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

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]

—to be contd.

The writer is a Reseach Scholar (Ph.D) at Manipur University.