Khamyang people

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The Tai-Khamyangs (Thai:ชาวไทคำยาง, Chao Thai Kam Yang) also known as Shyam, are a subgroup of the Great Tai peoples of South East Asia. They are numerically a small indigenous Assamese community group found in Tinsukia, Jorhat, Sivasagar and Golaghat districts of Assam as well as adjacent parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Their population totals about 7,000 of which only a small minority speak the native Tai Khamyang language. The Khamyang are followers of Theravada Buddhism and are closely related to the Khamti. They maintain good relations with other Tai Buddhist tribes of Assam.

The Khamyangs, who are popularly known as Noras, are of Tai-stock. Nora is the name by which Mogaung Shans (Tais) of Myanmar were known to Ahoms. "Khamyang" itself is a Tai word, deriving etymologically from "kham" (gold) and "yang" or "jang" (to have), and meaning "people having gold". They ruled an independent principality in Mungkong until the end of the 18th century.

Many Khamyang have historically used "Shyam", which is a cognate with "Siam", the old word for Thailand, as a surname. The modern trend is for mostly their family names: Thaomung, Chowlu, Chowlik, Tunkhang, Wailong, Pangyok, Chowsong, Pangyok and Chowhai.


The Khamyang, as a distinct tribe, are found in Balijaan Shyam Gaon, Na Shyam Gaon and Betbari Shyam Gaon (Betoni)near Titabor in Jorhat district, Disangpani, Chalapather Shyam Gaon and Rahan Shyam Gaon near Sapekhati in Sibsagar District, Powaimukh Shyam Gaon near Margherita in Tinsukia district and Rajmai Shyam Gaon near Sarupathar and Rajapukhuri Shyam Gaon Golaghat District.There are also a few Khamyang villages in Arunachal Pradesh . In Namsai district they are settled in: Namsai town, Nanam Khamyang I, Nanam Khamyang II, Maan Ho Fai, Kaichu, Nongtao Khamyang, WeingSeng Nongtao, Jona Pathar IV, Lathao and Deobil villages. In Changlang district they are found in Bordumsa town, Namleng, Bengmora, Sumboi villages etc.


The Khamyang language, along with its close relatives, Khamti, Tai Phake, Turung, Tai Aiton and Shan, is classified with the Northwestern subgrouping of the Southwestern Tai languages in the Tai-Kadai language family. Khamyang, however, is not in use among the Khamyangs of Assam except in a small settlement of approximately 200 people seven miles downstream from Margherita in Tinsukia district named Powai Mukh. The majority speak Now Tai although many Khamyang (Tai) terms are still retained in their vocabulary. Thus, in language and some other cultural traits, the Khamyangs are in the process of harmonious assimilation to the local Khamyang culture.


The Tai-Khamyangs belong to an area called "Khamjang" which lies in the Kachin state of Myanmar. This small unit of Tai-Khamyang people migrated from "Mueng Mao Lung dynasty" (A.d-764-A.d-1252) in present-day Yunan Province of China and settled near Kopdup river in Upper Myanmar. It is said that the regions of Upper Myanmar geographically have full of resources. The Kopdub river flow through this region and have plenty of golds in the form of sand. The Tai-Khamyangs resided for a long period in this area lying on the Kopdub river. So literally they were known by the name "Khamyang" (Kham- Gold & Yang- To have) or "the people having gold"

According to Ahom chronicles, prince Sukhapha and his followers were attacked by the Nagas at Khamjang on their way over Patkai. After his crossing over the Patkai, Khamyangs were driven away to take refugee in Assam under the oppressions of Siukhanpha. It is that early settlements of the section of Noras who were subsequently known by that name.

The Tai Khamyangs, in the Patkai, got divided into two groups namely the Maan Nam or Pani Nora (Low Land Nora) and Maan Loi or Dum Nora (Upper land Nora). This settlements lies near the great lake "The Lake Of No Return" (Nong Kheo Lok Yang). In the mid eighteenth century, due to the critical surrounding for the presence of couple of Cobras in the lake and problems faced from the Kachins, the Tai-Khamyangs crossed over the Patkai hill and settled in a fertile valley of Arunachal Pradesh. It is said that they constructed a pagoda which is still present near the no return lake. In the later period they maintained good relationships with the Tai-Khamtis and established villages in Tengapani area. During the rule of Ahom king Gaurinath Singha, they immigrants to Jorhat district of Assam. With regard to their earlier migration to Assam, it may be noted that some Noras had accompanied Swargadeo Sukhapha and later on their separate identities were merged with the name Khamyang. History bears testimony to the fact that in 1524 Swargadeo Chukungmong married the daughter of the Nora Raja and Nora Raja equally was honoured with an Khamyang damsel. It is quite probable that some Noras might have accompanied the princess in 1576. Swargadeo Chukhamfa also married one Nora princess. The princess was accompanied by a Nora prince, a priest and 1000 Nora people.

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