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The notes on Cheitharon Kumpapa (CK, henceforth) below are on the first half of the sixteenth century. The attempt is to understand the feudal system that existed between 1500 and 1550 CE, the culture and the lives of the people. 

Feudal Lords and Feuds 

The Ningthouja dynasty gained significant control over a large part of Imphal Valley in the first half of the sixteenth century. However, the Aangom clan, though subservient and matrimonially related to Ningthoujas, opposed them often and even made attempts to dethrone their Ningthouja overlords. The entry for the year 1510 CE in CK talks about a conflict between the two. It records: 

“While Meetingu [lord of the Meeteis] Koirempa (1508-1511 CE) was celebrating the Hiyankei boat race, it was reported that he had beaten his wife Wanuwangpi, the Meetei Reima. The news reached her father Aangoupampa Loicha Ngampa, the king of Aangom, and he was angry. The king of Aangom prevented his daughter (from returning to her husband) while (he was) hosting a feast at Langmeipung (which she attended). Meetingu Koirempa forbade Aangoupampa Loicha Ngampa from being crowned as king of the Aangoms and expressed his anger against him… Aangom was devastated. They were searching for Aangoupa Loicha Ngampa.”

It is clear from the above passage that the chief of Aangoms did not cow down to Meetingu Koirempa’s authority. In the middle of the first half of the sixteenth century, another conflict broke out, the then chief of Aangom, Aangoupampa Kyampa made an attempt to the throne. The chief of Aangom married the wife of Meetingu Lam Kyamba (1512-1523), Chaningphabi, after his death in 1523 CE. CK records: 

“When Aangoupampa Kyampa decorated himself with Ureksek Chasangpa (egret feather dyed in red), Chaningphabi, the queen of the Meeties, told him that he, who belonged to the house of Aangom, was not entitled to wear it. Aangoupampa Kyampa was angry at this and he killed both Nongyinphapa and his mother.”

The chief of Aangom killed Chaningphabi and her son, Nongyinphaba, who became Meetingu at the age of ten in 1523 CE after his father Lam Kyamba’s death. CK records that in 1540 CE, Meetingu Kapompa, (1524–1542 CE), half brother of Nongyinphapa, took his “revenge” indicating that Kapompa killed Aangoupampa Kyampa for killing Chaningphabi and Nongyinphapa. The royal scribes writing CK made generous descriptions on how the conflict between the chiefs of Aangom and Meetingu-s erupted whenever the two fought. However, such is not the case when Meetingu fought or raided Kansoi, Khoipu, Chakpa Pungpun or Sairem. We find no elaborations or justifications on why Meetingu attacked them. Further, the names of the chiefs of Aangom, their births, their coronations and births of their wives were recorded in CK. It seems that royal scribes recorded the Aangoms as they enjoyed a significant influence in the affairs of the land. 

Secondary burial mask. Photo Courtesy: The Coils of Pakhangba: A Culture History of Meeteis

War and Death 

Battles and raids were frequent in the first half of the sixteenth century. Meetingu’s forces fought the Mayang (1504 CE), Kansoi (1508 CE), Khoipu (1511 CE), Leitang (1515 CE), Arai Champra (1519 CE), Sikhong (1522 CE), Sairem (1522 CE), Sampum (1524 and 1531 CE), Chakpa Pungpun (1527 CE), Lamkai (1528 CE), Tushon (1532 CE), Takhen (1533 CE) and Kane (1541 CE) in the first half of the 16th century. In most of these encounters, Meetingu’s forces took captives. However, the number of people captured during this period is not much as compared to the number of captives they took in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. It is possible that the practice of capturing large numbers of people and incorporating them in the Lallup system was only in the nascent stage in the first half of the 16th century. Boats meant for capturing people were made only in the late 16th century in the area of the Tangkhuls, according to CK. In the seventeenth century, Meetingu’s forces began capturing more people in the battles. For example, in the battle fought between Mayang forces and Meetingu Khakempa in 1606 CE, CK recorded that Meetingu’s forces captured one thousand Pangals and they were incorporated in the Lallup system by making them establish an institute. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, capturing people became one of the purposes of warfare in many places of South-East Asia, including Manipur (Beemer 2013,52-104). It is also worth noting that CK only recorded one instance where Meetingu’s territory was raided between 1500-1550 CE. Kapo-s raided Meetingu’s territory in 1542 CE but they were defeated. 

We also find the cultural practice of erecting mounds for commemorating victories in battle in this period. When Meetingu’s forces fought the Mayangs in 1504 CE, CK writes “they also erected mounds both big and small over the heaps of heads taken in battle.” From this, it is clear that head hunting was practiced in the early 16th century. During this period, the Ningthouja dynasty received elephants from neighbouring principalities, such as Mayangs, as bride prices but there is no evidence to suggest that they were used in the battles. It is mentioned in CK that Nongthongpa, an official of high rank usually occupied by a close relative of Meetingu, rode to fight the Mayangs in a buffalo, called Tharopi, in 1504 CE. Though it is clear that even the feudal lords were riding buffaloes from this, it is not clear from CK whether they use horses during this period. We find no mention of horses being used either in warfare or in other activities.

Pena Eshei “Ukai Kappa” directed by Kh. Mangi at Laihui Festival 2010,  MDU Hall, Yaiskul Police Line, Imphal. Photo Courtesy: E-pao. 

Culture and People 

John Parratt holds that CK being written from the perspective of the court scribes of the Ningthouja lords, it is “limited in its delineation of cultural patterns…we cannot assume that what is said of the royal family with regard to social customs also applied to the common people.” CK mentions that Meetingu Koirempa and Meetingu Kapompa’s ears were pierced. But there is no information in CK from which we can draw whether such practices were prevalent among the common people also. We can only say the same for the practice of monthly memorials for the dead. It is mentioned that after the death of Meetingu Kapompa, a monthly memorial in his memory was held but it is not clear whether this practice was limited to feudal ruling class or widely practiced among people. 

Large scale projects such as building of road and canal were mentioned. In 1534 CE, a canal named Takhelkong was built, and in 1536 CE, a road to Tekhao was made available. Most importantly, in the reign of Meetingu Lam Kyampa, Kangla was inaugurated for the first time in 1522 CE. During this period, Tekhao Lu, giant tubular fish trap, and Aniseed were introduced in 1536 CE. Public ceremonies, including boat races, were often held. Ukai Kappa (a target shooting sport) was also played during this period. It is quite surprising that no mention of the names of the lais (loosely translated as god) were made in CK between 1500-1550 CE. However, it is possible that during those days newly built structures were dedicated to the lai.

When it comes to the hardships faced by people, we see in CK that outbreaks of smallpox were common during this period. CK records smallpox epidemics in 1520, 1531 and 1541 CE. There were also cattle epidemics recorded in CK between 1534-35 CE leading to the deaths of many cattle. CK records a flood that ravaged the valley in 1538 CE, it tells us: “There was a great flood. No one could wash their face or hands or feet.” It also mentioned that in 1515 CE the prices of all the commodities rose significantly though it does not mention the reason behind the price rise or its impact on the people.

Boat Race, Imphal. Photo Courtesy: Probin Ashangbam, Pinterest 

List of Meetingu-s (Lord of the Meeteis), 1500-1550 CE 

  1. Meetingu Kyampa, 1467–1508 CE
  2. Meetingu Koirempa, 1508–1512 CE
  3. Meetingu Lam Kyampa, 1512–1523 CE
  4. Meetingu Nongyinphapa. 1523–1524 CE
  5. Meetingu Kapompa, 1524–1542 CE
  6. Meetingu Tangchampa, 1542–1545 CE
  7. Meetingu Chalampa, 1545–1562 CE

List of Aangoupampa (Chief of Aangom), 1500-1550 CE

  1. Aangoupampa Loicha Ngampa, 1497- 1510 CE * 
  2. Aangoupampa Kyampa, 1510/1511/1512-1540 CE ** 
  3. Angoupamapa Loicha Ngampa, 1540/1541/1542-1548 CE ***
  4. Aangoupampa Langloingampa, 1549 CE
  5. Aangoupampa Tuson Ngampa, 1550 CE

* Meetingu Koirempa in 1510 CE attacked Aangom and Angoupampa Loicha Ngampa went into hiding.

** It is not clear in CK that Aangoupampa Kyampa became the chief of Aangom immediately after Loicha Ngampa went into hiding in 1510 CE. However, we know from CK that Aangoupampa Kyampa was the chief of Aangom in 1512 CE. CK also indicates that Meetingu Kapompa killed Aangoupampa Kyampa in 1540 CE for murdering his half brother Nongyinphpa.

 *** We see in CK that Aangoupampa Loicha Ngampa is the chief of Aangom in 1542 CE. It is possible that he became the chief of Aangom immediately after the death of Aangoupampa Kyampa in 1540 CE. 

We find feudal positions such as Lakpa of Yaiskun and Khwai when we read the portion of the CK from 1500-1550 CE. It tells us that these positions in the feudal system headed by Meetingu already existed in the first half of the sixteenth century. 

Leitanthem Yaima ( 77 ) of Khurai Kongpan Mutum Leikai, Imphal East became the Cheithapa in 2013. He took the Cheisu (walking stick ) from the Cheithapa of previous year . Photo Courtesy: E-pao. 

List of Cheithapa, 1500-1550 CE

The dating system used in recording events from 1485 CE onwards in CK is the Cheithapa dating system. In this dating system, each year is named after a person. For instance, after the introduction of this dating system, Hyangloi became the first Cheithapa. It means that the year would be known with his name. In the words of Saroj Nalini Arambam, “from this time [1485 CE] onwards, the essential historicity of the chronicle seems assured.” The list of Cheithapa from 1500-1550 CE is given below. 

  1. The year of Samukchi -1500 CE
  2. The year of Kharisa -1501 CE
  3. The year of Songlera – 1502 CE
  4. The year of Lamlei Wareppa – 1503 CE
  5. The year of Lamlei Chanouwa – 1504 CE
  6. The year of Haopa Langa – 1505 CE
  7. The year of Chongtham Aata – 1506 CE 
  8. The year of Ukaisanga – 1507 CE
  9. The year of Khunkhompa – 1508 CE
  10. The year of Langpokcham Moirangnga – 1509 CE 
  11. The year of Haobam Mori – 1510 CE
  12. The year of Lamphen Ngampa – 1511 CE
  13. The year of Sanathoipa – 1512 CE
  14. The year of Khakokpam Panga – 1513 CE *

* The word Panga occurs in the name of Cheithapa. According to Saroj Nalini Arambam, the word Panga is a short form of the word, Pangan. 

  1. The year of Yenkhoipa – 1514 CE 
  2. The year of Chapungpam Laka – 1515 CE
  3. The year of Khurai Kanmang Nga – 1516 CE
  4. The year of Hisapamcha – 1517 CE
  5. The year of Chakhompam Tara – 1518 CE 
  6. The year of Haopa Khongyumpa – 1519 CE 
  7. The year of Aamakcham Khomma – 1520 CE 
  8. The year of Khwai Chanouwa – 1521 CE
  9. The year of Nongpokpam Khaningwa – 1522 CE
  10. [The year of Uthumpam Langhei – 1523 CE 
  11. The year of Leichon Aakha – 1524 CE
  12. The year of Moirang Kapchonpa – 1525 CE
  13. The year of Hinaopa Khanarok -1526 CE
  14. The year of Laisram Khampa -1527 CE 
  15. The year of Charoipam Kokwa -1528 CE
  16. The year of Mayanglampam Laya -1529 CE
  17. The year of Aongnam Kamkhai -1530 CE
  18. The year of Khuraithangkok Manpa -1531 CE 
  19. The year of Nganglom Sekhara -1532 CE 
  20. The year of Laiton Sera -1533 CE
  21. The year of Wairokpa Lamma -1534 CE
  22. The year of Thingkucham Yuhenpa -1535 CE 
  23. The year of Leichon Khonga Lonlu Manpa – 1536 CE
  24. The year of Lamlei Thamanpa -1537 CE 
  25. The year of Aatai Aa -1538 CE
  26. The year of Wairokpam Snarok -1539 CE
  27. The year of Laimingnga -1540 CE
  28. The year of Aaton Keisangpa -1541 CE
  29. The year of Tarinapa Chaopa – 1542 CE
  30. The year of Hinaopam Khoma -1543 CE
  31. The year of Yirom Phana – 1544 CE.
  32. The year of Nukram Chuta- 1545 CE 
  33. The year of Chapungpam Laka- 1546 CE
  34. The year of Tompa Langkon Chumpa- 1547 CE.
  35. The year of Yangngampam Khoiri- 1548 CE. 
  36. The year of Nganglounga -1549 CE. 
  37. The year of Heirem Lapa-1550 CE.


2012. Cheitharon Kumpapa. Vol. 1. Translated in English by Saroj Nalini Arambam Parratt. New York: Routledge. 

2015. Cheitharon Kumpapa. Edited and Transliterated in Bengali script Bhramhacharimayum Kulachandra, Longjamba Sanathoi Piba and Hourongbam Rajamani. Assam: Manipuri Sahitya Parishad.

Beemer, Bryce Grey. 2013. The Creole city in mainland Southeast Asia : slave gathering warfare and cultural exchange in Burma, Thailand and Manipur, 18th-19th c. Phd Thesis: University of Hawaii at Manoa

Parratt, John. 2017. The Coils of Pakhangba: A Culture History of Meeteis. Delhi: Mittal Publications. 

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By Michael Samjetsabam

The author is a scholar of history of philosophy and Meitei history.