Tai Phake

The Six Tai Races residing in Assam are The Tai Phake, The Tai Khamti, The Tai Aiton, The Tai Khamyang, The Tai Turung, & the Tai Ahom. Lik Khow Moung, the Tai Phake Treatise, also called Buranji furnishes a complete account in Tai Phake script about the genealogical and also the migration of the Tai Phake people.

Yun-Nan & Yun-Nan of China was then known as Moung Mao, the kingdom of the Tais. The kingdom of Moung-Mou had four princes. Seukapha, Seukhanpha, Seupatha, & Seuchatpha. These four princes, in order to expand their kingdom & well being of the people and with a strong desire for a dream kingdom of their own resolved to set out a journey taking along a group of nobles, general army, and large group of people.

The group led by Second Prince Seukhanpha, moved into northern direction & established his kingdom in the place called Moung-Kwang. The king ordered the Phakes who came along the group to settle down on their own start their livelihood in a place called Hu-Kawng, closed to then Burma. The Phake thereby established their principality in Hukawng valley in 1215 A.D. in consensus to the king's order. The Tai Phakes resided here 400 years. The entire Hukawng Valley came under the supremacy of the king of Burma.
In order to salvage themselves from the inhuman oppression of the king, Phakes abandoned their erstwhile home Hukawng & almost immediately on their quest to establish in some place an independent kingdom of their own, directed their steps towards the green valley of Assam in 1775.

At about that time the English brought their western culture and spread its rays in Assam and started their rule here. Then the Phakes who had come to Assam after a lot of hurdles settled in various places of Assam favoured by the English & embraced Assam as their motherland. The Phakes then introduced themselves a Phake Yat, that gradually changed to Phayal and from Phakeyal to finally Phakial. The Tai Phake who came out of their own country in order to set up an independent kingdom replete with happiness, had to undergo a lot of hardship and danger. In spite of all these extreme difficulties these people did not allow the hope for their golden dream to die in their mind.


The Phakials are bilingual. They speak Phakial among themselves and speak Assamese with an outsider. They have their own separate scripts and also have preserved manuscripts. Most of them are religious scriptures.

The Phalkial language has ten vowel phonemes, fifteen consonant phonemes, two semi vowels, a few diphthongs, and three consonant clusters.

It is a tonal language and retains six prominent tones-rising, falling, high (mid), low high (falling) & low (mid). It is also monosyllabic. Suffixes are added to retains the monosyllabic quality of the words. The Phakials also have a sound knowledge of Pali language.
The Tai Phake people are strict followers of Buddhism. A Buddha Bihar is established in every village where image of lord Buddha made of Brass is kept and regular prayers are offered by the monks known as CHOW MOUN and everyday they worship with flowers, lighted candles and incense stick. Some of the important religious festivals of Tai Phake community are as follows :

Poi sang ken popularly known as Pani Bihu. Tai Phake calendar starts with a new year from the first day of the festival and it is celebrated for following three days. I this festivals, Buddha Idols are bought out from Buddha Bihar to KYOUNG FRA. The Buddha idol is washed by the villagers. Phakial play with water with lots of enthusiasm and fun. That's why it is also called Pani Bihu.
Buddha Purnima After Poi Sang Ken Buddha Purnima is celebrated on Purnima, full moon day. It is considered to be an auspicious occasion for the entire community. Barsha Bash The Buddhist monk do fasting for a period of three months from the full moon of Ahara to Ahina. This fasting is very important for the Buddhist. It is not a festival but an important religious occasion.
Poi Akwa This festival is observed after Barsha Bash on the full moon day Ahina. In this festival the union of Buddhist monks gather in a particular place and pray to forgive them for their faults.
Poi mai ko chum fai. This festival is celebrated during the full moon of Feb Month. On that day of Meji made of wood & hay is set on fire. Generally the Mejis are constructed on the bank of Sandy River Besides these festivals, Pol Moun Chi, Poi Lham Cham, Poi kithing etc. are celebrated in a calendar year.
Economy : Cultivation is the major occupation of the Phakes. The age old economy has been maintained. They believe on Natural fertility of their field. Mustard, arum, potatoes are grown as cash crops which contribute largely to boost up their economy.
Administrative structure of the Phakes :Administrative structure of the Phakes are essentially democratic & Simple. Although the people do not possess any formal council, yet the meeting of the village elders headed by the Gaonbura exercises the highest legal and judicial powers. Any dispute among the people settled are by the monks. The Phake possess a written code called Thamchat, which is referred to by the village elders while deciding of local nature. The penalties for breaches of law, the idea of right & wrong, appear to be genuinely indigenous to their culture. The rules of conduct that the Thamchat enjoins on its members are mainly based on ethical principles.
The Phakials usually marry within the community. The Society is basically patriarchal-the son inherits his father's property. They are monogamous although polygamy is not forbidden provided the man has the requisite means to support such a family. The Phakes do not keep any matrimonial relations with people of other caste or tribes. Widow and cross cousin marriage take place in the Phake society. The marriage is celebrated with a detailed ceremony. Divorce is not a common affair in the Phake society, The Husband or a wife files a divorce case before the Gaonburha who takes a decision in the meeting of the village elders, which is final. Divorce can be made effective only by the verdict of the village elders meeting.
The Phake believe in the existence of sprit and certain rituals are observed to appease to malevolent sprits. Sympathetic magic is practiced & efficacy of mantras is very much believed by them. For the ordinary personal ailments the phakes have their indigenous Supernatural treatment. Traditional prescription in respect of sickness and cure are resorted to occasionally when the worship of Lord has no effect.
The Houses are Changgahars. Built on piles of wood above the ground loccaly known as Hounn Hang. Indigenous materials is like Takau leaves and timber and bamboos are used in the construction of their houses. There are two hearths in each house and the inside one is considered as sacred. Every house has a drawing room called Kan Nak, a prayer room called Khak tang Chom with a kitchen called Hown Aom.
The Tai Phakes have their Traditional Dress. They weave their dresses on the Traditional handloom. The necessary colours are made from the tree barks or some other domestic system. Women's outfit consists of an ankle-long (Chin) a blouse open at the front called Nang Wat and fastened around the armpits and a girdle called Chai Chin. To tighten the skrit around the waist. The female child wears a skirt and a blouse. A white turban called Phafou is worn by the woman folk on individual preferences. The coloures are expressive of their ages. The men wear Lungis known as Phanoot, a kurta and a folded Chador.
Foo Habit :
Rice is staple food. Their meals consists of cooked or steamed rice wrapped in banana or tara or kau leaves that known as Khow hao and boiled vegetable. Moreover a large number of wild leafy such as Panit, Nam Hom, Khi Kal etc.Meat, Fish egg, roots and creepers are included in their meals. The Phakes prefer boiled vegetables.
Consumption of alcoholic liquor is prohibited by their religion. Tea is taken regularly.

Death :Cremation is the rule for normal death, for the abnormal ones burial is prescribed. The purificatory ceremony, in case of normal death is observed on the seventh day after death. Entertainment of the villagers with a feast and gift to the monks are the salient features of their purificatory ceremony. The Phakes have special provision for the disposal of the dead body of a monk. The monks dead body is not disposed on the same day, rather it is kept for a year or so in a watertight coffin. After about one year a big festival is arranged and all the phakes of different villages are invited and the dead body of the monk is ceremonially cremated.