Kuki Tribe is a generic term used for a number of mixed groups of people who have migrated into India through Myanmar from Central Asia. In India, they are best identified as Kukis. The name of Kuki Tribe is also mentioned in ancient Indian literature
like the Vedas
, Indian Puranas
, and many of these Mongoloid groups are believed to be indigenous to the region. Some eminent researchers believe that the Kuki people, however, may migrated from China and Tibet to the sub-Himalayas mountain
region of north-eastern India and north-western Myanmar. These tribes speak Tibeto-Burman dialects. Today the Kukis are spread in Northeast India, Northwest Burma and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.
Being of mongoloid stock people of Kuki tribe are strongly built in features and are stout. They are patriarchal in social organization and the sons inherit the property. Marriage among the Kukis is monogamous and cross-cousin marriage is preferred. Kukis prefer to live on the hilltops and their villages are cluster of houses closely constructed. The village headman exercises considerable power in their day-to-day life affairs. Kukis adhere to their old customs, laws and habits, which their illustrious ancestors adopted from time immemorial.
Kuki tribal people grow dwarf cotton and spun yarns for their own use. The men folk prefer colourful Sangkhol, a jacket and a pheichawm (short lungi or dhoti) and wrap a chaddar that is sometimes embroidered like a snakeskin. The women of this tribal group adorn themselves with a nih-san (red slip) underneath a wrap around which was worn from above the chest. The ornaments included bilba (earrings), hah-le-chao (bracelets and bangles), khi (necklace) and occasionally bilkam (a type of ring shaped earring to stretch the ear lobe.
Both men and women of Kuki tribal group enjoy smoking from their intricately crafted pipes. Those made from stones and brass-metal is Sumeng golong, only made from brass-metal is Sum thin golong and those craved out of wood with a brass spout is called Gojung golong. After the harvest is over, the Kukis observe the Chavang kut festival at the country-yard of the village headman.
They perform traditional dances like Jongchalam, Malkanglam, etc. to the tune of their traditional musical instruments - Khuong, Dahbo, Pheipit, Gosem, Dah-pi, Dah-cha, Pengkul, theile, theiphit, selki etc. Other festivals of Kuki tribe are Mim Kut, Sa-ai, Chang-Ai, Hun, Chawn le Han, etc. The participating families wear their traditional dresses Sangkhol, Khamtang, Ponmonvom, saipikhup and the male folk adorn with Sangkhol, Delkop etc. The harvest season is always a time for festivities, dancing and singing. Sagolpheikhal is a dance form to express victory in war or in successful group hunting. Kuki tribe has their indigenous traditions and conventions.