Kirat Tribe of Nepal

There are various tribes scattered along the eastern regions of Nepal, such as Limbu, Rai, Sunuwar and the Yakkha, which fall under the umbrella of the Kirat, or Kirati, tribe. They are all descendants of the original Kirat that ruled Nepal centuries ago and all their languages are derived from the Tibeto-Burman dialects. The history of this tribe is as unique, as the ruling Kirat were, and are, a significant part of the history of Nepal. Today the Kirat are found in Nepal, as well as in Burma, India and further regions.

It is said that the Kirats were a tribe that was highly skilled in warfare and were known for having the best archers. They came to Nepal in 700 BC and were north-eastern aborigines that lived in the Himalayas. Their features were also extremely unique, known to be short in stature, yet very full-bodied, strong and healthy, with dark eyes, broad facial features and flat noses.

The very first king of Nepal was of the Yellung clan, and there were twenty-nine kings in total, namely Yalamber, Pavi, Skandhar, Balamba, Hriti, Galinja, Humati, Suyarma, Pushka, Sthunko, Swananda, Papa, Bunka, Luka, Jinghri, Nane, Guja, Thor, Verma, Thoko, Keshu, Gunam, Suja, Khimbu, Suja, Gasti and Patuka. The Kirat came into full control of Nepal in approximately 900 to 300 BC and remained rulers for an impressive 1 225 years.

During the rule of the fourteenth king, Sthunko, numerous foreign visitors travelled to Lumbini as a pilgrimage to pay honor at the site of Guatama Buddha’s birthplace. A Chinese pilgrim, Hieun Tseng, mentioned the existence of a stone pillar that was inscribed on by Emperor Asoka. This pillar was only revealed to the modern world in 1985. The stupas that Emperor Asoka erected in different quarters still stand today. And it was due to the Indian Emperor’s visit that Buddhism began to flourish in Nepal. The Soma dynasty began to make their move on Nepal during the reign of Pakuta, the twenty-eighth king, and due to numerous attacks on Nepal, he moved to Shankhamul, where he built Patuko Palace and created a new town. The rule of the Kirat came to an end with the last king, Gasti, finally being defeated by the Soma king, Nimisha.

The rule of the Kirat did instill various good qualities in the community and the country, as they promoted treating women as equals, and their extremely developed administration skills created commerce, architecture and agricultural industries within Nepal. They were also very strict and did not have any tolerance for criminal behavior. They left behind a booming trade industry with India, Tibet and China, as well as a legacy of being fair and supreme leaders of the country.