Tributary Hill Polity - Chiefs and Overloads in Northern Chin Hills Circa 1800-194

Tributary Hill Polity - Chiefs and Overloads in Northern Chin Hills Circa 1800-194

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This book sheds light on a century old history of a hill-based polity in the borderland between the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur with Burma (Myanmar). It traces the ruling Sukte lineage of the northern Chin Hills from pre-colonial through colonial eras, and narrates the fortuitous process of how a single-village chiefdom transformed into multi-village tributary Ukpi. This happened well before the advent of British overlords and their ‘indirect rule’. The enduring achievement of the Ukpi polity, among others, includes the codification of orally transmitted ancestral norms into written Kam Hau Customary Law, which is still in vogue today. During the heady days of the transfer of power from the British to Republican Burma, the old-style Ukpi lordship became a much maligned institution, especially in the electoral rhetoric of post-Independence local politicians. In retrospect, open-minded historians as well as citizens of the Chin State of Burma today are in a better position to come to terms with part of their historical past informed, in many ways, by Ukpi rule. Arguably this tradition of limited political centralization in the Chin Hills prepared them better than many marginal hill groups to stake a claim for a place (however humble) in modern Myanmar (Burma). The book will be immensely useful and prove to be a treatise to the historians, sociologists, research scholars and layman for better understanding the history and people of the area.

PU T. GIN KHAN THANG (b. 1942) at Suangkot village of Manipur lives at New Lamka, Churachandpur. He was Sub-Deputy Collector at Thanlon, Churachandpur district of Manipur. Apart from his administrative duties in the post- Independence era, Pu Thang developed curiosities about historical figures such as the Sukte overlords and their indigenous system of tributary; polity in the immediate pasts. He painstakingly mined and collected folk songs and genealogical memory; of knowledgeable informants in Manipur and the Chin state of Burma. The present volume is the fruit of his steadfast devotion to charms of Cleo, the muse of historians and even of unpolished chroniclers.

PAONEIKHAI SUANTAK (b. 1921) at Chongkhozo village, Manipur. Paoneikhai Suantak is a man who donned many hats. He was a founder member of the Vaiphei Student Organization (Zillai), pharmacist (compounder) in Ukhrul district of Manipur, former General Secretary and later President of the Vaiphei National Organization. In 1962, he was elected member of the Manipur Territorial Council. A politician-cum-educationist, he was the founder chairman of the Churachandpur Government College in 1962. Elected a member of Legislative Assembly in Manipur, he was deputy minister from 1963-1967. Elected a Member of District Council, he was the Chairman of the Churachandpur District Council from 1976-1977. As a proud father, his son Minlianthang joined the Indian Administrative Services, daughter Lalthanpari taught at the Saitual Government College (Mizoram) and another historian son Dr. Joseph Suantak earned a Ph.D. in History from Manipur University and authored The Vaipheis: Their History and Culture (2010).

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