TODAY -

Wung-Hao of Tangkhul and Possible Chinese Counterpart

James Oinam *



This article connects and puts the opinions of two authors, namely, Mawon Somingam (MS) and Vincent Chen (VC), in context.

In a personal communication, Vincent Chen has commented extensively on Mawon Somingam's article "Understanding the Origin of the Terms 'WUNG', 'HAO' and 'TANGKHUL'". VC has also shared a translated piece of an article he has written on the subject. Below I quote excerpts from these authors alternatively, and the readers can form their own conclusions on whether they find VC's explanations plausible.

According to MS, the terms Wung and Hao are traditional and Tangkhul is recent. All these terms are used to refer to "people" of Tangkhul Naga.

"There are divisions of ideas on the original or traditional nomenclature of the tangkhuls; some favored wung and others subscribe the term hao. Mention may be made here that some of the population use the term wung-hao, a combination of both the terms wung and hao, considering as the original term of the people" (p. 1, MS).

"The term wung is also known by other terms like hong, hung and hwung; but all these terms carry the same meaning with that of the term wung. It means people or folk belonging to a regal family" (p. 1, MS).

As per MS, there are various theories on the origin of the word Tangkhul, it could have come from Meitei words tada + khul (brother + village), tangna taba khul (sparsely populated village), tongba + khul (highland village), etc.

VC claims wung-hao must be the twin city of Feng-Hao in China, which was destroyed by enemy, and the people (the Tangkhul Naga?) escaped to Manipur. Some excerpts from VC to this effect are as follows:
"In a distant foreign country, there is a legend about the brother who levelled from Shanxi province or Shandong province during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC to 771 BC) or the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period (770 BC-221 BC). This is a brother who has been separated for thousands of years. This brother is now living in Manipur India (People in the Manipur area and around this area)."

This 'Hao' is the city of Hao (%E9%8E%AC) Jing built by King Zhou Wu Wang (?-1043 BC). Jing (%E4%BA%AC) mean is capital, as in Bei jing (%E5%8C%97%E4%BA%AC)(Present Chinese capital, Bei jing in Chinese mean is North capital).

Hao (%E9%8E%AC) is located in the current Chang'an District of Xi'an City, Shanxi Province China. But It is now a farmland. It used to be the earliest city and capital in China. In the 12th century BC, King Zhou Wen Wang built Feng city, King Zhou Wu Wang built Hao city.

Historical records: In 770 BC, the northern ethnic minority 'Quan Rong' (%E7%8A%AC%E6%88%8E) attacked the Hao (%E9%8E%AC) capital city, plundered, Hao (%E9%8E%AC) was broken and messed up, Hao (%E9%8E%AC) was destroyed, the Western Zhou Dynasty perished.

Judging from this history, the people of Manipur India, began to go to south from the city of Hao in 770 BC, then arrived in Myanmar, and then from Burma to Manipur India. The people of Manipur left Hao (now is Xi'an China) was 2790 years ago."

"'WUNG' may be the city of '%E4%B8%B0Feng' (Mandarin Call 'Feng'). There is a river between the two cities, both of which are the capitals of the Western Zhou Dynasty. In the article of Mawon Somingam, [he] doen't understand why the two words 'wung-hao' are used together, but they are actually two cities connected together.

In Chinese, they are often connected together '%E4%B8%B0%E9%95%90Feng-Hao', but sometimes they are separated. It is said that because the city of %E4%B8%B0Feng was built first (built by the emperor Zhou Wu Wang, father), and %E9%95%90Hao built later (built by emperor Zhou Wu Wang, son), the two cities are separated by a river, the river now called Fenghe, in ancient times" (VC).

Two things are notable here: (1) Although VC's counterpart for wung-hao of Tangkhul is Feng-Hao, the city of Feng was built by a king called "Zhou Wu Wang" and (2) MS notes in his article that wung means regal family in Tangkhul. Therefore, Tangkhul word for regal family "wung" could have derived from "Zhou Wu Wang".

Few other words seem to connect Tangkhul Naga with Fenghao of China. Burmese people used to call Tangkhul Nagas as "athangpi or thanpi" which sounds similar to "Tangxi" of China, both of which seems to be related to the word for iron and sword ("thang" in Meitei language).

"Since then, the Avas (Myanmar) called the Nagas athangpi or thanpi meaning 'Iron-man' or 'Iron-People'..." (A.S.W. Shimray, quoted in MS).

"More than 2,700 years ago, the rich iron ore resources in the ancient Tangxi area of Xiping, Henan Province China, and the Tangxi water containing special substances made Tangxi's glorious history of smelting iron swords" (VC).

"At that time, people said 'Tang' (%E6%A3%A0) , that means is sword. The legend of the people of Manipur India, is that the city wall was broken by the enemy, and the prince took the army and his family to flee, taking the 'Thang' (Tang). Even thousands of years later, 'Thang' as the name of 'sword' has remained in the writings of the people of Manipur" (VC).

Note: The quotes have been lightly edited for typographical and grammatical errors.

References Mawon Somingam. "Understanding the Origin of the terms 'WUNG', 'HAO' and 'TANGKHUL'".
International Research Journal of Social Sciences. Vol. 3(5), 36-40, May (2014).
http://www.isca.in/IJSS/Archive/v3/i5/8.ISCA-IRJSS-2014-44.pdf
Fenghao. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenghao




* James Oinam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 15, 2021 .



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