Khiamniungan people

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Khiamniungan
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Khiamniungan language
Religion
Approximately 99%[citation needed] Christianity and 1% Animism
Related ethnic groups
Naga tribes

Khiamniungan is one of the minor Naga tribes, mainly found in the Tuensang district of Nagaland, India and the adjoining areas of Burma.[1] The tribe's name is also spelled as Khaiamnungan, Khiamnungan or Khiamungan. They were also called Kelu-Kenyu ("slate-house dwellers") during the British Raj.[2]

History[edit]

The origin of the Khiamniungans, like that of other Naga tribes, is uncertain. There are no written records of their history before the British Raj days, and the only source of information about their ancestors are oral traditions in form of folktales and myths.

According to a popular myth, Khiamniungan means "source of great waters" - the place from where the early ancestors of Khiamniungan are said to have emerged. This place is identified near Lengnyu-Tsuwao villages over looking from the present day Noklak and Pathso towns.[citation needed]

Today, the Khiamniungans occupy the easternmost part of India and northwestern part of Myanmar. In India, they are found in Tuensang district of Nagaland state. They are linked linguistically as well as culturally to the Tibeto-Burman.

During the British Raj, the Khiamniungans were referred to as "Kalyu Kanyu", particularly in the works of anthropologists such as Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Unlike several other Naga tribes, the advent of Christianity had little impact on the Khiamniungan for a long time, due to their remote location. The first Khiamniungan to convert to Christianity was Khaming, in 1947.[3] Thereafter, a number of Khiamniungans converted to Christianity. After the coming of the new education system, social system, modernization and Christianity, there have been drastic changes in their social life.

Tribal society[edit]

The traditional Khiamniungan village had eight important people:[4]

  1. Nyokpao or Nokpao (war leader)
  2. Petchi or Puthsee (peace maker, elder)
  3. Meyo, meya or Ampao (priest)
  4. Meshwon or Kieo lomei (doctor)
  5. Ain (priestess and oracle)
  6. Sonlan or Shoalang (blacksmith)
  7. Paothai or Paothieo (story teller)
  8. Ainloom (the keeper of the a supposedly magical stone; the stone is said to warn of any impending disaster such as a fire or a raid, by moving out of its basket or by creating a sound through striking another object)

By the early 1990s, only the Petchi, the Sonlan and the Ainloom remained relevant, others being remembered mainly as part of books and oral tradition.[4]

Culture[edit]

The traditional Khiamiungan attire consists of bright red and bright deep blue colored dresses. The ornaments are made of cowries and conch shells.

The tribal musical instruments include drums made of gourds and bamboo flutes.

Miu festival[edit]

The Khiamniungan tribals, who traditionally practised jhum cultivation (slash and burn agriculture), celebrate the Miu festival at the time of sowing. They offer prayers for a good harvest.

Tsokum festival[edit]

Tsokum is the week-long harvest festival of the tribe, celebrated in October. The festival includes dancing, singing, cleaning, repair of the roads, and outdoor cooking and eating. In this festival the people invoke god's blessing for a bountiful harvest.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ved Prakash (2007). Encyclopaedia Of North-east India Vol# 5. Atlantic. pp. 2137–2139. ISBN 978-81-269-0707-6. 
  2. ^ Hamlet Bareh, ed. (2001). Encyclopaedia of North-East India: Nagaland (Volume 6). Mittal. p. 259. ISBN 978-81-7099-787-0. 
  3. ^ "India International Centre quarterly" 28. India International Centre. 2001. p. 99. 
  4. ^ a b Sushil K. Pillai. "Anatomy of an Insurgency: Ethnicity & Identity in Nagaland". SATP. Retrieved 2011-10-24.