The Tai Khampti. By:- Chau Khouk Manpoong


     The histotical narrative of early periods out of avilable treaces, fables and legendary accounts contained in ancient Tai chronicles jelously preserved by Tai Khamptis of Arunachal Pradesh (India) reveal that the Tai Khamptis are a very ancient race and a branch of great Tai race mombers of which are not found numerously wide spread in different lands in Asia. Recent researches tend to suggest that the Tai-race had some 7000 years history behind them. Legend has it that two heavenly brothers Khunlu and Khunlai, on being asked by celestilal king (Khujn Shang), descended on earth by a golden ladder to rule righteously as kings which was then in state of disorder and lawlessness without a king.

     Whatever may be the origin, the early home of the Tai's was in Centeral Asia in the regions of Kiulung mountains in the upper vicnity of Howang-Ho river of China. In course of time they gradually migrated toward South- West following the courses of Howang-Ho and established Nanchao kingdom in Yun-nan regions. In the remote past, sometimes during these millennia, probably some 3000 years before Christ, the Tai's were a ruling race long before the formation of  'Chinese race'. Evidently, the civilization, traditions and cultural heritage of the Tai's are of very ancient antiquity, even greater antiquity in present China region as a race then the Chinese. It is no wonder that the historians regard the Tai as 'elder brother' of Chinese. Hundreds of years later, being driven by the need for new settlement areas, under pressure of the Chinese and later of the invading Mongol hordes of Kublai Khan, the Tai's in waves at different time moved further, South, South-West and South-East along the courses of great rivers, the Irrawasy, Salween, Menam, Mekong and Brahmaputra consolidating their supremacy over these river valleys. Their migration is a history of long centuries of struggles against the chinese north, the tibetans west and other countries in the south with succession of glorious periods of their power in China, South-East Asia and East India. Thus, in course of time, numerous Tai States and Kingdoms sprang up in those areas with different local appellations, such as Shan, Thai, Lao, Luk-Khun, Dai, Ahom, Khampti.

     According to some chronicles, a colony of Tai's from Nanchao in early periods migrated North-West direction and established a semi-independent principalit known as Mantale in the upper vicnity of Irrawdy (Nam Kiew) in present Putao border region. Legend has it that oncea ruling king of Mantalet had seven daughters. The youngest named Nang King-ya being blind and taken it as unbecoming, the king father set her adrift on a raft. Beholding her predicament a heavenly being as a white tiger, took her and lived together in forests. In due course, she bore 3 sons and 4 daughters. When the sons grew up they approached their maternal grandfather, king of Mantalet, claiming for shares of ancestral property. The king, verifying the ring Nang King-ya sent with her sons as a proof of their origin, took them as his grandsons begotten from the tiger. The king conferred upon them a generic name 'Fan-Sou-Khou-shang' meaning 'tiger lineage of celestial origin', and gave names 'Sou-Ka-Fa' to eldest brother, 'Sou-Houm-Fa' to second brother, 'Sou-Loung-Fa' to third brother. The king presented them royal heirlooms, a drum called 'Chita' to Sou-Ka-Fa, as sword to Sou-Houm-Fa, a heron statue to third brother. The king asked the three Princes to go to wide world easternly direction with their respective royal gifts serching their own fortunes telling that whenever and wherever, by itself, the Drum made sound, the Sword came out of it's sheath and fixed upright on the ground, the Heron gave seven loud calls, each of them should hault at these places and establish kingdoms. Accordingly the three princes set out with their respective royal gifts. After wandering in wide country in different directions for four months, the drum, the sword, the heron showed their prophetic events. Thus, Sou-Ka-Fa, Sou-Houm-Fa and Sou-Loung-Fa founded Maung Kong, Maung Mit-Wiengsou and Maung Yang Kingdoms respestively in upper Burma regions towards the close of 12th century A.D. Tai people of these kingdoms are Tai Nou (Northern Tai) and called Tai Long (Great Tai) or Shan by the Burmese while those of Mekong delta are Tai Tau (Southern Tai) and called Tai Noi (Little Tai).

     According to tradition, at one time probably in mid 13th century, when Tai principality Mantalet was in decay and on verge of disintegration owing to extinction of ruling clan, the people approached Chau Hoseng (reigning king) on Maung Kong asking for a man of rayal lineage to be the king of Mantalet. Conceding to the request the king of Maung Kong asked a prince named Ai Khampti-Thien  to proceed to Mantalet and rule the country as king. The prince agreed to go, but expressed a wish that the name of the country be changed from Mantalet to Khampti-Thien after his name. Empowered him with the wish, he proceeded with large number of Tai Nou (Northern Tai) or Tai Loung and was installed as king and the country was renamed as Khampti-Thien. Thenceforth he and his descendants ( Lum-Khun dynasty) ruled the country until modern times under the suzerainty of king of Maung Kong. Thus, a country called "Maung Khampti-Thien", later simply "Maung Khampti Loung" or Maung Khampti" came into existence with Putao (Puthao) as capital in expreme north Burma whence, centuries later, Tai's of northern Tai stock called Tai-Khampti or Tai Loung emigrated to Weisali (India). The Tai-Khampti of Maung Khampti Loung were in warfare with their close neighbour Tibetans from across western frontier. Tai warlord Chau Sam-Loung-Khomaung finally defeated the Tibetans, drove them across Noi, Khoma, a mountain pass, then he closed the pass for ever with large rocks, and the Tibetans ever after did not cause any trouble. The Tai-Khampties of Maung Khampti Loung here lived for hundreds of years in peace and prosperity. There were seven tai principalities in the Country.

     But, as destined to be, in the middle of 18th century troubles arose in Maung Khampti. Two great clans were at feud for 50 years giving rise to internal dissension, at times erupting like war. At about the same time Burmese King Alamphra rose in hostility against the Tai's, dismembered Tai Kingdom of Maung Kong. Then came the conflicts and insecurity which prompted the Tai-Khamptis to seek fresh settlements elsewhere. Groups after groups of 200 to 600 of Tai emigrants from Khampti Long, at different times during a span over 100 years untill 1833, arrived in India. Agroup of Tai-Khampti arrived at Khomong plateau across Patkai hils through Chaukang pass in 1739 and made their first settlements in North East India (Chanlang District of Arunachal Pradesh) where they stayed for nearly 50 years. In 1780 another group of 400 Tai-Khampti emigrants arrived at Khomong. Later they, following down stream of Diyun river, established themselves in the upper vicinity of Tieng-Kha river (misspelt as Tangapani) and Shiwali river. The Tai-Khamptis made an organized attack on the Tai-Ahom viceroy of Sadiya Known as 'Sadiya-Khowa Gohai' in 1793 ejected him and assuming the title and jurisdiction of Sadiya-Khowa Gohin ruled the Sadiya region with some disruption for 50 years until 1843 A.D. The Tai-Khamptis, however, had to fight a battle with Tai-Ahom king of Assam who attempted to re-capture Sadiya but suffered defeat for a time. Soon the Tai-Khamptis re-established their authority over Sadiya region which they called Pang Teola by entering into a treaty of peace with Tai-Ahom king. By this time round, the British occupied neighboring Tai-Ahom kingdom (Assam) in 1826 A.D. After defeating the invading Burmese forces they made aggressive advance to occupy Tai-Khampti country Maung Teola (Sadiya region). The Tai-Khamptis with 600 strong force waged war of freedom against the British in 1839 inflicting heavy losses on both sides. They struggled for 4 years against the Britishers to regain lost freedom and glory. Owing to superior fighting power of the Britishers the Tai-Khamptis made peace with the British in 1843 to cease all hostilities by which Tai-Khamptis lost their domain of Sadiya-region to the British-India for ever. Many Tai-Khamptis left for Khampti Long in North Burma and those who remained under the British were dispersed and made to have their settlements at different far-apart locations-north and south of Brahamaputra to weaken their unity and strength. Some Tai-Khamptis were allowed to re-occupy their old villages and settlements north of Sadys with some degree of autonomy to manage their internal affairs under their Chiefs.