Introduction / History
The Thadou are hills people located chiefly in the hill country adjacent to the Imphal Valley in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. This area encompasses some 26,000 square kilometers. The Thadou share many cultural affinities with the Koms, Aimols, Khotlhangs, Lusheis, Chins, Pois, Suktes, Paites, and Gangtes. In 1983 there were 125,100 Thadou living in India and 26,200 living in Myanmar (Burma). The Thadou language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family of the Sino-Tibetan phylum. It shares many elements with Metei, Kachin, Garo, Lushei and other Old Kuki dialects.
Where are they located?
Indigenous to northeastern states of India except Arunachal Pradesh, Chin state and Sagaing Division in Burma and eastern Bangladesh. Currently they are spread partially in Australia, USA, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and major cities of all India.
What are their lives like?
Thadou settlements are located in dense jungle. Sites on the tops of ridges or just below ridges are preferred. Villages are not arranged according to an established urban plan and there is no marking of the perimeter of a village. The village chief's house is usually the largest dwelling within the village. Outside it (and outside the homes of wealthy villagers) there is a platform upon which men gather to discuss matters of importance and to mediate disputes.
The typical Thadou dwelling is about 6 meters long and 5 meters wide. The rear of the house is elevated 1.5 to 2 meters above the ground while the front of the house rests on the surface of the sloping ground. Wooden posts and rafters are used for the household frame. Thatching grass held in place by split bamboo is used for the roof and bamboo matting is used for the walls. The house contains one large roof and a front veranda. The interior room is used for cooking, storage, general living and sleeping. The veranda is used for the pounding of rice. An enclosure (of wood tied together by bamboo or cane) may surround the house to protect gayals and the household garden. Fruit trees (with the exception of banana plants) are not usually found in Thadou villages.
Thadou tradition links their origin with an area south of their current habitat. Intertribal conflict and the need for cultivable land are two of the reasons cited as possible causes for the northerly migration of the Thadou. However, William Shaw, a British Officer in in the early part of 20th Century believes that they originated in the north. It is his contention that they moved down the Imphal or Gun River, and then proceeded down the Tuihat (Chindwin) River until they reached the sea. Since they were unable to traverse this obstacle, they retreated up the Tuihat until they reached that point where it merged with the Teo (Tyao) River. The retreat continued until they reached their present location.
The Thadou feel that they are destined to be rulers of the Earth and eschew any yoke of domination. This attitude led to the Anglo-Thadou War/Kuki rebellion of 1917-1919. In spite of their defeat then, the Thadou maintain the belief that a promising future awaits them.
The impact of Christian missionary activity was felt early in the twentieth century. William Shaw believed that the Christianization of the area would improve relations between the Thadou and neighboring peoples (felt by the Thadou to be their inferiors). He also noted that Thadou participation in the Manipur Labour Corps altered significantly the Thadou worldview (i.e., revealing the world to be larger than the Thadou had thought it to be).
Lets pray that Thadou, the single largest tribe in Manipur, India and the major tribe among the tribes in North East India could be strengthen so that they can uplift, promote, develop their culture in this modern era.
Text source: Anonymous