MANIPUR STATE is
situated at the extreme border of North East India. It is bordered by
Assam in the west, Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south and Myanmar in
the east. Manipur is divided into 9 districts.
of Manipur begins with the reign of King Pakhangba (1665-’96) when the seven clans of the Manipuri
society were unified.
annexed by Bodawpaya of Burma in 1813. After the First Anglo-Burmese War
(1824 – 1826) Burma had to cede it. It came under British rule as a princely
state in 1891. British rule ended the independent status of the kingdom which
was the last kingdom to be incorporated into British India.
Second World War, the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, established a democratic
form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected
legislature. In 1949, King Prabodhchandra was summoned to Shillong, capital
of the Indian province of Assam. After long deliberations, the King signed a
Treaty of Accession merging the kingdom into India. The legislative assembly
was dissolved on the integration of the state with the republic of India on
15 October, 1949. Manipur was a union territory from 1956 and became a
full-fledged state on 21 January 1972.
The flag of Manipur flown in the 19th century was claimed to originate in 33 AD (!). It showed a coiled snake of a peculiar shape, named Pakhangba, on a red background. The scales of the snake were of five colours: white, indigo, light blue, violet and grey, symbolizing the five senses. The red symbolized valiance and sacrifice. The royal standard showed the same coiled snake on a white cloth. Both flags were abandoned in 1907 and replaced with flags bearing the royal achievement as shown below.
1892/1918 - 7 Nov. 1941
Emblem: A crescent Argent.
Garland: Two ears of padi
Crest: A coiled snake Azure
Crown: The crown of Manipur
Supporters: Two spears with red pennons in
saltire and two pegasus’s Argent.
Compartment: Two leaves Vert
The coiled snake is the symbol of
Pakhangba, the supposed founder of the Manipur nation and in particular
connected with the Ningthouja clan. Coins unearthed by archeologists
bear his name and the date of 107 AD.
Some historical records like the Cheitharol Kumbaba
chronicle claim that he reigned for 120 years and trace his descent to the
supreme God Atiya Guru Sidaba, probably identical with the Hindu-god Shiva.
A myth tells the way Pakhangba received his name. Shentreng and Kuptreng, were both sons of the supreme God Atiya Guru Sidaba. Atiya Guru Sidaba wanted to find out which of his sons would recognize him not only as his father but also as his Guru. To test them he took the form of a dead cow floating down a big river. Kuptreng disliked the dead cow, but Shentreng realized it might be the god in disguise. Kuptreng wondered how they could find out whether this was actually so. Shentreng argued that it is not fitting for a dead cow to move its tail. On hearing this Atiya Guru Sidaba, wishing to reveal himself completely, moved his tail. Then he took his proper form and gave Shentreng the new name ‘Pakhangba’ (pa=father, khang-ba=to know: the one who knows his father). Kuptreng came to be known as Sanamahi.
The crescent and the snake are the attributes of Shiva and the achievement symbolizes the divine origin of the rulers of Manipur.
snake is a very common and very ancient symbol. In ancient Egypt it was the
symbol of the ruler as early as the fourth millennium BC. On the western
Hemisphere the snake is usually a cobra (Naja elapidae Serpentes) but
in the Chinese civilisation the snake is of an indefinite genus. In the
America’s the snake is usually a rattlesnake. In Manipur the snake is of
Hindu-origin but has the form common in South-east Asia symbolism
The actual state symbol or emblem
of Manipur is a Kanglasha (Nongsaba), i.e. half lion and half dragon.
It strongly resembles the burmese
Sar Mayee (long haired
ox) and the chinese Qilin (dragon-horse or unicorn). Some beautiful
pictures of a Kanglasha can be found on flickr.
See the illustration in the head of this essay.
The arms of the Manipur Police are
parted per fess Tenne and Azure, the national emblem Argent
© Hubert de Vries 2009-07-27
Singh, W.: An Early History of Manipur. P.127