Chin people

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Chin Village.jpg
Chin people in Manmar, 2007
Regions with significant populations

2+ million Myanmar, India, Bangladesh 14,000+ in USA, 70,000+ in Malaysia,

15,000 + Australia, Europe, rest of Asia
Lai, Matu, Cho (Müün), Kuki, Siyin (Sizaang), Zo, Zopau, Dai, M'Kaang, Yinduu Daa, Mizo
Majority: Christianity
Minority: Animism and Buddhism

The Chin (Burmese: ချင်းလူမျိုး; MLCTS: hkyang lu. myui:, pronounced: [tɕɪ́ɴ lù mjó]) are one of the ethnic groups in Burma.[1] The Chins are found mainly in western part of Burma (the Chin State) and numbered circa 2 million.[citation needed] They also live in the nearby Indian states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and Assam.[2]


The Chin people are of Tibet-Mongolian origin. The Chin probably came to Burma, especially the Chindwin valley in the late 9th or 10th century AD.

Most Chin people moved westward and they probably settled in the present Chin State thought to be around 1300-1400. The Chin people do not have factual records of their history as the Chin practice oral traditions.

The name "Chin"[edit]

The name "Chin" is disputed. During the British era, the British used the compound term 'Chin-Kuki-Mizo' to group the Kukish language speaking people, and the Government of India inherited this.[3] Missionaries chose to employ the term Chin to christen those on the Burmese side and the term Kuki on the Indian side of the border.[4][5]Chin nationalist leaders in Burma's Chin State popularized the term “Chin” following Burma's independence from Britain.[6]

More recently Chin has been rejected by some for Zomi, though the Zomi are also one small Northern Kukish language group.[7] Some Zomi nationalists now consider that Chin would mean subtle Paite domination Chini-Kuki-Zomi identity, which other groups like Hmars, Zou/Zo Hmal,Koms may not coopt.[8][9] The term Mizo also can cause confusion, particularly following the emergence of the Zomi National Congress.[10][11]


Elderly Chin woman in the Lemro River valley, note the facial tattos

There are many tribes among the Chin people, such as Yinduu ( Daa ), Kaang, Ukpu(chin pon), Zo, Thai, Tedim/Sim (who prefer to call themselves Zomi, as the word "Chin" is not in their own language; note the resemblance to Mizo of the neighbouring Mizoram state in India). Major tribes of the Chin include Asho, Chro/Cho, Khumi, Zomi, Laizo, Laimi,[12] Matu, Mara, etc. It would be relevant to mention also that they are related to the Kukis of Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. For want of a more acceptable common name, they are usually called the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people, bringing together the three most common names for them, whether given by outsiders or themselves.[13]

There are also ten of thousands of Chin people in Mizoram State, India, mainly in the area of the Lai Autonomous District Council, formerly part of Chhimtuipui District, and a sizable population also live in Churachandpur district of Manipur, consisting of smaller tribes like the Hmar, Paite,((Vaiphei People / Vaiphei)) Simte, Zou, Gangte and others. Bawn tribe in Southern Mizoram State and Pakistan are descendants of the Lai tribe. This Chin/Mizo/Zomi/Kuki people are scattered into three countries: Burma,Pakistan, and India. The Chin speak several Kukish languages; Ethnologue lists 49 languages in this group, of which 20 contain the word "Chin" in their name.[14]

Chin Traditions[edit]

Attempts to unify[edit]

The realisation that these are of one and share common dialectical root and customs even though separated by international and state boundaries brought about movements for Unification of the occupied territories and of the people. One of the first movements being the MNF (Mizo National Movement) which ended with the formation of the Mizoram State in India. Another complicated matter among the chin-mizo-kuki is the acceptance of a common name.


The majority of Chins are Christians, with most belonging to Protestant denominations, especially Baptist.[15]

Traditionally, the Chin were animists. Due to the work of Arthur E. Carson a Baptist missionary, many converted to Christianity. Many Chins have also served as evangelists and pastors, ministering in places like the United States, Australia, Guam and India.

A small group of individuals from Mizoram claimed that they are one of the lost tribes of Israel, that of Bnei Menashe tribe; some have since resettled in Israel.

Global Chin community[edit]

Because of the current situation in Burma, thousands of Chins are scattered in Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia. Also to note American Baptist, British Anglican and Swedish Lutheran church groups helped relocate thousands of Chin followers.

Global Chin News, World News in Chin, World and Chin-Burmese News in Chin, and Chin Articles and News, are some well known Chin media websites that broadcast daily news in Chin languages.

Famous Chins[edit]


  1. ^ Head, Jonathan, Burma's 'abused Chin need help', BBC News, Jan 28, 2009, Accessed Jan 28, 2009
  2. ^ Chin Cultural Profile
  3. ^ Violence and identity in North-east India: Naga-Kuki conflict - Page 201 S. R. Tohring - 2010 "... for these tribes including • the Kuki/ speaking tribe such as: 'Chin', 'Mizo', 'Chin-Kuki-Mizo', 'CHIKIM', 'Zomi', 'Zou', 'Zo'. ... During the British era, the British rulers used the term 'Chin-Kuki-Mizo' and the Government of India seemed to follow ..."
  4. ^ Sachchidananda, R. R. Prasad -Encyclopaedic profile of Indian tribes- Page 530 1996
  5. ^ Pradip Chandra Sarma, Traditional Customs and Rituals of Northeast India: Arunachal ... Page 288 Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture "chose to employ the term Chin to christen those on the Burmese side and the term Kuki on the Indian side of the ... The Mizo of today's Mizoram are the descendants of Luseia, and the Zomi of Manipur are from the Songthu line, and thus all ..."
  6. ^ Amy Alexander Burma: "we are Like Forgotten People" : the Chin People of Burma Page 16 2009 "... within Chin State, Chin nationalist leaders popularized the term “Chin” following Burma's independence from Britain."
  7. ^ History of Zomi T. Gougin - 1984 "In Burma the people like to renounce the term Chin in favour of Zomi. Zomi is becoming more and more popular in Churachandpur district of Manipur adjoining the Chin State of Burma as group identity in repudiating Chin and Kuki. The term ..."
  8. ^ B. Datta-Ray Tribal identity and tension in north-east India Page 34 1989 "Now to accept the term Chin would mean subtle Paite domination in the matter, which the other groups like the Hmars, Zous, Anals and Koms may not coopt. A Zomi leader categorically stated that 'Chin' is a Burmese word which literally ..."
  9. ^ Keat Gin Ooi - Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East ... - Volume 1 - Page 353 2004 "Until recently, there appeared to be a consensus that the term Chin was not an identity that any of these peoples would ... Some promote the terms Zo and Zomi, stating that they are derived from the name of the mythic common ancestor of all ..."
  10. ^ Ramamoorthy Gopalakrishnan - Socio-political framework in North-East India Page 149 1996 "Later, the term 'Mizo' created a lot of confusion particularly when the Zomi National Congress emerged. ... But the problem arose with the use of the term 'Chin' (it is not given due recognition in the List of Scheduled Tribes in Manipur)."
  11. ^ Chinkholian Guite - Politico-economic development of the tribals of Manipur: a study ... Page 8 1999 "Conceptual Meaning and Various Interpretations of the Terms— Chin, Kuki and Mizo (a) Chin The term Chin is the name given to this Zo/Zou tribes (formerly known as Chin-Kuki-Mizo) group of people in Myanmar (Burma). They are mostly found in the ..."
  12. ^ Alexander, Amy (2009). Burma: "we are like forgotten people" : the Chin people of Burma : unsafe in Burma, unprotected in India. Human Rights Watch. p. 13. ISBN 2-564-32426-6. 
  13. ^ Ethnologue report for Kuki-Chin. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  14. ^ Ethnologue report for Kuki-Chin. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  15. ^ Chin Cultural Profile

External links[edit]