Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Critical Study of Suantak genealogies as recorded by different authors in connection with the Tungdims’ origin from Ngengu son of Suantak.

I) Suantak Clan: Its internal contradictions with regards to its pedigree.

The Chin Hills Vol.I of 1894 (reprinted in1932) after Page 38 gives a chart of the Geneaology of Thuantak/Suantak. Thuantak(Suantak) beget Neyan, Neyan beget i) Ne Nu(NgeNgu) ii)Vamlok iii) Daitong. NeNu beget Lamtam, Lamtam beget Neyal, Neyal beget Tatmun. The genealogical tree of Suantak is reproduced below:-


Thuantak(Suantak)[1 son only)

Neyan


i) NeNu(NgeNgu) ii)Vamlok iii) Daitong

NeNu

↓ Lamtam

Neyal

Tatmun

According to The Chin Hills Vol.I by Carey and Tuck, page 127, it describes thus; Suantak beget Neyan of Cîmnuoi, Neyan beget 3(three) sons viz; NeNu, Vamlok(Vanglok) and Daitong . These three sons left Cîmnuoi and they migrated towards the east and they founded the villages of Limkhai and Suantak. Ne Nu(Ngengu) had one son named Lamtam who lived in Suantak village founded by his father Ngengu and his uncle Daitong. Ne Nu(NgeNgu) is the progenitor of the clan designated as the Siyin(Sizâng) tribe who are descendents of Suantak clan. Lamtam’s youngest son Neyal moved from Suantak village and founded Khosak(Koset) village.

II)Discrepancies in the pedigree of Suantak and Ngengu lineages

1) Suantak Line Discrepancies:

According to Carey and Tuck in the Chin Hills Vol.I 1894, page 127; it is recorded that Thuantak(Suantak) beget only 1(one) son; Neyan. Neyan beget NeNu, Vamlok(Vanglok) and Daitong. NeNu(Ngengu) beget only 1(one) son called Lamtam.

According to genealogical tree of Zomi Chin Race by Vum Ko Hau (a Siyin/Sizâng tribe and speaker) in his ‘The Profile of a Burma Frontier man’(1963, Bandung) gives the Suantak lineage as follows:- Suantak beget 4(four) sons viz: i) Ngengu ii) Neilut iii) Daitong iv) Vanglok(Vangluah). Ngengu beget 6(six) sons viz: i) Boklu ii) Lamtam iii) Khawkuan iv) Tungnung v) Naltal vi) Phiamphu.

Suantak(4 sons)

i) Ngengu ii) Neilut iii) Daitong iv) Vanglok(Vangluah)

i) Boklu ii) Lamtam iii) Khawkuan iv) Tungnung v) Naltal vi) Phiamphu.

According to B.Lalthangliana in ‘History of Mizo in Burma’ M.A Thesis, Mandalay University, 1975, he describes the pedigree of Suantak as given below:- Suantak(Thuantak) beget 4(four) sons viz:- i) Ngengu ii) Neilut iii) Daitong iv) Vanglok.

Ngengu(Ne Nu) beget 6(six) sons viz:- i) Boklua ii) Lamtam iii) Khuakuan iv) Tungnung v) Nantal vi) Phucil(Phuthil).

Here there is no mention of Phiamphu, Tunglut and Tungte clans as given above.

Suantak(4 sons)

(i)Ngengu (ii) Neilut (iii) Daitong (iv) Vanglok

(i) Boklua ii) Lamtam iii) Khuakuan iv) Tungnung v) Nantal vi) Phucil

The genealogy of Sailo chiefs as given by Dr. Vumson in Zo History(1995) page 65, is an extract from the above book. The Sailos are believed to have descended from Boklua.

The ‘Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu’ 2008 A.D gives a slightly differing line of descent from Suantak. The ‘Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu’ 2008 A.D gives the genealogical line of Suantak as given follows:-

Suantak beget 6(six) sons viz: i) Ngengu ii) Neilut iii)Hinnung iv) Nunzong v) Daitawng and

vi) Vanglok.

It goes on to describe that Ngengu beget 8(eight) sons viz: i) Boklua ii) Lamtam iii) Khawkuan iv) Tungnung v) Nantal vi) Phuthil vii) Tunglut and viii)Tungte.

The pedigree of Lamtam in such a way that; Batkai as the first born of Lamtam, Neizalh is the second son of Lamtam and Limtuang as the third son of Lamtam.

Suantak(6 sons)

i) Ngengu(8 sons) ii) Neilut iii)Hinnung iv) Nunzong v) Daitawng and vi) Vanglok.

i) Boklua ii) Lamtam iii) Khawkuan iv) Tungnung v) Nantal vi) Phuthil vii) Tunglut and

viii)Tungte.

Lamtam


i) Batkai ii) Neizalh iii) Limtuang

The first pedigree of Suantak genealogy is given by Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu is exactly similar to the one described by Pu Th. Songtinlam in his extract from his Seminar paper on ‘Unau Kut Seminar’ held at Ngathal on 9th December 2000. The first line of descent is same in both cases that is Suantak beget 6(six) sons. Whereas in case of Lalthangliana’s Suantak line of pedigree says that Suantak beget only 4(four) sons, the number coincides with Pu Vum Ko Hau’s description of Suantak lineage.

2. Ngengu Line Discrepancies: According to Carey and Tuck, Ngengu beget only 1(one) son; Lamtam. According to Pu Songtinlam, Ngengu beget 5(five) sons viz: i) Bawklua ii)Lamtam iii) Tungnung iv) Nantal v) Phucil.

The Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu describes that Ngengu beget 8(eight) sons of Ngengu. The number of Ngengu’s descendants at times tally as in the case of Pu Vum Ko Hau and Pu B. Lalthangliana who stated that Ngengu beget 6 (six) sons respectively but the names of the descendants differ slightly in serial numbers 5 and 6 wherein Phiamphu appeared suddenly in place of Phucil of Lalthangliana’s and Vumson’s descriptions.
The number of Ngengu’s descendants also agree in case of Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu and Pu Songtinlam’s description, however, the second line of the pedigree of Ngengu descendants are totally different in the above line of descent in all cases . Therefore, there occurrences of so many discrepancies in the pedigree of Suantak and Ngengu genealogies as described by the above scholars leads to skepticism about the genuineness of Suantak genealogy. Perhaps, no one will be able to find out the actual number of sons Ngengu beget.


A) Are the Tungdims/Tungnungs really descended from Ngengu son of Suantak ? Firstly, let us discuss the Suantak(Thuantak) genealogy as recorded by the two British rulers; Carey and Tuck, who recorded that Pu Suantak had only one son named Neyal. Different authors of various Suantak genealogies give differing views about the pedigree of Suantak clan and Ngengu, thereby giving rise to internal contradictions and discrepancies in the number of progenies or offsprings.

The fact that the various discrepancies are found in the Suantak genealogies written by different authors leads towards lost of authenticity with regards to its correct lineage as such. It is difficult to find out which one is more genuine and which one is not, is left to the persons of interest in this genealogy to decide as one thinks fit as per one's conveniences. In this type of situation, one is mentally weaned away from accepting the genuiness of Tungdim’s/Tungnung’s direct descent from Suantak.

Secondly, the Tungdims are originally Zo speakers. Therefore, the present Tungdim Tulpipa is a Zo speaker, meaning thereby, the Tungdims were not under any subjugation of local warlords(Tou kailoute). No doubt, some Tungdim families had wandered away to other villages in search of better livelihood or in course of tribal conflicts or some other factors. So, in this way some of the Tungdim families might have reached Sizang village in course of time they settled there and intermarried with the Sizang girls. Several years after their dispersion due to various factors, some Tungdim families began to adopt the culture and language of their neighbouring people such as Sizang/Siyin or Tedim/Teizang people.

The genealogical tree of Zomi-Chin Race by Vum Ko Hau (a Siyin/Sizâng tribe and speaker) in his ‘The Profile of a Burma Frontier man’(1963, Bandung) in which he gives the Tungnung and Naltal(Nantal) lineage as belonging to Suantak’s son Ngengu. Pu Vum Ko Hau being himself a Sizang speaker at the time of writing Suantak genealogy must have included the Tungdims since, they were related through intermarriages for several years and they were closely living with the Sizang people. One cannot fully accept his theory of Suantak origin of Tungdims because it has many flaws in the genealogical records.
The greatest flaw in Pu Vum’s genealogy of Suantak with regards to the Tungdims is the pedigree assigned to the great legendary heroes of the Tungdim clans i.e Pu Nantal and Pu Phuthil.

In his theory of Suantak clan, he has placed these two legendary heroes of the Tungdims well below Tungnung, which of course, is contrary to the genealogical records of the Tungdim clan head. It is a well-known fact, that the legend of Pu Nantal and Pu Phuthil does not pertain to the Zo speakers alone, it is quite widespread amongst the Kuki-Chin people as a whole. Its widespread and its antiquity itself could be taken as enough proof that these two heroes lived long ago, very much before the origin of clan names(Pu Phunghawm was said to have distributed the major clan names) amongst the Kuki-Chin people.

I would probably date the legend of these two heroes to the year not later than 9th century A.D; 800 to 900 A.D. Whereas, Pu Suantak and his sons are said to have established his first village sometime in the year 1450 A.D after leaving Cîmnuoi village. Pu Suantak probably is the contemporary of Pu Saiza and Pu Saikop of Tungdim families.

For the very same reasons, the theories of Suantak origin of the Tungdims(Tungnung, Nantal and Phucil, Tungte) failed completely, as found recorded in Pu. B.Lalthangliana’s ‘History of Mizo in Burma’ 1975, the ‘Tungnung Khangsimna Laibu’ 2008 A.D, Rev. T.K. Thawng Khaw Nang Golden Jubilee Booklet,February 1991 and Pu Th. Songtinlam’s paper 9th Dec.2000. Another unaccountable view of his genealogy is the presence of Phiemphu clan after Tungnung and Nantal(Naltal). It is a fact that the Phiemphu clans who are living in the Chin Hills of Myanmar and India who speak Zo language do not subscribe to his theory of Suantak origin in genealogical line of descent. Phiemphu families might have been perhaps, enculturated in course of time by the Sizang people, therefore, their presence in this genealogy of Suantak. Therefore, positioning of the Tungdims in the genealogical record of Suantak by Pu Vum Ko Hau seriously suffers much flaws from chronological and hierarchical points of view.

B) Evidences from the Genealogy of Suantah Dopmul as recorded by the Zo speakers:

i) Suantah Dopmul Khangsimna published by Zangduang Suantah Dopmul Phungpi, Khampat, Myanmar 20/2/2000.

According to this booklet prepared by the Zo speaking Suantah Dopmul clans as found on page 1 the genealogy of Suantah is given as follows: Suantah beget Suanzo, Suanzo beget Neilut, Neilut beget Neikeng, Neikeng beget Lamkeng, Lamkeng beget Lam-el, Lam-el beget Dopmul. Dopmul beget Mulpi, Hawlhang, Kunhen, Hanthual and Guizo. They acknowledged the eldership of Neilut-Mulpi line of descent which is the third pedigree from Suantah as opposed to Ngengu who is considered as the eldest son of Suantah by speakers languages other than Zo/Zou language. Suantah had 3(three) siblings viz: Suante, Galte and Setah. Suanzo being the first born son of Suantah. Suanzo’s younger sibling is Baite. Suanzo beget 2(two) sons viz: i) Neilut and ii) Ngengu. Neilut is elder to Ngengu. There is no mention of Lamtam, Khuokuon, Tungnung, Nantal, Phuthil etc.

ii) Suantah Suan leh Hah khangsutna by Kaikhohau 1973, reprinted 1994 India published by Khupsuanpau Chief of Khullien village and President Suantah Phungpi Organization Manipur. According to this book at page 10, the genealogy of Suantah begins with Pu Zo. Suantah beget Neilut, Neilut beget Neizo, Neizo beget Genzo, Genzo beget Muonmul, Muonmul beget Mulpi, Hawlhang, Kunhen, Hanthual and Guizo. Neilut beget Neizo, Nemneng and Thangsoi. Neilut’s elder brother Ngengu. They consider Neilut is their elder. There is no mention of Tungnung, Nantal, Phuthil.

iii) Suontah Dopmul Phungpi by S.D.Suon Gin Hang, Chairman, Suontah Dopmul Phungpi (Tedim) Chin State, Myanmar gives Suontah genealogy as follows: Suontah beget Neilut and Ngengu Neilut beget Neizo, Neizo beget Dopmul Dopmul beget Mulpi, Hanthaul, Guizo, Hawlhang, Kunhen There is no mention of Tungnung and Tungdim in this genealogy too. Are these not enough evidences or descriptions to prove that Tungdims do not belong to Suantah-Ngengu clan ? The genealogical tree as described in the book ‘A Profile of Burma Frontier Man’ by Vum Ko Hau 1963 A.D, was published about 69 years after the Chin Hills Vol.I of 1894 A.D and the ‘Zo Suan Khangsimna Laibu’ by Capt. Khup Za Thang was published in 1973 A.D after a lapse of about 80 years. During such long interval of time, no oral tradition has ever made any passing reference that Tungnung, Tungdim,Tungte, Phiemphu were descended from Suantak or Ngengu clan. Our elders have failed to even made any casual references of our descent from Suantak clan. Had there been some element of same genealogical pedigree, it would have been recorded orally by our elders and younger generations would have heard the same so far.
While, we generally accept the oral traditions of our elders passed down from our forefathers, it is to be noted here, that whatever, Carey and Tuck had recorded also must been passed down by way of oral traditions by the informers who also might have been belonging to Suantak descendants or clans. Had the theories of Capt. Khup Za Thang, Dr. Vum Ko Hau and other authors pointing the origin of Tungnung, Tungdim, Phuthil and Nantal towards Suantak-Ngengu line of descent have been true to oral traditions, they(Carey &Tuck) could not have missed these finer points of oral genealogy or lineage which is passed down from generations to generations by word of mouth by our forefathers.
It is pertinent to mention here that the descendant of the Tungdim Tulpipa himself had recorded the oral traditions of the genealogical tree of the Tungdim, Tungnung, Tunglut and Tungte and other sub-clans which has a passing reference in the biography of his late father Peter Thangkhokam published in 2006. In this genealogy of Tungdim clans, he has not made any mention of Suantak-Ngengu lineage at all based on oral traditions of their clan historian; Pu Semzakhup who was 115 years old then in 1998 A.D.


Every tribe or clan have certain ancient Zo customary law and traditions in their society. Each and evry clan or tribe respects certain cultural traditions esp; the oral traditions and incantations and clan songs. In this line of thought, it is quite important to note that Pu Semzakhup alongwith other patriarchs of Tungdim clans did not made any mention of Suantak-Ngengu line of Tungdim, Tungnung’s descent in the recent past or in ancient past. The fact that Tungnung, Tungdim etc are not Suantak clan is further corroborated by the ancient Zo customary law and traditions of giving the salu or saching ‘the head or the spine of a wild game or domestic animal to the eldest clan head called Tulpipa.

The penultimate conclusions about the Tungnung, Tungdim etc are not of direct Suantak lineage or descent is traced to the practice and usage of our ancient Zo customary laws and traditions of our forefathers; that in the past history and recent history of the existence of Tungdim, Tungnung, Tunglut, Tungte etc there is not a single evidence based on oral or written record that the Tungdim Tulpipa or the Tungdims ever presented the customary ‘salu’ or ‘saching’ to the elder of Suantak clan(Suontah Tulpipa).

Conclusions:

At the time of Carey and Tuck, it was quite possible to assume that there might have been better qualified oral traditionalists who were well-versed in genealogies of their own clans and society as interviewed by them. The data collected by them would have been more objective in a sense, that there were no literate persons of the Kuki-Chin society, at those given point of history as evidenced by records, therefore, we may safely assume that their versions are unbiased and pure in form and intent.

Later day versions of Suantak genealogies were written with the arrival of writing system in the Chin Hills, here we find too many discrepancies of the Suantak or Nge Ngu genealogies as described by different authors and there is no single agreement in the case of genealogical descriptions as written by various authors, which of course, are hard to believe as genuine genealogies or a single genealogy itself is susceptible to much debate or criticisms.

The Dopmul clan may have been Suantak’s descendant but Dopmul is not Suantak in true sense of nomenclature and christening. It is a well-known fact, that the Dopmul clan in Churachandpur district of Manipur state, India, were using the clan name; Dopmul as late as 1990s, however, they didnot like the terminology of Dopmul and so they adopted the name of Suantak thereby Suantaknising(Sanskritising) themselves into the name of a bigger clan name. However, the author had interviewed some Dopmul clans of Myanmar, it was found that the same Dopmul clans in Myanmar(Burma) still called themselves by the same clan name disregarding the Suantaknization process(read with Sanskritization process).

Evaluating the above facts and findings, the prevalence of too many discrepancies in the Suantak genealogies as given by various authors, one can safely conclude that Tungnung, Tungdim, Tunglut, Phiemphu etc are not direct descendants of Suantak as claimed by some authors. Thus, Suantaknization process in the past, might have been responsible for such misleading genealogies. However, we are certainly related to Suantak clans at a higher genealogical pedigree that is at the level of Pu Songthu, Pu Songza and Pu Zahong. That is to say we are all the same, same brethren at higher level of pedigree in the ancient past. We are definitely the descendants of our common progenitor Pu Zo/Zou.

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