In news– The Union Home Minister has inaugurated a 122-foot-tall statue of Sagol Kangjei, a polo player astride a Manipur Pony in Imphal.
A brief note on Sagol Kangjei-
- Modern polo is said to have originated from Sagol Kangjei, a sport indigenous to Manipur, in which players ride horses, specifically the Manipur Ponies, which are referenced in records dating back to the 14th century.
- It was reproduced into a formal sports form by King Ningthou Kangba, of Ancient Manipur (Antique Kangleipak).
- The ‘PUYAS’ or ancient scriptures trace it to the mythological age when the game was played by gods.
- The game is played with 7 players on each side mounted on ponies, which are often not more than 4/5 feet in height.
- Each player is outfitted with a polo stick made of cane having a narrow angled wooden head fixed at the striking end. The ball, 14 inches in circumference is made of bamboo root.
- The mounted players hit the ball into the goal. Extremely vigorous and exhilarating the game is now played in two styles – the PANA or original Manipuri style and the International Style i.e. POLO.
- The fact that Manipur is the birthplace of polo is already supported by the Guinness World Records, by a declaration in the year 1991, as: “Polo can be traced to origins in Manipur state c. 3100 BC, when it was played as Sagol Kangjei.”
- The Marjing Polo Complex has been developed as a way to conserve the Manipur Pony.
- The state government’s Manipur Pony Conservation and Development Policy 2016 refers to the mythology around the Manipur Pony.
- The Manipur Pony is one of five recognised equine breeds of India, and has a powerful cultural significance for Manipuri society.
- The Manipuri pony has been indispensable with Manipuri society for its socio-cultural association for centuries. Its antecedents, however, are not clear, as one source stated Tibetan ponies as its ancestors while another source stated its origin to be a cross between Mongolian wild horse & Arabian.
- However, all agreed that it was derived from ancient stock. In some manuscripts, it is referred to as Mangal-sa or Mongolian animal.
- In Manipuri mythology, the Manipuri pony was regarded to have descended from “Samadon Ayangba” the winged steed of Lord Margjing, one of the guardian deities of Manipur.
- According to the Imphal-based curator and author, the Manipur Pony features in mythological stories, and is celebrated in oral tradition, ballads, and rituals. Historically an important part of Manipuri armies, it is used only for cavalry, rituals, and sport, not for working as a draught animal.
- The mythology is that it was created as a winged beast that had to be controlled because of which its wings had to be lopped off and it fell to the ground.
- It was created by Sanamahi, also known as Marjing, who is the older of two brothers in an archetypal sibling mythology. He feels that his birthright is stolen by his younger brother Pakhangba and creates the winged beast
- Samadon Ayangba to try to kill his brother.
- The horse turns out to be really destructive and begins to get out of control. Sanamahi’s father orders him to control it, as a result of which Sanamahi cuts off its wings.
- However, the small and dwindling numbers of the Manipur Pony has been a cause for concern.
- The 17th Quinquennial Livestock Census 2003 had recorded 1,898 Manipur Ponies; the number fell to 1,101 in the 19th Quinquennial Livestock Census in 2012.
Source: The Indian Express