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[History] Brief history of Zomi

The word "Zo" has many literal meanings such as "win", "respond", "higher altitude", "conquer" hill, mountainous place hihger elevation where climate is cold; and "Mi" means "people", human, person. Due to external dominance and influence, the Bengali called them Kuki, the Burmans called them Chin, the Indians called them Lushai but they never called themselves by those names. Zomi is the most commonly known identity regardless of their living in the plain, high altitude, South, North, East or West. Professor F.K. Lehman (Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Illinois (USA)), in his research findings, concludes that despite the variation in the form of writing, it appears to have a single root of Zo, Yo, Ysou, Shou and the like. According to Rev. S.T. Hau Go, the term- 'Zo' is widespread throughout the inhabitance of Zomi from Burma to Bay of Bengal. For instance, they are known as, Yo in Thadous areas, Laizo in Falam areas, Zomi Tedim areas, Mizo in Lushais area, Zotung, Zophei, Zokhua in Haka areas, Bawmzo in Chittagong Hill Stracts, Yaw in Gangaw areas, Jo or Cho in Mindat, Khomi in Paletwa, A-Sho in Prome, Thayetmyo, Sandoway and Bassein areas. Thus, Zo or Zomi is the most widely used National Name. However the names given by their neighbors such as Lushai, Kuki and Chin are not National names, additionally never able to cover the whole Nation. Only the name Zo is found to be the most common name among Chin-Kuki-Lushai. The racial origin of the Zo are considered to be a Tibeto-Burman race. There are many sub-tribes under Zo People who live in India, Burma and Bangladesh namely, Zomi, Mizo, Lai-Zo, Bawm-Zo, Cho, Asho, Khumi, Kuki, Mara (Lakher) etc. of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family. The ZOMIs are the original descendants (progeny) of a legendary person named Pu Zo, who is believed to be the elder brother of Pu Zing Phaw (presently known as Kachins). Though living under the present-day military-ruled Burma, the Zote were known to have lived independently and harmoniously since time immemorial. Due to lack of evidence and difficulties in excavating archaeological remains, the Zo's origins are difficult to be proved. Though widely believed to have descended from Mongolia, the routes to the present settlements are not clear. It is believed that the Zote have descended from Mongolia to China and to Tibet and to the present day Burma. Many of scholars believed that the origin of the Zo people was somewhere in the North-Western China, more specifically, the area which lies between the upper course of the Yangtze Kiang and the Hwang HO rivers are believed to be the original home of the ZO people. S.K. Chatterji, also makes an attempt to identify the area of the North-West China between the head waters of Hwang Ho and Yangtze Kiang Rivers: as the origin of the Sino-Tibetan migration in to India and Burma. Dr. Grierson wrote tradition and comparative physiology agree in pointing to North-Western China between the upper course of the Yangtze Kiang and the Hwang Ho as the original home the Tibeto-China race, to which the Tibeto-Burman and the Siamese-Chinese groups belong. It was also an accepted fact that this people belong to Tibeto-Burman stock. This historical linguistic and ethnicity of the Zo people to the place of origin established this fact from thence; the Zo people had started their migration as their predecessors had done. They moved southwards, most probably via Tibetan Highlands then onto the Salween River and entered the Irrawaddy and Chindwin valley. They came into this region by following the route south-westward on the line of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin. They settled in the watershed area of Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers for many generations and founded their kingdom Pupa Gam. With the rising of the more powerful kingdom from south forced them to move to the east of river Chindwin. The Chindwin River is name by the Zo people as Tuikang (White Water). They crossed the river and settled in the area of Kale-Kabaw-Myittha-Yaw valley which stands still testimonial to our settlement todays. It is also irony that some people less familiar or ignorant of their history interpret the name Zo to mean the climatic conditions of the highlands, they occupy because they called the land with a cold climate of higher elevation Zo. This is totally a full misconception of the term and origin of Zo. It is in fact also contrary to the origin and progenitor Pu Zo. This must have been one of the most catastrophic historical interpretations, because the people called themselves Zo when they live in the plains of Burma and the valley of Manipur (India). Thus, the name Zo could not have come from the climatic conditions of this land. They are Zo not because they live in the highlands or the hills, but all Zo and called themselves Zo because they are the descendants of the great ancestor, Zo. The Zo folksongs give the picture oh their settlement, prosperity and the civilization that evolved in the plains of Burma in the last part of the Thirteen century A.D. It is also further believed that the Zo had once upon a time established an independent state in the upper Chindwin areas. This observation about establishment of kingdom is clearly evident by the terms Kumpi, Mangpa, and Lengpa which are equivalent to kingships. These above terms are indeed interwoven with the Zo people till today. The present distributions of the population of the Zo people and their most notable towns and villages can be seen from the Chindwin river in the east to Aizawl (Mizoram, India) in the west and from Kalemyo, (Burma) in the south to Imphal (Manipur, India) in the north. The hubs of their present settlements are all along most important routes of the region. They all spread all along the Indo-Burma road, the Tedim road and the Tamukalemyo National Highways. Towns and villages along the Indo-Burma road are Sugnu, Singtom, Gelngai, Salem, Paldai, Sahich Tampak, Kathoung, Khollian, Moulnuom, Zangzom, Zangdung, Khoungtal, Denlha, Senam, Thuambuol, Khianglam, Lungtah, Gelmuol, Khuamun, Anlun, Naazang, Tonzangmyo etc.. towns and villages all along the Tedim Road are S. Muolnuom, Lamka (Churachandpur), Zoumun, Khianglam, Geltui, Gelzang, Busau, Hiangtam Khounou, Hiangtam, Singngat, Behiang, Khuaivum, Tonzang, Phungtong, Salzang, Tahzang, Lomzang, Gamngai, Tualmu, Gelzang, Gienchiel, Tedim. Moreover, apart from these routes and roads many Zo villages are scattering all other parts of this particular region. It will not be out of the

text to include some more. In the Tuining, Singheu kual some of the notable villages are, Tuining, Vazang, Sangaikot, Kuvan, Tuaitenphai, Tuibul, Saiboh, Gangpimual, ZO Bethel, Khaukual, Moulom, Khuainuoi, Siongheu, Phaisan, Phaisat in Churachandpur distirict; In Tonzang Area to Khampat, Phaitu, Khamzang, Seksi, Thauthe, Maulawn, Liikhaan, Tuigial, Tuimang, Singtum, Sialthawzang, Boungkung, etc The above towns and villages are aligned from North to South direction. There are other many villages which are not included here. The Zo people took pride in calling themselves by this name for ages. The cultural heritage of the Zo people makes them whole as having a full blossom identity as Zo. This people traditionally named their sons and daughters, villages, places imbibing the great great progenitor ZO. Names such as Zogam, Zozaam, Zotui etc. stand testimonial to the affiliation that these people has had to their great ancestor Pu Zo from time immemorial. In religion, the majority of the Zo people are Christians of the Protestant variety. Before that, animism was considered to be the most widely practiced religion, until the late 1800s and early 1900s when American Baptist missionaries from the U.S. and Lutheran missionaires from Sweden preached Christianity among the Zo people. 5 to 10 percent of people who profess to be non-Christians currently in Chin State, but the Zo people are the highest percentage practice Christianity there. An estimated 15 to 20,000 Zomi live in the Chin state of Myanmar, another 15,000 in the Chittagong Province, Bangladesh and about 10,000 in the Indian side (Assamese State) of the Zomi homeland. Since the 1930s, tens and thousands of Zomi migrated out of the homeland to cities in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. However, the missionairy work of the Baptist and Lutheran churches brought thousands of Zomi to Europe (i.e. Sweden and Great Britain) and also to North America (primarily Canada and the U.S.). Identities The simplification of term Zomi into English is Zo People. Zomi people who occupied part of India, Burma and Bangladesh are considered to be indigenous people. Zomi settled down in large part of Churachanpur district, Chandel district of Manipur State, India. The brethren, Thado-Kuki especially in India adopted the name Kuki which means hill people in Bengali language. Similarly Zomiin Burma are called Chin initially by the Burmans around 700 AD for the first time, and subsequently by the British. Zomi who live in Mizoram State of India referred themselves as Mizo, although the two terms Zomi and Mizo simply mean "Zo People". Basically Zo people covered the whole Chin State of Burma, the whole Mizoram State of India, part of Manipur State of India called Churachandpur District, part of Sagaing Division in Burma, part of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, part of Rakhine State in Burma. The area of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is about 13,184 km, which is approximately one-tenth of the total area of Bangladesh. It is believed that there are about 1 million Zo people in Mizoram, 5-700 thousands in Chin State, 300 thousands in Churachandpur district or Lamka and 2 million in the plain areas of Sagaing Division, Magway Division, Chittagong Hill Tracts,and Rakhine State. The numbers of Bawm Zo in Bangladeshis believed to be around 6000. Zomi who settled down at the central part of Chin State are known to themselves as Lai Zo, because of the central location of their inhabitance. Additionally, the Lai Zo were fond of the idea of exclusiveness from the Zophei, Zokhua and Zotung people. Hence, the idea of dichotomisation was applied by using US-THEM method of segregation for centuries, in this segmentation. The LaiZo, later dismantled the word "Zo" from LaiZo and use only Laimi, however they are very much part of "Zo" or "Zomi". Nevertheless, the word "Laimi" only covers a small numbers of people at the center part of Chin State. On the other hand, the name "Zomi" or "Zo" covers people who called themselves Mizo, Zomi, Kuki, [Bawm] Zo and Chin as a whole. The southern part of Chin State, Burma occupied by Asho, Cho people, nonetheless, the words simply are the indication of their beings as southern Zomi (Zomi People). Religion Traditionally animism was considered to be the most widely practiced religion among Zomi, until the Swedish-American Baptist missionaries preached Christianity around 1899, for the first time. Before the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 19th century there was a new religion in among the Zomi known as the Laipian. It is still practiced even in the present day. The founder of 'LAIPIAN' religion was Pau Cin Hau, Sukte. He invented the Zotuallai. Approximately there are about 5 to 10 percent of people who profess to be non-Christians currently in Chin State, the rest are Christians either by birth or conviction. A small but growing Buddhist population does exist in the southern and eastern parts of Chin State. (source : http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Zomi#encyclopedia)

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