Historical Chronology of Kuki people from B.C 700-1919 A.D

Published on December 16, 2010

By Letkhosei Haokip

Origin: Kuki people are Tibeto-Burman Mongoloid-Jewish ethniccommunity,separated by the three international boundaries of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. It is believed that the Kukis emerged out from a cave called “Khul”[1] somewhere in central China. The so stated cave is believed to be the present ‘Great Wall of China’ built by Qin Shi Huangdi during the 17th century.

About 20-25 years back (1987) my elderly paternal grand uncle told me that “His father who had taken from father and great grand-fathers down the generations’ that, “Those ancestors emerging from the cave include Chongthu/Songthu ,Vangalpa ,Khupngam and some  clansmen, leaving behind Songja, Noimangpa and others of the group”. [2]

According to William Shaw in his book, “The Thadou Kukis”, (1929), (op cit),when Chongja’s party, following on, found the stone blocking their passage out and after making many attempts gave up and returned to Noimangpa reporting the result’. Pi Nemneh, wife of Songja, cursed Chongthu and party for leaving them at doom in the ‘Khul’. It is also told that Songja, Noimangpa and other clansmen of the Manmasi (Manashe[3]) people who were left behind are assimilated with the Chinese and Japanese people.

The names of villages of the time were Noimang, Kholaichal, Khopalva, Khothip, Khomang, Khokanglai and Khokisupi.[4] The period Chongthu and his clansmen come out from ‘Khul’ is believed to be between 180-230 A.D. This can be rectified by the settlement of Lenthang (100-182 A.D) and  Lunkim in their so called upper earth, by the time Chongthu and party reached the site, after coming out from ‘Khul’. It is pertinent to state that, the period between 180-230 A.D has been neither recorded nor the period of Chongthu’s emergence from the bowel of the earth or ‘Khul’ has been indicated.

Kuki-Jewish Origin: One acceptable theory propounded by Dr Milui Lenthang Khuplam, in his book, ‘Manmasi Chate Thulhun Kidang Masa: The Wonderful Genealogical Tales of Manmasi’(2005), stated the Kukis to be one of the ten lost tribes of the Jews.[1] In this connection in 1999, Hillel Halkin, a well-known author and journalist, and for many years the Israel correspondent for the ‘New York Times’ presented Dr. Khuplam a scroll of confirmation that states the Kuki people as descendants of Manmasi (Manasseh), one of the twelve tribes of Israel.[3] 

In the year 2001, Lars Goran Svensson of Sweden and ‘Sister Angel’, his assistant, met with Dr Khuplam. They had come to Manipur for a third time to seek out the lost tribes of Israel in order to bring them back to the ‘Promised Land’. [3] In the year 2006-07, 200 Kuki families were taken on batches to Israel.[5]

Course of Migration: According to history, the Kuki-Manmasi (Manashe) people with other tribes of Israel were exiled to Assyria in 722 BC. Babylon conquered Assyria in 607 BC. Syria was later conquered by Persia in 457 BC. Alexander the Great of Greece conquered Persia in 331 BC.[6] It was during this period that the Kuki-Manmasi people were deported from Persia to Afghanistan and other places. Throughout this entire period, their ‘Savun Lekhajol’ or ‘Torah Scroll’ was with them under the possession of ‘Thempu’ [priest(s)] and ‘Lamkai Pipu’ [elder(s)].

From Afghanistan their migration continued eastward till reaching Tibetan-Chinese border. Some of the tribesmen remained back at the Bay of Bengal. From there the adventurous groups continued to wander following the course of Wei River, and reached China. The Kuki-Manmasis settled there at about 231 BC.[6]

Historical Chronology of Kuki People from B.C 300 to 01 A.D. is briefly substantiated as under. There is no detailed and chronologically recorded document. Little information found from different books by different writers at different period states that the Kuki-Manmasi people lived in Yunnan province during 300-200 B.C period. Yunnan at that time was not a territory of China. Some of the known Manmasi chieftains are Naman (Namin), Nul/ Nur and Lhandoh/ Thlanrawk.[7]

1. B.C 300-200 Period: Some of the prominent Manmasi Kuki villages, bearing the present day indigenous names are Injang, Lunglen, Lungten/Lungtian, Mongga-lung/ Maungalung, Phaijang, Selkul/ Seipui, Thenjang and Thenchung etc. The names of their chiefs and chieftains of the period are Zosua/Joshua (Zosanga), Thokpu and Khangpa.[8]

2. Khangpa (B.C 220-200): Khangpa was their most powerful and influential chieftain. The period between 270-250 B.C, witnessed hostility among the various Chou, Misho, Mao and Hans dynasties. Feeling unsecured, the Manmasi Kuki people shifted their settlement from Yunan province to Central China. The Chinese called Manmasi Kuki people as ‘Khang’.[9]

3. Benglam (Chhura) Era (B.C 201-131): During this period, there is nothing much to highlight about this people. The significant event worth mentioning is about their chieftain called Benglam. Benglam possessed a magical power to hypnotise people. He was in love with a Mishmi girl. The parents of the girl did not consent his proposal to marry their daughter. His two comrades ‘Douvan-ngul’ and ‘Douvanthang’ co-operated him to marry her. Even today, the stories and fables about this ruler is being narrated and tld to children. There was a rivalry between the Mons and Manmasi Kukis during this period.[7]

4. Songkho-on (Chawngkhum) Era (B.C 140-101): This era is the period of their settlement in Thakthing region and Irrawady river valley. The most powerful chieftain was Songkho-on.[10] During this period, some clansmen travel to Arakan region and some of them into Chinhills.

5. Mopung Era (B.C 100-50): Mopung became the most powerful chieftain after the death of Dangsa. The Shans continued to wage war against them even in their new settlement at Molpi. So they continued to travel further. Travelling to the most southern part and founded a new settlement in the Chindwin valley. They called this new location, ‘Bolkho’,[11] (meaning swampy village).

6. Dangsa Period (B.C 70): After the death of Songkho-on, Dangsa emerged as the strongest chief. ‘Songsang’ was their biggest village and centre of the period. The Shans attacked and captured Songsang. The Manmasi Kukis went southward to find a new location. They settled in a place called ‘Molpi’,[12] (meaning, huge hill).

7. Tamlop (B.C 60-10 A.D): Tamlop was their chieftain at Buolkho during 60-10 B.C. During this period, the Sijangs were famous for their blacksmithy.[13] During Tamlop’s era, a certain chieftain was said to be very rich, who was stated to have meal in golden plate.[7]

Historical Chronology of Kuki People from 01-1919 A.D (Emergence of Kuki Kings and Kingdoms):
The era of chieftainship has come to an end and the emergence of small kingdoms started taking its root from A.D period onwards. Some of the available recorded kingdoms and kings of the Kuki-Manmasi people are briefly chronologised as under.

1. Mangthangson (A.D 1-20): Mangthang was from Molcham. He was the most prominent Kuki Manmasi king of the period. Other prominent chieftainships of the period in and around Molcham are Galpi, Molpi, Molcham, Mangsaphai, Sikibung, Sipibung, Chonjolbung, Chalon, Sangthei, Jangtunlui, Sijol, Bungjol, Lapuphai, Kungbulbung, Hansebung, Phabanthra, Moirangkhom and Khambikhal etc, (The Marings by R.K Das).

2. Chongphut (B.C 19-70): The next king to come in power was Chongphut. Nothing much is known about this chieftain. Chongphut’s territory comprised of Chindwin valley and its contagious regions. His capital was located at ‘Bolkho’, [7] in the Chindwin valley.

3. Thimzin (Total Darkness),(25-40 A.D): The period of ‘Thimzing’ is believed to be between A.D. 25-40. This unusual total darkness befell humanity for consecutive 7 days and 7 nights. There was shortage of dry firewood and other daily essential items. The interesting thing said about the unusual event was that the ghosts (spirits) of the dead visit human beings. It was also said that whoever doze were dying. In order to keep their eyes widely opened (not doze), they used to insert a bamboo-chip between the eyes to keep the eyes widely opened.[2]

The clansmen gathered together at the house of the chieftain and sang together. The singers as well as the ‘Khongsai/Khongbeng’(drummers), party were said to be very melodious. It is from that period that those drummer groups came to be known as ‘Khongsai’ (meaning drummers or drum beaters). The song they sang goes as, “Kachung’ah thimpi ajinge, Jaitha nem in lhavai inge; Akhu meiloijing abang e, Chungleng arvan a bom e, Daidona tha daikom e, Jangsel bang kahung soh e, Sel-hon kilip silsel e, leilong hon jai kasa e”.[2]

Its free translation goes as, “Darkness befall upon me; Disgustingly I am discouraged, The darkness look like a heap of clouds, covered by a heap of dark clouds, The spirit of toleration diminishes, Like a Yak I exclaimed, A pack of shivering Yaks, we sang a group chorus”. Some people have died of the unusual darkness. By this time Chongphut’s wife bored him a son, whom he named as Sinson.[7]

4. Sinson/Sinsuon (60-110 A.D): Sinson was the eldest son of Chongphut. He had shifted from Bolkho to Sakhijang, alongwith his people. There were 11 villages with 952 houses. His sons are Lunkim, Lenthang, Thangngeo and Changsan.[7]

5. Lenthang (100-182 A.D): After the death of Sinson, the second son, Lenthang took up the responsibility of kingship. Lenthang, though younger, was the king of about 20 big villages. All other brothers too founded new villages and became chiefs. Lenthang’s two sons are Songte and Telien. Telien’s kingship was succeeded by his son Thangneu.[7]

6. Thangneu (230 A.D): Thangneu was the most prominent king of the period. His capital was at Sijang. He left Sijang accompanied by some of his subjects to Arakan to find more suitable area for settlement.[14] Some of the villagers remained back in the village.

7. Vumjang (254 A.D): Vumjang was the son of Thangneu (230 AD) and grandson of Telien, the second son of Lenthang (100-182 AD). During this period, it was said that an extra ordinary human with half human, half lion form, terrorized human beings. Vumjang had a son, whom he named as Sholun.[7]

8. Sholun (317 A.D): Sholun was another chief to come in power. He was the son of Vumjang (254 AD). Sholun’s kingship covered about 13 large villages.[7] He was an excellent magician, as his father.

9. Thangvum (370-421 A.D): Thangvum is the great grandson of Sholun (317 AD). His empire covered 27 villages. The capital was at Sijangbul.[16]

A Tabulation Chart showing Khongsai-Kuki Dynasty (B.C 19-317 AD):

10. Kuki Kingdom of Taguong & Agaltala (A.D 80 & 200):
(i) Khupling (80 A.D) Taguong Kuki Kingdom (Chittagong)-: During 80 A.D Khupling was the king of Taguong kingdom. His ruled over 27 big villages. There were another 12[7] different kingdoms in Chittagong, during the period. At that time, this ethnic Kuki people were called as Pong or poi by other kingdoms.

(ii) Neitholla/Neithawthla (200 A.D) Agaltala Kuki Kingdom (Tripura): In the meantime, there emerged the kingship of Neitholla at Agaltala (Agartala). This king was said to be very rich, possessing large number of Mithuns and other household assets. His kingdom extended over an area of 7000 square miles.[7]

11. Hangsai Kuki Kingdom (401-480 A.D): Hangsai was an expert magician and the most notable Kuki King of the period. His capital was at Chinbok. He was a well known rich king of the time. His kingdom covered a large area of Chindwin valley up to some portion of present day China, in the north.[7]

12. Galngam Kingship (470-573 A.D): Galngam was more or less the comtemporary rival chieftain of Hangsai (401-480). Galngam on his bewitching magical mantra married Hangsai’s daughter. He later assassinated Hangsai, his in-law-father through the same mantra. Galngam occupied the kingship of Hangsai. He further extended his kingdom up to ‘Saihaphoh’ of upper Chindwin.[7]

13. Jamdil/Lamdil (1000 A.D):Jamdil was the Kuki king during 1000 A.D. He is said to be very robust and strong. His kingdom comprised of 700 houses.[7] Except this, nothing much about this king is available.

14. Chongthu Dynasty:
(i) Lelse/Chongthu – Lendou Era (920-970 A.D): Lelse (Lersi) and brother was an orphan, staying at the house of their chief named Lawnkhara, a Lusei chieftain. Lelse was an obedient, sincere, polite and faithful person, since his boyhood. He was serving selflessly his ailing mistress, Cherchawngi wife of Lawnkhara. At the time of attaining maturity, luck favoured him that he became a chieftain of Chinbok.[7] Lelse became a famous chieftain.

At his celebration of success, 20 numbers of Mithun were slaughtered to feed his subjects. Large amount of food surplus became rotted (Athu, A-ui) that he got the new name, Chongthu, meaning ‘Rotten/Rotted Celebrity’. Chongthu’s territory covers an area of 40,000 square miles.[7] The literal meaning of ‘Lelse’ is distorted basket. Being an orphan, this name (Lelse) was given to mark his misfortune. This was a practice of Kuki Manmasis in olden days.

(ii) Chon-mang (1134-1205 A.D): Chongthu was succeeded by his son Prince Chonmang. King Chonmang’s territory covered the present Chittagong hill tracts, Mizoram, Tripura and Cachar hills. His three Sub-Capitals are Khampat (Burma), Champhai (Mizoram) and Vanlaiphai (Tripura-Chittagong). The main capital Chinbok, of his father’s regime remained unchanged. [9]

(iii) Pamang (1278-1340 A.D): Prince Pamang, the son of King Chonmang came to the throne by 1278, after his father. He improved the systems of governance of his kingdom in every respect. Every Kuki princely states and kingdoms of the time offered him annual obligatory taxes. He was said to be the greatest Kuki king of the time. A song in praise of Pamang’s kingdom goes as, “Pamang’s shopping complex rushes hither thither; Greatest is he of the kings of all”.  [16]

(iv) Telenpa/phunsepa- Phuntiaha (1360-1480): Telenpa is the last ruler of Chongthu dynasty. This king is said to be very orderly in every respect and alert by keeping spies (CID) all over his kingdom. He could see the weaknesses and loopholes of his courtiers and their activities. As such he was known as “Phunsepa/ Phuntiaha”, meaning ‘Great Grumbler’. [17]

15. Guite/Nguite Dynasty (1017-1087 A.D):
Genealogically, Guite is the head clan of Haokip-Kipgen-Doungel-Guite lineage. The Guite-Kuki dynasty started from early 1010s A.D to 1870 A.D. [7] Some of the recorded prominent Guite Kingdom and Kings are Mangsum, Mangson and Goukhothang @ Raja Goukhothang. 
* Mangsum- Simnoi/Chimhnuai (1017-1087 A.D):

* Mangson –  Simnoi/Chimhnuai (1780-1840 A.D):

*Raja Goukhothang –Simnoi/Chimhnuai (1830-1890 A.D):

*Raja Chengjapao Doungel – Aisan (1850-1919 A.D: Chengjapao is the Kuki Rajah [18] of Aisan territory. He was the overall leader of the Kuki Rising 1917-1919.

16. Second Era- Khongsai Dynasty (A.D 1350-1870):
Khongsais are the leading clans of Kuki people. Khongsai-Kukis are one of the earliest settlers in India. Khongsai Kingdom and dynasty dates back to early 19 B.C. (Chongphut B.C 19-70). The first Era of Khongsai-Kuki Kingdom and dynasty flourished during 19-70 B.C. The second era started from 1350 A.D and lasted by 1870 A.D.[7] The notable recorded dynasties of the Khongsai clansmen in the second era are as under.

* Lenthang-II: Vangai Lhang & Halflong (1350-1417 A.D):

* Mangtinthang- Litan (1500-1580 A.D):
* Mangtinkhup- Molkoi/ Muolkawi (1580-1621 A.D):
* Mangtinkai@Pakai– Molkoi/ Muolkawi (1810-1870 A.D):

# Enjakhup Khollhou (1870-1919): Enjakhup was a Khongsai-Kuki clansmen chieftain, who was the Deputy Chief-in-Command of Kuki Army during the Kuki Rising 1917-1919.[18]

17. Thadou-Kuki Kingdom and Territories:
* Thadou- Khochung (1200 A.D); Thadou was the son of Sehtha. He was the king of Khochung territory around 1200 A.D. His sons later on became Singson kings, Sitlhou Kings and Haokip kings.

# Vomjamang- Kholen (1489-1530 A.D): Vomjamang was a Singson clansmen chief of Kholen and Henglhang. During this period, there was a misunderstanding between Singson chiefs and Sitlhou Chiefs that he and his people had shifted to Lamka, Sadar Hills and Nagaland between 152-1528.[7]

#  Demlukim- Lungthul (1500 A.D): Demlukim was another Singson clansmen  chieftain of Lungthul, after Vomjamang. It is recorded that at this time, the Haokip clansmen had settled at ‘Elmun’, where some of the Singson clansmen took refuge in the continuing Singson-Sitlhou misunderstanding.

* Mangkhai-Champhai (1730-1750); Mangkhai was the king of Champhai kingdom. His territory comprised of 877 houses. The subjects of Mangkhai were composed of Ralte and Thadou clansmen tribes. Out of 877 houses, 300 belonged to the Ralte tribe. The remaining to Thadou.[7]
# Khotinmang-Jampi (1750-1820): Khotinmang is a Sitlhou clansmen chief of Jampi. He was one of the courageous and richest Kuki chiefs of the period.[4]

Khotinkai- (1820-1880): Khotinkai became a chief during 1750-1880 A.D. This chief is stated to have many daughters and no male issue. This according to Shaw, might be a curse for revolting the Sitlhous. Realising the sin, he went to the Sitlhou chief Khotinmang, getting blessing and got a son.[4]

# Thangkhohen-Sangnao (1880-1919): Thangkhohen, Sangnao Chief was the one who sent 1000 Kukis to help Raja Ngameingam/ Chandra Kirti in the latter’s war against the Sukte Chief, Kamhau.[4]
#  Khotinthang-Jampi (1880-1919): Khotinthang@ Kilkhong was the chief of Jampi. He was one of the leaders of Kuki Rising 1917-1919.[18]

18. Haokip Dynasty (1750-1897 A.D):
The emergence of Haokip clansmen’s dynasty starts from early 17th to the late 19th centuries.[7] Some recorded  Haokip clansmen kingship and Kingdom are as under.
* Sutmang-Phaileng (1750-1847 A.D): The Kingdom of Sutmang had its capital at Phaileng. The Phaileng king and Sailo king Lalsavunga (1740-1820 AD), who died in 1820, were closed friends.

* Tongkho @ Pache-Chahsat (1830-1897): Tongkho @ Pache was the King of Chahsat Haokip-Kuki kingdom. Chahsat, the capital had 700 houses. Tongkho @ Pache was the deputed king. His territory extended from the present day Ukhrul district up to upper Chindwin and Homlin region in the present day Myanmar (Burma).

Some of the recorded prominent villages of the kingdom are Chahsat, Chatrik, Matejang and Molnoi, Phai-len, Khongkang, Pumjang , Phungtha and Saihaphoh of Burma. Chahsat Kingdom comprised of 40 villages. [7]

# Nehlam-Chahsat(1840-1862 A.D):  Nehlam was a Haokip clansmen chieftain, within the territory of Chahsat kingdom. He was murdered by the Raja of Manipur in 1862, while going to pay his respects to the Raja and the Political Agent respectively.[4]

# Tintong Haokip- Laijang (1880-1919): Tintong  chief of Laijang, Tamenglong was the Chief-in-Command of the Kuki Army  during Kuki Rising 1917-1919.[18]Conclusion: The period, Chongthu and party come out from ‘Khul’ is believed to be between 420-425 A.D. This can be rectified by the settlement of Lenthang (100-182 A.D) and  Lunkim in their so called upper earth, when they emerged out from ‘Khul’ and found the two clansmen.[4]

It is imperative to state that the ‘Khongsai Kukis” have already left Khul after ‘Thimzin’ (25-40 A.D) and set up their kingdoms there.The ten Khongsai-Kuki dynasties, as had already mentioned above, have flourished from Chongphut@Chongpu (the first king (B.C 19-70) to the last king, Mangtinkai (1810-1870 A.D).

The writer is a reseach scholar at Manipur University, India.

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  1. Ichenkhompiu namdangho la a future diu boipia boicheng, KUKIte la koi future malah past/khanglui thua kiboigam nalai. I lamkai neisun houvin thilkhat taphot atohdoh uleh CONTROVERSY hijingjeng… mipihon ipi nagel uvem? kiti na umlou. NAMPI LUNGVAI A MACHALTHEI TALOU. AJAMDOHHO A SAFE HIMAI. (Generally. Nothing personal)

  2. Lemminlen

    Enam mu ngailut na jal a hi bng a e histry ho nan hol a nan tah lah h pachat na um mong2 e pathen in phatthei na boh tei2 hen.
    Eai ho nam thu h epi lekha kamu thei dem kei in jng ka sim nom me

  3. Jalien lhunglhou

    Akisei ho hi adih adihlow akihe poi ahin history hi science le Archaelogical findings a final assumption kibol mai2 ahinalaiye. Eiho kuki te a hi folktales le myth a kona bou kiladoh ahie. Tekah in europeans history jong khu myths and mystery,tales dimset ahie, amahon jong a history u hungkipat na dan a alah kit u ahie. Cule DNA test jong hi Baal le coke ha don ho ah identification abui e,eiho thinglhangmi te cu baal me nekhalou aum dem? Coke donlou cu tamnante ahin baal hi kane khapoi nati jongleh napi/napu,nanu/napa in aneh tah a ahileh nanga jong asuh bui phah ahitai.

  4. Nam sung ah hita bang lungel nei ah Insung thu khol thei aum jeh in ama ho jal in nam sung hung khang tou in te ti ka kinem e. adih tah het chet ahi tah lou jeh in enam sung uh pot nat na jal ah research bol hon dih lou lai ho suh dih le suh to ah suh dih di ngai to thei leo hen elam pi uh hung ki sem jang jonte. Ha pan cheh uh tin ehet nao sei khom uh tin Nam sung sem tup nan nei uh te.
    Kakipah e.

  5. Mang Haolai

    Sopi Letkhosei, Na research document hi kavet leh pachat um kasa lheh e. Nathu khol ho ahoijin, Kum abih bih cha nahin peh jong ahoi lheh e. Hinla, Kuki – Manmasi tia nasei jeng vang hi dih kasa thei poi. 2004-05 sung chun M.Div. Thesis kana jih in, THE LOST TRIBE (with special reference to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo society of NE India) ahi. Akiseijing Kolkata Forensic lab a DNA test kibol na report jong kaven, (…simillar with the middle east) ati bou ve. Israel mi ahiuve ati poi. Israel a Haifa Technion jong kahou pi in ema cha asei thei pouve. 21/3/2005 a “Rabbi in Chin-Kuki-Mizo te Israel nam mang ahiuve tin phondoh na anei tai” kiti jong chu jou thu ahi. Chief Rabbi lekha jih chu Xerox copy kanei jin, Nam ehi nau ahi pon, Judaism hou va um ho bou asei ahi. Hiche chung thu chun Haifa Technion (Israel a dia research centre sangpen/thupi pen)in jong hiche pet tah chun “This is very critical issue, We cannot give any comment on this issue” tin eihin don but bep uve.

    Manmasi chilhah sangin, Laos te joh ehi diu tahsan a ume.

  6. Lal Kuki

    Dear Brother L. Haokip, It’s wonderful but just a few comments on your tracing Kukis origin from Israelites need to be rethink it wisely, Because as a historian you must not built your writings on tales and bais people like; H.H Mate, Dr Khuplam,Thangkholun Daniel, Holkholun Lhundim and Benny Khongsai. I wish you all the best for accurate and authentic Historian in future.
    God Bless
    Lal Kuki

  7. Thanglen

    the wonderful genealogical tale of manmasi le across the sabbath river net a simthei dinga kipost umlou heimo kasim nome. Alekhala kamujou hih in. Ahehen rock_the37@yahoo.com a neihn inbox uvo

    • Lal Kuki

      jou thu kisei ahibouve, Avichael lekhasut in Kukite chur Manasseh chilhah ahi atipoi, Jews te kiholna lekhabu ahibouve.

  8. seiboi Haokip

    naseikhai len,inam ngailu hohi nasatah a support ngaije ahe insted of insulting.

  9. Len

    my admiration and appreciation on the research. hitobanga nam ngailu a ihung kon nau hichan a gakhol thuh peh inei uhi nam ivang phat nau ahi…lolhing jing in