burman group of Mongoloids came to Burma or Myanmar around 100 BC and the entry period of Chin people into Myanmar was estimated to have been around AD 300. At that time, then the people living in the neighborhood of Pagan and Chin Dwin River were known as Chin. Chindwin itself means the collective residence of Chin people. Prior to that, the river used to be called as Talawaty River. According to Myanmar History, in the 9th century, there had already been “Chin” people in the western part of Burma. . Nevertheless, from the time the Burmese peoples arrived, the tribes in the regions of the Chindwin River and the Irrawaddy River were known as Chins.

In addition, there is also a Memorial Stone, which is two miles away from Sibani village, in Monyawa, Sagaing Division. The Memorial Stone is 4.3 ( 13 feet ) high. The Burmese call it as Chin Phaya. Besides, there is also a Chinyua village near by the Sagaing Bridge even though the people in the village speak Burmese. They still practice the old traditions and customs of Chin peoples. In Sagaing town, there is also a village, “Chinsuh” ( A collective residence of Chin peoples . It is absolutely obvious that the Chins had ever lived in that area.

In terms of the Pagan inscriptions, from the beginning of 13th century AD, the term “Chin” is designated to the various hill tribes of the Chin State of the Union of Myanmar (Burma), the Mizos of Assam State of India, some of the hill tribes of Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh and the “Thados” of Manipur State. So, in general, Chin refers to the hill tribes in Chin State of Myanmar, the hill tribes in Mizoram , Manipur States of India and some of the hill tribes of Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh.

According to Prof. Luce, “The Chin Hills-Linguistic Tour (Dec. 1954),” University Project, JBRS, June 1959), in Burmese language, Chin is the last word of Tu/Ta Nge ‘Chin’ , which means a Friend ( Comrade or ally ). So Chin is the Name given to us by the Burmese in a way of calling a “Friend” for historically we used to be friends with the Burmese and there had not been a fighting between the Burmese and Chins. We have been called and known as Chins or Chin people over the years and this is what others know and recognize.

In terms of the government record, there are 53 ethnic tribes of Chin. They are Dai(Yindu ) Dim, Eik-swair, Gunte(Lyente), Guite, Haulngo, Ka-Lin-Kaw(Lushay), Kaung Saing Chin, Kaungso Kebar, Khawno, Kwangli ( Sim ), Kwelshin, Kwe Myi, Lai ( Hakha Chin ), Laizo, Lawhtu, Laymyo, Lhinbu, Lushei ( Lushay ), Lyente, Magun, Malin, Maramagyi, Matu, Meithei ( Kathe ), Mgan, Mi-er, Naga, Ngorn, Oo-Pu, Panun, Rongtu, SaingZan, Saline, Sentang, Tanghkul, Tapong, Tay Zan, Thado, Tiddim ( Hai-Dim ), Torr ( Tawr ), Wakim (Mro), Yin Gog, Za-How, Zaniet, Zizan, Zo, Zo Pe, Zo Tung.

We all live together as dialectical groups such as Asho, Cho, Khumi, Laimi, Laizo, Matu, Mizo, Zomi, Kuki or Thados. In the north west of Chin State, we see Tedim, Sihzang, Teizang, Zo, Thados, Falam- Laizo, Zangiet, Ngawn, Hakha, – Lai, Senthang, Zo Tung, Zophei residing together and in Southern Chin state, Mindat, Matu, Mara and in the plain, Tawngdwinkyi district, Pyi district and in the regions near by Arakan State, the Chins are called themselves as Asho, Cho, for we all are assimilated in dialects, cultures and traditions.

So, as for Cho people, Chomi ( People of Cho or Cho People ) is equivalent to Chin or Chins/Chin people in their language. For Sho people , Shomi is equal to Chin or Chin people in their language. For Falam, Hakha, Than Hlang people , Lai or Laimi is equal to Chin or Chin people in their language. Likewise, for Zo people, Zomi (people or generations of Zo), Zo / Zomi is equivalent to Chin / Chin people in their language.  Whatever the reasons, for all of us, Chin is a general or common name. But a sad thing is that, ”We do not have a common langue that covers all the Chins”,  and this fact has always been one of the major themes for Chin people at every annual Chin National Day Celebrations.

The term, Chin does not apply to only one single tribe of Chin, but apply to all the ethnic tribes of Chin. Chin is our general name comprised of all the 53 tribes. No need to be extreme about it, no need to be superstitious about it, fanatic about it or hostile to it.  Let’s take it as it is as a general name!

In comparison, Kachin is composed of six major tribes such as Jinghpaw, Lawngwaw, Lashi, Zaiwa, Rawang, Lisu for Kachin is the common name representing these major tribes and Shan is also comprised of five major groups: Tai Yai , Tai Lue , Tai Khuen , Tai Neua , Tai Khamti and Tai groups – Tai ahom, Tai Khamti, Tai Mao, Tai Long, Tai Nɯa/Lɯa,Tai Man, Tai Laing, Tai Taɯ, Tai Khɯn, Tai Nui, Tai Phake, Tai Sa, Tai Loi, Tai Dam , Tai Do . Shan covers all these six major tribes and the Tai groups and Shan is the general and common name.  Likewise, Chin is the general and common name for all the 53 tribes of Chin.

Regarding the usage of Chin, I would like to mention of some sources related to it.  First of all, it is said that Major W. Gwynne, began to use the term “Chin” officially for all of us in 1881.  Since then, we all have been recognized as  ”Chinall over the world. It was continuously used in  ”Chin Hills Regulation Act 1896 ” Furthermore, Col. Van Kulh also used Chin and established Chin Education Foundation and Chinland Development Co. Ltd. In 1933, Vawmthu Maung organized and founded Chin National Unity (CNU).  Captain Mang Tung Nung also started a political party for Chin in 1948 and turned it into Chin National Organization (CNO) on the 20th of February, 1957.  There are still many other organizations of Chin, which I do not mention yet.

Now, we are holding the 65th Anniversary of Chin National Day,2013. Today, let us look back at how far we are to keep the unity or uniformity that we gained on the 20th of February, 1948.  On that day, all the respective leaders of Chin gathered at Falam, Chin State to protest against the prolonged traditional hereditary system of Chieftainship and about five thousand people agreed to have a rule of self- determination and passed a new regulation.  Let us call to mind the unity that we gained at Falam!  Let us really try to work as a team.

Today, we see some challenges in our society mixed with different ideologies that can harm our unity as Chin.  Let us always remember our general and common name as Chin, which is also a historic name. When it comes to Chin, we all are there and it must always be participatory.  Then only, we will be able to hold our unity as Chin now and forever. Let us try to really practice that in our daily life. ” May we all be one for always as we were united at Falam on 20th of February 1948! “

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