About Limbu people.

Limbu tribe and clans belong to the Kirati nation or Kirat confederation that includes the Rai and Sunuwar who are believed to be the descendants of the ancient Mongolian-Tibeto people and are still known as “Mongolians” in Nepal. The name Limbu is an exonym of uncertain origin. Anyhow the word Limbu roughly means or translates as an archer or ‘the bearer of bows and arrows’. They call themselves Yakthumba/Yakthung (in Limbu language). They are also known as Shong, Xong or Drenjongka (in Tibet) or Chong, Tsong in (Sikkim). Their approx population of 700,000 is centered on the districts of Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Dhankuta, Taplejung, Morang, Sunsari, Jhapa, Panchthar and Ilam, all within the Mechi and Kosi zones in Nepal, also known as Limbuwan, as well as the East and West districts of Sikkim. A smaller number are scattered throughout the cities of Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal, India and also in North and South Sikkim and Bhutan.
Limbu Clans and Tribes are divided into the Lhasa gotra (those from Lhasa,Tibet) and Yunan gotra (those who come from Yunan China). The Limbu are known as des limbu (ten Limbu), even though there are actually thirteen Limbu sub-groups. Legend says that five of the groups came from Yunnan, China and the other eight from Lhasa, Tibet.

Unlike the caste systems brought forward to Nepal region since the Hindu invasion, social discrimination or caste system is not practised among the Limbu people and Limbu sub-groups, however there are numerous different clans and sects.

The Chinese text called Po-ou-Yeo-Jing translated in 308 AD refers to the Yi-ti-Sai (barbarians bordering on the north), a name which is an exact equivalent of Kiratas.[1][2]

Yakthungba or Yakthumba
Yakthungba is most likely a combination of three Limbu syllables: Yak means Hill, thum means place or district, and ba or pa means inhabitant. which together may be translated as “Hill people”. They are also known as Yak Herders because sections of clans belonging to the Lhasa Gotra people have legends about their migration from the north (Southern Tibet) via the Olang Tshung Gola pass (above Taplejung district). Limbu females are called “Yakthungma”, which “Ba” or “Pa” is replaced by Ma to a female gender.
It is set to believe that Tsong people or Limbu clans in Sikkim were natives from the U-Tsang territory of Tibet. They migrated from Sjiyatse, Penam, Norpu, Giengtse etc of the Tsang province of Tibet. They followed their guru Matog Lama and settled in Sikkim. The local people in Sikkim are called Chong, Tsong because of their migration from the “district of Tsang/ Tsong in Tibet”. In Nepal and Darjeeling this word is also seldom used by Limbus to describe Sikkimese Limbu clans.
Limbu Language
Main article: Limbu language
Limbu (Limbu:Yakthungpan; “Language of the Yakthung/Limbus”) is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Nepal, Sikkim, Kashmir and parts of Northern India, by the Limbu community.

Limbu language has its own unique evolution of Tibetan and Devanagiri writing system. Far more Limbus are literate in Nepali than in Limbu, thus many Limbu publications are accompanied by Nepali translation.

Limbu language is one of the major spoken and written languages of Nepal, Sikkim and other parts of Northern India. Today, linguists have reached the conclusion that pronominalization is indigenous development of Tibeto-Burman language and Limbu language bears close resemblance with Khambu Sampang and unique Tibetan dialects. Limbu language has four main dialects-Panchthare, Tamarkhole, Phedape and Chatthare.

Before the introduction of Sirijonga script among Limbu Kiratas, Rong script was popular in East Nepal specially in early Maurong state. Sirijonga script had almost disappeared for 800 years and it was brought into practice again by Te-Ongsi Sirijonga Thebe (1704 – 1741 A.D.) of Tellok Sinam who fled to Sikkim where he was put to death by the Lamas of Sikkim in charge of educating people in Limbu language and script in 1741. However, historical evidence show that Te-Ongsi Sirijonga Thebe studied under Sikkimese Lamas and Brahamans in India.
The Limbu language and literature has been less practiced in Nepal since the last eighteenth century. The cultural identity of any community was taken as a threat to the national unification by ruling elites until the recent years. The use of Limbu alphabets was banned and the possession of Limbu writings outlawed. There were no specific law about it, but Security Act was enforced for such cases under the strong directives of Kathmandu
Limbu Culture
Limbus have a number of their own rituals. They worship by means of blood sacrifice. They believe that lineage divinities are not transmitted patrilineally. Rather, a woman inherits her mother’s gods and when she marries and lives with her husband, she brings with her the deities that will then be recognized as the gods of the Household. Every time a bad thing or feeling is caused by the man, he will have to be washed clean of it. There are also forest deities that inhabit the area. Limbu bury their dead and observe two to three days of pollution; the length of the period depends on whether the deceased is a female or a male, respectively. Drinking and dancing are very important to the Limbus. Weddings, mourning, gift exchanges, and settlement of conflicts involve much consumption of liquor, especially Limbu traditional beer popularly known as Tongba. Dancing parties are given for visitors to the village. These affairs give the young Limbu girls and boys a chance to meet and enjoy dancing and drinking. Yakthung Limbu Culture is so rich both in terms of its developmental aspects, its meaning and value. Yakthung Paan, Limbu language is one of the most primitive language all over the world. Only the reason to prove that is about its Mundhum the holy scripture based on oral traditions that Yakthungs do know as insight book or Sik Sapla. It always starts from its nought point i.e. before the creation of the universe and the Earth. Language is so unique and great that we can prove from its highly developed form of linguistic richness. It reaches to the bottom of the feelings and height of the feelings. It is also regarded as a science because it always advocates how artistically and logically the Universe, the Earth was made by Porokmiba Yambhamiba seems like a particular scientist like albert einstein and some other physisists

Limbu Tribes
The Limbu nation is made up of hundreds of clans. Each Limbu clans are classified under their Tribe or subnational entity or according to their place of origin. Some of the Tribes are Khajum, Nalbo, Huukpa, Samba and etc. Almost all the Limbu clan names are unique, therefore it is not necessary to specify the Tribe or the place of origin every time the clan name is said. Although, some of the clan names may not be unique for example: Chongbang or Maden. They are divided by listing their tribe name before or after their clan. Chongbang can be Sering-Chongbang or Huuppa-Chongbang or Tilling-Chongbang, similarly Maden clan can be specifically Tilling-Maden or Tokleng-Maden or Tunglung-Maden. Listed Chaobisia, Mawakhola, Tambarkhola, Charkhola, Maiwakhola, Panthar, Tinkhola, Phedap and Yangrok are the names of the places where the respective clans belong to. Chaobisia refers to present day Dhankuta and Morang districts, Tambarkhola area is in present day Taplejung district, Mawakhola area refers to present day Taplejung and Sankhuwasabha districts, Charkhola is a present day Ilam and Jhapa districts, Maiwakhola area is in present day Taplejung district, Tinkhola is in Panchthar district, Panthar is Panchthar district, Phedap is the north-central area of Terhathum district, Athraya is in northeastern Terhathum district, Chethar is in southern Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha and eastern Dhankuta district. Yangrok area is in present day Southeast Taplejung, Northeast Panchthar districts and west Sikkim. All of these areas make up Limbuwan.

Nationality and the name
Before the unification of Limbuwan with Gorkha, the Term Limbu did not stand as Jaat or Varna of Hindu system, but Limbu meant anyone living in the Limbuwan’s domain. After the Unification of Limbuwan and Gorkha, the Gorkhali King and Khas-Brahmin immigrants classified all those living in Limbuwan as Limbus and ranked them as one of the “Namasine Matwali Jaat”.

The term “Subba” is not a clan name of a Limbu nationality, Subba is a title given by the Shah Kings to Limbu village chiefs. Subba is not an indegenous Limbu terminology, but now Limbu and Subba are almost interchangeable terms.

The term “Yakthumba or Yakthungba” is also not a clan name. Limbus call themselves Yakthumba in their own language and thus its an endonym of term Limbu.

The clan names have terms attached to it as well, Libang means the Archer, Tilling means the Police, Menyangbo means the unsuccessful one, Samba means the priest, and etc. However, clans also have meanings which evolved from sentences eg. Hembya was according to legend, evolved from “Hey’ nangh wa” which translates to “Over there also”. This sentence was previously used to identify Thebe’s next clan who settled in a different territory.

Clans and Marriages
To Limbus, genealogy is very important before conducting marriages. Limbus don’t marry within their own clan and not into their mother’s clan or their grandmothers’ clan. Some Traditional and cultural Limbus with strong background, avoid marriages into clans from which they derive their blood, up to seven generations in their father’s line and up to five generations in their mother’s line. That means Marriages into great-great-great grandmothers’ clans are also avoided.

A person of Sering-Chongbang clan can marry a person of Phago-Chongbang or Kajum-Chongbang clan but not of Sering-Chongbang clan, this is because all the members of Sering-Chongbang are descended from the same male ancestor and considered related by bone and blood

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16 Comments

  1. Thanks for information, it is really helpful for us. i didn’t know anything like this before.

  2. Being a Limbu myself. It is a great privilege to be enlightened about our history n clans. And to be known as the early inhabitants of our country generates a sincere pride of who i am. Hence I would like to know more detailed information of our origin.

  3. […] more: About Limbu people. « मेरो लिम्बुवान if(typeof(hyperweb_adcount)=="undefined") hyperweb_adcount […]

  4. thanx for such website which provide to kno abt limbuwan……

  5. Thenks jai limbuwan

  6. how do u say “i luv u” in liimbu bhasa??

  7. Alot of thanks for you. I also liked this.I love steate of Limbuwan.

  8. this site is very cool n fabolouis

  9. I was brought up in India and don’t know as much as i would like to about my Limbu heritage. i was very excited to read information and would like very much to learn more about my forefathers and my culture. If any of you have links to online resources, then do let me know. Jai Limbuwan!

  10. A humble suggestion please……
    Limbu community is scattered all over the globe……
    even people does not use limbu names today except the surname…..
    Why dont we start using limbu names……
    I would like to request you to include a column for BABY NAMES along with there names.
    so that people will start using limbu names while naming there baby boy or girls.
    e.g NOOMA(limbu) hangma-it means beautiful queen…..
    AKU HANG …………Fighter king etc
    IT WILL HELP US TO RETAIN OUR IDENTITY……….

    • Pretty good suggestion- yes i would also like to get some good limbu names for babies… along with its meaning.. please send me some names at :
      mohanlittrel@yahoo.com

  11. Great fantastic………..

  12. my sis wanted her first son name in limbu calling him samyang howevr i did oppose to this name…see limbu name sounds very chinese to non limbu ppl, if we were to be living all our life in dharan or even nepal, limbu name would be very cool, like my brothers homuk hang and kusha hang, its really cool name but as u knw most of the limbus are laure, they live abrod or intend to live abroad…..with a limbu name, we wouldnt even get a interview, ppl can be prejudice….finally we all agreed that his name wont be samyang instead Caspian Limbu, as his official name, well the name samyang ended up being his ghar ma bolaune name. its sad, we cant keep limbu name but we have the family name limbu, which is still cool.

  13. it was great learning about the limbu culture…thanks keep uploading and writing about the limbu people ..we support you.

  14. please try to update ….the article…

  15. well its nice to know about limbu…because my mom is also limbu (krungbang).


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