“Naga History: Through a Clan and Tribe” authored by Mr. Home Raikhan is a well-researched book, presented in a simple and reader friendly approach. Drawing from various Tangkhul Naga traditions, he traces the migration of the tribe from old Samsok, Sagaing Division, Myanmar into the Imphal valley and then to Makhel, Senapati District, Manipur. Makhel was the final dispersal point for the people who reached there. As the migrating horde branched out to every direction from Makhel, with the Tangkhuls taking the south-eastern route, it was evident that the tribe was part and parcel of a larger ethnic group – the Nagas.
Based on recent archaeological finds, secondary writings, oral traditions and logical inferences, the author has fixed the coming and settlement of the Tangkhuls and the extended Naga family in the land they presently occupy at around 100-70 BCE. Further, by examining various cultural, religious and historical evidences relating to the Tangkhuls, he concludes that the earlier eponym of the Tangkhul people was Hao, a term which should then logically cover all the other Naga tribes that had dispersed at Makhel. The present population of the Tangkhul tribe and the Naga nation covering India and Myanmar has been estimated by the author at 2.5 lakhs and 3.4 million respectively, representing a total of 46 Naga tribes spread over a much diminished contiguous territory of roughly 58,395 sq. km. in north-eastern India and NSAZ, Myanmar.
The author has divided Tangkhul Naga history into three convenient divisions. The first is termed as “Pre-Historic and Ancient Period,” the second “Medieval Period” and the third “Modern Period.”
In the Pre-Historic and Ancient Period, the various origin traditions of the Tangkhuls and Meiteis (Manipuris) along with the latter’s religious (Sanamahi) faith, their social and cultural practices have been examined and the author concludes that the Meiteis were once part of the Tangkhul tribe and hence also part of the larger Naga nation.
The Medieval Period has been defined by the author not only as a period of confrontation between some Tangkhul village states with the Meitei kingdom, but also as a period of friendship when attempts were also made for social bondings between the two groups.
The Modern Period begins with the coming of the British colonial power and the de-jure absorption of the Tangkhul country within the British Protectorate state of Manipur. This period witnesses the beginning of the involvement of Tangkhul Naga society into the affairs of the colonial state of Manipur.
The author finally studies and assesses the work of Rev. William Pettigrew and his wife Mrs. Alice Pettigrew who came and introduced modern education and Christianity among the Tangkhuls. W. Pettigrew has been assessed by the author as the father of the Tangkhul people and as the greatest missionary in India since William Carey of Serampore.
The book launch will be held on Saturday, 24 September 2016 at the Tollygunge Club, Kolkata. The Chief Guest, Mr. Chutem Denzongpa, IRS, President of the North East Officers and Professionals Welfare Association, Kolkata and Principle Chief Commissioner of Income-Tax, Guwahati and Kolkata and Director General of Investigation, Kolkata will release the book for posterity. Guru Rewben Mashangva, the “King of Naga Folk and Blues” will give his representation for the occasion.
NAGA HISTORY: THROUGH A CLAN AND TRIBE, By Home Raikhan.
Published by United Publisher, Spectrum Publication, Guwahati & Delhi, 2016
Price INR 1050/-.