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Chin

Chin

ETHNONYMS: 'kKxou and related words; Mizo (same as Lushai), Zo, Zomi. Also regional and dialect group names: Chinbok, Chinbon, Dai, Kuku, Lai (same as Haka), Laizo (same as Falam), Mara (same as Lakher), Ngala (same as Matu), n'Men, etc.


Orientation

Identification. The Chin live in the mountains of the Myanmar (Burma)-India border and in neighboring areas of Myanmar and India. "Chin" is an English version of the Burmese name for these people (cognate with a southern Chin word, 'kKxang, "a people") who call themselves Zo (or related words), meaning "marginal people." "Chin" applies strictly to the inhabitants of Myanmar's Chin State. On the Indian side of the border the major related people are the Mizo, or Lushai, of Mizoram State. The Kuki and Hmar are their relatives in Manipur State. The Plains Chin, or Asho, live in Myanmar proper just east of Chin State.

Location. The Chin live between 92° and 95° E, and 20° and 26° N. For the most part this is high mountain country (the highest peak is 3,000 meters) with almost no land level enough for plow cultivation; villages are found at elevations between about 1,000 and 2,000 meters. This region is not drained by any major or navigable rivers. It has a monsoon climate, with a marked wet and dry season. Annual rainfall is locally as much as 230 centimeters or more a year. In the hot season (March to June) the temperature can reach about 32° C, while in the cold season (November-February), after the monsoon rains, early-morning temperatures at the higher elevations can sink to a few degrees of frost.

Demography. There have been no useful censuses of the Burma Chin in a couple of decades, but reasonable projections from the figures of the 1950s indicate a population there of perhaps 200,000, while the population of India's Mizoram State is roughly half a million. Outside these two major areas the Chin-related population amounts to no more than a few tens of thousands. The population is unevenly distributed, but a crude estimate of average population density is at most SO persons per square kilometer. There are few towns of any size. The largest is Aizawl, capital of Mizoram State, with a population exceeding 100,000. Owing to the absence of flat lands and ready communications with major plains areas in India and Myanmar (Burma), the number of non-Chin peoples living in the region is negligible.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Chin languages belong to the Kuki-Chin Subgroup of the Kuki-Naga Group of the Tibeto-Burman Family. They are all tonal, monosyllabic languages, and until the late nineteenth century, when Christian missionaries developed Roman alphabets for at least the major Chin languages (including Mizo), none of them was written. There are excellent grammars and dictionaries of such major languages as Mizo, Lai (Haka) Chin, Laizo (Falam) Chin, Tedim (Northern) Chin, and n'Men (Southern) Chin.


History and Cultural Relations

Our earliest notice of Chin is in stone inscriptions in Burma of the twelfth century, which refer to Chin living in or adjacent to the middle Chindwin River of northwestern Burma. In the next century the Chindwin Plain and the tributary Kabaw-Kale Valley were conquered and settled by the Shan (a Tai-speaking people of the region), and from then on more and more of the Chin were pushed up into the mountains (no doubt displacing their close relatives already living there). By the seventeenth century these pressures increased owing to the Burmese wars with the Kale Shan and with Manipur. This brought about major population movements within the mountain region, and the present distribution of peoples in the mountains goes back mainly to the eighteenth century. The Kuki are remnants of people who were pushed out from the main Chin areas of occupation by the ancestors of the Mizo, and who then took refuge under the protection of the maharajas of Manipur. The Chin and Mizo peoples were independent of any major state until the imperial era when, in the late nineteenth century, they were brought under British rule: the Mizo in the Lushai Hills Frontier District of India, the Chin in the Chin Hills of Burma. With the achievement of independence for India and Burma in the late 1940s, these districts became respectively the Union Territory of Mizoram (Mizoram State within the Indian Union since the late 1980s) and the Chin Special Division, now Chin State, of the Union of Burma, now Myanmar. However, in spite of their traditional freedom from any semblance of outside rule or administration before the colonial period, these peoples were dependent upon the plains civilizations of India and Burma. They got all the iron for their tools and weapons from the plains, which they reforged locally, and they looked to the plains as the source for luxury goods (preeminently brass-ware, some elaborate woven goods, and gold and silver) and for their ideals about more luxurious social and cultural life. Their name, Zo, reflects this sense of their relative deprivation, and their origin tales also expand on this theme, purporting to explain why the Burman or Assamese "elder brother" of their original ancestor came to have all those amenities and the Chin so few. The Chin peoples got what they needed from the plains partly through trading the produce of their forests and partly by raiding border settlements in the plains. It was this habit of raiding plains settlements (for goods, slaves, and human headsespecially Lushai raids on the tea plantations of Cachar and Assam) that caused the British, in the late nineteenth century, to occupy the Chin and Lushai territories.


Settlements

With the exception of a few administrative townssuch as Aizawl, the Mizoram capital; Haka, capital of Chin State; Falam, Tedim, Matupi, and Mindat in Chin State; and the various district administrative towns in Mizoram Statethe Chin peoples live in agricultural villages ranging in size from a few dozen to several hundred houses. There are more towns and fewer very small villages in Mizoram now because from 1964 until well into the 1980s Mizoram was insurgent Territory in which the Indian government instituted massive resettlement and village consolidation. Now, as traditionally, the average household has about five persons in it. Villages tend to be situated well up on the hillsides, though some are placed nearer the small streams lower down. Village location has always been a compromise between the need for defensibility and the need for access to water. Houses and villages are oriented according to the possibilities provided by the convoluted slopes. Houses are built on pilings, though in some places one end or the uphill side rests directly on the ground. Traditional houses are built of hand-hewn planks for the most part, though the poorer ones have at least their walls and floors made of split bamboo. The roof is generally thatched with grass, but in parts of northern Chin State there are some slate roofs. Nowadays corrugated iron or aluminum sheeting is used when possible. The traditional floor plan is of one main interior roomor at most twowith its central hearth, a front veranda open in front but covered by a roof gable, and frequently a shallow rear compartment for washing and various sorts of storage, which may have also a latrine hole in its floor. The major limitation on the size of a village is the accessibility of agricultural land. These people are exclusively shifting cultivators: they clear and cultivate a hill slope for one to five years or so, then leave that slope to fallow and clear another forested slope in their territory. The longer a hillside is farmed, the longer it must lie fallow until fit for use again (twenty and more years in some cases), and it is not thought manageable to have to walk more than 12 kilometers or so to one's fields, so that a village's territory extends not much above 10 kilometers from the settlement periphery. An average household can and must cultivate a field of 2 hectares or so. Traditionally, when the population of a village outgrew its effective ability to get access to farm tracts it would move as a whole, or some smaller groups would break off and move away from the parent settlement. Villages might also move because of vulnerability to raids from powerful neighbors, Because of such inauspicious events as epidemics, or simply because a better site was found elsewhere. Since the imperial period villages have been forced to remain stationary, and the increasing pressure of population on the land has resulted in deforestation, erosion, and depleted fertility, as fields have had to be used more years in a row and the fallow periods have been reduced substantially. Fertility also depends upon the ash resulting from the felling and burning of forest on a new hill slope. Thus, the lengthening of the periods of use and the shortening of the fallow periods have combined to lessen the ability of forest to regenerate. Overuse and reduced forest recovery also have led to heavy growth of tough grasses replacing forest growth during fallow periods, and this too has set a severe limit on the system of shifting cultivation as the population has grown.


Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities . The Chin are nonpioneer shifting cultivators. Where soil and climate permit, they grow dry hill rice as their chief staple, and elsewhere, chiefly at the higher elevations in Chin State, the grain staple is one or another kind of millet, maize, or even grain sorghum, though the latter grain is mainly used only for the brewing of the coarser variety of country beer (zu ). Cultivation is entirely by hand, and the tools involved are mainly the all-purpose bush knife, the axe, the hoe (an essentially adze-hafted implement about 45 centimeters long), and, in places where rice is grown, a small harvesting knife. Grown amidst the staple are a variety of vegetable crops, mainly melons, pumpkins, and, most important, various kinds of peas and beans, on whose nitrogen-fixing properties the longer-term shifting-cultivation cycles of central Chin State depend crucially. Cotton is also widely grown, though nowadays less so because commercial cloth has rapidly displaced the traditional blankets and clothes locally woven on the back-strap tension loom. The traditional native dyes were wild vegetable dyes such as indigo. In the southern areas a kind of flax was also grown for weaving cloth (chiefly for women's skirts). Various vegetable condiments are also commonly grown, such as chili peppers, ginger, turmeric (also used to make dye) and rozelle (Hibiscus sabdariffa ) ; the Mizo in particular grow and eat a great deal of mustard greens, and nowadays all sorts of European vegetables are grown, especially cabbages and potatoes. Fruits, such as shaddocks, citrons, and guavas, and such sweet crops as sugarcane were traditionally unimportant. Today there is some commercial growing of apples, oranges, tea, and coffee; other commercial crops are also grown experimentally, but the chief hindrance to such developments is the fact that the plains markets in which they might be sold are still difficult of access. Tobacco has long been grown in all villages: it was traditionally smoked green (cured by being buried in hot sand), in clay pipes (later in hand-made cigarettes) by men, and in small bamboo water pipes with clay bowls by women. The nicotine-charged water produced by the latter is decanted into small gourd containers or other vessels kept about the person and is widely used as a stimulant, being held in the mouth and then spat out.

Livestock such as pigs and fowl (less commonly goats, cows, and the occasional water buffalo and horses) may be penned within or beneath the house; most notable is the gayal (Bos frontalis ), a semidomesticated bovid forest browser bred for meat and for ritual sacrifice, which constitutes a major form of traditional wealth. Dogs are common village scavengers along with pigs, and some dogs are used in hunting. Little game remains today, but formerly all sorts of game were hunted including black and brown bears, all kinds of deer (preeminently barking deer, also known as muntjac), mountain goats, gaur (Bos gaurus ), various jungle cats large and small, and even, from time to time, elephants and rhinoceroses, though these have long since gone from the hills. The Bengal tiger was rarely hunted because, as in many Southeast Asian societies, its spirit was (and still is) thought related to the human soul (the "wer-tiger" idea) and therefore had to be treated in much the same way as a severed human headthat is, it required expensive and ritually dangerous ceremonies.

Industrial Arts. The traditional manufactures, other than the reforged iron tools and weapons made with the open-hearth double-bamboo pistols bellows, were mainly things like bamboo and cane mats and baskets of all sorts and redfired utility pottery; and the ubiquitous weaving of blankets, loincloths, and women's skirts and blouses. Some of the weaving employed silk-thread embroidery and single-damask weave, and the most elaborate forms were traditionally called vaai (civilized), suggesting that anything that fine must have come originally from the plains. These things could have been made by anyone, but certain persons had more than ordinary skill and only some villages were endowed with potting clays, so such persons and villages became part-time specialists in this work and traded their wares (bartering for grain or other kinds of goods) in surrounding villages. There were smiths who made the traditional silver-amalgam (later aluminum) jewelrysuch as the bracelets, belts, earrings, rings, and necklaces hung with imported beads and silver rupee coinsas well as brass hairpins and other items, but those artisans were even fewer in number than the ones mentioned above. Indeed, the trade in the latter items was akin to the long-distance trade in heirloom goods, such as the great gongs from Myanmar (Burma), brass vessels from India, and other sorts of items that signified at least a nominal claim upon the goods of the vaai plains country.

Trade. All of these more expensive items constituted the basis of the prestige economy of these hills and passed not only by sale but by circulation of myriad ceremonial payments and fines (especially marriage-prices, blood-money payments, and compensation payments for defamation of status). Prestige goods and gayalsespecially important for their use in sacrifices associated with the "merit feasts" by which social rank was attained or validatedwere the traditional wealth of these people. Furthermore, the display or announcement of the entire array of what one currently owned or had owned in lifesymbolically indicated on carved memorial posts erected for prestigious deadwas the definitive sign of one's social and ceremonial rank. More specifically, the possession of a supposedly unique object from the outside world, likely to possess a unique "personal" name of its own, was especially important. The idea behind the prestige economy is that prosperity in this world depends upon the sacrificial exchange of goods with inhabitants of the Land of the Dead, and only if one had conducted feasts of merit would one and one's descendants have wealth and well-being. Thus, too, the continuity of lineage between the dead and the living was Important; it was especially important for anyone to be memorialized after his or her death. Memorial service was done not only by the display of wealth and by its figuration on memorial posts and stones but also in the composition of songs (va hia ) commemorating a man's greatness on the occasion of one of his feasts. So greatly were wealth and possessions tied up with a person's social position that among the most heinous traditional offences in this society were theft, bastardy, and the supposed possession of "evil eye" (hnam, the unconscious and heritable ability to cause harm by looking enviously upon another's prosperity, or even someone's consumption of a good meal). All these situations meant that property had failed to pass by means of expected formal exchanges: it had passed instead by arbitrary expropriation, or through a child born out of wedlock without benefit of marriage-price, or by misfortune caused by murderous envy of possessions to which one had no legitimate claim.

Division of Labor. The few classes of part-time craft specialist are mentioned above. Women do more of the domestic tasks and all the traditional weaving. They are also almost exclusively the spirit mediums because male spirit familiars choose them. Men alone cut down the forests and work as smiths. There appear to be no female hunters or warriors Except in legends, probably because no woman can hold in her own name a feast of celebration for the killing of a major animal, or a feast of celebration of a human trophy head or that of a tiger. (In all of these cases the point is to tame the angry spirit of the deceased animal or person and send it to serve one and one's forebears in the Land of the Dead.) A woman can, however, hold a domestic feast of merit in the name of her deceased husband, in which domestic animals are similarly sacrificed on behalf of the Land of the Dead. Nevertheless, only men can be village priests, who are mostly appointed by chiefs and headmen because they have memorized the required chants and formulas and know the ritual sequences. Priests serve as masters of ceremony at the feasts of merit and celebration and at the various kinds of rite of placationboth cyclical and sporadicaddressed to the various spirit owners of the face of the land, great and small. Almost all other tasks and activities can be undertaken by either sex; there have even been historical instances of important female chiefs, who attained office through being widowed. There are few if any exploitable natural resources in these hills and virtually no modern industry, at least nothing made for export. Aside from the salaries of teachers and government servants of all sorts and the incomes of merchants and shopkeepers, the main source of money is the wages of Chin who work on the outsidepreeminently in Myanmar, in the armed forces.

Land Tenure. This aspect of Chin culture is highly variable. A village has complete ownership of its tract, and even the right to hunt in it must be requested from the village; however, it is possible to rent lands in another village's tract on an individual or a communal basis. Village tract Boundaries are precisely indicated by landmarks. Frequently a given hillside tract, or even the whole village tract, will be owned by a chief or other hereditary aristocrat. The right of a chief to the dues and services of his villagers in fact derives from his ownership of the land, while the ultimate ownership by a Village of its land as a whole derives from the heritable pact made by the ancestral founders of the village with the spirit owners of the land. The paramount right is ownership, since it is to some extent at least conveyable in marriage-prices or by sale, and yet it is far from an absolute paramount right. For instance, it is arguable whether conveyance of ownership through marriage payments or sale can ever be outright alienations rather than mere long-term mortgagings. At least in the Haka (Lai) area of central Chin State, individual Households and persons can have heritable, even conveyable rights (within village limits, perhaps) over individual cultivation plots in one or more cultivation tracts, for which the owner owes payments to the chiefly paramount owner that are in the nature of both tax and rent. Yet should these payments not be made, the field owner technically cannot be evictedthough he may be exiled, physically assaulted, or even killed, because the failure of payment is a rejection of constituted authority. Fruit trees, honeybee hives, and other exploitable items on the land may also be individually owned and conveyed. House sites are owned subject to the right of residence in the village at the pleasure of constituted village authority. Nowadays much of the land has passed into true private ownership, especially where modern commercial crops or a patch of irrigated rice are grown, more so perhaps on the Indian side of the border than in Myanmar. But in both countries there are legal restrictions on the right of nonnative inhabitants to own land in the Chin-Lushai country.


Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is agnatic, with Eponymous clans and lineages that tend to segment frequently: in general one finds maximal lineages and major and minor segments, the minor segment often being coextensive with the household. Often only the minimal lineage segment is strictly exogamousand the rapidity of segmentation can often override even that proscription, so that marriage between even half-siblings is in parts of Chin State not necessarily penalizedthough at least the legal fiction that clans are themselves exogamous is commonly maintained. Postnuptial residence is usually virilocal, and it is viripatrilocal in the case of the son who will inherit his parent's house. Daughters always marry out of the household and noninheriting sons marry neolocally. Although polygyny is allowed, it is generally confined to aristocrats who can afford a plurality of wives or who need more than one wife to manage their households and farms or who need to make various politically motivated marriage alliances. More commonly, one wife is thought to be quite enough, and it is the rare strong character who will have several wives in a single establishmentfor the Chin believe that if the wives hate one another, their fights will make the husband's life miserable, and if they agree with one another, they'll combine against him. Besides, love matches occur frequently, and often they will override the common parental arrangements for marriages of state that engage couples from infancy. (For example, a girl may simply camp on the veranda of a young man who is too shy to ask for her hand.) Chin men often love their wives, and if a man refers to his wife as inn chung (the "inside of [the speaker's] house"), he is certainly fond of her and probably faithful to her. Also, marriage alliances are usually avoided because the ensuing obligations often cause men to be dominated by their wives or by the brothers of their wives.

Kinship Terminology. The terminology is bifurcate-merging, with an Omaha cousin terminology, consistent with asymmetric alliance marriage. The men of all generations in wife-taking lineages are classed with grandfathers, but in the wife-taking lineages only those agnatically descended from the original union linking the lineages are classed with grandchildren. Members of lineages other than one's own, who are not either wife givers or wife takers, are classed with one's own lineage agnates according to sex and generation. There are separate terms for younger siblings of the same sex as the speaker and for younger siblings of the opposite sex.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. With the exception mainly of the Mizo (Lushai), the Chin peoples practice asymmetrical alliance marriage. There is no obligation to marry into a lineage to which one is already allied; indeed, save in the demographically relict Kuki groups of Manipur, diversification of Marriage connections is a leading strategic principle. But it is proscribed under severe penaltiesoccasionally amounting to temporary exile from the communityto reverse the direction of marriage alliance (e.g., to marry a woman from a wife-taking lineage). With the Mizo the rapidity of segmentation means that affinal alliances lapse almost as soon as they are formed, and so there can be no question of their reversal. Also, inasmuch as wife givers are at least ritually dominant over wife takers, it is often necessary to cement and renew an alliance by further marriages, both because a particular wife-giving lineage may provide a useful umbrella of wealth and power and because this lineage may be unwilling to let a profitable alliance lapse (which it will after three or four generations) ; also, it may insist on imposing more wives with a view to taking in more marriage dues. Divorce, if the woman is said to be at fault, is cause for an attempt to recover all or much of the bride-price, either from her natal family or, if she has run off with another, from her seducer. Divorce of a woman for no good cause is difficult because it constitutes an implicit offense against the wife givers.


Inheritance. Houses, land, and other major property, as well as succession to office (priestly or chiefly), pass from Father to son. Sometimes they pass by primogeniture, sometimes by ultimogeniture, and sometimes by a combination of the two (e.g., house and household goods to the younger son, office and movable estate to the older). These matters vary even from lineage to lineage. Certain classes of property that a woman brings from her natal household to her marriage (chiefly valuable jewelry and the like) pass to one of her daughters upon either the marriage of the daughter or the death of the mother. Even noninheriting sons have some right to expect their father to settle on them a portion of his estate while he is still alive, when those sons are about to establish households of their own. It is commonly thought that a noninheriting son of a chief or other powerful man is likely to become socially disaffected, footloose, volatile, and unreliable, and this sort of person is called, in Lai Chin, mihrawkhrawlh, "one who is constantly looking for the main chance."


Socialization. Both parents take care of infants, as do elder siblings of either sex; it is not rare to see even a distinguished chief with a baby in a blanket on his back or a child crawling all over him, and a child carrying a baby carrying an even smaller infant is not an unknown sight. Mothers slap and scold children even to age of about 10 or 12, but the power of the father, at least over sons, is his power to withhold support and settlement. Young boys are encouraged to throw tantrums so that they may grow up a bit wild and willful. Children are weaned when the demands of the next infant are too great, or by 18 months of age. While there is a tendency for tensions between fathers and sons to arise as sons come of age and need financial independence, the emotional bonds between parents and children in general are often deep and lasting, and those between daughters and their mothers are especially poignant: if a woman becomes drunk she often weeps, and it is said then that she is "thinking of her mother."


Sociopolitical Organization

Northern and Central Chin and Mizo have hereditary headmanship or chieftainship and the associated distinction between commoner and chiefly clans and lineages. The Southern Chin (including those of Matupi) have neither Institution. In the former groups some villages have a single paramount headman or chief, while others are ruled by a council of aristocratice chiefs, each of whom may have his own network of followers either locally or in the form of subordinate chiefs and headmen of client villages. It is a mistake to suppose that villages ruled by these councils are "democratic." What distinguishes a mere headman from a chief is that only the latter can have other village heads under his jurisdiction, and not every chief is the head of a whole village. The dues owed headmen are mentioned above in connection with land tenure and derive as a right from the exclusive heritable connection between the village founder and his successors and the ultimate spirit owners of the village lands. These dues consist mainly of tax/rent for the right to cultivate land and a hindquarter of any large-sized wild or domestic animal killed in the territory. Furthermore, a headman, chief, or major landowning aristocrat can demand various sorts of services from his client households, such as farm work, house building, and assistance at feasts, rites, and ceremonies. Headmen or chiefs also could demand public work and sentry/warrior/messenger service from the young men. Acting in council with their peer household heads in the village, these leaders also constitute a formal court for adjudicating legal cases and levying fines. All these rights and offices have been abolished in recent decades. Formerly it was usual for the young people of the village, especially the young men, to be organized as a cadre for such service purposes, and in those circumstances they tended to reside, from before their teens until marriage or beyond, in a ceremonial bachelors' house (the Lai and Lushai word zawlbuk is its best-known name). This institution had disappeared before the middle of this century. When it still existed, either the young women visited the youths in the bachelors' house at night, or the young men roamed the village and spent the night courting at the houses of young women. Today, the power of a chief, in the strict sense, derives from either the threat or exercise of force or from the fact that satellite villages may have split off from the mother village where the chief resides. The chiefs ability to demand gifts and assistance in warfare from client villages is enforced by threat of reprisal and by the fact that the chief will Commonly make himself wife giver to his client headmen who are not of his own lineage. Through marriage gifts and payments he is also likely to acquire landholdings in the satellite Villages. Rank differences are complicated. On the one hand, there is the principle that rank is hereditary by clans, but, on the other hand, it is jurally recognized that wealth can effectually raise the rank of a lineage segment. With wealth, one can give the necessary series of feasts of merit and celebration, with the object of persuading other born aristocrats to attend and acknowledge one's claims; there are always aristocrats who have fallen upon hard times, who are willing to accept inflated amounts for the ceremonial attendance payments and inflated bride-prices for their daughters in marriage to a born commoner. Such complicated marriage maneuvers, made possible by wealth, are necessary in order to elevate one's rank, for only a man whose major wife is of aristocratic lineage can give the higher feasts. All of this forms the basis of a naturally inflationary cycle of the prestige Economy. These processes and rank ambiguities are supported by the tendency for lineages to segment rapidly, so that an upwardly mobile lineage segment can readily dissociate itself from its lineage fellows. Still, to be an aristocrat by clan Membership gives one a better claim to the rank and better ritual privileges, and it is not uncommon for members of commoner clans to insist that for them the very idea of clan membership is meaningless. Chin society also used to include slaves. Some slaves were war captives, while others chose slavery as a way out of debt or as protection from revenge feuds. Slavery was strictly hereditary only through females. A female slave was considered a member of her aristocratic owner's household, with the interesting consequence that her marriage-price was often greater than that of a commoner girl, though it was never equal to that of an aristocrat's daughter even by a Commoner minor wife. The Southern Chin had only small-scale feasts of merit, which secured only nonhereditary ritual Prestige to the giver's household.

Social Control. There are five main sources of control: ( 1 ) the ideology that sees all social relations as defined by ritualized exchanges of property, which binds people to one another in the expectation of making property claims on each other; (2) the threat of force (feuding and revenge are Common) and the associated need of mutual cooperation for defense; (3) the power of hereditary headmen to monopolize Ritual access to the spirit world, directly and through appointed or hereditary village priests, without which the spirits would make life intolerable; (4) fear that one's bad reputation and actions will preclude one's going to the Land of the Dead after death; and (5) the closely related ideology of mutual assistance within the community.

Conflict. Many of the causes of feuds have already been mentioned. The most common causes of warfare between villages, however, were the following three: disputes over women; disputes over land rights (not uncommonly having to do with access to the very few and essential salt wells in the whole region and to trade routes within and to outside Regions); and disputes over property, usually property claims stemming from marriage alliances and tributary relations. It was not unusual to take human heads in raids on other Villages, and this headhunting constituted something of an independent motivation for warfare, since one's prosperity depended upon one's ability to aggrandize one's own forebears in the Land of the Dead and for that purpose one needed to ensure them a regular supply of slaves. This object was achieved by taking heads and celebrating them, which tamed the resulting dangerous spirits and made it possible to send them as servants to the Land of the Dead. The Southern Chin never practiced headhunting.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. The Chin-Lushai traditional pantheon is complicated. There is generally a somewhat remote creator god, sometimes with a female counterpart. Some say his realm is coextensive with the Land of the Dead. He is revered as a remote father figure, but his power consists only of a vague ability to protect one against ultimate adversity. It is in the light of these characteristics that the traditional high god served as a sort of model to which the Christian God of the missionaries was rather readily assimilated. The Chin believe the universe to be populated as well by all sorts of spirits; some of them being great and deitylike; some of them residing in other "worlds," such as the afterworld; some of them having dominion over domains large or small, locally or elsewhere; and some of them appearing as wandering ghosts, demons, and less personifiable beings. Some of the most fearsome of the last group are the ghosts of those who die by accident or violence, for they are angry and vengeful (e.g., the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth and cannot be made to leave for the Land of the Dead). The cosmos is basically divided into two parts, the sky world (including the Land of the Dead) and the earth, but since the relations Between the two are an asymmetrical dependency, there are two routes between them: one upward and one through the "underworld"the latter ambivalently associated with death and also with prosperity, owing to the fact that crops grow out of the ground. Because of this ambiguity, Chin origin tales often say that the first people came at one and the same time out of some hole or cave and from the sky world.


Religious Practitioners. Mediums, generally women, who go into trances and find out which spirits are demanding what from whom, and for what offense, and who may also find out where the soul of an ill or deranged person has wandered, have been mentioned earlier. The village priests and reciters who serve at private feasts and communal sacrifices have also been mentioned. They tend to be chiefly appointees, though one kind has to be from a commoner lineage.


Ceremonies. Feasts and celebrations occur irregularly, whenever someone finds it possible or necessary to give one: for instance, when one has killed a major game animal or when one wishes to make a more elaborate house. Some Village rites take place once in every year or once every few years, depending upon the arrangement with the spirit in question. Other such rites are held when some plague or calamity seems to demand it and a medium or a diviner has identified what is to be done. There are all manner of private curing rituals, and these are held by whomever knows how, not by professionals; they tend to involve sacrifices to intruding spirits, soul recalling, and the leaving of miniature images of wealth outside the village for the spirits. There are few definite seasonal calendrical ceremonies, but village rites must be held before clearing, planting, and harvesting. All sorts of means (such as observing cracks in heated eggshells, the bile ducts in pig livers, or how a dying fowl crosses its legs) are used for divining the source of troubles and the auspiciousness of plans.

Arts. With minor exceptions, all Chin art is nonrepresentative, and many Chin used to find it hard even to recognize a drawn or painted human figure, though photographs were clear enough to them. Floral-geometric decoration is found in the weaving and in the memorial posts mentioned earlier. Some of the design figures conventionally stand for thingsfor example, for various kinds of possessions belonging to a person being commemoratedbut none is iconic.

Disease and Curing. The first recourse in the treatment of diseases and even of wounds is the use of mediums who arrange for the placation of the spirits responsible, who might otherwise prevent recovery. Alongside this there is a wide variety of quite idiosyncratic treatment, chiefly of an herbal nature, which is mainly passed on from mothers to daughters and daughters-in-law.

Death and Afterlife. The dead are buried, and in the Southern Chin hills there is secondary reburial of the bones in a small jar. In general the blanket-wrapped corpse is interred in a stone-lined chamber in one side of a vertical pit. Those who have died a violent death and who therefore are likely to have become dangerous ghosts are buried in a separate gravesite, remote from the village and surrounding trails. The range of memorial constructions is considerable, but among them should be mentionedin addition to the commemorative poststhe stone platforms in and around the village, on which people can rest and on which, some say, the spirit of the deceased may sometimes come and rest; and the clusters of miniature houses on tall stilts, in which periodic offerings of food and miniature furnishings are placed for the spirit of the deceased. An interesting feature of the stone platforms (in the case of deceased males), behind which the memorial posts are raised, is the line of small stones that may also be present, each representing either a human victim of the deceased or, equivalently, another man's wife seduced by the deceased. Modern memorial stones have written on them lists of the deceased's possessions in life, often in astonishing detail, down to the odd enameled tin cup or pair of woolen socks.

See also Mizo

Bibliography

Carey, B. S., and H. P. Tuck (1896). The Chin Hills. 2 vols. Rangoon: Government Press.


Lehman, F. K. (1963). The Structure of Chin Society. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.


Lehman, F. K. (1970). "On Chin and Kachin Marriage Cycles." Man, n.s. 5:118-125.


Lehman, F. K. (1989). "Internal Inflationary Pressures in the Prestige Economy of the Feast-of-Merit Complex." In Upland-Lowland Contrasts in Mainland Southeast Asia, edited by Susan B. Russell, 89-102. Northern Illinois University Center for Southeast Asia Studies Occasional Paper. DeKalb.


Parry, N. E. (1932). The Lakhers. London: Macmillan.


Shakespear, John (1912). The Lushei Kuki Clans. London: Macmillan.

Stevenson, H. N. C. (1943). The Economics of the Central Chin Tribes. Bombay: Times of India Press (for The Government of Burma in Exile).

F. K. LEHMAN (MARK-PA)

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chin

chin In modern humans the mandibular arch is formed by fusion at the centre of two separate bones, a process complete by two years of age. The thickening of this arch at the centre forms the prominent and distinctive chin. The well-defined chin and prominent nose of humans interrupt the generally vertical profile of adult human faces and are said to be distinguishing characteristics separating modern humans from prehuman ancestors and from other primates.

Sitting at the bottom of the face, and being the most visible element of the face during speech, the chin plays numerous important physical roles and has acquired several fascinating linguistic associations. The phrase ‘to hold up by the chin’, and the nursery story's line of escaping ‘by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin’ both express the physical prominence of the chin; one conveys the role of the chin as a support that keeps one from sinking while the other marks the chin as a protrusion one must protect. The chin-strap of a hat or helmet secures that accessory to the head, while being ‘in it up to your chin’ and ‘chin deep’ — in water or in trouble — both reflect the role of the chin as the lowest point of the face, after which all is lost. To ‘keep your chin up’ or to ‘take it on the chin’ signify a measure of psychological or physical courage or fortitude indicated by keeping one's gaze straight ahead and not flinching. Finally, the less common usages of ‘chin-wagging’ or ‘chin-chin’ refer to chat or talk, and reflect the fact that the movement of the chin is both highly visible during and a key visual cue of speech.

The chin continues to develop through adolescence and early adulthood as other facial (especially nasal and dental) structures mature. As the size of the face relative to the cranium increases, the angle of the vertical slope from forehead to chin decreases and the chin becomes more protrusive in profile. These changes have been shown to be an important part of the facial cues commonly used to identify the age of individuals. Recent work in experimental psychology suggests that the characteristic differences between adult and infant human faces, and especially the softer, less angular features — including a less prominent chin — of infants play an important role in inhibiting aggression toward infants and stimulating caregiving. As psychologist Leslie Zebrowitz put it recently, ‘A baby's face is disarming’, an observation confirmed both by experiment and by the everyday experience of adults interacting with infants.

The chin plays a very important part in these experiences, and the presence of an adult chin in an adult face when placed on an infant's body is visually disorienting, as can be observed in portrayals of the Madonna from the late Middle Ages. Cimabue's Madonna Enthroned (c.1280–90), Duccio's Maestà (c.1311), and Giotto's Madonna (c.1310) all portray the Christ child with a baby's body and an adult's face, with adult facial/cranial proportions, eye size and spacing, and nose size and prominence, and also, notably, a very adult chin. Later works, including Parmigianino's Madonna With the Long Neck (c.1535) soften the child's face, showing more features of the ‘baby face’, including a less prominent chin, and provide a less jarring visual experience.

While a babyish chin and face often elicit caregiving from adults, a ‘weak’, or relatively undeveloped chin in adults, and especially in adult males, one less angular and elongated than average, often produces less positive reactions from other adults (‘Chinless Wonder’). While it is difficult to separate the impact of the several components of a baby face in such responses, some evidence points to a prominent role for the chin. When presented with two similar faces distinguished largely by chin profile and development, the face with a typical adult chin is more likely to be associated with intelligence, physical strength, dominance, and sexual attractiveness, while the face with the more baby-like chin is frequently associated with lower levels of those features and higher levels of warmth, honesty, and agreeability. A quick glance at the profile of the traditional ‘leading man’ in cinema confirms these reactions; Clark Gable, Kirk Douglas, and other prominent stars display very prominent chins. The undeveloped, receding chin is characteristically a feature of an agreeable if immature or foolish character. In keeping with the association with babyish faces, weak chins are less common in movie villains than in more ‘innocent’ characters. Such casting and the reactions to it echo the claims of nineteenth- and twentieth-century physiognomy, that intellectual, psychological, and moral fitness can be discerned from facial (and other physical) features. As cited by Zebrowitz, the twentieth-century physiognomist, LeBarr, stated that ‘a small deficient chin stands for weakness of will and physical endurance’, while the nineteenth-century Swiss physiognomist, J. C. Lavater, categorized chins in men in a similar vein: ‘The angular chin is seldom found but in well-disposed, firm men … flatness of chin speaks of the cold and dry; smallness, fear; and roundness, with a dimple, benevolence.’

As with most facial features, there are important gender-prototypical differences in the development of the chin. Typical adult females have smaller jaws, noses, and chins, and thus eyes and cheekbones that are more prominent and appear to be larger than in typical males. The less prominent chin in females does not appear to generate the negative reactions it does in men. To judge from the psychological evidence and from experience, conventional assumptions associate attractiveness in female faces with those features most similar to the baby face. Apparently, men but not women (at least in cultures much like our own) are expected to be able to ‘take it on the chin’, and are deemed more attractive if they can.

Jeffrey M. Barker


See also face; skull.

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Ch'in (dynasty of China (221–206 BC))

Ch'in (chĬn), dynasty of China, which ruled from 221 BC to 206 BC The word China is derived from Ch'in, the first dynasty to unify the country by conquering the warring feudal states of the late Chou period. King Cheng took the title Shih Huang-ti or Shi Huangdi [first august emperor] in 221 BC and began to consolidate the new empire. In matters of state he was counseled by Li Ssu (d. 208 BC), a scholar of the Legalist school of philosophy, which emphasized the need for strict laws in social and political relations and for obedience to state authority. Under Shih Huang-ti, Ch'in extended the empire W to Guizhou, N to Gansu, and S to Tonkin in what is now Vietnam, and made the capital Xianyang (near modern Xi'an, Shaanxi prov.) the most splendid city of China; it is speculated that much of the Great Wall was built during his reign. To govern the vast empire, Ch'in abolished feudalism, instituted a centralized government that was the model for later unifying dynasties, established uniform laws, weights, and measures, standardized the written language, and built a network of roads and canals that converged on the capital. Ch'in Shih Huang-ti has been regarded as a brutal autocrat by many since he is said to have imposed harsh laws, levied heavy taxes, tolerated no criticism, and burned all books except the useful ones on medicine and agriculture. Shih Huang-ti died in 210 BC and was succeeded by a weakling son. Overburdened peasants revolted and overthrew the Ch'in dynasty in 206 BC Soon after, the Han dynasty came to power in China.

See D. Bodde, China's First Unifier (1938, repr. 1967); D. Twitchett and M. Loewe, ed., The Cambridge History of China (Vol. 1, 1986).

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chin

chin / chin/ • n. the protruding part of the face below the mouth, formed by the apex of the lower jaw. • v. [tr.] draw one's body up so as to bring one's chin level with or above (a horizontal bar) with one's feet off the ground, as an exercise. PHRASES: keep one's chin up inf. remain cheerful in difficult circumstances: keep your chin up, we're not lost yet. take it on the chin endure or accept misfortune courageously or stoically.DERIVATIVES: chinned adj. [in combination] square-chinned.

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chin

chin OE. ċin(n), corr. (with variation of gender and decl.) to OFris. kin, OS. kinni (Du. kin), OHG. kinni (G. kinn), ON, kinn chin, lower jaw, Goth. kinnus cheek; Gmc. *kinn- :- *kenw- :- IE. *genw-, whence Gr. génus, Skr. hánu-, L. gena cheek, OIr. gin, W. gen jaw, chin.

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Chin

Ch'in Alternative transliteration for the Qin dynasty

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Chin

Chin variant spelling of Jin.

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Chin (dynasty of China (265–420))

Chin, dynasty of China (265–420): see Tsin.

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Chin

Ch'in (musical instrument): see MUSIC.

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chin

chinagin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, gin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin •weigh-in • lutein • lie-in • Samhain •Bowen, Cohen, Owen, throw-in •heroin, heroine •benzoin •bruin, ruin, shoo-in •Bedouin • Islwyn •genuine, Menuhin •cabin, Scriabin •Portakabin • sin bin • swingbin •bobbin, dobbin, robin •haemoglobin (US hemoglobin) •Reuben • dubbin • dustbin • Jacobin •kitchen, lichen •Cochin • urchin

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