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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Emergence of Kam Hau Kingdom


Emergence of Kam Hau Kingdom
In those days each clan had their own village ruler who was the mightiest in power. The ruler was called chief. There were  Suante chief, Thomte chief, Tombing chief, Gualnam chief, Guite chief, and Sukte chief. These chiefs had slaves and had the power to collect tax (Sukte Chronicle 2004. Vol.  IV:17). Chiefs as most vulnerable of all had most slaves in their families. These chiefs were called “Mang” (Ruler) and White rulers were called “Mangkang” as they had white skin.
Khan Thuam, son of Mang Kim and Kap Ciin became chief in 1800 at Mualbeem at the death of is father Mang Kim the chief. Khan Thuam sent his son Kam Hau to Tedim to rule in 1806. Khan Thuam became powerful taking one village after another under his control during 1810-1840. He brought under his control the village chiefs including Guite, Vaiphei, Thado, and extended his kingdom to the borders of Falam and Manipur (Meitei) regions. Soon he collected eight types of taxes. These taxes were “taangseu” (unit of millet each year from each household), “sial siah” (one mithun from each village every three years),  “inn saliang”(one leg of domestic animal),  “gam saliang” (one leg of wild animal),  “daak sap”(a piece of meat from animal killed for funeral),  “sial liang man” (one Rupee from every mithun sold),  “tuk-tha leh khal-tha” (one day service each summer and winter season), and confiscation of property when migrated to other region (J.H. Cope 1937: 4). As he became ruler of all village chiefs he was known as “Ukpi” (Great Chief).  Village chiefs served as his subordinates called “Hausa.”
His kingdom had a special feature from other neighboring chiefs in Mizoram and Manipur. The Manipur Rajah had ruled in Manipur territory and the Sailo chiefs in Mizoram. Each village had a Sailo chief in Mizoram with the exception of some Ralte and Zahau chiefs. Zadenga, Paliana, Thangluaha, Rivunga and Rokhuma came to be collectively known as Sailo chiefs (Vanlalchhuanawma 2006:34).  Khan Thuam on the other hand subjected other village chiefs and became the sole chief in northern Chin region between Falam and Manipur.  However he maintained these village heads as his subordinates with certain powers in their respective areas. He recorded his rule in a poem
a) Setaang kaihna sak ciang Teimei, ka hialna Lamtui hi e,
b) Sakciang Teimei khang ciang Lamtui a lai-ah kam kei hing e. (Pum Khan Pau    2004:51)
Translation (mine):
a)     I collected tax from Falam in the south to Manipur in the north,
b)     Between Falam and Manipur, I acted like a Lion in the centre.
On his death in 1840 his chieftainship fell on his son Kam Hau. Kam Hau had seven sons Za Tual, Thuam Lian, Lian Thang, Thang Khaw Pau, Hau Pum, Khua Cin Zam and Sawm Hau who died in infancy. Kam Hau was already famous for his warrior and wisdom at Tedim. He had administrative power in addition to his raid tactics. He adopted certain laws and rules to govern his kingdom with his seven councilors Pau Vum, Khoi Lam, Mang Gin, Kim Thuam, Pau Am, Cin Kam, and Tel Khaat.  Khoilam acted as administrative head and Mang Gin as military chief. With the help of these able men he carried out his rule efficiently. He was so powerful that people from other villages flocked to Tedim to become his subjects. Tedim soon became a town of 300 households (Thang Za Tuan: 1985: 47). By the time the British annexed the Chin Hills there were 135 villages under Kam Hau’s rule. Kam Hau gathered all the wealth of his subjects. He was said to have bought the famous set of gong belonging to Ton Kai called “Ton Kai’ Daakbu” with 100 mithuns. He also acquired the famous traditional “necklace” of Mang Son by establishing marriage with his daughter and Mang Son’s son. On acquiring the necklace, the marriage was broken (Thang Za Tuan: 1985:47). He was said to have dozens of elephant tusks. Because of his wealth the Manipur Rajah unsuccessfully waged a war on Kam Hau in 1857. “They were coming to take all the Kam Hau elephant tusks, and they also planned to carry away the women of Tedim” (Vumson 1986:90-94).  The Manipur side lost two-thirds of 3000 soldiers and 130 guns (J.H. Cope 1938: 2). His subjects enjoyed peace and security under his rule except sporadic inter-tribal raids.
He adopted certain laws known as the Customary Law of Kam Hau which was printed in a book form by his grandson Pum Za Mang at Tonzang in 1925 (Sukte Chronicle 2003, Vol.1: 9). Nok Swan Lian, a social leader in Manipur reprinted this booklet with some corrections and changes in 1984 for Manipur Zomis (Nok Swan Lian 1984:1).  The Law deals with acquisition of land, judicial law, domestic as well as wild animals, trees and bamboos, hunting, murder, fire, thief, witchcraft, marriage, rape, inheritance and so on.  Some of the customary laws have been in force among the Zomis even today.
On his death in 1868 his youngest son Khaw Cin Zam succeeded him at Tedim. During the reign of Khaw Cin Zam the British forces began to raid the Chin Hills from 1883. Khaw Cin Zam died without a son and his chieftainship fell on a young boy Hau Cin Khup, son of his brother Hau Pum of Tonzang. Hau Cin Khup a youthful and energetic was taken to Yangon for training in administration including horse riding.   He proved to be capable of ruling and became trustworthy in the sight of the British officials.  He was handsome, strong, and intelligent.  He returned to Tonzang in 1893 fully equipped with police and guards. He was issued a certificate of chieftainship from the Governor of Burma. “The position of the chief in regard to the people is very similar to that of Feudal Baron. The chief is “Lord of the Soil” and his freemen hold it as his tenants and pay him tithes and he accepts tribute” (B.S. Carey and H.N. Tuck 1976: 201). When the “Chin Hills Regulation Act 1896” was enacted, “Hau Cin Khup was the lord of the earth and water” was inscribed in it (Sukte Chronicle 2003, Vol.VI:19).
During this transition period many village chiefs stop giving the usual taxes. The chiefs Sing Kam of Tuithang, Pau Khen of Muizawl, Suang Khaw Kam of Laitui, Thawng Lian of Mualnuam and Khua Kim of Tuitawh refused to pay tax saying that they had paid to the Falam Chief Con Bik. As he was empowered to rule over the land of his grandfather Kam Hau he chained some of them and some were deported to other areas in Falam until they agreed to give tax (Thang Za Tuan 1985: 59-62). In addition to the regular tax levied by Kam Hau, Hau Cin Khup levied extra tax like feather of an Eagle, feather of Hornbill, a beehive, half of elephant tusk, half of wild mithun’s horn, and six rupees from lesser chiefs annually. Hau Cin Khup became more powerful and wealthy than his predecessors. He was awarded the following awards by the British government: a rifle (1889), a double gun (1899), a Sword (1901), a golden necklace (1917), an elephant rifle (1918), a pistol (1919), K.S.M and I.D.S.M Medals (1919) (Thang Za Tuan 1985:63).
According to the Zo culture he offered a celebration of highest honor called “Tonh feast” by killing 50 mithuns at one time. On his death his son Pum Za Mang provided him a grand funeral ceremony by killing 100 mithuns, all guns from his 126 subjects fired, visitors from all his kingdom paid homage for three days and three nights at Tonzang on Sept.10, 1934 (Thang Za Tuan 1985:64).
Pum Za Mang took over chieftainship from Hau Cin Khup in 1924. As education had been introduced he had fourth grade education and well verse in Burmese. He administered his kingdom well as his father Hau Cin Khup, enjoyed the same tax and benefits as his father. When Zoland came under British control, the Zomi chieftainship was recognized and the British did not interfere with the chief’s powers and functions.  Village organization and local authorities were left as they were. He was awarded A.T.A. in 1936 and also K.S.M. Medal before World War II. His rule was disturbed by World War II followed by India and Burma independence in 1947. Kam Hau regime as it was known came to an end in 1948 by awarding a compensation of Rs.70,000 to Pum Za Mang (Thang Za Tuan 1985:68).
One might ponder that the Sukte chiefs made themselves wealthy and powerful by means of exploitation of their subjects. A number of times the lesser chiefs and subjects opposed to the payment of heavy taxes with no avail. Taxation was levied to show their allegiance to the chief and protection from enemies (J.H.Cope 1937: 4). They were protected from raids of Meiteis and Sailos in neighboring areas. A leg of animal was taxed on ground that the animal fed on the grass of Kam Hau’s land. A unit of grain as taxed because they cultivated the land of the chief.
A Sukte clan of Kam Hau and his descendants made indispensable impact on the Zomis during the long reign of almost one and half a century (1806-1948).  During the reign of Pum Za Mang, the first New Testament in Chin Hills was printed in 1932 called New Testament in Kam Hau dialect. The people of northern Chins were known as Kam Hau people and the dialect as Kam Hau dialect. The Meiteis called the tribal people “Hau” or “Hao” meaning people of Kam Hau.
Kam Hau as illiterate as he was adopted the customary law by oral order. He was the first who practiced customary law and regulations in regard to civil, judicial, social and marriage practices. The practice of inheritance to a son eventually became hereditary in the family of Kam Hau. Individual families too practice the same inheritance system even today in Zomi society.  His administrative system was not an authoritarian but built on democratic system. He gathered member of councilors of able men with particular responsibilities in administration, military, religion, social etc. to execute his powers. He served as a model in administration for the Zomis.
Another important factor is that the period from 1800-1895 AD was the most glorious era for the Zomis in history. The Zomis lived in freedom in their own territory without foreign interference. The chiefs beginning from Khan Thuam, Kam Hau and Khua Cin, ruled without political interference from neither the Burmese nor the British government in Assam.  The chiefs enjoyed individual political freedom in the land of their own.

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