Magh people

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The Magh is the term used in Bengal for the Arakanese or Rakhine people of Arakan. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Mrauk U Kingdom of Arakan expended its territories to the Chittagong area of Bengal. The navy of the kingdom of Arakan had plundered along the coast of Chattagong; as well as in the rivers of Bengal; and captured many Bengalis and sold them in the slave markets that were run by the Dutch East India Company, VOC in Batavia. For those notorious activities in the past, the Arakanese were called Magh pirates by the people of Bengal. Another alternative suggestion for the term Magh suggests that the word is derived from Maghada, the country where the Buddha lived. That country is mentioned in the Arakanese Chronicles as the original residing place of the ancestors of the Arakanese kings who were the relatives of the Buddha.

During the hey days of the Arakanese kingdom, many Arakanese people who were called as Maghs lived in Chittagong region of Bengal. As Chittagong, what is now in Bangladesh, was part of Arakan in the past, the Arakanese Magh governors ruled part of Bengal by residing in that city as the capital of the colonial region of Arakan. The Arakanese king also appointed Bohmong Rajas to rule in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bohmong Htaung. The Chakma region of CHT and the kingdom of Tripura were also part of Arakan at that time. Those people living in CHT, especially in Bandarban were still ruled by Bohmong Raja until now since Arakan's rule of Bengal. The Arakanese who have been living in CHT, Bengal, since the ascent of Arakanese kingdom in the 16th century were also known as the Marma people. Those Marmas are known as Magh to the people of Bengal as they are the Arakanese descendants. Arakanese people living in Tripura state of India since that ancient time, are also called as Mog or Magh by the local people of Tripura State.


  • Oxford English Dictionary (s.v. Magh, updated March 2000)
  • Amiram Gonen (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Peoples of the World (Henry Holt, 1993)