Tribal Tanchangya: History and Traditions

Each ethnic group in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh has identified themselves based on distinct characteristics over a long period of time.

They are determined to professionally exhibit their history, customs, culture, and identity. In addition to the Bengalis, there are eleven other ethnic or tribal groups that live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

The Tanchangya belong to a tribal group. They possess not just their language but also their distinct customs, culture, identity, and lifestyle.

Tanchangya people believe they are the offspring of the Sakya dynasty, which is associated with the time of Gautama Buddha’s birth.

The book “History of Myanmar” by Dr. Khin Mong Nguni Gee discusses the relationship between the Sakya dynasty of Kapilavastu and the Dainaks of Dottayadi in the Arakan Province of Myanmar.

An anthropological study found parallels between the Tanchangyas and the Mongolian group in Southeast Asia regarding physical appearance and physiological makeup. Colonel AP Feira declared that the Chakma and the Tanchangya are separate castes. The Tanchangyas have a social behaviour and culture that are notably different from the Chakmas.

Captain Lewin considers the Tanchangyas and the Dainakas the same religious sect. Viraj Mohan Dewan Mahashay’s essay “History of the Chakma Race” discusses the origins of the Dainak race.

In 1333 AD (695 Maghi), the Oxa king Mengdi of Brahmadesh or Arakan invaded the Chakma king Arun Yuga at Manijgiri, the capital of the North Brahma or Arakan Chakma monarchy. King Arun Yuga was defeated in combat as a consequence of this attack. Furthermore, he was captured along with ten thousand soldiers or subjects.

Ten thousand warriors or subjects were allowed to live in Arakan regions called Engkhyong and Yongkhyong, provided by King Majdi of the Arakan people. During this time, King Mejdi of the Arakan tribe renamed their previous title to Dainak, meaning “armed warriors.” During that period, troops of the Sakya dynasty carried black shields or swords in battle, symbolising Chakma King Arun Yuga. The term “Dain” in the Arakanese language means “sword,” and “Naq” means “warrior.” Hence, the term “Dainik,”  “Dain sword bearer,”  or “warrior with a weapon” suggests that the shield is black. King Mengdi of the Arakanese people probably had a reason for calling ten thousand soldiers or subjects Dainakas, which translates to armed warriors. Many historians believe this is how the Dainakas evolved.

The term “Dainak” is present in the historical account of ancient Arakan known as Dengyawadi Aredfung. Sri Ratikanta Tanchangya, a prominent author of Tanchangya society, explains that “Dainaka” specifically denotes those known as Dainya Gachas within the Tanchangya race.

The majority of them reside in Myanmar and Bangladesh. In 1418 A.D., the Chaprei tribe, known as Dainaks, migrated from Arakan to Alei Khyongdyang, or Alikadam. They settled on the banks of the Taingang (Tainkhyong in Marmara) river near the Matamuhuri River in Alikadam upazila, which is now part of the Bandarban district.

The Taingang is a tributary of the Matamuhuri River. Over time, they expanded westward and northward into the Chakma kingdom.

The Chakma king at that time did not identify them as Chakmas; instead, he initially referred to them as the established residents of Taingang and documented them as Tainchanga/Taintonga in Jumtauji.

The terms Tainchanga and Tantangga have been replaced with the word Tanchangya in all official and private documents. They are now widely recognised nationally and internationally as Tanchangya.

History and location

The Daingnakeras, known as Tanchangya, are Buddhist individuals residing in the upper regions of the Maya River (Mayu). They speak a twisted version of Bengali. The Chakmas and the Daingnaks are documented in historical records dating back to the fourteenth century AD. Historical records demonstrate a correlation between religion and language as a connection and partnership between the two ethnic groups.

The Daingnaks had no conflicts with the people of Arakan. No conflicts are mentioned in history. The Daingnaks, a Mongoloid Southeast Asian ethnic group, are part of ancient Arakan history together with other groups like UchaBrahma. Mongols, Tibetan Brahmins, and Kirat tribes like Murung, Khumi, Chak, Sin, Senduz, Mro, Khang, Doinak, Marumyu, and others were all present in the Ancient Arakan State.


The Daingnaks are followers of Buddhism, as noted by the author of ‘History of Burma’ cited by the former Commissioner of Arakan Division, Fairey. They possessed the Buddhist scripture Tripitaka. Chakmaras adhere to Buddhism as well. Despite being tormented and oppressed, they did not renounce Buddhism upon leaving Arakan. They brought the Dharma Shastra with them when they left Arakan, as evidenced by their later history. However, they could not get the genuine Tripitaka because of its scarcity or because they needed it with them. Essential teachings relevant to daily tasks or social events, such as death or marriage, are extracted from the original Tripitaka.


When the Chakmas established permanent settlements in the Chittagong, Rangunia, and Rangamati regions, numerous Daingnaks from Alikadam and Arakan relocated to the Tatra region to live near the Chakmas. Daingnaks from Alikadam migrated and established communities in Naikshyongchari, Lama, Teknaf, Ukhia, and other parts of Cox’s Bazar district.

They currently reside in all these locations. Settlements were established in the Bandarban district along the route to the north, including Rowangchari, Ruma, Hoakkxyong, Rajbila, Shukbilas, Bangalhalia, Narangri, Kaptai valley region, Noapatong, Raingkhang valley region, Hoagga, Baradam, Ghagra, and Roisabili.


Agriculture in the plains was in its early stages. The majority of the subjects relied on jumchasha. The Daingnaks were also known as jumchasi. Within the Jum Tauji of the Chakma Raj government, individuals are identified as Taintongya, predominantly from Tainchari of Alikadam, rather than being known as Chakma. The term Taintongya evolved to the written form ‘Tanchangya’ throughout time.

Based on an analysis of historical and anthropological study findings, including data, evidence, views, and popular beliefs, the Tanchangya people have been in this region for an extended period.

They were isolated from their original kingdoms or continents due to different circumstances. However, they resided in separate locations. They were and continue to be recognised as Dainaks in Arakan.

The Tanchangyas formerly resided in Dengyawadi, or Arakan State, in Myanmar. The Tanchangyas have a long history as independent entities and currently reside in the mountainous districts of Bangladesh, such as Rangamati, Bandarban, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazar. They can also be found in different locations in India and Myanmar, where they continue to preserve their distinct culture.

Providing educational chances for Tanchangya children lagging in their native language and alphabet from the pre-primary level will decrease their risk of dropping out.

Consequently, students will attain the desired advancement in primary schooling. All stakeholders in Bangladesh must ensure that every indigenous kid in the country has the right to receive education in their original language, starting from the primary level.

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