HISTORY AND MIGRATION OF THE RALTES
-R.Vanramchhuanga & Lalramzauva Ralte
THE RALTES, a group of community, are one of the oldest tribes of the Mizo umbrella group of people. They are found in the different parts of Mizoram. In fact the Raltes are available wherever Mizos are living. This means that the Mizos are composed of different tribes and among them Raltes are the inseparable component of the Mizos. Dr.Sangkima rightly said in his work Mizos: Society and Social Change, “The term ‘Mizo’ is a generic term and as such the different tribes or clans who inhabit the entire perimeter of the present Mizoram and whose cultures, traditions, dialects etc. are similar are commonly designated the term ‘Mizo’. Therefore, the term ‘Mizo’ includes the Lusheis, the Raltes, the Hmars…. with their many sub and sub-sub clans.1 As such the source of information about the specific history of Raltes is very scarce, and in many cases, the history of the Mizos as a whole should be taken as the history of the Raltes.
The different groups or tribes of the Mizo community tell the same tale – the legend of Chhinlung theory. The earliest known habitat of the Mizos was Chhinlung which is believed to be in the southern part of China. The origin of the Mizos was stated that, once upon a time, Mizos came out from a cave. After a large number of people came out from that cave, Raltes came out in a group with a lot of noise. Hearing that noise people shouted, “Close the cave, close the cave, these people (the Raltes) are too noisome, close the cave”. As such the door of the cave was closed and it was believed that a large number of Raltes would have been left in that cave.
Some historians traced that Chhinlung is situated at the Southern part of China 2, whereas some believed it to be in Burma 3. Modern Mizo historians do not speak about the Raltes at the Chhinlung. It was Pastor Challiana who mentioned that story 4. It gives us the distinctiveness of the Ralte groups from the other Mizo people no other tribe except the Raltes was mentioned in the Chhinlung theory. We can boastly say that the Raltes are the prominent group of people in the Mizo community.
There is no any specific mention of the Raltes while looking at the history of migration of the Mizos. Their movement from Chhinlung to Kabaw Valley in Burma can be said as the same with that of the whole Mizo people. B.La1thangliana said that our progenitors ( the Raltes) lived in the Kabaw Valley around Khampat Which is situated on the right bank of river Kabaw about 30 miles southeast from the southern comer of Manipur State5.
Around 1277 AD – 1284 AD our ancestors were forced to leave Kabaw Valley in a hurry and moved southward to Chin Hills 6 and settled at different places like Thantlang, Thanhem, Dimpui, Dimlo, Suklui etc. These places can be learnt from the sacrificial songs. It goes like this –
“Lui lamin ka zeltluang lo Chhang ang che…
…Sukluia…a lui lamin ka zeltluang lo chhang ang che”
The first known habitation of the Raltes having their own chiefs were Suaipui, Saihmun or Suaihmun 8, where B.La1thangliana said he saw some ancestral places like Ralte tlang, Ralte bung, Ralte hmun etc. when he Visited these places 9. From Suaipui some of them settled at Khawzim village and some on the bank of river Run. From Khawzim, the Ralte warriors attacked the Hmars who lived at around Champhai and occupied their places. The famous Ralte chief Mangkhaia S/o Mangthawnga was deceived Dara, the Zadeng chief inviting him to follow them outside the Village for valuable gifts. He was then captured and defeated. According to B.Lalthangliana the most famous among the Ralte chiefs were Chalbawka, the Kawlni chief, Kaizawnga and Chawngtuala among the Siakeng chiefs, and Lutmanga among the Khelte chiefs 10.
There was a conflict between the Kawlnis and the Siakeng regarding Sachhiah the portion of an animal taken in the chase given as a due subjects to the chief – normally its shoulder. As they could not settle the dispute they had to declare war between them. But they did not want to kill or harass the innocent women and children, they decided that the selected warrior from both sides should fight, and the stronger would remain the superior. The warrior of the Kawlni Darbungs defeated Suangsapuia, the fighter from the Siakeng group and the Siakeng group was seduced. Later the Siakengs wanted to avenge their defeat, and invited Chawnglula the Pawi chief of Thlanrawn to fight against the Kawlnis. After a ferocious fight the Kawlnis suffered a great loss and they were compelled to flee their place namely Saihmun. In their song they said,
Pawino cha cha hawng thawk a,
Kawlni runin ka suaipui leh
Ka lammual a nuam o ve. 11
The last Ralte chief in the Chin Hills was Siangkeuva, a chief of Darkhai Village. The Government ordered that if he could not have at least 20 (twenty) houses in his Village, his chieftainship should be stopped. As he could not have twenty houses, Lt. Col. Brune, the Chin Hills Superintendent abolished his chieftainship on 10.1.1909. The time that the Raltes crossed the river Ṭiau and entered Mizoram can be calculated as 1745 AD – 1750 AD. From that period Raltes Spread themselves to different places in and outside Mizoram. When the British started to rule in Mizoram in 1890,there were 6 (six) Ralte chiefs in Mizoram 12.
In the 1901 census Ralte population was 13,827 whereas the total population of Mizoram was 76678 that is 18.03% of the whole population. At present Raltes are living not only in Mizoram but also in the surround countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar and in the Northeastem states like Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
A famous Mizo historian, K.Zawla believed that the Raltes are the offsprings of Thahdo clan. One man Ralzina Thahdo had two sons Ralhlaha and Chawngvawna. The descendants of Ralhlaha are Kawlni, Lelhchhun, Siakeng & Khelte sub-tribes and the descendants of Chawngvawna are the Chawngthu sub-tribes. But Lalramzauva Ralte, in his unpublished paper goes farther than the earlier historians. According to him, the earliest known ancestor of the Raltes was Ralkhuma, who was called Raltea as his nickname during his childhood.
As he was called Raltea, his sons and grandsons were known as ‘Raltea thlahte’ which means Raltea’s offsprings and later they were said ‘Ralteho’ or ‘Raltes’. Raltea had 13 (thirteen) sons and his youngest son Ralzina inherited his chieftainship. Ralzina had 7 (seven) sons and among them his youngest son Ralhlaha inherited his father’s position. Ralhlaha had 2 (two) sons Mangkhaia and Zaluna, the younger brother Zaluna inherited their fathers’ chieftainship. Meanwhile Phutchawnga’s son Chawngvawna had created a distinctive story. He was a very influential Khawnbawl (elder) to one Ralte chief. The chief made him the most powerful elder and people called him ‘Chawng thu-a’ which means ‘Mr.Chawnga, the powerful man’. His children and grand children were called ‘Chawng thu-a thlahte’ or the children of Chawng thu-a, and later they are called Chawngthu. At present Chawngthus regard themselves as different tribe-not as, sub-tribes of Raltes. Zaluna was the popular and powerful Ralte chief. He was regarded as the ancestor of the subtribes namely Kawlni and Lelhchhun. After his death, Mangkhaia the elder son of Ralhlaha inherited his position and from him the sub tribes of Siakengs and Kheltes came out. So, the tribe Ralte is now divided into four sub-tribes and each sub-tribe is divided into several sub sub tribes, as follows: Kawlni-24 , Siakeng-33, Khelte-29 and Lelhchhun -13.13
1.Sangkima: Essays on the history of the Mizos p -25
3.Hualngo Literature & Cultural Association: Zofate Chanchin.p-4
4.Pastor Challiana: Hmasang Mizo Awm Dan
5.Brig.CG.Verghese & RL Thanzawna: A History of the Mizos Vol-I p-81
7.B.La1thangliana: Mizo Chanchin p-121
8.Rev.Liangkhaia: Mizo Chanchin p-82
9.B.Lalthangliana: Mizo Chanchin p121
13.Lalramzauva Ralte: Mizo (Ralte) Bul leh Bal unpublished paper.