Evolution of Chieftainship in Mizoram: Its Changing Trend under British Administration
Chieftainship was an integral part of the social as well as the political life of the early Mizo. In the beginning, it was an evolution, but in course of time it became hereditary. The pre-colonial Mizos are semi-nomadic who migrated place to place in search of a new land for jhum cultivation. The importance which they gave to the land therefore led them to conflict within different sections of clans. This constant conflict among the tribal groups must have urged them the need to have leader who will lead them at times like this. It is very difficult to say when and how the institution of chieftainship originated among various tribes of the Mizo, but some scholars believed that it grew out of the collective needs which characterized the tribal living. The chief occupied very important place in the early Mizo society before the British settled in the Lushai Hills. He is the protectors, guardians and administrators for his subjects. Whenever problem arose in the village, the chief and his council of elders were the centre of administration to solve the problem. In times of war and troubles, the chief was the protector and leader for his subjects. However, the position and status of the Mizo chiefs were drastically reduced and changed under the British administration.
Lalchhuanawma: “The Origin and Development of Chieftainship in Mizoram” in Malsawmdawngliana & Rohmingmawii (eds), Mizo Narratives: accounts from Mizoram, Scientific Book Centre, Dispur Guwahati, 2013, p.47
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Sangkima: “Origin of Chieftainship in Early Mizo Society based on Tradition and Myth” in Malsawmliana & Benjamin Ralte (eds), Socio Economic and Political History of Mizo, EBH Publisher, Guwahati, 2011, p.7.
Lalchhuanawma, op.cit., p.49.
Vanlalringa Bawitlung: “The System of Administration in South Mizoram from the earliest to 1890”, A Historical Journal of Mizoram, Vol.IV. Issue-1: Mizo History Association, Aizawl, 2003, pp.7-9.
Lalchhuanawma, op.cit., p.50.
Lalhmingliani Ralte: “Administration of The Mizo Chiefs in Pre-Colonial Period” in Malsawmdawngliana & Rohmingmawii (eds), Mizo Narratives: accounts from Mizoram, Scientific Book Centre, Guwahati, 2013, p.54.
R.N. Prasad: Traditional Political Institution of Chieftainship in Mizoram: Powers, Functions, Position and Privileges, International Seminar “Studies on the Minority Nationalities of Northeast India – The Mizos”, organised by Directorate of Higher & Technical Education, Govt. of Mizoram, Aizawl, April 7-9, 1992, p.53.
Lalhmingliani Ralte: “The Mizo Chiefs and His Administration Before – 1890” in Sangkima (ed), A Modern History of Mizoram, Spectrum Publications, Guwahati : Delhi, 2004, p.3.
Op.cit., Lalhmingliani Ralte (2013), p.56.
K. Robin: “Traditional Institutions, Administration of Justice and Impact of Colonialism” in Malsawmdawngliana & Rohmingmawii (eds), Mizo Narratives: accounts from Mizoram, Scientific Book Centre, Dispur Guwahati, 2013, pp.179-180.
J. Zorema: “Establishment of British Rule in Mizoram: Initiatives and Changes in Administration” in Malsawmdawngliana & Rohmingmawii (eds), Mizo Narratives: accounts from Mizoram, Scientific Book Centre, Dispur Guwahati, 2013, p.151.
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