Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:19 pm

Route of Naga Migration R.B. Thohe Pou Note: Introduction to Nagas (Please read Affinities between Nagas and the Indigenous People Southern Seas) The exact route of migration is difficult to delineate but it may be traced through the study of folksongs, folktales and legends of different tribes of Nagas. According to the oral tradition, they did not migrate from Brahmaputra valley (Assam) to the Naga Hills. But the myths of origin traced the route of migration to Southeast. In ancient times, the migration took place mainly along the river corridors. So it is quite possible that they migrated from mainland of China and followed the route along the rivers to Myanmar and retreated to Naga Hills. According to Keane, the migration of the people undoubtedly first took a southward turn from the Asiatic mainland, then from the Archipelago eastward to the Pacific. Contrary to eastward movement to the Pacific, the Nagas followed the southward movements from the Asiatic mainland and after reaching the Moulmein Sea coast (Myanmar) they migrated northwestward and lived in Irrawaddy and Chindwin Valley for some period of time and finally migrated to the present Naga Hills. It is also written by Kaith Buchanan that over hundreds of years the preChinese people of central Asia were displaced into the upland areas of Indo-Chinese lands far to the south. It is possible that Nagas were one such group who were displaced from central Asia and migrated to the Southeast Asia. The route of Southward movements from China by the Nagas would be difficult to delineate due to lack of written history. But geographically and from a geographical perspective, the Southward movement (migration) from main land China is possible following along the three rivers like Salween (Nu-Jiang), Mekong and Irrawaddy River. It is believed that the Nagas migrated from Mainland China and followed the southward movement along the route of Salween River and eventually reached the Southern Seas in Moulmein (Myanmar). It is because the Salween River originated from the mainland of China near Tanglha Range and flowed to Southern Seas in Moulmein (southern Myanmar) and the other tributary near Bangkok. Diagram 3.1 Route of Nagas Migration (Diagrammatical Representation) Nagas from Mainland of China Yunnam Province Salween River (China) (China & Myanmar)

Moulmein Irradwaddy & Chindwin River Imphal River (Myanmar) (Myanmar) (Manipur)

Barak River Makhel (Dispersal site of Nagas) Naga Hills (Senapati District) (Senapati District) (India & Myanmar)

The Irrawaddy River and Chindwin River do not originate from mainland of China. The Mekong River originated from mainland of China but it runs through Laos, Cambodia and eventually to the Southern Seas in Mytho City in Vietnam. It is not proved by the historical facts that the Nagas took the route of migration along the Mekong River. The custom and tradition of Nagas resemble those of the Tribes of Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia than to the tribal people in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Perhaps the Nagas took the route of migration along the Salween River to reach the southern seas of Moulmein (Myanmar).

Fig. 1.1 Map of South East Asian Peninsula Showing the possible route of Nagas migration

It is supported by historical facts that once the Nagas lived in Irrawaddy valley in the periphery of Salween River. One of the tributaries of Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, (Myanmar) also has a confluence with Salween River near Loi-Kaw (Myanmar), and it is possible to migrate through this river. However, the researchers believed that the Nagas migrated further south to Moulmein Sea, where marine shells are found. It is supported by their (Nagas) fondness of marine shells in decorating their dresses (kilt) and the marine shells are not found in the hills. They were also very familiar with the cowries and conches since time immemorial. The Nagas are basically from the mainland of China most probably from the Yunnam province taking southward migration along the Salween River to the south of Moulmein (Myanmar) and lived there for some period of years. It is also believed that some of their (Naga) clans (brothers) were left in Moulmein and they retreated to the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Valleys. Those who were left in the vicinity of seas coast continued to press further southward through the south of Myanmar to Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. Once the Naga are believed to have lived near the seas but the reason for their migration from the Southern Seas to the Nagas Hills is still obscure. It is difficult to ponder on this matter and give a reasonable reason. Some of the probable reasons for their retreat may be mentioned asi) The plains people who were more civilized with better equipment in warfare in Moulmein or near the seacoast might have pressed the Nagas to push up the Irrawaddy Valley. ii) There could be frequents waves, tornados and pestilence living near the seacoast. iii) Another reason may be; they felt safe from their enemies’ attacks, living in the hills than living in the plain, where there is not much protection.

There was not historical record like. and migrated to the hills during the Bronze Age or early Iron Age and. the valley where once the Nagas lived was too warm for permanent settlement and also there were too many mosquitoes. As the Manipur valley was swampy and filled with water in those days.Roy wrote. “Though the sea receded from that area. when did they live near the seacoast or when did they migrate to the Naga Hills. Chatterjee. therefore.R. According to some stories. The wave of migration from Irrawaddy valley took along the Imphal River and corridor of Indo-Myanmar to reach Manipur. “There is a legend of a huge tiger which had blocked the gate way and with great difficulty they could cross it after having the tiger by adopting various ingenuities. but later the Aryans drove them from the valley and migrated to the south. For instance. when did they reach the southern seas. the Dravidians were suppose to be the first settler in Indian Gangetic plain. In ancient time the more powerful races in warfare usually drive out the weaker races.C (700 BC) 51 The Nagas after they lived near the Seas Coast for generations.west from Moulmein along the Irrawaddy River to the confluence of Chindwin and Irrawaddy River near Monywa (Myanmar). the people from Makhel go to Imphal along the Barak . From Karong. how long they lived there. Capt. Pearl. The Manipuri Purans also refer to this fact that everything was under the water in the beginning. Singh proved the evidence of Paleolithic culture in Naga country. the valley portion of Manipur remained under the water for a long time. gathering fruits.”52 From Imphal River. This ingenuity of killing the said tiger includes use of arrows. the presence of the Nagas in the Naga Hills was felt by the 8th century B. (which is linked to Irrawaddy River) they moved further to the north of Kangpokpi (Imphal River rises from Kangpokpi) and then to Karong (Senapati District). most probably they took the route along the Barak River and eventually settled at Makhel (near Nagaland border) Senapati District Manipur. But most probably the aboriginal settlers in Irrawaddy valley might have pressed the Nagas to the Hills where they are occupying now. they moved to the hills.K. It. the Naga group had reached the hole in the Bronze Age (3100-2000BC) or early Iron Age (1200BC). Steel etc showed the evidence of Neolithic culture in Nagaland with the studied of those smooth stones found in Nagaland.”50 Some of the authorities on Nagas like Hutton. they retreated north. However according to S.iv) As they were basically from the mainland. cultivation etc which might have made them shift to the hills of Chindwin and Irrawaddy River valleys near Monywa (Myanmar).The Naga Scholar R. they may not be adapted to the coastal environment and may liked to pursue other occupations like hunting. he wrote. which the Nagas consider to be the cradle of dispersion. appears that after roaming in the Irrawadi valley and the south East Asian countries in the Neolithic Age. which is still preserved in Oxford University. The recent discoveries of pebble chopper in Maring Naga village and the Khangkhui cave materials at Ukhrul by an Archaeologist O.K. In ancient time. Shimray suggested that Nagas lived near the seas coast during the Neolithic Age. One of the Manipur historians J. thus.

’ Folk tales legends and stories of struggles and movements etc. There are traditional songs composed after the name “Sinlung”. The exact location of Sinlung is still debated. all the Nagas will come to unite and live together under one administration before the monolith. above msl. The other major source of information about their past are the administrative reports and monographs published by British officers during the colonial rule. The Nagas were convinced and accepted “MAKHEL” as the place of origin as there are ample of historical facts showing the evidence. we will not go into the details of these narratives. Lalrinwawia2 indicates that it is located in the province of Szechwan in China. These songs also narrate the history and civilization of the people. 2007: An attempt is made in this paper at studying the early history of the tribal ethnic group—Kuki-Chin-Mizo. referred to alternatively as Chhinlung. When we know today and discuss in this paper is part of their memory and oral tradition.representing man falls and the monolith representing God will fall when the end of the world comes. Dr. 3 the ex-Chief Secretary of . An attempt is also made to trace their original ethnic identity. ORIGIN OF THE CHIN-KUKI-MIZO Scholars from the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group have recorded in their history that during the prehistoric period. they came out of a big stone cave. fought battles against them and finally brought them under their rule. The monolith representing Tiger had fallen and the other two stones are still standing. Sinlung and Khul.River. 5400 ft. there are Stone of dispersal. three Stone Monoliths representing God. Like other hill tribes of the North East or elsewhere in the county. constitute one major source of their history. hundred down to them through word of mouth by their forefathers. Man and Tiger. on the bank of Yalung river. In one way. No doubt. they all claim that Sinlung was their original home. these two major sources provide us with a good deal of information to construct the ancient history of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. departure tree (a wild Pear Tree). and sometimes conflicting. which have passed from generation to generation. Lalbiak Thanga. rigid scholars have questioned the validity of these sources of information and have opined that the early part of their history in shrouded in mystery. The colonial administrators met the people. Because of limitations of space. They introduced civil and military administration in these areas. Mr. especially in view of differing. which rises from the periphery of Makhel. Therefore. a sacred Shield and small Stones kept at Makhel Chief’s place. between 10″ E and latitude 3″ N. However. At Makhel. According to the prediction and legend of the Nagas. they too do not have any recorded history of their ancient past. we read the history of the tribal peoples and learn about their ethnic identity from the British records. __________________________________________________ For Diagramatic representation and Map showing the route of migration can be seen from the given link: THE CHIN-KUKI-ETHNIC DILEMMA: SEARCH FOR AN APPROPRIATE IDENTITY 31 May 2007 No Comment INTRODUCTION April 26. interpretations of their past and present made by historians and social scientist. One can still see all the above facts while visiting theplace of dispersal.

in fact. But. Equally baseless is the proposition to categories these people as ‘old’ and ‘new’ Kuki. all people living in cold. the term ‘Mizo’ is a compound. gives an altogether different version. they did come in contact with people of different origins and were put under different systems of administration. Further. It is therefore necessary to adopt a holistic approach to truthfully understand the origin of the term and the people referred to. 5 Shakespeare served in the Lusei hills from 1891 to 1905.4 former Director. customary practices including marriage and inheritance. all of the same origin. having the same culture. the provisions of which determined the Village and Provincial Administration in the region. ‘Chin’ means ‘little’ in one of the dialects spoken by the people. the people accept that they are one and the same race. if we peep into their ancient history and their migration route to India from far east countries like Thailand. According to such a literal interpretation. Intelligence Bureau of India. James Shakespeare’s account. all the tribes and clans within the Chin-Kuki-Mizo groups believe that it is this legendary cave. As is usual. Tuck and Carey 6 mention that the people preferred the terms Kuki or Chin when . different neighbouring tribes are known by different local ethnic names. But. he identifies a number of clans within the Lusei and non-Lusei groups. THE CHIN Not enough evidence is available to trace the origin of the name ‘Chin’. it is clear that no final conclusion can be derived at about the location of the legendary cave. Mullick. It also connotes an affectionate name given to daughters. most people as well as scholars accept that they belong to the Mongolian race. Dr. Burma and Vietnam. He has meticulously recorded the customs. He argues that ‘Chinlung’ referred not to a cave but rather to the name of a Chinese prince in China. Tripura and Chittagong Hill Tract as well as by the Assamese in Brahmaputra Valley to identify the hills people. one trade route via Kajihangar passes through ‘Shinlung’. undoubtedly. Through this land.Manipur. and history of the Lusei as well as non-Lusei tribes. Some scholars have proposed that the term Kuki was applied by the Bengalis from Kachar. The migration route the people took to reach their present habitat and their biological properties go on to support this view. Thus. which is their original home and birthplace. and as ‘Kuki’ in Assam.N. Now it is in order to discuss in brief the origin of the three ethnic names—Chin. THE MIZO Literally. Scholars have identified them as ‘Khuongsai’ in Manipur. the ethnic name became popular and widely accepted. hill regions should be addressed as ‘Mizos’. culture. measuring about 16000 sq. While he does not refer to the Mizos as an ethnic group. the term Kuki was coined to refer to these people long before they came in contact with the Bengalis or Assamese. and that the correct form of the word was CHINLUNG. During the colonial rule. the Chin Hills Regulation was enacted in 1896. Notwithstanding the controversy. B. Nagaland and Tripura. Till today. tradition. On the whole. With regards to their racial origin. miles. Perhaps a more reliable source is in Col. the term Mizo refers to a particular group of ethnic people. THE KUKI The term ‘Kuki’ is a generic name. Shakespeare’s account and classification have remained unchallenged. he goes on to state that Sinlung was the son of Hwang Ti of Chin Dynasty who built the great wall. which have been used to build up and project their identity. situated between north and south of Ladakh. In their long history. – ‘mi’ means ‘man’ or people and ‘zo’ means a cold place at a high altitude. As far as the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group is concerned. Literally. If Shinglung is equated with Sinlung or Chinlung then it may be inferred that the location of this legendary cave is somewhere around the Ladakh region. refers to an uninhabited territory. It is perhaps a Burmese term as people inhabiting the Chin Hills in Burma (Myanmar) are identified as Chin and the British recorded this ethnic name to refer to these people. Therefore the administrators and scholars have designated the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people with different names and have identified them mainly as Lusei and Kuki in India. Kuki and Mizo—separately and try to find out how they came to be coined to identify these people.

the main issue before the people was to decide whether to join the Chin Hills in Burma. the first was the Lusei Hill District (Acquisition of Chief Rights) Act. the party in power in the then District Council. it also brought all clans and tribes of the same origin under one umbrella. formed in Manipur in 1947-48. which held its first conference on the 9 April 1946 to discuss some important agenda. For the first time in their history. on the argument that ‘Zo’ should come first and ‘mi’ later. there was a spurt of hectic political activity in Mizoram. called the Mizo Union Council. I hold the opinion that there are some ethnic groups who address themselves as Mizo since long. which came into force on 1 April 1954. In the 1950s these people launched a political movement in Manipur. Hence.addressed in public. The terms received widespread acceptance by sister ethnoses not only inside Mizoram but also by those residing outside. The second was the Lusei Hill District (Change of Name) Act. These two Acts were the result of long public struggle and fulfilled the cherished dream of the people of Mizoram. to be organised on ethnic lines. The MNF spear headed the demand for a Sovereign Greater Mizoram. UMFO seems to have ignored the issue of unificating the Mizo people in Manipur. it is widely accepted as a term with long historical background. the term is not exclusionist in the sense that it does not refer to any particular clan group in a restrictive way. IN SEARCH OF ETHNIC UNITY Here we briefly examine the historical move to project the term ‘Mizo’ as an ethnic identity marker. The Mizo National Famine Front Formed on 2 October 1961 under the leadership of Pu Late Laldenga. 1954. The idea generated a great deal of enthusiasm and many public leaders as well as young boys and . The Union contested the first ever Assembly elections in the state and returned 5 candidates out of 7 seats contested. was another political organisation with the primary agenda of Mizo ethnic unification. Then. “Lungthu”. As per provisions of the second Act. the two terms. many political parties were formed. 1954. the people of Mizoram formed a political organization known as “Mizo Union”. created according to the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. Today. On the recommendations of the district Council. The Lusei Hills District Council. Lalmawia formed another political party. with the main objective of bringing the entire Mizo people. Tripura. Mr. passed under an Act of Parliament. It may be pointed out that the conferment of official status to the term “Mizo” not only provided an ethnic identity to the people. in their own societies and outside the present state of Mizoram. the name of the district was changed to ‘Mizo District’ with effect from 29 April 1954. (Act 18 of 1954). some leaders from within the community have tried to replace ‘Mizo’ by ‘Zomi’. the Mizo Union Party. It does not make any substantive difference. are all Mizo. it is plausible that the terms ‘Mezo’ and ‘Mizo’ meant the same. the United Mizo Freedom Organisation (UMFO). the Government Assam enacted two important legislations in 1954. Assam and Chittagong Hill tract of Bangladesh. particularly in the Southern District (now Chura chandpur) or Manipur and Zampui Hills in Tripura. More recently. and all of them were seized with the questions of ethnic identity and unity. Myanmar and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) tinder one administrative umbrella. Thus. ‘Mizo’ and ‘Zomi’. gave birth to the Mizo National Front (MNF). took initiative to implement the (Moullungtha) resolutions passed in the Mizo Union Party. In the post-independence period. The Khul Union. so that they might remain with their Chin ethnic brethren. in popular perception. scattered in India. The first item on the agenda was the abolition of the Chief’s rights and change of the name of Lusei Hills into Mizo Hills. Vanlawma formed a political party. but in private discussions they often used the term ‘Mezo’. Interestingly. or to opt for merger with India. Mr. with the objective of uniting with the Chin brothers in the Chin Hills in Burma. demanding the merger of their areas with Mizoram. Soon after the end of the Second World War and on the eve of attaining independence. We may mention a few of them here. Given the language barrier between the Britishers and the local people. advocated the reunification of these people within the Indian Union. it is widely believed that all the people who cook rice on three stone pillars. may be taken to refer to the same people. Songs were composed and sung to suit the occasion and the spirit of the movement. formed on 12 October 1962.

A little later. Subhas Chandra Bose came up to a small hamlet called Rengthai. for bringing the whole tract of country inhabited by them under one administrative umbrella been implemented. comprising all the Mizo-Kuki inhabited areas in the entire North Eastern region on ethnic considerations. Most of the post-partition insurgency problems reflect the ignorance of the then leadership in respect of the Mongoloid people. Though throughout their modern history. but it has also created the Chakma-Hajong related problems. In most cases. The Conference was attended by many representatives from Manipur and other neighbouring states. the situation would have been quite different today. There was no scope to revive the Treaty of Yandaboo. The Zomi National Congress (ZNC) Declarations (No. the movements failed for a member of various reasons. it is my considered opinion that the emergence of the sovereign states of India. it is worth pointing out that when all the tribes in Northern India were silent and the leaders in the Indian sub-continent were divided with regard to the political strategy of the freedom movement. 1988. close to Churachandpur town. was included in Burma. an All Party Meeting was held at Churachandpur. by default. DISTINCTIVENESS OF THE CHIN-KUKI-MIZO THE CLAN SYSTEM The clan system of Chin-Kuki-Mizo people is unique and is markedly different from other tribes in North-Eastern India. the names of the different clans were derived from their progenitors forefathers. By and large. their cherished dream and political aspirations for the future set up went in vain. There are a large number of clans within the Chin Kuki-Mizo and. Now. aimed at the same objective of ethnic unification. in January 1965. the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people made a great contribution by joining hands with the Indian National Army. Burma and Bangladesh caused both administrative fragmentation and ethnic division of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. Inter-clan relationships can be used as the basis for determination of the family lines of the people. Going back to the 40s and 50s again. following partition. Most importantly. the clan system constitutes one of the most interesting and intriguing aspects of their history and society. the headquarters of South District of Manipur. under the initiative of the Mizo Union Party. Many of the youth in fact took up armed struggle. under the command of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people had valiantly challenged British authority (Lusei Expedition of 1871-72 in Mizoram and the Kuki Revolt in 1917-19 being the major examples).girls from inside and outside Mizoram joined the movement to fulfil the objectives of an independent Greater Mizoram. on 29 th January 1892. In fact. all the political movement launched by this ethnic group had virtually the same objective. However. 1935. following the defeat of the Axis at the end of the World War II and the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji came to North East India though Chin Hills and held several rounds of the talks with the chiefs and elders of the tribal groups. raking positions in the war front from their jungle hideouts. However. ultimately their political aspiration for ethnic reunification within one administrative umbrella met with great disappointment. these tribes joined hands with the INA. The Independence Act. The Kabo valley. 1826 and no chance to reverse the course of history as two independent nations of India and Burma had been created by the Government of India Act. They had entered into some sort of mutual understanding with INA in respect of their political future at the end of the war. He won the hearts of people during this visit. the whole of Chittagong Hill Tract went to Pakistan. About two decades later. during and after the Second World War. when the INA soldiers came to Manipur in 1944. It is difficult to single out any one reason as the main impediment. December 6 to 15. the Champhai Conference in Mizoram held on 19-21 May 1988. This meeting resolved to work for the creation of a Greater Mizoram/Kuki State. inhabited by these tribes. For example. It is clear that the then leadership could not appreciate the needs and aspirations of these people. But. 1947 simply confirmed the territorial arrangement made by the Act of 1935. Had the resolution passed by the Chin-Lusei Conference of Fort Williams in Calcutta. hence. it has upset the social equilibrium of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo. the Chittagong Hill Tract has not only become the immediate sanctuary for most of the northeastern insurgent groups. Thus. related to the same political movement in search of ethnic unity. 7/88). it has not .

There might be some minor hick-ups among the clans. In case of death.9 Scattered all over the NE region and countries. and it goes on to show that they are the same people and their clan relationship is based on ethnic affinity through blood. they strictly prohibit the sharing of the burial ground with others. Some scholars interpreted these as indicative of separate identities within the group. the advent of the British consolidated and strengthened rather than weakening or disturbing. the churches introduced more or less the same system. Claims and counter-claims. In fact. for exclusive ownership of some cultural items. SOCIETY AND CULTURE A large number of other socio-cultural customs and practices may be mentioned. through generations of settlement. For some clans. now the whole management of the household is in the hands of the women. Pu Lalthanhira]a. however.been possible to prepare an exhaustive list of the clans as yet. Recently their patriarchal system has undergone significant transformation whereby women have been accorded an important position in society and they have an equal say in the family. After they embraced Christianity. without any restrictions whatsoever. Mizo’ did not and the ‘Chin’ included Burmans domiciled in the Chin Hills and any person who had adopted the customs and language of the Chins. The British colonial rulers understood this well and hence they treated the Chin. This in spite of the fact that the different clans have lived and mixed together in the same areas sunders the same system of administration. Mr. Manipur. The different clans are scattered all over the North Eastern region (Mizoram. they were governed by the same customary practices and same procedures followed for trial of civil suits and criminal cases. the Chief Minister of Mizoram.Kuki-Mizo as one tribe under the Chin Hills Regulations of 1896. sowing seeds and weeding grass in the field. Tripura and Assam) as well as the bordering states of Bangladesh and Myanmar. a majority of them have settled in Myanmar and far eastern countries. including other social practices are virtually uniform in their respective societies. Some of these are common to other Northeastern tribes while some are unique to the group. In fact. Clause 2(3). Though the term ‘Lusei’ figured. such as the Puonlaisen. Marriage and divorce. they also keep on changing their ethnic identity. but it is no longer in vogue. they follow uniform system of burial. They therefore can be best accommodated under the same set of laws and courts. it is unfortunate that the point that these different clans are related to each other by blood and processes of historical evolutions is often missed by scholars not acquainted with the culture and history of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. these Institutions. including litigation. For example. All clans within the Chin-Kuki-Mizo groups followed the patriarchy system and therefore men occupied a high position in their society. In terms of succession and inheritance also. They took all the important decisions and were responsible for all family affairs. the practice of adopting names of their father’s clans continues. the Chin Hills Regulation of 1896 put the traditional village administration on a firm footing and clearly defined the areas of administration of the village and the provincial states. stated that more Mizos lived outside Mizoram than inside. This aspect of their culture is deeply rooted in their history. have surfaced only recently. A system of slavery existed among the Chin-Kuki -Mizo since time immemorial. We will make only passing reference to a few of them. throughout the ages. Kuki or Mizo. they have been identified by neighbouring out-groups by different ethnic names. was surprised to know that there were a many as sixty-eight different tribes. Adoption through Saphun (a social . Though there are no restrictions for people belonging to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group. the patriarchal system continues. Inter-marriages among the different clans within the Chin-Kuki -Mizo group have been in practice. Nikhil Chakravarty. in a discussion with the Sunday magazine of Gangtok. Further. Thus. according to their habitat. Of course. the noted journalist. Consequently. interestingly. But. though there is internal variation. Nagaland. throughout the ages. They introduced their own traditional institutions for village adminis tration and. the eldest son inherits the property of the family. in others it is the youngest son who has the right to succession and inheritance. They also equally participate in jhum cultivation. members of the same clan/family can and do exercise their option for being identified as a Chin.

THE LANGUAGES OF CHIN-KUKI-MIZO The language/dialect of issue relating to Chin-Kuki-Mizo people has been matter of controversy. In Manipur. They singing in accompanied by beating of the traditional drum called Khuong made of wooden material and covered by animal skin. reflecting the ignorance of the outgroups. The Tower of Babel legend is too well-known to be repeated here. ‘Pheiphit Lam’ and the bamboo dance. we can divide them into two linguistic groups — the R group and the Non-R group. Tarao. we can say that the languages/dialects spoken by the Chin. The moot point is that the different designs of the shawls serve as identity markers and any confusion in this regard can create misunderstanding. which are extremely popular among young girls who wear them on important occasions. The important thing is that different clans wear different patterns of shawls. especially those living outside Mizoram. THALFA VANGKUT continues to be celebrated in a big way. Simte. Saipikhup is the name of another shawl decorated with beautiful designs and very popular among the Kukis. The Chin-Kuki-Mizo people do not have an original script of their own. Chothe. or festivals and in honour of visiting dignitaries. which is grandly celebrated on the first of November every year. Their sweet music and good voices charm the hills and mountains in the region. singing-competition and beauty contests are organised. The ladies weave clothes of different designs and colour combinations. the Chin-Kuki-Mizo also has common places. They are fond of dancing. Mating. They have hymnbooks containing songs to be sung to a specific tune.system by which a family changes its clan affiliation) has been in practice throughout their history. During one of my Flights between Delhi and Guwahati. Like many other hill tribes. In spite of certain differences. Further. They perform different dances or different occasions. the most popular are the ‘Khal Lam’. Anal. Several scholars have said that if we travel on foot from one end of the country of the other. ‘Chapchar Kut’. and all sections of the people participate in it. They also weave traditional dresses like Zakuolaisen and Hmaram. we would find a different language/dialect being used by the people. Lastly. the Zemes call it Noktorong. The Chin-Kuki-Mizo people are great lovers of music and songs. Zakuolaisen is the most popular shawl pattern. Each year a new location is selected for the Kut festival and public leaders and government officials from both Manipur and Mizoram grace the occasions. Koireng. Hmar. Vaiphei. called ‘Tuibur’ that is fitted below with a small water container called ‘Tuiburtui’. Let us take a few examples to explain this classification of R and Non-R Groups in .. both traditional and modern-western. ‘Thalfavangkut’ (the Autumn festival) and the like. The different dances are not exclusive in the sense that they are common to all the tribes and clans. Broadly speaking. it may be mentioned that these people are experts in weaving. Both males and females smoke tobacco. In fact. They have developed in into a most enjoyable occasion in which different cultural items such as dances. they have named it as the ChinKuki-Mizo Kut. The adoption of Christianity has not negatively affected the celebration of these festivals. The Garos call it the bachelor’s house. Chiru. Among dances. In all their villages one can find a number of musical instruments. ‘Cheraw Lam’. these people practice intensive cultivation of tobacco in their jhum fields. Khuong is found in all the villages inhabited by people of this ethnic group. all that is required is to arrange a community feast and announce the adoption. which may be broadly equated with community halls and/or dormitories. The shawl was projected as Mizo Shawl. The ‘Zawlbuk’ is an institution — it is the centre of most social activities. For ‘Saphun’ it is not necessary to go to a court of law or a registration office. These songs are composed to suit different occasions. Paite. which serve as the immediate clan identity marker of the people. The men use a pipe called ‘Dumbel’ or ‘Vaibel’: the women use a special type of bamboo pipe. Gangtc. particularly in social gatherings. while the Chin-Kuki-Mizo calls it ‘Zawlbuk’.Kuki-Mizo people are closely related. These people celebrate a number of festivals such as ‘Mim-Kut Pawlkut’. In Manipur. I came across a photo-reproduction of a gentleman from Mizoram wearing a Saipikhup shawl on the cover of Swagat magazine. and no one group can claim separate ownership. Lamgang. one finds different shawls of different designs among the different tribes and clans such as Aimol. Kom. The linguistic diversity of India is well known. at every five kms.

Since they did not have a script of their own. Usually names are formed by taking parts of the parents or maternal uncles’ names or from the achievement of the family. including fixation of customary price. No doubt. the parents and/or relatives boil tealeaves in the house of the girl to initiate marital discussion and to finalise the details. living in Chandel and South Manipur (Churachandpur) districts of Manipur. In fact. which would serve the interests of all the tribes within the Chin-Kuki-Mizo. In village meetings. Customary bride price is paid in both cash and kind. These dialects are so closely related that in inter-clan. Mostly. people who have advocated this theory or the racial claim belong to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group living in Mizoram. the Secretary records the proceedings in his own dialect and reads them aloud for approval by the members. In the present situation. NAMING SYSTEM The naming system is important for clan-wise identification of a person. have been composed in Mizo and hence it is very popular among the youth. but it is in no way indicative of the status of the clan. Since the advent of Christianity. It may be passingly mentioned here that there is no caste system among the different clans of Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. This Dahlien/Lusei dialect is now known as Mizo language.the contexts of Mizoram and Manipur. some historians have tried to connect the history of origin of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people with that of the Jews. girls are allowed to bring with them some of their valued dresses. Let us simply refer to the most common practice. Sometimes the name of a child indicates the history of his/her family. It is logical that the dialect/language spoken by the largest number of clans should be accepted and developed as the link language. The maximum numbers of songs. Marriages were normally arranged by relatives and parents by taking ‘Zu’ to the girl’s house. claiming that the former are of Jewish origin—descendants of Manasse—one of the 12 children of Jacob. Rather. In the written form as well the same holds true. The name of a person is the most important clue to the person’s clan/ group identity. With modernity. boys having accepted a dowry and decorated their houses with materials brought by their wives are not held in respect in the society. Jyoti Lal Choudhary” reported that Mrs. MARRIAGE SYSTEM The Chin-Kuki-Mizo people have a common marriage system. including love songs. however. advanced link language. TIlE JEWISH CONNECTION? Recently. it must be realised that the Mizo language (based on the Duhlien/Lusei dialect) only stands a good chance for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule. inter-tribe public gatherings they speak in their own respective dialects and yet there is no problem of communication. Manipur and . They first translated the Bible into Lusei. this practice has been given up. But. The traditional marriage system is a great virtue of the system. It serves as the lingua franca among the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. But. perhaps the most popular and commonly used by these people. The customary price paid for girls varies from clan to clan. However members of the Catholic Church usually have two names—an original ethnic name and the other a Catholic name. of the English alphabet variety of 24 letters. under no circumstances do they adopt a Hindu name. The customary price paid for a girl is generally shared by the close relations of her family. the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people have avoided western names. there are internal differences with regard to the acceptance of Duhlien dialect as the Mizo language. Zaithan Chhungi had brought out books in support of the claim that these people were descendants of the Jews. they chose to adopt the Roman script. Boys pay the customary bride price for getting wives and there is no dowry system. including daily garments. The Duhlien (Lusei) dialect was the first one to be codified by the British missionaries. who speak dialects most of which belong to the Non-R group. In fact. the Kuki language stands the first chance to develop as the lingua franca as well as the literary language among the different clans in Manipur for the Non-R group. Since in terms of details the different clans have different customary practices we cannot provide an exhaustive account here. Thus Mizo has the potential to develop into a full-fledged. All clans enjoy equal status within the group. There are many different clans.

Mizo). they are put under one ethnic name. anthropologists and other social scientists. many more are still waiting for an appropriate opportunity. In fact. They have a common clan system. In India these people are mostly known as Kukis or Mizos. unity and affinity have assumed great importance. the different clans are named after their progenitors and the super ordinate group name. To sum up. Given great fluidity in the region. it is equally a hot bed for politicians and an area where administrators are in great dilemma while working out suitable governmental schemes to suit the diverse cultures and social systems in the region. The work is essentially based on my personal experiences and my interaction with a number of social and religious leaders. It is therefore extremely difficult to definitively determine the origin and history of these people. Janah identifies photos of Kuki girls and women as Naga women and girls. Such misrepresentations create further confusion and bitterness. in his recent hook. dealing with their ethno-cultural aspects. their societies and cultures. Chin may be the preferred identity marker in international fora. CONCLUDING REMARKS I have attempted in this paper to highlight the ethnic identity and affinity of the Chin. While some families have already migrated to Israel. Sunil Janah has included a number of photographs. I hope I have been able to focus some important aspects. the entire North-eastern region is identified as a paradise of research for historians. we do not have enough historical and contemporary information about the North-eastern peoples. regardless of their habitation but in terms of Jewish identity.Nagaland. sociologists. Of course. Chin-Kuki-Mizo.e. economists. particularly among person who live outside the region and the elite section of the society. among authors and scholars. A number of Seminars and Conferences organised to bring together these people and scholars to discuss the various issues and problems facing them. their struggles and fight against colonial rule and their sacrifices as well as their human potential. it is next to impossible to identity members of different clans for independent inclusion under either Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribe. I come to the conclusion that there is no necessity to continue the search for appropriate identity for the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. customary laws and rights and lastly by common biological physical features. 12 Many of these photographs are captioned as Kuki-Naga women or Kuki-Naga girls.Kuki-Mizo people. a based on blood-relationship. It is regrettable that even after 50 years of independence. of various tribal people taken (luring his tour to Churachandpur in Manipur state. they do not find appropriate place in books on Indian history and society used in our educational curricula. in establishing their ethnic identity. I have taken up this work. Though the discussion is not exhaustive. Further. there has been marked increases in interaction and inter-mixing among the people in this region. covers all the clans within the group. which must include the history of the peoples of the North Eastern region. of some kind or the other. Thus. Israelis/ Jews. but because of my intense desire to enable this particular ethnic group to share our national glory and enrich our tradition of unity in diversity. questions relating to ethnic identity. Hence. On the basis of the foregoing information and discussion in this brief paper. i. there is always confusion. Clearly. REFERENCES . It is quite clear these people are of the same origin. Following tremendous economic and technological development in Northeast India since Independence. Shifts in identity have been a continuous phenomenon among the Chin-Kuki-Mizo people. this new development has created some ethnic dilemma within the group. Distinctions based on clans as well seem to be disappearing. Sincere efforts therefore must be made to reconstruct Indian history. shared history and common socio-cultural traits. while the terms Mizo and Kuki are most appropriate in Mizoram and Manipur respectively. It is for this reason that a group of students and scholars have made a proposal to coin a new ethnic name ‘Chikim’ (Chin. not because I belong to this group or because I come from the northeast region. Given the current ethnic conflicts in Manipur. Kuki.

The Chin Hills. the best vantage point to view the "First Bend of Yangtze River". ] 978. L. Govt. B. cit. 1976. Address at the Seminar on North-East region at 21st Century. Cowan. Lalthanhawla’s discussion with Sunday magazine.1. The Mizos Journey to Israel: Assert to the Promised Lord. Hososei. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Get lost in the spectacular Stone Forest. Carey. KLM Private Limited (Reprinted from original of 1896). 1912. 4. Wander the ancient streets of the Dali Ancient City. 7. Gangtok. Thanga. J.2. Step back in time in the narrow cobblestone streets of Lijiang Old Town. 8. Chin-Kuki-Mizo Folk Tales. Shakespeare. a breathtaking hike amid soaring cliffs and waterfalls. Aizawl. 10. which with a 1200-year history. Strolling in Jianshui. Zou. beautiful magical Xishuangbanna . The Lushai-Kuki Clans. Tuck. The Chinese Betrayal. and see how they have lived unchanged for centuries.S. 1995. 12. Mizoram History and Cultural Identity. Domestic unique. The Tribals of India. the Tiger Leaping Gorge.N. Mullick. Visit the town of Shigu. J. the World Karst Landscape Museum with countless stone pillars weathered into countless bizarre shapes. H. The Sunday Sentinel . 1995. unique Yunnan Cuisine which is a perfect blending of many traditional minority cuisines. world-class. and 13. The most attractive of which is the folklore and culture of the area's 25 ethnic minority groups.) 6. The Mizo-A Study in Social Personality . “The Chin-Kuki-Ethnic Dilemma: Search for an Appropriate Identity” in Dynamics of identity and Intergroup Relations in North-East India Yunnan takes pride in its rich natural and cultural resources. Make an astonishing adventure in Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas and experience the adventurous outdoor life. 11. Conquer the amazing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. 1975. 1994. and have a cycling adventure around the countryside. M. Dongchuan Red Land to capture the thrilling beauty of the landscapes. of Mizoram. London: McMillan & Co. Aizawl. Chakravarty. Take your taste buds to paradise with the diverse. and cycle along the shore of the ear-shaped Erhai Lake. Aizawl. Trek the world's deepest gorge. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. the Napa Hai Grassland and even a Tibetan family. J. Majestic and colorful are the most frequently used words to describe people's life in Yunnan. Aizawl. Janab. Nikhil. Visit the Naxi Baisha Village and witness the Naxi people's ancient music. Nujiang River. 1998. Aizawl. See the towering Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. It's rare to see so many different ethnic minority groups living harmoniously in one province. and witness the Bai people with their ancient and fascinating culture. rich in cultural heritages from the ancient. 1994. (Reprinted by Tribal Research Institute. Discover the mystery and tradition of Tibetan Buddhism in Zhongdian by visiting the Songzanlin Monastery. Choudhury.B. op. Many photographers have visited the Yuan Yang rice terraces. 3. 5. Chawnglienthang Changsan. and enjoy the breathtaking scenery and pristine glaciers. Sunil. Lalrinmawia.L. Shakespeare. John Luke and The Acts of Apostle (first translation of Bible into Lusei). October 10.W. 9.

Vulnerable: 5 species. 0. the term is not exclusionist in the sense that it does not refer to any particular clan group in a restrictive way. It does not make any substantive difference.3 in (30–120 cm). 54 species Habitat Forest. on the argument that 'Zo' should come first and 'mi' later.2 lb (100g–6 kg) Number of genera. highly vocal birds with long. More recently.8–47. 'Mizo' and 'Zomi'. and colors Size 11. and savanna Conservation status Endangered: 2 species. it is widely believed that all the people who cook rice on three stone pillars. stocky. and the Solomon Islands Evolution and systematics . woodlands. it is widely accepted as a term with long historical background. south and Southeast Asia. are all Mizo. sizes. New Guinea. the two terms. in popular perception. "Lungthu".Today. Thus. species 14 genera. Near Threatened: 12 species Distribution Sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly. Hornbills (Bucerotidae) Class Aves Order Coraciiformes Suborder Bucerotes Family Hornbills (Bucerotidae) Thumbnail description Medium to large-sized. may be taken to refer to the same people. slightly decurved bills topped by casques of various shapes.22–13. some leaders from within the community have tried to replace 'Mizo' by 'Zomi'. Critically Endangered: 2 species.

hornbills have unusual kidneys in that they are two-lobed instead of three. large-billed birds is still debated. Plumage color and size and shape of the casque identify the age and sex of an individual. yellow-gold. or horns make hornbills an unforgettable component of any landscape." lacking the brilliant colors of relatives such as the kingfishers (Alcedinidae) and rollers (Coraciidae). which fall within the subfamily Bucorvinae. S. one of a pair of sex chromosomes. but only hornbills seal the entrance to their cavities. is oversized. Physical characteristics Hornbills are among the most flamboyant birds of their habitat. All hornbills lack carotid arteries as well as the short feathers under the wings that cover the primary and secondary flight feathers of other birds. Horn-bill plumage is described as "drab. The exceptions are the terrestrial ground-hornbills. long-legged southern groundhornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) weighing up to 13. Most modern taxonomic treatments place hornbills within the order Coraciiformes together with their closest relatives: the hoopoe (Upupidae) and the woodhoopoes and scimitarbills (Phoeniculidae).26 lb (120 g) red-billed dwarf hornbill (Tockus camurus).In his classic work The Hornbills published in 1995. As of 2001. science recognizes 54 species of hornbills grouped within 14 genera and two subfamilies. slightly decurved bills topped by sometimes outlandish casques shaped as bumps. This classification is based primarily on similarity in foot and jaw morphology. Hornbills vary tremendously in size and shape. sweeping eyelashes on their upper lids and a fusion of the first two cervical vertebrae to provide support for large bills. the bold black-and-white patterns of many forest hornbills and the delicate gray pied patterns of many Tockus species are far from dull." Time has not made that decision any easier. Males are always larger and stouter than females but the greatest dimorphism often occurs in bill length with males having up to 30% longer bills. the classification of these bizarre. They found that ground-hornbills were probably the earliest form. The oversized. Finally. Newly fledged hornbills have . deep crimson. All birds of these families nest in tree holes. The distinction between Bucerotinae and Bucorvinae is based on unique feather lice and anatomical and behavioral differences such as a greater number of neck vertebrae and the lack of nest-sealing behavior in the Bucorvinae. or shiny black. All 54 hornbill species display unique anatomical features that clearly identify their affinities. However. These include being blessed with long. In 2001. Add in bills and casques of brilliant orange. and patches of bare skin around the eyes and throat in a kaleidoscope of garish hues. and going down to the 0. and a prolonged retention of quills by nestlings. ridges.2 lb (6 kg). Alan Kemp wrote "Trying to decide what other groups of birds are most closely related to hornbills is not quite so easy. which gives them a prickly "pin-cushion" look. starting with the large. All but two species are classified within the subfamily Bucerotinae. and the Z chromosome. and you have a colorful group of birds. Huebner and colleagues conducted detailed molecular studies of the two groups.

It is possible that casques provide structural support for a long bill. The helmeted hornbill uses its casque in bizarre. each powerful stroke of the wing allows air to pass through and vibrate the large feathers. occurring from Bhutan and northern India in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. while the remaining 31 are found in Asia. is restricted. regardless of their sex. Additionally. and Tockus species. but after the first year of life. Numerous authors have described the noise produced by flying hornbills as that of an approaching train. observations from Sumatra indicate that this acrobatic act may be in defense of clumped food resources.). across the Indonesian and Philippine archipelagos. as its name implies. and the one from which hornbills acquire their common name. This incredible "whooshing. the Sri Lankan gray hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis). through India and southern Asia. Casques vary from the mere ridge of the redbilled hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus) to the wash-board bumps of the wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) and the elaborate banana of the rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros). resemble their fathers for the first year of life. The function of casques. The opposite is true for the Bycanistes and Ceratogymna who resemble the adult female. is the casque on the top of the bill. Although Gustav Schneider once reported that helmeted hornbills perform this comical ritual when they are intoxicated on fermented figs. The most outstanding feature. Young of the northern ground-hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus) and a few Tockus species show plumage true to their sex while chicks of the rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) are radically different from both parents. and as far south as Namibia and South Africa. In species where sexes differ in color as adults.underdeveloped casques and small bills. a medium-sized gray and white bird with populations occurring from the shores of Mauritania in the west. occur exclusively in India while the third species. The head-butting competitions always occur near fruiting fig trees (Ficus spp. In Asia. is a result of wing structure. For example. Penelopides. and east to the Solomon Islands. which may take up to six years to develop. 23 species inhabit Africa. determining the gender of the young can be difficult. casque-to-casque. Several hornbill . is represented by 13 species. casques may be attractive to the opposite sex. the young. to the island of Sri Lanka.Aceros and Rhyticeros hornbills dominate with five genera each. The most ubiquitous of the Tockus species is the African gray hornbill (Tockus nasutus)." produced in different pitches depending on the species' size. There are no horn-bills in the New World. Rhyticeros. Distribution Hornbills occur across sub-Saharan Africa. aerial displays where individuals of either sex collide in midair. Two species of the genus Ocyceros. appearances converge on that of their adult counterparts. Tockus. in almost all Aceros. the Malabar gray hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) and Indian gray horn-bill (Ocyceros birostris). The largest and most widespread genus in Africa. is the topic of many debates. Within the hornbill family. east to the Red Sea. Because horn-bills lack the small feathers that normally cover the shafts of the primary and second flight feathers. Casques may also serve an acoustic function by helping amplify a horn-bill's call.

and enough habitat area to support a viable population. an adequate year-round supply of food. hornbills move about in pairs. 13 of 23 species reside in savannas and woodlands while the remaining 10 inhabit forests. which occupies all forest types on its native island. the Mindoro tarictic hornbill (Penelopides mindorensis) is endemic to the small island of Mindoro while the fifth species of the genus. the Sulawesi tarictic hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. On Sumatra. Endemic species are. like the red-billed hornbill. a small Tickell's brown hornbill (Anorrhinus tickelli) is able to use nest holes of smaller dimensions than the larger great hornbill (Buceros bicornis). where forests are less extensive. have restricted distributions. A fourth Philippine species. including the Sulawesi red-knobbed hornbill (Aceros cassidix). Habitat quality will influence the number of hornbills an area can support. the Sumba hornbill (Rhyticeros everetti). as with rhinoceros and helmeted hornbills. they partition their habitat by feeding at different heights in the canopy.species. The plain-pouched hornbill (Aceros subruficollis) takes the record . only the Indian gray horn-bill lives in open savanna. Each species has a particular set of requirements. hornbills are birds of the forest. Species occupying savannas tend to have more extensive ranges but. The Sulawesi redknobbed hornbill is occasionally seen in groups of more than 100 individuals at large fruiting figs. however. Several other species are endemic to single islands. by default. but some species are found in family groups of three to 20 individuals. and the Narcondam hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami). wreathed hornbills roost in flocks of over 1. The tarictic hornbills are a prime example. preen their feathers. when diet overlap occurs. where nine hornbill species may occur together. Normally. In general. scrubby woodlands. The Luzon (Penelopides manillae). Visayan (Penelopides panini). In the forests of Thailand. they generally forage on different diet items. In Thailand. may be separated into many distinct populations by imposing bands of woodland. and steamy rainforests all constitute hornbill habitat.6 mi2 (10 km2) in size. then begin their search for food.000 individuals. especially those occupying oceanic islands. which may help explain why several species can simultaneously occupy the same habitat. cool mountains. and Mindanao (Penelopides affinis) tarictic hornbills occur only on a few neighboring islands within the Philippine archipelago. Habitat size also limits hornbill populations. Of the 30 species found in India and Southeast Asia. hornbills are rare or absent from forest patches less than 3. In Africa. Habitat Arid deserts. Some hornbills gather in large flocks around clumped food resources. On the island of Sumba. the proportion of savanna-dwelling species increases accordingly. where a similar number of species coexist. limited to habitats available within their restricted range. This is particularly true of insular species like the Sumba hornbill. There are key features that must be present in all hornbill habitats—an ample number of large trees for nesting. Behavior Hornbills generally wake at dawn.

diets tend more toward insects. Additionally. Hornbills communicate through a wide range of spectacular calls and each species can be identified by its vocalizations. scorpions. Monogamy may have many variations on the theme. boosting confidence in their monogamous behavior. While calls are important in dense forest habitats. Most hornbills are sedentary and many are territorial. Roosts may serve as "information centers" where individual birds can reduce foraging time by following a knowledgeable. mixing meat and fruit in their meals. snakes. delivering morsels to their mother and siblings and defending a mutual territory. aid in maintaining contact. while the bird whistles. visual displays are more prevalent in open grasslands. Cooperative breeding occurs more often in hornbills than any other bird family. and lifts and fans its tail over its back. and may characterize up to one-third of all hornbill species. Many hornbills range widely but none of these movements is considered migratory. and small mammals. while Ocyceros and tarictic diets include more fruit. hornbills may develop defendable territories in which dietary needs for the pair or group are satisfied. lizards. As Alan Kemp summarizes. the Hemprich's hornbill (Tockus hemprichii) has an elaborate territorial display that resembles the mechanical movements of a wind-up toy. these massive gatherings are "wonderfully noisy and visually stunning. Feeding ecology and diet Hornbill diets span the spectrum from animals to fruits and seeds but most are omnivorous. there is generally one monogamous breeding pair and a number of offspring who become "helpers" during the nesting season. For example. Omnivory is the rule among the territorial. and must surely rate among the foremost spectacles of the bird world. groupliving hornbills. . these species maximize exploitation of their territories by using abundant but ephemeral fruit resources as they become available. Larger hornbills such as theAceros and Rhyticeros that rely on scattered fruit resources. may range over 21 mi2 (58 km2) and only defend temporary territories around nest sites. long-term resident. Among cooperative social groups. the bill is pointed skyward. The majority of Tockus and small-bodied forest hornbills are territorial throughout the year. Loud calls announce territories. over 2.400 individuals were counted in Malaysia in 1998 traveling to roost. The only research on the faithfulness of hornbills failed to find evidence of extra-pair paternity in Monteiro's hornbill (Tockus monteiri).for the largest aggregations. Territorial ground-hornbills "boom" when their boundaries are invaded and non-territorial wreathed hornbills bark like dogs while coordinating flocks. Because animal prey often occurs at low density and is available yearround. AmongTockus. The availability of fruit resources within a habitat may determine the degree of omnivory observed. or in the non-territorial species." Hornbills are believed to be monogamous.

and exchange food gifts as a demonstration of their ardor. leaving only a narrow slit through which she. and the length of incubation are all correlated with body size. the male ferries mud to the female who then works for several days to seal the cavity entrance. Nest sealing has been described as an example of male chauvinism in which the male cloisters his female. the female uses her own feces as building material. In reality. They perch in cozy proximity. Where mud is a rare commodity. The number of eggs. playing a role in regenerating the forests in which they live.Heavy reliance on fruits requires that hornbills have large home ranges. the female incarcerates herself and later frees herself. In seasonal African savannas. Reproductive biology Hornbill reproduction tends to coincide with rainfall and increased food supply. courting pairs act as though they are attached by an invisible rubber band. Tockus species begin courtship and reproduction with the rains. for protection against other intruding hornbills. so the burst in fruit supply occurs immediately after fledging. Nest sealing is believed to have evolved as a form of predator defense. The opposite occurs on Sulawesi where lack of rainfall stimulates reproduction in the Sulawesi red-knobbed hornbill. and the female can be sure of his complete attention. In aseasonal Bornean rain-forests. In fig-rich forests of North Sulawesi. Fruit diets combined with large home ranges have important consequences for forest ecology. the female hornbill seals the entrance to her nest cavity. Other clues of the onset of breeding include the intensification in color of the exposed fleshy areas around the face and throat. Unlike any other group of birds. The hornbill's unique nesting behavior is the feature that has most fascinated students of nature. tied to highly cyclical peaks in food supply. and may affect reproductive rates. In most species. All hornbills are hole-nesters. respectively. When in flight. Because the male is busy provisioning his family. when invertebrates and fruits are plentiful. usually returning to the same nest tree. and to enforce male fidelity. receive food from her mate. their size. Breeding in these populations may be controlled by the rate at which pairs regain condition between reproductive cycles. Clutch size ranges from two to three eggs in large hornbills and up to eight for smaller hornbills. Nest inspection increases in frequency until copulation occurs and the female enters the nest cavity. forcing her to depend on him for survival. The onset of breeding begins with courtship. preferring natural cavities in trees or rock crevices. Incubation runs from 23-49 days in small and large species. As hornbills travel. hornbills breed every year. he is incapable of maintaining two nests. reproduction appears to be supra annual. forcing the male to provide for her and their offspring. reacting swiftly to each other's movements. Eggs hatch in intervals and the emerging chicks are naked and translucent . reflecting hormonal changes. engage in mutual preening. they disperse seeds of the fruits they relish. and later her chicks.

There are no rigorous population estimates for these species. respectively. are classified as Near Threatened. A Sulawesi redknobbed hornbill once delivered 162 fruits in one trip. some females accompany their chicks from the nests and others leave well before chicks fledge. 80% of great hornbill nests monitored fledged young. however. only two West African forest inhabitants. are classified as Vulnerable. but large hornbills rarely fledge more than one chick per year. Research on Monteiro's hornbill suggests that females emerge to ensure survival when their body condition reaches its lowest point. and . The underlying threat to hornbill populations is habitat alteration resulting in forest loss and fragmentation. the yellow-casqued hornbill (Ceratogymna elata) and the brown-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes cylindricus). The timing of female emergence varies tremendously. and one Vulnerable species. most hornbills collect multiple food items. stuffed into a bulging gullet before delivering a load to the nest. Male hornbills can be impressive providers. as well as two species classified as Critical. according to the IUCN. hornbill populations decline. As forests become smaller and more isolated. Feather growth begins within a few days and as chicks develop. Smaller hornbills fledge up to four chicks.pink with closed eyes. the skin blackens and begging calls change from feeble cheeps to loud. insistent calls. The situation in the Philippines is especially urgent. a load equivalent to nearly 20% of his body weight. but this figure plummeted to 62% during the 1997 El Niño/ENSO fires. Protection of hornbill populations and their habitats within conservation areas of adequate size offer some hope for their long-term persistence. In southern Africa. Rapidly dwindling forests contain two species ranked as the most endangered hornbills in the world. both single-island endemics. the Sulu (Anthracoceros montani) and rufous-headed (Aceros waldeni) hornbills. Africa presently has no hornbills in danger of extinction. the Visayan and Mindoro tarictic hornbills. All nine species suffering endangerment reside in Asia. and most (77%) occur on small oceanic islands. two parks were established on Sumba to aid in the conservation of the Sumba hornbill. ranging in increasing degree from Vulnerable to Critical and Endangered. Conservation status Only 16% of all hornbill species are classified as being under some level of threat.000 and 300. are considered Near Threatened and will probably experience a decline in status within the twenty-first century. Although many Tockus species carry items to the nest one-by-one. chicks fledged from 90–92% of the nests of four Tockus species and in Thailand. An additional 12 species. but we assume populations are extremely small and may vanish within decades unless conservation measures are adopted. In the late 1990s. the Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei). The Sumba and Narcondam hornbills. with total populations hovering around 4. Nesting success is high for those species studied. resulting in increased vulnerability to extinction from natural disasters such as disease. Sulawesi red-knobbed hornbills averaged 80% nesting success over three years.

In India and Africa. Significance to humans Like many other groups of birds. In Indonesia. in particular. parts of the ground-hornbill are eaten to improve health and sagacity. reported that only someone who has taken a human head is allowed to wear the intricately carved earrings created from the "ivory" of the helmeted hornbill casque. pets. Great and oriental pied hornbill casques are common souvenirs in Thai and Laotian markets. Long. Helmeted hornbills are also believed to judge souls leaving their mortal existence. Neighboring Wanchos of eastern Arunachal use the warm. Only with such global attention are we able to finance local initiatives and put pressure on a range of state governments to conserve these unusual birds. especially those by range-country biologists. Today. the meat of the Sumba hornbill is roasted and eaten to relieve rheumatism and asthma. In Africa. hornbills are increasingly highlighted as local mascots or state birds. vast tracts of savanna and forest have been protected as parks for decades. On Borneo. This is especially true in Asia. whereas in India. or to adorn themselves with the bird's long. and the Indian gray hornbill are rendered into oils that supposedly aid in childbirth and relieve gout and joint pains.the Philippines have proposed to establish the Central Panay Mountains National Park (NP) for the Visayan tarictic hornbill. horn-bills are captured and traded for pets or exhibition. India. however. central tail feathers. trade in helmeted hornbill ivory continues. but heads and casques are also coveted. elegant tail feathers are the most sought-after hornbill part. hornbills play special roles in the folklore and ceremonies of the countries where they occur. attach the upper beak of the great hornbill to rattan bopiah caps as traditional male headgear. Traditions that require feathers or skulls take a toll on living birds. the helmeted and rhinoceros hornbills reach mythical proportions in the eyes of the local inhabitants. the great hornbill. The helmeted hornbill. and body parts is also a problem. The 1990s have seen a dramatic increase in awareness of hornbill ecology and conservation needs. northern . Developments in hornbill research and conservation are quickly communicated to the global community through the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Hornbill Specialist Group and facilitated by Internet communication. Hose. chestnut-colored neck feathers of rufous-necked hornbills to cover caps. however. The number of horn-bill studies. thus supplying a full complement of 20 dancers can cost up to 80 hornbills. depends on active management to ensure that they are more than "parks on paper. Because they are easily tamed. C. The Nishis people of Arunachal Pradesh. the Indian pied hornbill. The great hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh. The long-term success of hornbill conservation in these parks. is strongly associated with headhunting. escalated during this time and continues to increase." Unsustainable hunting for food. an early twentieth century naturalist and explorer. Although illegal. hornbills are hunted for food and consumed for medicine. Unlike any other group of birds. Female Kenyalang dancers of Malaysia carry up to 10 hornbill tail feathers in each hand.

T-shirts. and even the state coat-of-arms. The rhinoceros hornbill has been adopted as the state bird of Sarawak.India. where it appears on tourism advertisements. the Sulawesi red-knobbed hornbill. . In Indonesia. Malaysia. and the Sumba hornbill proudly serve as official mascots for three provinces. the helmeted hornbill.

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