The effigy of the hornbill is used by Chin State Peoples Council for the State emblem. The emblem was adopted on the unanimous recommendation of all Township People's Councils within the state in identification of Zo cultural life with the noble image of the hornbill.
All sources of Zo tradition commonly say that hornbills are noble birds. According to tradition they lead a married life just as men are doing. Like men, the bride is taken from the distant place and brought to the bridegroom. While laying egg the female bird is enclosed within a fence so that it cannot move and is fed mouth by the male bird. If any sign of destruction is found with the fence the female bird is accused of being unfaithful and is pecked to death by the male bird. It is said that if one of the couple died the living one also killed itself. Hornbills are never known to destroy the crops in the field nor live on flesh; but they live only on fruits.
Therefore, they are viewed as sacred and noble-sacred in the sense that they lived a simple life. They are noble because the beautiful life characterized by love and faithfulness. Thus hornbills are much respected and honored by the Zos. According to tradition marriage is regarded as a kind of contract tied with love and loyalty. Thus a marriage is considered to be 'unbreakable' or 'inseparable' except by the event of death. A wife cannot be divorced so long as she remains faithful to her husband. This idea of a faithful life expressed in the married life of the hornbill is taken as the symbolic expression of the love for one's wife who is likened and referred to as hornbill. Zo people proudly put on hornbill feathers on important occasions in self-identification with the dignity and honor that the hornbill exemplifies. J.Suan Za Dong once described the cultural beauty of the hornbill in identification with Chin people and their state as thus:
Two hornbills stately and dignified,
For loyalty and honor so proudly pose
symbolizing CHIN in culture rich and sound
Splendors of our state; fresh like a rose scenic beauties and flowers in our land abound.
Based on this traditional background, the physical image of the hornbill has been adopted to symbolize the dignity and honor that the Zo's simple life express. The emblem has been chosen to signify the 'inseparable tie' between the Zos and other national groups of the union, and in reflection of Zo traditional loyalty to the historical community named the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma.
(The Hornbill Emblem is an article published in the GUARDIAN, February 20,1986 issue; the author Gal Ngam is the pen-name of Sing Khaw Khai.)
(Sing Khaw Khai, “Zo People and their Culture,” 1995, p.194)