Opinion: Tangkhuls Are Not Naked Tribes by Mohen Naorem


The Meetei goddess, Nongpok Ireima is a Tangkhul women. She was married to a Meetei king Tabungba. Today, Meetei worships the Tangkhul woman as a Goddess and presence of Tangkhul brothers and sisters is a mandatory during Lai Haraoba of Ima Nongpok Ireima.
Irengba married the daughter of  Tangkhul Chief  Khayingba, Pidongnu Nuphabi. which is known as Haoreima  Tamheibi by the Meetei.

The leirum  (Tangkhul phee)  which is an important gift in every Meetei marriage is her father's (gift) to the Meetei king.

Interestingly the Chingdai Khullakpa (headman)  Khayingba was the second son of Thingol Likmaba of the Khuman principality. He went up to the hill to become a hillman and later became the chief of Chingdai village.

King Paikhomba married  Ingallei (Matrimei), daughter of Maram Khullakpa. The last royal blood of King Pakhangba, Charairongba was their son.

The romantic relationship between the Meetei king Paikhomba and Maram tribal woman Ingallei, and the tragic end of Ingallei are soul stirring episodes in the personal relation of a  Meetei king with the hill people. The abode of Ingallei is still located at the Langol hill, and the deity of the abode is known as Tarung Lairembi in the Imphal West district.

King Charairongba too married a Chothe women.

All these suggest Manipur is a land for the Meetei, Tangkhul, Maram, Chothe, Anal, Thangal, Kabui and various other tribes. The land is not for Kuki or Naga.

We have to sit together and read history and keep that bonding intact who are trying to break the land with vested interest only.

Christianity as a faith came much later to the people who were then called Naga's according to the writer

The word "Naga" and the new religion "Christianity" came only 200 years ago. We have to read and understand history beyond this period!

When the colonial administrators and missionaries first visited the Naga Hills, the tribals used to identity themselves with a particular tribe and not as a Naga. The name "Naga" was given to them by the people of the Assam plains and in the last century was used indiscriminately for the Abhors and Daflas as well as for the Nagas themselves.

The word, Naga and Nagamese came into vogue at the same time in the closing years of the Nineteenth century. Nagamese, a form of Assamese enlived by tribal words, is what the Nagas spoke with the plains people of Assam for centuries, which later on became the lingua franca over a loosely defined territory.

Definition and the probable meaning of the term Naga was defined by Prof Gangmumei Kamei in his book "History of Manipur (Pre Colonial Period) as a derivatives from Sanskrit word Nag (snake) or Nagalogae or Nagalog, which signifies Naked.  Another view from the Myanmar side supported that the word Naga is derived from the Ear piercing tribes.

More researchers are of the opinion that the term Naga is mostly suitable for Naked people who lived in the forest where no one can entered.  Further studies by the Britishers shows there were still naked people living in the Naga Hills.

Our study reveals that there are no naked tribes in Manipur. We have a rich civilizations and tribes living in the hills of Manipur had different clothes which are colourful and have symbolic meaning.  Although, British missionaries came along with Bible, they have not brought the dress and culture in the land.

Dress worn by the Tangkhuls were beautifully woven and crafted over the ages. Haora and Changkhom of the Tangkhul tribe is filled with their own distinct design and pattern. How can we called them Naga (naked) tribe if the above definition of Prof Gangmumei Kamei is confirmed as the  only legitimate meaning of Naga? So, Tangkhuls are not naked tribes.

this is the view of Mohen Naorem,an accomplished writer and a filmmaker .These are his views are not necessarily of that of TNT-The Northeast Today.

(Excerpt are from the forthcoming book TANGKHULS ARE MEETEI TRIBE)