Khyang people

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The Khyang
Total population
2,345 (In Bangladesh)
according to the 1991 Bangladesh census
Regions with significant populations

Majority populations in Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh the Khyang reside in Rangamati Hill District of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Majority confess to Christianity and also to Theravada Buddhism

Khyang is the exonym of the Hyow. The Khyang or the Hyow (Bengali: খিয়াং), are a group of indigenous people inhabiting in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The word Khyang originated in khlɔng (see VanBik, 2009: 3-4), which means person in the language. The endonym Hyow means Chin. The Khyang are one of the smallest ethnic groups in Bangladesh with a population of only 2,345 according to the 1991 census. At present, the approximate number of the Khyang in Bangladesh is 4500. They live in Kaptai and Chandraghona in Rangamati Hill District and in Bandarban Sadar, Thanchi and Rowangcchari upazila in Bandarban District.[1] . In Myanmar, they live in the Myebon, Minbya and Ann townships of the Rakhine State.


According to Khyang Chronicles, the Khyangs with their King entered Chittagong Hill Tracts when their kingdom in Burma was overrun by the Burmese. But afterwards the King decided to go back to Burma. But his younger queen being pregnant could not accompany him. Hence she was left behind with some followers and kinsmen. The present Khyang are the descendants of this queen and her retinue. However, the literature of the Burmese history tells that the Khyang migrated with the Marma from the southern Myanmar in the late eighteenth century.[2][3] The Khyang have two groups in Bangladesh: Laitu and Kongtu. The Khyang were Buddhists but many converted to Christianity during the British period. Most Khyang today are under the Mong family or the "Royal Family" which is from Chandraghona, Rangamati Hill Districts in Bangladesh.

Social System[edit]

Every Khyang society has a leader who is called ‘Karbari’ or ‘Headman.’ Khyang society has a patriarchal structure. The father of a family is the master of the house. If a village lacks a headman, the villagers unitedly appoint a leader. The leader solves all the disputes that may develop among the villagers and, thus, helps them live in peace. If a person is accused of any criminal wrongdoing, the headmantakes steps in line with customary social laws.[4]

   The accused is generally punished or forgiven, and the judgement is passed in front of all after measuring the enormity of the misdeed. Both the male and female of the Khyang community are very industrious. Men dominate and especially follow the laws of society. [5] 

Clans and Hierarchies[edit]

The names of different clans of the ethnic group strongly suggest that they have totemic character in giving names to the clans. The Khyangs living in Bangladesh are divided in two sections: 1.Kongtu 2.Laitu

Kongtu: Those who live in hilly areas are called ‘Kongtu.’ They mainly live on jhum cultivation.

Laitu: And those who live in the plain land or earn their livelihood mainly by farming are called ‘Laitu.’

Clans: The Khyangs are divided in several clans, such as, Mongcha, Khep Cha, Monglam Sa, Laibres, Lithu Sa, Peh Cha, Hok Cha, Se Em Cha, Wong Cha, Nin Cha and Mre Cha, etc.

Mongcha: According to a popular anecdote, this is the lineage of the prince. The king gave the orders and all the responsibilities that include providing the prince with all services he needs. This group consisted of the royal family, nobles, and the regents. It is thought that since then the people employed for these types of job have been called ‘Mongcha.’ In another view, the Mongcha were those Khyang people whom the king brought up.

Khep Cha: There were regions or provinces where ferocious people used to live long ago. They always resorted to violence with or without any genuine cause. The king was often extremely annoyed with them for their aggressive attitudes, and feared that if he failed to establish his control over such ruthless people, they would revolt against him. Then he selected a man who was endowed with the capabilities to bring those people under control. Since then, the people who have been appointed to this job are called ‘Khep Cha.’ The functions of ‘Khep Cha’ are similar to those of vassals.

Monglam Sa: The people who have been employed with the task to sweep the way the king used are called ‘Monglam Sa.’ In a word, their job was to make the roads the king took dirt-free.

Wong Cha: Monkeys at the forests or jungles irritated the people too much at that time. Both the king and his subjects were fed up with their disturbances. Hence, the king employed people to prevent monkeys, and these people are called ‘Wong Cha.’

Libre Sa or Leibre Sa: As popularly known, a Khyang girl married a Marma boy. One day the Marma boy came to the Khyang locality and started living with them. The successors of the couple introduced themselves as Libre Sa, and, thus the title became established for this clan.


  1. ^ Saradindu Shekhar Chakma. Ethnic Cleansing in Chittagong Hill Tracts. p. 39. 
  2. ^ Phayre, A. (1883). History of Burma, including Burma proper, Pegu, Taungu, Tenasserim, and Arakan. From the earliest time to the end of the first war with British India. London: Trübner & Co. p. 172. 
  3. ^ Brauns, C.; Löffler, L. (1990). Mru: Hill people on the border of Bangladesh. Berlin: Birkhäuser Verlag. p. 30. 
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