Contributed by: Sahiinii L Veikho
The origin of Poumai is often narrated to be at Makhel (also known as Khiaphü, in a few Poula dialects) along with several other tribes, based on oral tradition. Poumai means ‘the people of Pou’, where Pou is the progenitor. To some extent, the recent past of the Poumai are known from the elders in the villages--in particular, the migration routes from Makhel to present villages. Prior to Makhel, it’s unclear how the tribes who had settled at Makhel came from. Probable migration patterns are discussed based on the latest findings (Genetics, Linguistics, Anthropology and Archeology) to shed more light about the past of Poumai Naga. This blog discusses the prehistory of Poumai Naga, focusing on the origin of life and migration routes.
2 Origin of life
2.1 The great grandmother myth
According to a Poumai Naga tradition, the concept of ‘origin of life’ is not abiogenesis (the theory that life evolved from nonliving chemical systems). Life began from a created being- -the great grandmother. The self-existent being was ‘the great grandmother’ called ‘pai’. After she was impregnated by a cloud, Pai birthed three sons: mai ‘Man’, khao ‘Animal’ and ramai ‘Spirit’. In this etiological myth, Pai equates as the creator.
Pai prefered Man. The days Man stayed to take care of Paí, she felt safe and happy. However, on those days when Animal and Spirit nursed her, her health grew weak, and she felt unsafe. This was because Animal touched her body with an intention to eat her (when she would be dead), and Spirit used supernatural power for getting things done, which made her feverish and dizzy. Over time, a conflict arose among the three sons about who would be the heir when Paí died. They decided to have a race to solve the conflict. In the race, they agreed whoever touched the egg would inherit Paí’s land and property. Knowing the fact Man cannot run as fast as Animal and Spirit, Paí gave Man a sling with the idea to shoot the egg before the other two sons could reach the egg. In this way, Man won the race and he became the heir.
This myth ‘origin of life’ of Poumai Naga (and other tribes) is convincing as there are commemorative monuments based on the myth at Makhel. The monument of this myth is erected and preserved at Makhel village (a Mao village), in Senapati, Manipur, northeast India. Figure (1) is the monument for Pai, and the three stones in figure (2) represent the man, spirit and animal respectively. It is most likely that this myth had been narrated even before the Poumai Nagas (and other tribes) migrated to Makhel.
The location where the myth took place is not explicit, though a commemorative tree (a banyan tree) is still preserved at Makhel village (see figure 3). The concept of ‘origin of life’ from the myth connotes that life originates through ‘Pai’ (the self-existing being). The myth explains that humans are descended from the son 'mai', animals are descended from the son 'khao’, and spirits are descended from the son ‘ramai’. A few brief documentations about the myth are available (Thohe Pou 2007, Mao 2009, Nepuni 2010 and Veikho 2019:), though the mythological analysis in the works is not comprehensive.
2.2 Who was the first Poumai?
An ignorant question to ask would be ‘who was the first Poumai?’. ‘Pou’ is believed to be the first Poumai, where the term ‘Poumai’ means the people or descendant of Pou; ‘Pou’ is the name of a person and ‘mai’ means people. Moreover, Pou is also believed to be the progenitor of the Mao tribe (Meo) and other Naga tribes (Thohe Pou 2007: 59). Etymologically, the word ‘pou’ is father. Hence, the progenitor Pou could simply mean ‘father’ and not a person’s name. And it would be nonsense to say that Pou had no parents, as Pou is not a self-existent being like God. Similarly, Pou’s parents too had progenitors. So technically, the first Poumai would be the first human (Adam, according to the Bible) on this planet.
A more logical question to ask would be about the ancestors who spoke the ancient Poula (remember, a language keeps changing)—narrowing down from the first human being to immediate ancestors. A language points out a specific group of people. Importantly, language and culture are intertwined. Let us consider the Poumai Naga as a distinct group of people, based on language. In fact, the identity of a group (or a tribe) is primarily based on the language they speak and the culture they follow. Linguistically, Poula is classified under the Angami-Pochuri clade of the Trans-Himalayan language family (aka Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Burman) (Veikho 2019). Since Poula is a Trans-Himalayan language, the speakers of the Pro-Trans-Himalayan language (ancient Poula) would also be the ancestors of Poumai Naga too. Furthermore, Poula is grouped under the Angami-Pochuri clade (of the Trans-Himalayan family) based on language relatedness--and this classification also agrees with the cultural affinity as Poumais is considered to be one of the Tenyimia tribes (based on oral traditions). Such classifications are called genetic classification of languages. Genetic classification of a language family shows how languages are developed from the same ancestor (proto-language). Historical linguists have developed a careful set of procedures termed the ‘comparative method’ to infer ancestral states, based on language relatedness. Languages (like genes, cultural materials and cultural practices) are also ‘documents of history’. Below we shall look into how the speakers of the Proto-Trans-Himalayan (ancestors of Poumai Naga) originated and migrated.
3 Migration routes
3.1 The first migration
There are two views to understand the first wave of migration. 1) In the Bible, one of the commandments for humans was to ‘fill the earth’ (to migrate); see, Genesis (1:29). If Adam and Eve are original ancestors, the first migration wave would be moving out of the garden in Eden. However, the location of the garden is still not known—though many speculate the location to be in southern Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq), based on the four rivers listed in the Genesis (Pishon, Gihon, Chidekel and Phirat) in association with the garden. 2) While scholars in the field of genetics have proposed that human beings (Homo sapiens) originated in Africa (about 200 thousand years ago), however the findings on the paths and time of migrations vary (Bae et al. 2017, Chan et al. 2019). A map showing early and later pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene is figure (4). In both the views, there is one thing that is in common: human beings migrate. The next Poumai Naga ancestors would be the speakers of Proto-Trans-Himalayan.
3.2 Migration of Trans-Himalayan speakers
3.2.1 Geographical location
The speakers of the Trans-Himalayan languages have the same origin. The Trans-Himalayan language family is one of the world’s largest and most prominent families, spoken by nearly 1.4 billion people. Most of the speakers of Trans-Himalayan languages live within China, but most of the individual Trans-Himalayan languages are spoken exclusively outside of China (see figure 5). The Himalayan mountain range encompasses an unparalleled landscape featuring some of the planet’s highest peaks providing a formidable barrier separating the Tibetan plateau from the Indian subcontinent. The region also constitutes an ethnic and linguistic contact zone as it marks a crossroad of three different religions (Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) and two language families (Indo-European and Trans-Himalayan). The geo- political partitioning of Tran-Himalayan speaking groups include Tibet, Nepal, Northeast India, Bhutan, Burma and parts of Southeast Asia.
A list of the daughter languages of the proto-Trans-Himalayan is given in figure (6). The ancestors of Poumai Naga (and the speakers of the Trans-Himalayan languages) once spoke the Proto-Trans-Himalayan; a proto-language is the ancestral language or parental language of a language family, before the family started to diverge into the attested daughter languages. So, the next immediate ancestor of Poumai Naga would be the speakers of Pro- Trans-Himalayan, after moving out from Africa or after the event of ‘Tower of Babel’. Figure (6) is the ‘Fallen leaves model’ proposed by van Driem (2014) to represent the daughter languages of the Proto-Trans-Himalayan. Each leaf consist of one daughter language, where a daughter language may consist of one distinct language (like Meithei) or a clusters of similar languages (eg. Angami-Pochuri).
4 Homeland for Proto Trans-Himalyan speakers
There are two hypotheses of the origin of the Trans-Himalayan language family: ‘southwestern- origin hypothesis’ and the ‘northern-origin hypothesis’.
4.1 Southwestern-origin hypothesis
One of the hypotheses is the speakers of Proto-Trans-Himalayan originated from northeast India around 9000 years ago–as this area presents the most diverse Trans-Himalayan languages (Blench and Post 2014), see figure (7). According to this theory, the diversification of the Naga and related peoples through vegeculture can be placed at around 6000–5000 years ago and the beginnings of livestock production in the Himalayas immediately after this. They also claim that foragers (who will become the Naga complex) began to practice vegeculture (taro, plantains) in northeast India and animal management (mithun) by 6000 years ago. At the same time, the primary movement eastward towards China (i.e expansion of Chinese dialects) was estimated to be around 4500–4000 years ago. Seasonal foragers exploit the high Tibetan Plateau from 7500 years ago. The earliest speakers of Trans-Himalayan were expected to be highly diverse foragers living in an arc between the eastern slopes of the Himalayas and regional lowland jungles.
However, James Matisoff (1991) proposed that the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau was the homeland for Trans-Himalayan speakers, around 4000 BC (6000 years ago), and various groups migrated out down the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Brahmaputra rivers. Similarly, George van Driem (2005) proposes that Trans-Himalayan originated in the Sichuan Basin before 7000 BC (or before 9000 years ago), with an early migration into northeast India, and a later migration north of the predecessors of Chinese and Tibetic, see figure (8).
4.2 Northern-origin hypothesis
The northern-origin hypothesis states that the initial expansion of Trans-Himalayan languages occurred approximately 4,000– 6,000 years before present in the Yellow River basin of northern China (Sagart et al. 2019b), see figure (9). Their findings point to Trans-Himalayan originating with north Chinese millet farmers around 7200 years ago and suggest a link to the late Cishan and the early Yangshao cultures; the finding are primarily based on linguistic analysis of words such as foxtail millet, pig, sheep, rice plant, cattle, and horse in a few Trans-Himalayan languages, in relation to genetic and archaeological findings. Among them, foxtail millet (found in Cishan in north China) is carbon dated to be 8700 BC (Lu, Houyuan, et al. 2009). According to elders (and also based on oral narrations), Poumai in past cultivated foxtail millet (Siithou [sə́tʰəu]), not rice. Rice cultivation is a new tradition. And data (both linguistics and genetics) of Poumai’s foxtail millet are yet to be analyzed. This hypothesis opposed the ‘southwestern-origin hypothesis’, proposing that Trans-Himalayan diversity in India and Nepal may had been boosted by intimate contact with very divergent and mostly extinct non–Trans-Himalayan languages. However, sadly, in such analysis, northeast Indian languages are often not accounted for (or only a few are taken into account)–-though the northeast India dwells the highest number of Trans-Himalayan languages.
5 Angami-Pochuri speakers to Makhel
Though not all Naga tribes, oral traditions of Tynemia tribes (including Poumai Naga, Mao, Angami, Chokri, Kheza, Pochury, Rengma, Zeliang) mentioned their recent route of migration to Makhel. According to folk songs, People who departed/migrated from Makhel passed through deimao [dəimao], settled at khousii [khəusə] and siirei [səɹəi]–before they came to Makhel.
Moreover, it must be noted that Poumais (along with other tribes) had settled in and around Makhel from the late 1st century AD (around 1900 years ago). According to oral traditions, the indigenous people of Meitei had settled in Makhel too, before migrating to the Imphal area. From several earlier sources, Ningthou Pakangba was a famed King (perhaps the first King too) during the during the early 1st century AD (Roy 1958: 22; Dave 1980:6; Chingtamlen 2005:1; Sana 2010:1).
5.1 Settling at Khousii
Khousii is the oldest mentioned location (in oral tradition) before migrating to Makhel. A few elders mentioned that Khousii is located near Kihura Khesho village (behind the barabasti ‘big village’) in Kohima, Nagaland. The name of the place khousii [kʰəusə] (also called khesho in Angami) has a close link with an old stone at the Khesho village of Nagaland, bordering Manipur state. Khousii is a compound of the two morphemes, khou ‘knee’ and sii ‘press’. At Khousii, the king and queen of Poumai Naga remained seated inside the house, as moving freely out of the house for king and queen was nu ‘taboo or forbidden’. The restriction could be due to headhunting practices, which were at their zenith. Due to prolonged sitting on a stone in the same position for many years, the shape of the knees, elbows and genitals of both the great grandmother and the great grandfather had appeared on the stone. It is reported that the stone was still found a few years back in the village of Khesho in Kohima, Nagaland.
Another interesting event at Khousii was the encounter of taiti ‘house bird’. Poumai ancestors met the bird taiti at Khousii. Taiti used to come and take shelter at the roof of the house, straight above the door. The king had blessed taiti to live alongside with all his future generations. Until today, villagers believe that Taiti is the protector of the house and is forbidden to kill.
Before reaching Makhel, it is often narrated by elders that the ancestors of Poumai passed through Maoswnamai land in search of a favorable place to survive. Maoswnamai (also known as sii rei dei ‘wood river and land’) locates near Mao village at Senapati, Manipur. While passing towards Maoswnamai, the people saw a bright stone (like a diamond) that had fallen from a higher altitude towards them; elders of the village report that the stone was seen during their last visit a few years back in Maoswnamai region, (in the village called Kidinamai) which marked the land boundary between the Angami land of Nagaland and Maoswnamai land of Manipur. Next, the people reached a place called Thephii ‘dry land’, within Maoswnamai land. The place Thephii ‘dry land’ is famous as a ‘place of no food’. This is because this dry land is not suitable for cultivation. There is a famous saying by parents and elders in the villages to younger ones: ‘child, if you are lazy, you will be in Thephii ‘dry land”.
5.2 From Makhel to present locations
Makhel is the last resettling place for the Poumai Nagas (and other tribes), before moving to present villages. After dwelling for many years in and around Makhel, the ancestors of Poumai Nagas (along with other tribes) migrated to present locations. According to oral tradition, the Poumai ancestors planted a pear tree before they parted, see figure (10). The falling of branches from the pear tree signifies a bad omen. In the past, if any branches of the pear’s tree fell, all the tribes that had departed from Makhel had to observe that particular day by refraining from work. Until today, people are forbidden to break or cut the branches of this tree. The people believe that anybody who cuts down any branches will die, and heavy rain and storm will come to the areas.
Most probably, the migration from Makhel to present old Poumai Naga villages was gradual. From Makhel, a few ancestors of Poumais went to Siimai village (Saranamai) to settle and dispersed further from there, according to most village elders. Similarly, many Poumais also went to Naamai village (also known as Koide village). Before Naamai village was established, the people of the present Lepaona circle were all called Nahaina (or Nadumai); this is evident in many folk songs. We could estimate that the people of Naamai migrated to current location (Koide village) around 1000 years ago–-this estimation is based on the names of the grandfathers (name of 17 eldest sons) remembered by some elders at Koide and Oinam village (Poumai Naga villages). Resettling and migration still continue to today. For example, the people of Oinam (Onaeme). In the past, people of Oinam lived in Oinam village. However the people of Oinam migrated further and established two new villages, Ngamju village and Tingsong village. Now, there are about 60 Poumai Naga villages located in Senapati district of Manipur, and a few villages in Phek district of Nagaland.
6 Poumai a Naga tribe
The ethnonym Naga has a long complex history, and much has been published about which groups have designated themselves as Naga. Studying the history of Ahom Kingdom in the 13th century (after 1201 AD), who came from Thailand, we note that the term ‘Naga’ had been used to call the tribes in the hills. Etymologically, the label ‘Naga’ is not a native term, but a label introduced by outsiders. A widely accepted explanation is that the word ‘Naga’ refers to different forms of assamese ‘noga’ or sanskrit/Hindi ‘nanga’ meaning ‘naked’ (van Driem 2008; Kumar 2005:23-24). Though the present Naga languages do not represent as a subgroup under Trans-Himalayan, the language communities have the right to consider themselves Naga. Recently, the label ‘Naga’ had been politicalized–-particularly while competing with labels like ‘Kuki’. Labels like ‘Naga’ and ‘Kuki’ do not represent the name of progenitors. Even the term ‘Kuki’ is believed to be derived from the Baluchi (a language spoken in western Pakistan) word ‘kuchi’ (meaning, ‘nomadic’ or ‘wandering’) (Gangte 1986:42, as cited in VanBik 2009:2). The label ‘Naga’ was first used during the reign of Ahom kingdom in the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam, and later introduced in literature by western scholars. The Poumai tribe is officially recorded as ‘Poumai Naga’ by the government of India.
Considering the above analysis, Poumai ancestors (speaking Proto-Trans-Himalayan) had migrated to northeast India or Sichuan (or northern part of China) mostly probably 7000 years ago, after they migrated out from Africa or Babylon where Tower Babel was built (speculated to be in modern Iraq). However, the Poumai ancestors who spoke a language similar to current Poula language structure, most likely, lived in and around Makhel. Another evidence is that Poumai ancestors had migrated to Makhel during 1 century AD (1900 years ago), considering the Ningthou Pakangba dynasty in Manipur.
Homeland for the Pro-Trans-Himalayan speakers (ancient ancestors of Poumai Naga) is still not not conclusive–-as discussed above. The fact is, linguistic, archeological and genetic studies in northeast India are still at initial phase. More research works in the near future in northeast India would let us know more about 'Proto-Trans-Himalayan’ speakers homeland. However, the above analysis clears several wrong assumptions about the Poumai Naga (the Naga tribes). One of the wrong assumptions would be ‘Nagas belong to mongoloid stock’ (Shimary 2007 :23); claiming that Poumai Naga are a Mongoloid race would infer that Poumais were the descendents of Genghis Khan. There are no archeological and linguistic findings that indicate a genetic relation between the Naga tribes (Pro-Trans-Himalayan speakers) and the Mongolian. So, ‘Nagas belong to mongoloid stock’ is an illogical claim. In fact, the concept 'Mongoloid race' was introduced by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in his PhD thesis (1775) to call the 'yellow' people (as cited in van Driem 2018); basically, the writer based his choice of words on physical appearance. Similarly, tracing the origin of Naga tribes to Igorot tribe in the Philippines based on the criteria of ‘Headhunting’ does not merit enough. This is because the languages spoken by Filipinos are genetically unrelated, and moreover headhunting tradition was widely practiced worldwide by several tribes, in parts of Oceania, South Asia and Southeast Asia, West and Central Africa, Mesoamerica, and Europe.
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Reading a document in Poula is tough. Unlike reading an English text, a Poula text compels a reader to re-read the lines several times in order to understand it. There are two crucial reasons for this. First, tones are not marked on graphemes. Inconsistent use of graphemes for a few consonants and vowels is the second reason. In this article I provide a few constructive criticisms--anticipating the views will be useful.
Materials in Poula (including the Poula Bible) differ due to amateurish koineization (mixing of dialects), which could confuse a new learner even more. The first orthography of Poula was devised by the Bible Society of India (BSI) using the Latin script. In fact, the first translation project of Poula Bible was initiated in 1982 by the Bible Society of India. In the project, the BSI worked closely with the PNBA committee (Poumai Naga Baptist Association, an association founded in 1978). In 1992 the New Testament in Poula was published, where Rev. R. Tennyson was the kingpin who worked closely with BSI. Subsequently, the Old Testament was published in 2009, where Mr. D. Elias Poukai collaborated with the BSI. The outputs of the translation project are a huge achievement for the community, though the outputs still need improvements. The Poula Bible seems to exhibit two varieties--if you compare the New Testament with the Old Testament. Recently, the Poumai Literature society (initially known as Poumai Literature Committee), under the leadership of Miss P.S. Khoru, attempted to update the Poula orthography. However, not much improvement is seen. They failed to adopt one crucial rule: a grapheme must represent only one phoneme in every context. Another notable success was the recognition of Poula as one of the first language subjects for the Board of Secondary Education Manipur in 2013. Without delay, the Poumai Literature society took the task to develop Poula textbooks with little resources. After five years of research and writing, the Poumai Literature society submitted the final draft of the textbooks in the late 2018 to the Board of Secondary Education Manipur for approval. Subsequently, the government of Manipur approved the textbooks for class IX and X to start teaching from 2019 academic session. On the 18th February 2019, the Poumai Literature society published four textbooks for class IX and X. This is a huge accomplishment for the community. The community needs to appreciate this achievement. I urge the community to reward the team for their selfless effort.
Poula writing system still needs standardisation. Not specifying the tone on every vowel grapheme is a crucial problem (a grapheme is the smallest unit of a writing system of a language). In addition, there are inconsistent use of vowel and consonant graphemes for the corresponding phoneme (a phoneme is a perceptually distinct unit of sound in a language that distinguish one word from another). For appropriateness, I illustrate only a few irregularities here. Poula experts use the grapheme ‘ü’ or ‘ii’ for the phoneme /ə/ . However, there is inconsistency in the use of the grapheme ‘ü’ for the phoneme /ə/. For example take the page 3, section 2 (a) of the book “Poula Sourevah Zhatao-I” (class IX textbook), the word “Tsükhaisüo nou’’. Phonetically, the word “Tsükhaisüo nou’’ is pronounced as [tsəkʰaisəo nəu]. This example shows that the grapheme ‘ü’ [ə] could represent the phoneme /o/, see the word “nou’’ [nəu]. Similarly, the phoneme /ə/ presents the grapheme “e” in the word “pei” [pəi] ‘head’; however, the grapheme “e” represents the phoneme /e/ in a word like “ne” [ne] ‘you’. The grapheme “ss” in words like “ssühai” and “ssüvei” on page 9 (second paragraph last line) of the book “Poula Sourevah Zhatao-I” (class IX textbook) is an odd representation when compared with other environments. Such inconsistencies must be avoided in a standardised orthography. In addition, the use of double vowels (such as ‘aa’ and ‘ee’) for words like “sheeju” pronounced as [ɕiʑy] ‘clean’ (in the word “Sheeyu Baibel”, see online Poula Bible’s website); probably this use is to mark a tone. However, the use of double vowel letters is not at all consistent, and is not followed for all the vowel letters. Sequences like “ii”, “oo” and “uu’’ are not used in the current orthography--though every syllable in Poula carries a specific tone. It appears that the grapheme “h” is used at coda positions occasionally to represent a tone. Probably, this idea is taken from a language like Tangkhul (or Kuki-Chin languages) where tones are restricted in nature. In restricted tone languages, using a grapheme like “h” is useful because in most cases the specific tone is understood from the context. Poula is different. Like Angami (and Mandarin chinese), Poula demonstrates an unrestricted tone system with five lexical tones. For this, every syllable must be marked with one of the five tones for readers. Even in the latest publications, tone marking, diphthongs representation and consonants representation are not consistent.
To develop an orthography of a language, the phonology of the language must be first understood (sound rule of the language). In a language like Poula, a grapheme must represent only one phoneme in every context. The Latin script is a writing system used to write many modern-day languages. In the use of this script, new graphemes are added or omitted. For instance, the “w” consonant (a voiced labial-velar approximant /w/) did not exist in Latin. English also adopted the Latin alphabet (like Poula orthography). So there was no grapheme for the /w/ sound in Old English. The scribes used the symbol ‘uu’ to represent the /w/ sound and latter the ‘uu’ symbol was written a ‘‘w’’ (double ‘u’). The alternation is solely based on the phonology of the language. Importantly, the rules of using the Latin graphemes are never identical for all languages--though they use the same script. Latin script is just a script (say like the Meitei mayek). To use Latin script for a language like Poula, the script needs additional fonts, particularly for tones. In meetings, Poula experts naively use ‘English orthography’ as a point of reference to resolve debates over spelling variations (or pronunciation). This method will only result more inconsistency in the system. Because, Poula and English are two extremely different languages: English is an Indo-European language and Poula is a Trans-Himalayan language (aka Tibeto-Burman). The rules of using graphemes in Poula must be based on the phonology (sound rules in the language) of Poula.
There are two possible solutions to make reading Poula text easy. In both the possible solutions, the orthography must be invented using the phonemic inventory of Poula (Phonology)--where a grapheme must represent only one phoneme in every context. First, we can still use the Latin script to standardised the Poula orthography. However, the prescriptive grammarians will need to use additional fonts to mark the tones. Diacritics may be used for tone marking. Most importantly, the invention of the orthography should not be based on how the Latin scripts are used in English orthography. Using of Latin scripts could be more user friendly if the orthography is standardised. Second, we can develop a new script for Poula--which can be done easily. There are pros and cons for this solution. Learning to read Poula in new graphemes could be hard initially for adults--although it could be introduced at school conveniently. Eventually, the old literature in Poula will need to be converted into the new orthography, which could be costly. A benefit for having a script of its own is, the script will become one of the prime identities of the tribe. The script of a language plays a vital role in social identity. Whichever script we choose, Poula could still gain scholarship even at Indian universities in due course of time--if a standardised writing system is implemented. This is because we have a huge number of speakers. For this, of course, the speakers need to write and produce enough literature in Poula--not in English. The standardised writing system should be able to write any word of the dialects spoken in Poumai Naga villages--including Oinam (Ngimai), Ngamju and Khongdei (dumai).
Lack of promotion and lack of standardised orthography have led to regular errors about Poumai Naga in print media---including even the tribe’s name ‘Poumai Naga’. Sadly, native village names are still not recognised by the government, but the official names of Poumai Naga villages (eg. Koide ‘Naadumai or Naamai’, Phuba ‘Khyoubuh or Phyamai’ and Purul ‘hiimai’) are labelled in non-native terms; most likely these names were given using manipuri language as Poula had no orthography. In addition, using an unstandardised orthography restricts keen individuals who want to pen the rich oral traditions in Poula. Hence, there is no progress in Poula literature. It will be a waste of resources to publish a significant Poula literature--before a standardised writing system is invented. Who will want to read an unintelligible book?
Dr. Sahiinii L Veikho
(Published on Herald Today on the 17th December 2019)