(Last Updated on : 25/08/2010)
Zou tribes are a less known indigenous community residing along the Indo-Burma border. Zou tribe is officially recognised as Indian Scheduled Tribe
in the state of Manipur. Zou tribal population in the country is estimated to be nearly 20,000 to 25,000, although there are no official records. Zou tribal community is mostly concentrated in and around Churachandpur district
and Chandel district
of this state of North-East India. According to 2001 census report, the Zou population has been ranked as the 10th largest amongst the Scheduled Tribe population in Manipur. Zou language is one of the set Major Indian Languages taught in the high schools and higher secondary schools of the state.
History of Zou Tribe
The history of Zou tribe is not very clear. The Zou tribes have Indo-Chinese origin and the in the local dialect of the Zou people, the name of the tribal group suggests 'human being'. There is a saying among the tribal community that mankind is born from trees, leaves and soil. It is believed that the early history of Zou community is lost in legends and myths. The linguistic and racial evidences imply that they are of Indo-Chinese origin. Linguists said that the Zomi language belongs to Tibeto-Burman language family
. In the South-East Asian region, there had been some dynasties, places and people, which bear the mark, Zou with some variations in spelling. Further, some scholars also suggest that around 200 BC because of regular Chinese attacks, the Zomis probably have moved to the north east of Tibet. The Zou tribe successfully resisted the British invasion and have maintained their culture and indigenous customs.
Language of Zou Tribe
The Zou tribal community has a script of its own, which is known as "Zolai". All the write ups of the Zou tribes are being done using the script. Today, this Zolai script has gained popularity amongst Zou youths who have started to learn the script with lots of enthusiasm and excitement. However, Roman script is the official script that has been used by the Zou population. Even the holy book Bible has been translated in to Zou language making use of Roman script. In Manipur, the literacy rate of the Zou tribes is low and it is around 61.6 percent according to 2001 Census report. It is to be noted that the Zou dialectal group is just a branch of the huge traditional group, namely, Chin-Kuki-Lushai ethnic group.
Culture of Zou Tribe
These Zou tribes, following the trend of the other tribes, too follow Christianity
as their main religion. This Zou community has a plethora of rituals and customs, both religious as well as social, undergo sea change to keep up with the trend of present day modern trends. The Zou people follow ceremonies associated with nature. The Zou tribal society still loyally maintains their old patriarchal structure.
Hunting and agriculture are the major occupation of the Zou tribal people. Modern education system empowered the Zou women to enter today's job market.