The Rulers of Kangla and Ethnic Tribes of Manipur
- Part 2 -

Naoroibam Indramani *

View of Kangla - The sacred place of Manipur :: 02 May 2013
View of Kangla - The sacred place of Manipur in May 2013 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Relation between the Kanglei King and the Hill Tribes:

Though, in the early days, there were numerous ethnic tribes and groups in the hills and the valley, independent of and separate from one another, they were brought step by step under a single administrative set-up by the military and political manoeuvre of the Kanglei kings in succession. During the reign of Nongda Lairel Pakhangba (33 A.D.-154 A.D.), Khaba rose against Nongda. Driven out of Kangla, Nongda Lairel Pakhangba lived in exile in Loirel Khunbirok of Moirang.

After a few years, Nongda Lairel Pakhangba with the help of Moirang, invaded against Khaba at Kangla and killed Khwai Nongjengba, the leader of the Khaba by an arrow of the Moirang Chaoba Melleiba Sangton Sanouba, a warrior of Moirang near Nongjeng Pat of Kangla. The Khaba clan consequently perished. A section of Khaba took refuge under Angom Pureiromba. A section of Khaba ran away towards east and became Tangkhul Machiba tribe. A section of Khaba ran away towards south and became Mahou Lontai tribe.

A section of Khaba ran away towards west direction and became Kabui Nungnang tribe. A section of Khaba ran away towards north and bacame Khaba Ullen at Koubru Laikha. One Khaba Nonganba took reguge to Pakhangba and Pakhangba forgave him. Thus, the Khaba clan was survived and continued the Nongjengbam and Khuraijam families. Hence, Nongda Lairel Pakhangba started reigning again.

After subduing the Khaba clan, the other kings who reigned after Nongda Lairel Pakhangba, other clans viz., the Chenglei, Angom, Mangang, Thangga- Kambong, Luwang, Heirem Khunjan, Khuman, Moirang, and Chakpas were subdued by the kings, viz., Naokhamba (411- 428), Sameirang (518-568), Naothingkhong (663-763), Chenglei Ipan Lanthaba (944-961), Thawanthaba (1195-1231), Kongyamba (1324- 1335), Ningthoukhomba (1432-1467), and Paikhomba (1666-1697) respectively. Thus the formation of a unified state was completed around the time of king Paikhomba in the valley of Manipur.

Along with the process of state formation in the valley, there had also been the gradual absorption and integration of tribal villages of the hills adjoining the valley into Kanglei monarchy. After that, by the time of king Garibaniwaj (1709-1748), the majority of tribal villages of the hills were brought under the administrative control of the Kanglei kings.

The coming together of the diverse hill tribes and ethnic groups of the valley under a single administrative set-up indicates that the Kanglei rulers made utmost efforts to develop cordial relations with people of different subsidiary ethnic groups and tribes. Now, let us discuss the various forms of relation, the Kanglei rulers cultivated with diverse tribes having distinct habits, customs, dialects, traditions, beliefs, dresses, life-styles, food-and -drink habits, etc.

1. Political and Administrative Relation:

For the hill areas, there were two forms of administration. For the hill villages adjacent with the valley, the Kanglei king had direct administrative control. But, for the interior hill villages, the king would entrust the administration to the respective village Chiefs (Ningthou) and Khullakpas (headmen). The hill villages adjoining the valley were obliged to pay annual tax regularly. However, in the case of the interior hill villages, there was not fixed rate of tax.

Whatever offered by them at the time of levying taxes was collected only. Besides the above two types of tribal villages, there was a third category of tribal village. The third type of tribal villages were established in the plain for the settlement of war prisoners taken by the kings of Kanglei from the hills. They were induced to work as servants of the king. This category of tribal village had the same footing with the hill villages.

Hill villages, over whom big officials enjoying "Tangballoi" (Thangballoi) privileges had the rights of ownership, performed various duties for the respective over-lords. Villagers would assist in the construction of houses and the like of their concerned "Tangballoi" masters. Moreover, whenever the wives or womenfolk of the "Tangballoi" officials went out within Manipur or abroad, women of the concerned fiefdom would attend upon them.

King Charairongba (1697-1709), who knew Manipur to be a land composed of both the hills and the valley, invited tribal chiefs and headmen and inter-dined with them and thus cemented friendly relations.

There is no enough evidence of hill-men being employed inside the royal palace prior to king Charairongba. When Charairongba brought Pamheiba (his son) from Thangal village, he also brought a few tribal youth who were companions of Pamheiba, and accommodated them in the Royal Palace premises. An office or department called Haomacha Loishang was established and Pamheiba made the head of this office.

Duties of Haomacha Loishang:

A Lakpa was the head of this Loishang. This office would provide clothes such as Yairong Phanek, Pheijom (Dhoti), Khwangset Yai Thaba, Taraophee, etc., for use by the king and the royal family. Painting and drawing of designs on those clothes was done by, this office. Another duty of this Loishang was to assist the king in making correspondence and holding meeting with different hill tribes and also to make preparation for holding Mera Haochongba festival without fail.

Other functions of Haomacha :

Inside the royal palace, the king associated not only with nobles and officials but also with members of Haomacha Loishang. Tribal youths below 12 years old would stand watch for the king's royal residence. Cutting and cleansing the king's hair was also done by tribal youths.

2. Economic Relation:

For the smooth running of the administration in a kingdom, the realisation of taxes is essentially inevitable. In Manipur too, the villagers who did not attend Lallup duty used to pay tribute annually to the king. Most of the hill villages paid their tributes with the produce and articles available in their own villages. The items and amounts of tributes paid by the different hill tribes during monarchy in Manipur are described below.


Each Leikai (locality ) would pay four Kairenphi (a kind of cloth), one Chang- of sesame, one Pot of Kumna (dyeing plant), ten Chak- Khurum Phidup (a kind of cloth) in the month of Mera, ten Phi Tung-in (a cloth), two Mitlang, two Mailang, one Chak Paodam, ten Paodam, two Kurekchoron, ten brooms, ten Huitri (an implement for cleaning cotton fabrics), fifteen Long (fish catching baskets), fifteen Tabu Nashikhao, fifteen Sairuk (square basket with lid), two Pu of Chengpol.

On the occasion of delivery by the principal queen, every two men would offer one length of cloth. On the occasion of death, the king's wives were given servants according to their rank. On the coronation of the king, every two men would offer a length of cloth.


One Leikai would give three lengths of cloth, three Chang of sesame, ten Chak-Khurumphi (a cloth) in the month of Mera, fifteen Phi Tung- in (a cloth), two Mitlang, two Mailang, ten Paodam, two Kurekchoron, ten brooms, and one Chak Paodam. At the king's coronation, each man would offer a length of cloth. At the chief queen's childbirth each man offered a length of cloth.


One Leikai would pay one Pol of cotton equivalent to fifteen Wai, one Khapak of bean, one Khapak of ginger, one Pol (a basket) of tobacco, one full-grown goat. In the month of Mera, one Khapak of cook rice and one Pol of ginger were offered for the adoration of the market. One village would offer to the Keirungba (officer-in -charge of Royal Granaries) five Lakha (ten thousand) of sel (bell metal coin). On the occasion of death in the royal family and at the coronation of the king every two men gave one length of cloth.

To be continued....

* Naoroibam Indramani wrote this article which was published at 'Manipur Today' on Republic Day Celebration on 26th January 2016
This article was posted on April 04, 2016.

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