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The Hmar language belongs to the Kuki-Chin group of Tibeto-Burman stock of the great Tibeto-Chinese family of languages. The speakers of the language are also known as Hmar. According to Grierson1 the word Hmar is related to the Chin word /mar/ which among Hakas and other tribes is the name given to Lushais (= now Mizos). In Mizoram, the word Hmar is used to refer to imigrants from Manipur and its meaning in Mizo is said to be ‘north’. Thus, Hmars are a group of people who have come from the north. According to another interpretation2, the word Hmar is a corruption of the word Hmer which is the term given for those who tie their hair in a lock on the nape of the neck. This term of reference was used by other tribes of the Lushai-Kuki-Chin group.
Hmar speakers are scattered over a vast area comprising of Northern Mizoram, South district of Manipur and parts of N.C. Hills and Cachar districts in Assam. There is no homogenous settlement of Hmar speakers alone. Historically, they accepted the dominance of the Duliens but maintained their own language and culture. Although there is close affinity between Hmar and other sister languages of the Kuki-Chin family of language, Hmar is distinct from other languages in pronunciation, intonation and morphological structure. Hmar is a recognised language in the school curriculum of Assam, Manipur and Mizoram.
According to their own belief and tradition the Hmars have come from a place called Sinlung or Chinlung, a place supposed to be somewhere in South Central China. The traditional songs and ballads prevalent among Hmars mention the place of their origin in clear terms as under :
a) kh sínlsùah kt síel a kà zÚo sùok a,
mi: le ne:l lo tam à:é.
‘I sprang up likea bull from Sinlung
   village where there were many people’
b) kà pá: làmtlà:k á thà: á:n dà,
nlú làmtlà:là:k á thà: á:n dà,
‘My father’s way excels, and Sinlung’s
    way also excels.’
There is, however, no written evidences to substantiate this claim.
Some modern authorities3 also ventured to trace the origin of Hmars along the above line of discordances and give some more details. From Sinlung the Hmars are said to have migrated to Shan, a place south of Sinlung. Famine and inhospitable living conditions forced them to migrate further southward. Renowned historians and authorities on South-East Asia also concur the view that due to famine hordes of tribes migrated southward in successive waves4 The Hmar tribe also traveled southward and then westward along with other tribal groups, particularly of the Lushai-Kuki-Chin group and entered India through the present day Mizoram. Pakem (1984) observed that the Hmar group of people traveled with Lushai (=Mizos) and Non-Lushai group; while Lushai (Mizo) group was on the south and the Kuki group was on the north, the Hmar group was in the middle position. The Hmars were further driven north from Lushai hills by the strong Sailo migration. Many fled Mizoram and settled in Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya. Thus, a considerably big and populous tribe, the Hmar remained a scattered group of people till present time. The total number of Hmar speakers are estimated to be little over twenty five thousand.







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