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The Zanniat tribe are people of western Myanmar (Burma) who are a sub-group of the Chin peoples. The Zanniat tribe has fifty-seven sub-groupings and clans. The group's existence was recorded (along with three of its many sub-groups) in Burma's 1931 census after being absent in the Chin Hills gazette of 1896.[1][2] In 1943, the Zanniat tribal groups of eastern Falam Township were recorded by Henry Stevenson (b. 1903, British colonial service in Burma).[3] The Zanniat may also be known by similar sounding names such as Zahnyiet, Zanniet, Zanngiat and Zannaing.


The Zanniat tribal lands stretch from the hilly regions around the eastern part of the Manipur river to the plains of the Sagaing region and fall within Falam Township. The Manipuri river, flowing in a south-easterly direction within the Falam township, makes a clear natural boundary of Zanniat lands. The Zinniat tribal land abuts Ngawn tribal land and the Tedim township in the north[4] [5] The land has thick vegetation with fauna. Forests within the area include the Khuanghlum, Lianthar, and Ngalsip forests. The lands encompass thirty-four villages and towns.


Zanniat is one of the Sino-Tibetan languages.[6] Ethnologue lists Zanniat as one of the dialects of Falam language[7].


Zanniat people trace their ancestry to the Chin, of Tibeto-Burman descent from origins in Mongolia. The early Chin people settled in the western plains of Sagaing when it was known as "Kauka" or "Vingpui", and later as "Kale". The word "Vingpui" refers to a type of brick fort. The Zanniat were pushed into the hilly areas by incursions by Manipur tribes.[citation needed].

British rule[edit]

The British ruled Burma from 1824 to 1942. Traditionally, Zanniat culture emphasized the importance of the rule of the head of a group of any size, from household to nation. The Zanniat did not adapt to British rule and operated a Pau Chin Hau governance avoiding centralised rule or local puppet chiefs.[8]


Traditionally, Zanniat people believed in the existence of a supernatural being called "Pathian". The people also believed in other spiritual beings known as "Khuazing", to whom they offered sacrifices in return for favours and blessings. People also believed in the existence of bad spiritual beings and demons such as "Khawsia".]].[citation needed]

The first Protestant Christian missionaries reached the Chin Hills on 15 March 1899. They were American Baptist workers, Laura and Arthur Carson.[9][10] In 1906, Thang Tsin became the first Christian among Zanniat people. Roman Catholic missionaries arrived later.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Burma Census 1931 Burma Library website.
  2. ^ The Chin Hills: a history of the people, our dealings with them, their customs and manners, and a gazetteer of their country Vol-1
  3. ^ Stevenson, H. N. C.; Digital Library Of India (1943-01-01). The Economics Of The Central Chin Tribes. The Times Of India Press.
  4. ^ Stevenson, H. N. C.; Digital Library Of India (1943-01-01). The Economics Of The Central Chin Tribes. The Times Of India Press.
  5. ^ Zanniat Land Zanniat website 2011.
  6. ^ La Polla R. J. and Thurgood G. Sino-Tibetan Languages Routledge, 2016 ISBN 1315399482.
  7. ^ "Chin, Falam" Ethnologue, languages of the world website. Accessed 6 July 2017.]
  8. ^ Scott J. C.The Art of not being Governed Yale University Press, 2009 p212. ISBN 0300156529.
  9. ^ Persecution of Chin Christians in Burma Chin Human Rights Organisation website.
  10. ^ Hre Kio S. A Short History of Christianity in Burma Mount Pleasant Christian Church documents.