Kukis” as recorded in the Royal Chronicles of Meitei and Tripura Kings

*Kukis” as recorded in the Royal Chronicles of Meitei and Tripura Kings.*

By Ngulminthang

The word ”Kuki” finds a respected position in both of the Chronicles of Meitei and Tripura Kings. In the Royal Chronicles of Tripura, Shiva has been quoted as falling in love with a Kuki Women in around 32 AD. Again in the same Chronicles, we find mention of Tripura Prince marrying a Kuki Princess in 1415 AD. (Basumatry 1920). The Kukis were the single largest tribes inhabiting the Tripura Hills before the rise of the Debbarmas.(Basumatry, 1920). King Dhanya Manikya who ruled Tripura between 1490 – 1520 AD brought home a Gong presented by Kuki Chiefs on one of his friendly visits. (Roy, 1965)

In the Cheitharol Kumbaba, we find that a Kuki by the name Taothingmang became the King of Manipur in 186 Skabda (264 AD). Again in 33 CE, two Kukis by the name Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies to the Nongba Lairen Pakhangba. King Irengba who reigned Manipur between 1107-1127 AD had contacts with Kuki Villages North of Imphal Valley.(Asim Roy, 1997).

L Joychandra (Lost Kingdoms 1995:1), noted that Manipuri King Naofanga who reigned between 624 AD and 714 AD had Friendship Treaties with Kuki Chiefs East of Imphal.

From all these above Historical and Linguistic Evidences it is ample clear that Kukis were present in Manipur as far as History is concerned. This fact contradicts most of our recent Naga Historians depiction of Kukis arriving as late as 1850.

The fact that Col Johnstone recorded Kukis as spotted only around 1850’s is not an issue to ponder about. Col Johnstone or any colonial writer never presented or reported that Kukis migrated into Manipur only around 1850. They only spoke about the year when they first came in contact with the Kukis. Had Col Johnstone or Higgins or Mc Cullock, arrived in Manipur in 1600, they would have reported the Kukis as spotted in 1600 AD.

Captain Butler who in 1873 was Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills in his Report to the Revenue Proceedings 1873, Nos, 120 to 132, mentioned Kacha Nagas as first spotted in 1839 as tribes living in the Jungly Hills due south of the Angami Country (Mc Kenzie, NE frontier of India). Col Johnstone in his report on ”Aggressions of Chassad Kookies” mentioned ”’the Tankhools are Manipur subjects and occupy the Hill country East of the Valley. They were first mentioned in Dr Brown’s account of the Hill country and tribes under the rule of Manipur in 1867”.

From all these above Historical accounts, we find that Kacha Nagas aka Manipuri Nagas too were spotted as late as 1860’s. Colonial Writings clearly reveal the supremacy of Kukis over the Hill Country in Manipur. The whole of Present Ukhrul and Tamenglong districts traditionally and historically belongs to Kukis (Mc Kenzie,1884). The supremacy of Kukis over the Hills of Manipur have been carefully presented in Capt Brodie’s accounts 1842. (Brodie’s Tour, 1842, Mc Kenzie).

The Manipuri Nagas who were subjects under Kuki Chieftainship for Centuries do not have any right to question Kuki Inguinity in the Hills of Manipur. Kukis were the sole rulers of the Hill Country and Historical records support this. There have never been mentions of a Tangkhul or Zeliang Naga dominating Kukis in any of the Colonial Writings. Infact most of the colonial writers depicted Manipuri Nagas as Slaves of Kuki, living under the Mercy of Kuki Lords.(Col Johnstone, Report to the Resident at Mandalay, 1873)

In most of the Colonial Writings, we find limited informations on Manipuri Nagas. The word Naga has common occurence in any Colonial Writings but whenever we hunt for Informations on Tangkhuls or any other Kacha Nagas, we run out of Pages. This is simple proof that Tangkhuls or any other Kacha Nagas were not known much. Infact the whole of Kacha Naga/Manipuri Naga populace boomed out only after 1940’s(G. Dey 1986:809).

History of Manipuri Nagas in context of Manipuri Kings records depicts them as loyal subjects of Meitei Kings at the same time paying an annual tax ”Changseu” to their Kuki Lords though their period of Slavery under Kukis in not clear. (History of Manipur, 1998 : 205).

A Tangkhul friend once told me about Tangkhuls in the olden days. He told me that whenever they hear of Kuki Chiefs passing by they use to hide their pigs because if the Chief likes it he simply takes it and his Tangkhul subjects have to watch his actions. Such was the dominance of Kukis over the Hills of Manipur.

Summing up all of these points based on Colonial Writings and Local Records, it is more than clear that Kukis were the sole rulers of the Hill Country. Their power mostly due to their neat administrative setup based on the complete authority of Chiefs. On the other hand, Head Hunting Nagas often fought among themselves which led to many Naga villages seeking refuge of Kuki Chiefs. (Mac Culloch, 1878).

The Meitei religion ”Sanamahi” is based on the Kuki religion of ”Indoi”(Richard M Eaton 1997). Due to the Rich Cultural Heritage and Neat Administrative Setup, Kukis could rule over the Hill Country, unlike the frequently fighting Head Hunting Nagas. (Mills Report 1854,).

Therefore, we are now left to conclude that the Hills of Manipur except for Mao Dominance were all under the Kuki Chiefs and it belongs to the Kukis traditionally, culturally and historically. The 1993 massacre on innocent Kukis by armed Nagas are ample proof of Kuki dominance in the hills. If the Manipuri Nagas were so dominant they would never have bothered massacring innocent Kukis or someone lower than them that too, in the name of Christ.


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