Zou in India






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Zou / Zo are a Tibeto-Mongoloid group of people, a sub-family of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo race. They form a group of Tibeto-Burman peoples inhabiting the Chin Hills in Mynamar and Manipur in India. They are also recorded as Yo and Jou by many colonial civil servants and modern writers.

The earliest historical records of the Zo were written by Fan-Cho a diplomat of the Tang dynasty of China, who mentioned a kingdom in Chindween valley whose princes and chiefs were called Zo, Shou, or Zhou in the year 862 A.D.

The most accurate historical records of the Zos/Zous were written by Rev. Fr. Vincentious Sangermano, a Roman Catholic missionary who came to Burma in 1783 A.D. He wrote a book entitled "A Description of the Burmese Empire", which was published in 1835 A.D in Rome in the Latin language. Later on it was translated into English by William Tandy D.D.

"To the east of the Chien Mountains is a pretty nation called 'Jou'. They are supposed to have been Chein, who in the progress of time have become Burmanized, speaking their language, although very corruptly, and adopting all their customs."

Betram S. Carey CIE, Assistant Commissioner, Burma, and Political Officer, Chin Hills and H. N. Tuck, Extra Assistant Commissioner, Burma and Assistant Political Officer, Chin Hills wrote 'The Chin Hills'. In that book, Volume I, page 140, they wrote about the Zos as follows:

"The Yos (Zos) tribe three generations back occupied the tract now occupied by the Kanhow clan of Soktes, and many of the Kanhow villages are inhabited still by Yos, whose tribal name has given way to that of Kanhow. As has been shown in the previous chapter, Kantum, the Sokte, conquered all the inhabitants right up to the borders of Manipur, and Kanhow, his son, founded Tiddim village and ruled the newly acquired conquests of his father. The conquered Yos thus became known as Kanhowte, Kanhow's men, and as they intermarried with the Soktes who settled north with Kanhow, there is no real difference between the conquerors and the conquered".

"While all clans and families belonging to the tribe who call their chief Topa designated themselves by 'Yo' or 'Zo', they in turn apply their common name to a particular clan. The Yos (Zos) are most unique in the sense of the name they bear and the culture they practice in reflection of the ancient Zo tradition" ... No proper study has yet been made as to why the generic Yo as spelt in former literature was applied to them".

The use of the term Zou can be traced back by comparative linguistic and cultural studies to some Chinese roots or other related Southeast Asian cultural complex. Preliminary enquiry suggests that there is a tribe bearing the name 'Yao' in the Lingnan region (Kwangtung - Kwangsi) of China, which is described as 'a center of dispersal for the Yao of Yunnan and northern Southeast Asia'. Lebar, et al. informed us that Kwangsi contained more Yao than any other Chinese province. Yao settlements are mainly concentrated in a series of mountain backwater areas and they are ethnic islands surrounded by Chinese culture. Their linguistic position is uncertain, but they are frequently classified as Sino-Tibetan by linguists. The description of the Yao of the Lingnam region and Yunnan province in China interestingly tallies with the cultural characteristics of the Zous in Manipur and Myanmar at many points.

While colonial records referred to the Zou tribe variously as 'Yo' or 'Yaw', the Zou community living in Manipur called itself 'Jou'. The first Christian church established by the Zou tribe in Manipur was called Jou Christian Association (JCA), founded 20 February 1954. But the government of India officially recognized the name of this tribe as 'Zou' in 1956.

The term 'Zo' has been employed in many books written by the Zou to denote the word 'Zou', for simple reason of phonetic usage. The first complete version of the Holy Bible in the Zo language (1983) used the title 'The Holy Bible in Zo' and the second complete Holy Bible used the word 'Zokam'. T. Gougin used the terminology Zo and Zomi to denote this community in the book 'A Brief History of Zou' (1961) and Pu. Thangkhanlal also used the term 'Zo' in his Zo primer (1973), and others.

The Zou themselves employ the various terms Zo, Zou, and Zomi to mean their tribe. The Zos in India really do not bother whether they use Zo, Zou, or Zomi to denote themselves.

The term 'Zou' is officially accepted as referring to the Zou tribe in Manipur, since 1956. We also find that the term 'Zomi' is used to connote the word 'Zou people' as evident in the terminology used by the main political organization of the Zou people in Manipur, which is called United Zomi Organisation (UZO). [David Lalpi, Zo Scholar]. But in Myanmar (Burma) these very same people have been using the term 'Zo' to denote themselves in Chin Hills and in the Sagaing division of Myanmar since the beginning of Roman script for writing, perhaps as early as the 1920s. The name 'Zo' has been used by them since time immemorial. They also founded Zo Baptist Association (ZBA) by dissociating themselves from the parent body Zomi Baptist Convention (ZBC) which is mainly constituted by the Tedim-Chins and other Chin groups.

Profile Source:   Anonymous  

People Name General Zo
People Name in Country Zou
Population in India 26,000
World Population 94,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 2.1
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Jou, Zogam, Zomi, Zomi Chin
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Kuki-Chin-Naga
People Name General Zo
Ethnic Code MSY50c
People ID 18358
Country India
Region South Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Total States on file:  2  (up to 20 largest shown)
Manipur (26,000) Madhya Pradesh (10)
Total States on file:  2  (up to 20 largest shown)
Manipur (26,000) Madhya Pradesh (10)

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  26  (up to 20 largest shown)
Chin, Paite (22,000) Naga, Zeme (500) Chin, Thado (400) Naga, Tangkhul (400)
Hmar (300) Vaiphei (200) Naga, Liangmai (100) Hindi (100)
Naga, Inpui: Naga, Kabui (30) Anal (30) Mizo (20) English (20)
Naga, Chokri (10) Gangte (10) Kurux Meitei
Malayalam Urdu Naga, Phom Kom
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chin, Paite 22,000 Naga, Zeme 500
Chin, Thado 400 Naga, Tangkhul 400
Hmar 300 Vaiphei 200
Naga, Liangmai 100 Hindi 100
Naga, Inpui: Naga, Kabui 30 Anal 30
Mizo 20 English 20
Naga, Chokri 10 Gangte 10
Kurux 10 Meitei 10
Malayalam 0 Urdu 0
Naga, Phom 0 Kom 0
For Primary Language: Chin, Paite

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1940-1960)
New Testament Yes   (1951)
Complete Bible Yes   (1971-2005)
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
World Missionary Press Booklets Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Christianity

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
99.70 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.13 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.17 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Philip Thanglienmang   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Anonymous  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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