Tong Seal


Tong Seal

Pu Tong Seal (1346 AD) was a legendary Burmese hero. A Sizang, he was a very strong, tall and masculine individual who possessed an unusual body structure, measuring “9 tuuk” at his chest (54 inches diameter and 108 inches of the chest circumference). Yet, because of his ability to move quickly, apparent body lightness despite its massiveness, and his athletic skills, the constant admiration was overwhelming. The description of his physical feature seems similar to the figure of Goliath in the Bible, "1 Samuel 17:4-7", Golianth was more than six cubits- about three meters tall, according to the Bible. Pu Tong Seal's dwelling place was "Khuasak", Zogam (Chin State), northern Burma. His father-in-law at that time lived in Theizang but owned a plot at Khuakhuan, 'Khuasak'. [http://www.fallingrain.com/world/BM/2/Khuasak.html] [click here to locate khuasak on the globe] [http://maps.msn.com/(lrv0zx552kldpc45nqcnz4ar)/map.aspx?L=WLD&C=23.23268%2c93.75000&A=215.00000&P=|922D46|&TI=Khuasak%2c+Myanmar] [click here to see khuasak]

Family background

That Mun and That Lang were siblings, and That Lang had four sons named Tong Seal, Kun Tong, Khum Thang and Khup Thang. Pu Tong Seal was a tax or "Phiangsiah" collector, a warlord, and a ruler surrounding the Sizang region of nine administered units under his control, northern Chin State, Burma. He had two sons named Hen Hang and Han Thang. One of the sons lost his life in a battle.

Thangmual Road

People within a society normally led reclusive lives. They were rather isolated, without much contact with the outsiders such as the Shan-Burmans. Unlike others, Pu Tong Seal believed in traveling between places, in addition to being a very adventurous person, so he constructed a road adjoining Khuasak and Thangmual, initially known as Tong Seal Road. He often traveled to Aicik, Theizang, Kalay-Kabaw Valley, Kalaywa, beyond the horizon of his contemporaries during his prime time around 1340 A.D. Many centuries later, the same route became a highway between Sizang region and Kalay Kabaw valley.

A prediction

Pu Tong Seal, due to his constant engagement in battles, happened to capture and confine a Burman monk, against his will. It was considered to be a bad luck to torture and kill a monk, whether friend or foe. A fortune teller then made a prediction, saying that Pu Tong Seal's descendants would suffer great losses for fourteen generations as a curse. Due to constant civil war, many lost their lives from both sides, and the Shan-Bama were also being buried at the graveyard called Kawl-Than.

Fulfillment

As it was foretold by the seer, generation after generation seemed to have been consigned to their unfortunate fates. Finally, with the fifteenth generation, fertility and prosperity were once again seen among his offsprings, at the time of Pu Hang Suangh. During the early 19th century, the Sizang ancestors were also known to capture a learned Buddhist monk for the second time, as a result of their quest of knowledge for reading, writing and speaking Burmese.

Meaning and definitions

"Tong" means "feasting" or "celebrating", and the festival itself can last for several days traditionally. People who feasted for seven days were considered to be the rich ones, since everyone was invited in the society and from the surroundings. The festivity includes dancing, consumption of the alcoholic beverage "Zozu", butchering animals such as "cows", "goats", "pigs", "Mithun" and other animals for the meals. "Seal" means "hide" in the local dialect, referring to modesty and unwillingness to expose one's own riches and egocentrism. Thus, the name "Tong Seal" signifies a person who celebrates festivity with modesty. "Pu" means grandfather or master, denoting an honorable person of higher status in the society.

Encounter with a tiger

One night, Pu Tong Seal was very tired from his all-day journey on foot, and began to fall asleep in the jungle. The moment he dozed off, a tiger attacked him. He seemed to have a sixth sense, even when resting. The warlord never took chances, day or night, but was always alert for the unexpected ambush whether by human or animal. He bent the tiger's body so hard that the spinal cord broke, and the tiger died on the spot.

The capture of a Burman King

Different parts of Burma were ruled by different kings or rulers. Around 1340 A.D. Kalay-Kabaw valley was ruled by a Shan-Burman king named La King (Hla Khin).

One day, Pu Tong Seal made a journey to Kalay valley and observed the exuberant nature of the Shan-Burman people. His curiosities were first aroused when he heard noises from the crowded streets. He assumed that it must be a special occasion. Someone responded to his inquisitive mind by letting him know of the reason why the public was indulging in a joyous moment of patriotism, by greeting their king, Hla Khin (La King). Pu Tong Seal approached "La King", insisting that he would also like to greet him.

As he got close enough, he suddenly made a leap and captured the king single-handedly, holding the king under his arm, meanwhile threatening to kill the king if there was any attempt of rescue. A little snap of the neck would cause fatality to the King, considering Pu Tong Seal's size, ferocity, and strength. The Burman soldiers wisely retreated at the command of Pu Tong Seal, because of fear of losing their beloved king.

When Pu Tong Seal brought back the captive to Theizang, Pu Tong Seal's father-in-law thought that his son-in-law's action was detrimental to his people, and had great concern and fear that the Burmans would invade Theizang, which was situated nearby the Kalay valley. The father-in-law was so mad, and wasn't ready yet to condone this sort of behavior that could jeopardize and endanger their livelihoods, that he hit Pu Tong Seal with a long stick known as ""Ak ngawciang" locally, that was usually used to keep chickens away from their grains while exposing them to the sunlight. The father-in-law fervently hoped that a peaceful solution would soon be found.

War often broke out between the Sizang and the Burmans of Kalay valley, for they were enemies at wartime; but also friends during peacetime, conducting trades and exchanging gifts for peaceful co-existence, although they never fully trusted one another.

Elderly people from Theizang counseled him and removed the captured king temporarily to an undisclosed location, with the intention of returning him to the Burman people. One day, Pu Tong Seal stood on a higher elevation at the northern part of Theizang and shouted at the top of his voice saying, "If you do not give me back my captive, I will destroy your entire village." Believing the threat, Theizang people returned La King into the hands of Pu Tong Seal. His father-in-law, commented, "Tong Seal might really make a blunder as he has threatened us; after all, he never seems to have the slightest remorse for what he does, nor does he seem to care about the consequences of his actions."

The Burman King was initially adamant and unwilling to comply with the demand imposed against him, as he could not swallow his own pride. At the same time, he could neither stand seeing himself in a submissive position to his adversary, nor fully comprehend the circumstances under which his former glory had been overshadowed; instead he endeavored to undermine the authority of Pu Tong Seal.

Subsequently, in a message to his subjects the King conveyed, "Do not worry about me, he will release me soon, without any need for payment- Tong Seal does not seem to be wealthy either." When Pu Tong Seal found out about La King's attitude, he secretly collected all the wealth under his province such as silver, beads, bells, (zaam) a traditional musical instrument made of copper, other house utensils, and stored them in a large house to impress La King. One evening, Pu Tong Seal revealed his treasury to La King, and said, "If you do not want to meet my demand it is fine with me, I do not need your wealth, because I am already a very wealthy man- but in that case, you will never be released to see your kingdom and your family." His determination to keep the Burman king alive but never to release him was very obvious in his stern voice. This sent a chill down La King's spine. La King then immediately sent another message to his Kingdom; this time, the King ordered them to fetch him at once with all the demanded ransom. The King also added in the message, "Tong Seal isn't poor at all, as I first thought, he is actually a very wealthy man".

Pu Tong Seal and his son Han Thang already cleared a place, as big as a medium football ground, in the forest to keep the ransom of many buffalos, many cows, many chickens, etc. The Burmans were supposed to fill that ground with livestock three consecutive times. Even today, we still can see the ground dug by Pu Tong Seal and his son Han Thang, to level the surface of the ground for cattle, at the northern side of "Aicik". The Burmans brought so many cattle that even after the ground was filled with animals three consecutive times, many animals still remained in the hands of the Burmans that they had to take back towards Leisan Mountain on their way back to Kalay-kabaw Valley.

Seeing this, out of dissatisfaction, Pu Tong Seal added to his demands. This time, the demands were not of material wealth, but of rarities. He demanded a 54-foot-long "Takok", which is a tropical plant known to laymen as "fern" but also known as pteridophyte scientifically, and a full cup of extremely tiny flies known as thosi locally. Surprisingly, the Burmans managed to collect a full cup of tiny flies but it seemed impossible to find a takok plant that was 54 feet long. As fate, luck and destiny play important roles in our everyday lives, the Burmans at last found a 54-foot-long takok, on top of a huge dead jungle tree. They cut down the tree to get the takok and paid the final ransom for their anxious king. At last Pu Tong Seal released La King as a gesture of upholding his promise.

The end of his life

As Pu Tong Seal was a ruler for nine administered units under his province, every family from each unit supposed to deliver a certain amount of grain or crop from the yearly yielding and harvesting. Pu Tong Seal increased the size of a food storage unit known as “Beam” by sitting inside during the construction, and having it built as tall as he was, because of disatisfection with the previous size. His subjects from a particular administered unit (part of the province) believed that this “Beam” was too large for them to use as a measurement for collecting crops from each household of the surrounding villages, so they made a secret plan. They arranged a big feast in honor of Pu Tong Seal with many delicacies. But then it was a little too late for him to enjoy the festivity as he started feeling nausea and abdominal cramps due to food poisoning. He never recovered from his acute illness.

The Descendants of Pu Hang Suangh

Pu Hang Suangh had four sons.

Pu Thuam Hang

Chief of Khuasak, the first Christian convert among Zomi, the first Pastor among Baptist Church, Chin State Burma.

Pu Huat Kam

A patriot among Sizang, a respected elder of the community.

Pu Thuam Kam

The founder and of Chief of Siyin Ywa.

Pu Pau Cin

Lt. Colonel Pau Cin was a Night Commander during the British Imperialism.

References

1. The History of Tong Seal Clan, by Pa Suak Kam
2. Zo Genealogy, by Captain Khup Za Thang
3. Historical Compilement on Pu Tong Seal, by Hang Za Pome


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