The KHYANG

The Khyengs, is one of the indigenous community of Bangladesh living in Chittagong Hill Tracts. They have a strong desire to live in the hilly region and the word ‘Khyeng’ means ‘desire.’. They call themselves ‘hiou.’ Which means ‘floating,’ or ‘nearby.’ They came to this area by floating (water transport) nearby unknown country (Baten . )

Migration:

Many experts say that the Khyengs hailed from the river basins of the Arakan-Yoma valley called Tame Chin of the south or Wild Chin of the north. Several facts about the Khyengs based on different opinions are given bellow:

The Khyengs were believed to start their life in the south and the north Yoma Mountains in Arakan. It is known that they still live in the west of Myanmar’s Akyab, Kyaukpyu and Sandoway districts. Besides, many Khyang families live in the eastern part of Minbu, Theyetmyo, Prome and Henzada districts in the country.

  1. According to Hodgson, three ethnic groups – Khyeng, Khumi and Mrora – constitute the indigenous opulation of the country. They are divided in different clans.
  2. The inhabitants of the Chin Hills are called Khyeng. The Burmese call them ‘Chins’ while the Arakanese ‘Khyeng.’
  3. According to another legend, the Khyengs migrated to this land following a bloody war that took place between the kingdoms of Burma and Arakan. It is said that their leader ‘Thow’ led them to this land to settle down. They are thought to begin their life and culture from the basins of the river Chindwin.
  4. Many say, the Khyengs moved to the region when the Bomang King came to this land. In all likelihood, the Kachin or the Kakhyeng clans, who live in the Kachin hilly areas, are known as the Khyang community.

The Muranza mountain range lies at the western part of the mountainous district of Bandarban. It stretches from the mountain Chunti of Bandarban district, three miles east of Harbhang Bazar in Cox’s Bazar, towards the southeast. Three important branches of the Muranza range are:

  1. Mount Muranza
  2. Naspatang
  3. Basitang

To its south, the mountain Wailatang range which covers a length parallel to the Muranza, reaches Myanmar. The Khyengs are thought to start their life in their present place after roaming around many places in this hilly and densely woodland.

kheyang man Kheyang Man. All Rights Reserved.

It is still unknown exactly when they settled down in the Hill Tracts. But many believe that the Khyengs, who are somewhat nomad by nature, moved to this land while looking for suitable places for jhum cultivation (jhum: a method of cultivation among hill tribes). Captain Lieu found 100 members of the Khyang clan who lived under the Bomang Chief Cercal in 1891. According to the Census 1991, the region had a Khyang population of 1,950. But presently the number reaches 2343, claim the Khyengs.

The places, they now inhabit, include 332 Jhingmarang, 334 Kukyachhari, 335 Dhanuchhari, 336 Arachhari Mouza, Rajasthali upazila, Farua union, Bilaichhari upazila of Rangamati district, Khyang house Chandraghona Mission area of Kaptai district, Roangchhari, Ruma, Chemee Mouza, Thanchi of Bandarban district and Dubachhari, Sanbonia, Ghonarpar, Kalabil, Christian Natunpara, Madhyam Ghungurupara under Chandanaish thana of Chittagong district. It is also found that in the recent past that many families resided in the Harbhang area of Chokoria thana in Cox’s Bazar mainly for jhum cultivation. Some of them went to Agartola in the Indian state of Tripura, deserting this area during British rule in the Indian Subcontinent.

Later, they returned to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It is also known that some of them never returned and chose to live permanently in Tripura. The Khyengs also live in the Indian state of Mizoram where they introduce themselves as ‘Khyeng-te’ instead of Khyeng. Back in 1907, the British missionaries set up a tiny medical centre on the bank of the river Kornaphuli in Chandraghona and extended medical treatment to the local residents. A few Khyang families, who lived here at that time, earned their living from jhum cultivation.

The missionaries, who also preached Christianity along with providing medical service to the inhabitants, urged the Khyengs to help build the hospital. Responding to the request, the Khyengs gave up farming and started working as day-labourers. According to the missionaries, the Khyengs then engaged in menial jobs such as earth-cutting and brick- breaking. Many British families also employed the Khyengs as cook. At present, some 30 to 40 Khyang families live here. Except for four or five families, they possess no officialdocuments against land property.

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