History of Matupi
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times.
Despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
Matupi (Batupuei) is the second capital city, one of the townships of Chin State of West Myanmar, southeast Asia. There are 6 Chin major tribes living in the Matupi township such as Matu, Mara, Dai, Zotung, Lautu and Khumi. Matupi, formerly known as Batupuei or Batu Village before it was promoted to the status of township, occupies a large portion of land and includes over 100 major villages in the southern part of Chin State. According to some local experts from Batu tribe, who settlement in Ngala ward, the name Matupi is derived from Batupuei (Badupi); however, due to misreading of the spellings: Ba into Ma and Puei into Pi in Burmese characters, however this theory is kept in discussion. Matupi appeared to be the widely used name without any historical significance in its terminology. The Matupi (Chin) tribe is one of the biggest tribes among the Kuki-Chin-Mizo. From the very beginning of all the Chins, including Kuki, Mizo, Zomi, Naga, Laimi, and Asho, Kcho and Khumi lived on the hillsides or riverbanks, constituting villages or groups. Among the villages, Matupi (formerly known as Batu Village) was the biggest and most populous. The British Gazette mentioned that there were over 1,000 houses including paddy barns in the village of Batupuei in the period between 1900 and 1930. Hakha book recorded that during those days “Matupi” was the biggest and most populous village in the Chin Hills.
Batupuei refers to the inhabitants of Matupi, Chin State, Myanmar (Burma). Batu is an ethnic group in Southern Chin State, descendants of Batu, the first settler at Batu village; the group is also referred to as Batupuei— Batu being the name of a person (later it is known as a tribe) and ‘Puei’ meaning “great”. The tribe migrated from Central Burma (Myanmar) or northern Matupi after moving place to place as the Chin people migrated from China. Kachin and Chin were siblings who were from Mongoloid in China. Some Chin people settled along the Chindwin River and Central Burma (Myanmar), while some continued to find the place too mountainous area and hilly. Those Chin People who lived in plain areas called themselves “Asho Chin” and those settling in Western Burma (Myanmar) called themselves “Hilly Chin”. This Batu tribe is one of the Chin tribes which originated in Mongolian who were living on the delta of the Chindwin River, but then moved to western Burma. There were three other members among their siblings and Batu is one of them. Others are Lungngo or Tingpaw and Thaiphum. Each of them are settled in the present places and areas. This particular place became Batupuei, which was named Matupi officially later. These are the four wards in Matupi: Ngala Ward, Longvan ward, Khoboi ward, and Cangbong ward. Among these ward Ngala, Longvan and Khoboi ward are the major places where the following clans reside: Yungpoeih, Laithang, Tuimuk, Taknan, Rhinguet, Takluem, Thintuep, Hmanrhing, Thanghul, Rhalawk, Sampok, Tlungmaa, Thangkhoeng, Oitoe and Longla. These fourteen clans are called Batu. They speak the same language, Batu or Batupuei. This Batupuei (Matupi) is a main centre for all Matu people. Whenever the people of Batupuei shot wild animals such as tiger, bear and boar, they will call proudly saying “Khuih Haihdamca”, showing the significance of their own braveness, glory and ability.
The occupants in Matupi township is very diverse with many different Chin tribes residing in the area, thus making Matupi township a very popular place to be throughout Chin State. In the Matupi township, there are 6 major tribes namely Matu, Dai, Zotung, Lautu, Khumi and Mara (Miram). All these major tribes in the Matu township have their own unique culture and language, which is common in Chin State. For example, However, all these tribes also speak the Matupi language (“Nga La“) dialect to communicate with the locals and majority of occupants in Matupi. According to 2009 registration, the total population of Matupi township was 50,580 and 6,630 houses in Matupi township. However the occupants of people in Matupi has increased overtime. The four wards in Matupi are Longvan ward, Ngala ward, Khoboi ward, and Cangbong ward.
The people in Matu speak several Matupi dialects, and they generally call those dialects as “Matupi ol” or ”Matu Lai”. Almost all the tribes of Matupi have their own dialect or language. The traditional languages do not have any script of their own. The Christian Missionaries used Roman script for these languages. Along with Chin Dialects in Myanmar, the Matupi dialect is distinctive, therefore some words are the same with other Chin dialects. However, the most common Matu dialect spoken in Matupi is the “Nga La” dialect, as the main occupants are the Batu people. The people of Matupi village call themselves “Matupi” (pronounced locally as Batupuei ). Most commonly used Matupi greetings are: “How are you doing?” (Na sa ding ah?) or “Have you eaten rice?” (Buh na caak coeng ah?). Other common sentences are “I thirst water” (Tui ka hal), “Have you slept?” (Na ip coeng ah), “Have u arrived?” (Na pha coeng ah) or “You are taking long” (Na rau lai), which is the Batu dialect or known as “Nga La” dialect. Among Chin Dialects in Myanmar, Matupi Chin dialect is unique. Some words are the same with other Chin dialects. Commonly, one type of Chin dialect can communicate with another type of Chin dialect (Haka dialect can be understood by Htantlang, Tiddim dialect can be used to communicate with Ton Zang dialect, etc.). The Matu dialect is moderate to learn and can be quite easy for some Chins to learn as it has similarity here and there with all other Chin dialects.
Matupi is rich in plant life and vegetation. About one-eighth of Matupi is covered by tropical and sub-tropical forests, containing palm and bamboo among others. Areas of the forest have been cleared for cultivation but many scrub forests, high grass areas and reeds remain. Dogs, pangolin, porcupines, tigers, leopards, bears, many species of monkeys, and other species thrive across the region forests. The hornbill is one of the most famous birds found in the forests of Matupi township.
Agriculture is the most essential and profitable industry in the Matupi Township, employing more than 90% of the population. The usual crops include rice, wheat, corn, millet, pulses, oilseeds, coffee, oranges, damson, potatoes, and natural fibres. However, Matupi still depends on the import of rice supplies from the lowlands. Although the primary occupation is agriculture, it is not well developed due to the scarcity of large valleys and plains. Shifting cultivation is still prevalent. Terraced cultivation is slowly being introduced along the hillsides. Due to difficult terrain, human labor is the main driving force of work done. Teak and other hardwoods are found at elevation below 900 meters. Above 900 meters there are oaks and pines. Teak, pines, canes, resin and turpentine are important forest products. Since electricity is not available in most villages, people depend on the wood for cooking. Forestry is also an imperative resource of income.
The whole region is made up of high hills and deep valleys, and there is hardly any plain or plateau. Matupi township measures about 68 miles (109 km) from north to south, 47 miles (76 km) from east to west. It has an area of about 2,316.8 square miles (6,000 km2). The township sits at 3,560 feet (1,090 m) above sea level. The highest mountain located in the township is Awtaraw Mountain (9,009 feet), and the second highest is Lukil Mountain standing at (8,408 feet), followed by Mount Kaisitlang, which is also in the region.
Most streams in the township are fed by water from the hills and mountain ranges. The famous rivers of the township are Bunglong (Lemro) and Bawinu Rivers. The streams or rivers contain rapids and whitewater, thus are not suitable for navigation. Only small boats and canoes can travel in certain sections, mainly downstream. The famous streams are Pengsawng, Kadi, Leatsa, Tilak, Tisi and Vawmpu Streams. Bungtla waterfall, the famous waterfall of Chin state, is located in Matupi township. Awisi lake, well known in Matupi township, is located near Rhueng village.
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