The Lai Peoples in Yunnan
Wangkhemcha Chingtamlen *
The present Yunnan Province of China is in the South Eastern part of the Chinese country. The capital city of the Yunnan Province is Kunming. The Yunnan part of the great country, China and its great people, Chinese are very important to the peoples of the North East of India, geographically, historically and ethnically. Nobody can deny it.
The reading the books, EARLY MAN IN CHINA, by Prof. Jia Lanpo, and THE TAI AND THE TAI KINGDOMS by Dr. P. Gogoi are very important books in respect of geography, history, ethnicity and ethnology of the Chinese country and Chinese peoples to the peoples of the NE of India. The books give the concerned peoples a great inside knowledge of the past history connected with geography (Geo-Politics) and their origin etc.
An added inside knowledge of the peoples of Asia is also given by the -booklet, "Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" by Hareswar Goswamy published very recently in 2010 CE. The contribution of the writer will be very much enhanced if the book was written in English. As the book was written in Meeteilon in Bengali script, readers of the book will be limited to only Meeteilon and Bengali script knowing peoples in the valley of Kangleipak only.
The knowledge of the merits and demerits of the book will not be exposed to outside of Kangleipak (Manipur) valley as it was written only in Manipuri in Bengali script. The geographical position of Yunnan vis-a-vis Kangleipak may please be seen from the following sketch-map:
From the sketch-map of Yunnan (above) whose capital city is Kunming, the geographical position of Yunnan vis-a-vis Kangleipak is clearly seen. Yunnan is exactly in the east of Kangleipak few hundred kms through the Northern part of Myanmar, which is generally plain. We also know very well that Kangleipak and Myanmar are well connected through the history of mankind, from the eastern border of Kangleipak to the western border of Myanmar.
We also know very well that from Arunachal Pradesh to the North, to Mizoram to the south, the borders between present NE India and Myanmar is almost free to and fro for the peoples upto recent time. In the Ukhrul area of Kangleipak (Manipur), we have upto this day, Lairam Funga Khul (Lairoad/Lai peoples road Funga Khul), Lairam Khul testifying the Lai peoples from the Koubru mountain ranges of Kangleipak went freely to the Asiatic vast landmass through Myanmar, specially through the Northern portion of Myanmar, in the pre-historic and historic days of mankind. This is logic and history (facts).
Demographic facts in Yunnan at present :
From the past relations and facts between Yunnan, which is a province of China in the South East of the Country, and Kangleipak, now let us come to present demographic facts of Yunnan. The knowledges of this present short treatise are collected mainly from the book "Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" by Hareswar Goswamy.
At page 4 of the book at about 300 years BC in Yunnan "Matam Aduda tongan tonganba mee-yoi furup humfhudagi tadana leibak Asida leirammee. Adubu pumnamak Asi chaorakna kanglup mari khakta khaidoktuna masak taklammi. Makhoishing Adudi Lai, Tin, Mee amasung pong" Translation in English : At page 4 of the book at about 300 years BC in Yunnan "At that time, there were not less than 60 groups of peoples in that land. But (the peoples) were identified as only four human groups. They were Lai, Tin, Mee and Pong."
The above statement in the book, after examining the ground realities of Yunnan by ld. Hareswar Goswami, is a perfect and uncontradictable statement that Yunnan was an area ( a country) fully inhabited by the Lai peoples originated from the tops of the Koubru mountain ranges of Kangleipak.
Til (Tin), Mee and Pong are merely local appellations of the Lai peoples who originated from the tops of the Koubru mountain ranges of Kangleipak, which are found in the Puya, scripture of the Meetei Race. The following picture which is shown at page 36 of the book,"Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" by Hareswar Goswamy may please be seen and critically examined:
The above fact of using a Yotsubi by the Yunnan people is a peculiar and a particular to the peoples of Kangleipak and Yunnan. Funga is a fireplace in ancient Kangleipak where Imoinu, the Mother Goddess of wealth of the Kangleicha Meeteis, is still worshipped in Wakching Month (December) every year as a tradition.
The three legs of the Yotsubi are Mangang, Luwang and Khuman, the first three legendary patriachs of the seven salais (seven clans) of the Meetei Race guarding the Mother goddess of Wealth, Ima Imoinu of the Kangleicha Meetei race. The people of Yunnan part of great country China is still using Yotsubi though they may not remember the exact tradition of their origin.
At page 38 of the book, "Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" the writer of the book writes : "Mayol Oina china-gi lamdamdagi Chi'Ins shingi chafudagi khun honglakpa tai nattraga Lai-singna chaorakna Christ-tagi mamang chahi chani-chahumgi Adu-waida yunan-gi lamdamda tai-lai-shingna nan-chao leibak semduna pankhi."
Translation : From the central China, the Tai or Lai peoples changed their habitation because of the hard pressure of the Chi'Ins and established the Tai-Lai Nan-Chao country at Yunnan at about 200-300 BC.
Please see in the above quotation "tai nattraga Lai" and tai-lai" indicating Tai and Lai peoples are the same peoples, in their local appellations at Yunnan in the present ground realities in the 21st century. Not only this indication, from the quotation from the book, it is further known that the central China, in the relevant time, was also an area where the Lai peoples from the Koubru mountain tops inhabited in the early period of historic times of the country China.
In the present article writer's book, KANGLEIPAK : THE CRADLE OF MAN in the sub-chapter-3. The Lai peoples in Assam at page 99, the writer wrote that the Ahom-Tai peoples are Lai peoples from Kangleipak. They worship Kanglei Meetei god, Khamlai etc. The esteemed readers might have remembered it.
Further, the writer of the book, "Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" writes in many pages of the book that the peoples of Yunnan have many similarities in mythology, customs, traditions, law of inheritance etc. etc. with the people of Kangleipak.
At -the concluding para of the book, the writer writes "Puya da laison tinsonda thengnariba wahei wata, londa puda Amadi chatna lonchatta yaoriba para kaya asi matou karamna Oirakkhibano?"
English translation : How the similarities of god-invoking words and concepts, social laws etc. in the puya (with those of the Yunnan people) were brought?
What the writer says in the above quotation is that in the puya of the Meetei race, there are too many similarities of concepts of Gods, words used in worship of God, social laws etc with those of the present Yunnan people as found by the writer of the book today. In his statement in the quotation from the book,"Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" , the writer, Hareswar Goswami is very clear that there are too many similarities between the present Yunnan peoples and Kanglei peoples, will be known by everybody.
What the writer says is that above the similarities of anthropological data, there are similarities in the philosophical origin of the two peoples.
What the writer, Hareswar Goswami may not be clear is that of the concept and meaning of a Puya. The Puya of the Meetei Race is a scripture, in the present context hand written document written in 18 alphabets written before Puya Burning by Pamheiba Garivaniwaz etc., is a world class scripture. It contains no Hindu words, concepts, etc.
What the writer encounters today in Yunnan are only similarities derived from the words, concepts of the ancient Kanglei Puyas. It is almost impossible to borrow words, concepts etc from a people who has no scriptures, by a people who had ancient scriptures.
At page 50 of the book, "Kha-gi Leibak Yunnan" the writer Hareswar Goswami's report from the ground of the Yunnan Province of China that "Mashidasu nattana manipurgi maikei ngakpa laishing, maru oina Koubru-bu koirengei , thangjing-bu Khak-len-chi ,Wangbren-bu Wang-hu-kup, Marjing-bu Maram-ching-hu-kup haina kouriba asi akhang ahei kharana tai lai-shinggi maming ne haina louri. "
Translation : Not only this, the border direction guarding gods of Manipur, more importantly, the naming of Koubru as Kou-reng-ngei, Thangjing as Khak-len-chi, Wangbren as Wang-hu-kup, Marjing as Maram-ching-hu-kup, some intellectuals opine that (their names of) the gods are Tai-Lai names.
Definitely, the border-direction guarding gods, Koubru (Koupalu in the scripture) in Kangleipak and the corresponding name Kou-reng-ngei (in Yunnan) ..... are all Tai-Lai names, but Koubru (Koupalu) etc. precede the Yunnan names. Because the Kangleipak (Manipur) names are in the Puya (scripture).... of the Meetei race written in several thousand years B.P. The Yunnan names are derivatives of the Kangleipak names.
The part of the word 'Koubru' (Koupalu), that is , 'Kou' in both Koubru and Kou-reng-ngei has very definite meaning in the scripture; Koupalu (present koubru) is related to creation of Man on the Earth. The investigation of the writer, Hareswar Goswami in the ground demographic and historical facts of Yunnan are valuable. If the writer investigates in the light of Etymology etc, for example, if the writer shows the origin of the 'Kou' in the 'Kou-reng-ngei', which is common in both 'Koubru' and 'Kou-reng-ngei', the ethnic relation between the peoples of Kangleipak and Yunnan will be ascertained.
Further, the Koubru mountain is very important in the mythology, tradition etc. in the human creation on the Earth. Further in the Puya, Kanglei scripture, Koupalu (present word Koubru) is prominently found as the first place of Human habitation, that is, the Lai peoples on the Earth. 'Lai', 'Laiyam' meaning many Lai peoples are prominently written in the Puya, the scripture of Kangleipak.
In the Yunnan word, Koureng- ngei, the first part of the word, 'Kou', the first part of the Kanglei original word 'Koupalu' precedes the latter parts 'reng-ngei'. This indicates 'Kou' is original in the naming process, that is, the thinking process of the Yunnan peoples. This further indicates the Yunnan peoples are originally from the Koubru mountain ranges of Kangleipak. In the Yunnan word, Wang-hu-kup, the syllables of the word is preceded by 'Wang' of the Kanglei scriptural word 'Wangpulel' indicating the Yunnan word 'Wang-hu-kup' is original from Kangleipak.
The present writer has said already many times, in several occasions that from Arunachal Pradesh, from Nagaland, from Kangleipak, from Mizoram etc to go to China, to South East Asia etc. is so easy even today. So, in the pre-history, proto-history and early parts of the historic times of mankind, probably before the continental drift when the India sub-continent conjoined Eurasia, the Asian continent which was a vast land mass to which the Lai peoples from the Koubru mountain tops went freely for seeking foods, amiable climates etc. More specially, the upper North Borders of Myanmar, Yunnan etc are plains and most amiable corridor for to and fro between Kangleipak and vast asiatic land mass.
So, in the vast Asiatic continent, everywhere in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Japan etc. etc. we see only Lai peoples in their local appellations. We see everywhere in Asia only Lai peoples and Lai peoples originated from Kangleipak, from Koupalu (Koubru).
* Wangkhemcha Chingtamlen is a frequent contributor to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at gcomcc(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on May 30, 2011.
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