Keibu Keioiba

A mythical creature in Meitei folklore

Keibu Keioiba or Kabui Keioiba is a mythical creature in the Meitei mythology and folk stories of Manipur. He has the head of a tiger and the body of a human. Legends say he is half man and half tiger.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Keibu Keioiba
Keibu Keioiba unable to know that his bamboo pipe is hollow & not eligible for fetching water
Sub groupingMeitei mythology (Manipuri mythology)
Similar entitiesWerewolf, Manticore, Lai Khutsangbi, Yenakha Paotabi
FamilyHybrid creature
FolkloreMeitei folklore (Manipuri folklore)
Other name(s)Kabui Keioiba

Legend says he was once a skilful priest named Kabui Salang Maiba. He used magic to change into a strong and scary tiger. But because he was too proud, he could not change back all the way.[4][1]


Keibu Keioiba was human in daytime and tiger during nighttime. During night, he walked around looking for food in his tiger form. One night, he came to an old woman's house. He wanted to eat her. The old woman said that her wrinkled skin would taste bad. She told him to eat a young, beautiful lady named "Thabaton" instead.[7] Thabaton was the only sister in a family with seven brothers. The old woman told Keibu Keioiba that Thabaton's seven brothers were not at home. The brothers had gone away to work for a very long time. The old woman told Keibu Keioiba more tricks so he could catch Thabaton. For example, she told him how to trick Thabaton so she would open the door of her house.[8] Keibu Keioba took Thabaton away from her house. Then the seven brothers came home from their work.[9] They found Thabaton was not in the house. They asked the old woman about their sister. She told them that Keibu Keioiba had taken her away. The seven brothers prepared their weapons. They searched for their sister. Keibu Keioiba did not eat Thabaton. Instead, he made Thabaton his wife. They lived together in the woods. The seven brothers never stopped searching for their sister in the woods. One day, they saw Thabaton. When they came close to her, they saw a man and a child with her. The brothers secretly told Thabaton they were there. When Keibu Keioiba went away to hunt, Thabaton met her brothers. They planned to escape from that place.[10] When Keibu Keioiba returned, Thabaton gave him an utong (bamboo pipe). The utong was hollow on both sides. She told Keibu Keioiba to get some water from the stream with that Utong. Keibu Keioiba went out to get water with the hollow utong. In Keibu Keioiba's absence, the seven brothers burned Keibu Keioiba's house and killed the baby. They ran away with their sister.[11] Keibu Keioiba could not make the water stay in the utong. It leaked out. A crow was watching him from a treetop. The crow said, "Keibu Keioiba Naning Namang Hotrong Ho, Natu Leima Kangkok." The crow was telling Keibu Keioiba he was doing something foolish and his prisoner-wife had escaped. The crow crowed it many times. Keibu Keioiba finally noticed the crow's strange statement. He quickly returned home. When he reached home, he found it burned house, his son dead and his wife missing. He was very, very angry. He ran towards the house where had had caught Thabaton. The seven brothers knew Keibu Keioiba would come back. They were all ready with their weapons. As soon as Keibu Keioiba came towards them, they fought Keibu Keioiba. Finally, Keibu Keioiba died at the hands of the seven brothers. After the death of Keibu Keioiba, Thabaton and her seven brothers lived happily ever after.[12][13]


Keibu Keioiba (Tiger Head), a 2009 Meitei language animation movie, was produced. It features the folk story of Keibu Keioiba.[14][15][16]

Yamata Amasung Keibu Keioiba (English: Yamata-no-Orochi and Keibu Keioiba) is a Meitei language play that interweaves the stories of the two legendary creatures, Yamata-no-Orochi of Japanese mythology and Keibu Keioiba of Meitei mythology (Manipuri mythology). The role of Keibu Keioiba was firstly played by Kshetrimayum Priyobrata and then secondly played by Pangambam Tyson Meitei.[17][18]



  1. 1.0 1.1 S Sanatombi (2014). মণিপুরী ফুংগাৱারী (in Manipuri). p. 57. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  2. Regunathan, Sudhamahi (2005). Folk Tales of the North-East. Children's Book Trust. ISBN 978-81-7011-967-8.
  3. Singh, Moirangthem Kirti (1993). Folk Culture of Manipur. Manas Publications. ISBN 978-81-7049-063-0.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Devy, G. N.; Davis, Geoffrey V.; Chakravarty, K. K. (2015-08-12). Knowing Differently: The Challenge of the Indigenous. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-32569-7.
  5. Sangeet Natak. 1985.
  6. Krasner, David (2008). Theatre in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-4051-4043-0.
  7. B. Jayantakumar Sharma; Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh (2014). Folktales of Manipur. p. 74.
  8. B. Jayantakumar Sharma; Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh (2014). Folktales of Manipur. p. 75.
  9. S Sanatombi (2014). মণিপুরী ফুংগাৱারী (in Manipuri). p. 58. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  10. B. Jayantakumar Sharma; Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh (2014). Folktales of Manipur. p. 76.
  11. B. Jayantakumar Sharma; Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh (2014). Folktales of Manipur. p. 77.
  12. B. Jayantakumar Sharma; Dr. Chirom Rajketan Singh (2014). Folktales of Manipur. p. 78.
  13. S Sanatombi (2014). মণিপুরী ফুংগাৱারী (in Manipuri). p. 59. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  14. Keibu Keioiba (2009) - KLMDb
  15. Nishikanta, Naorem. "Bhumenjoy Konsam on the Chemistry of Making Keibu-Kei-Oiba – Part I | Manipur Times".
  16. Nishikanta, Naorem. "Bhumenjoy Konsam on the Chemistry of Making Keibu-Kei-Oiba – Part II | Manipur Times".
  17. "YAMATA AMASUNG KEIBU KEIOIBA – 21st Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2020". Archived from the original on 2021-04-22.
  18. "Heisnam Tomba's Play: Yamata Amasung Keibu Keioiba". StageBuzz. 2020-02-16.

Other websites


Meitei mythology & folklore

Mythic Texts and Folktales:
Numit Kappa | Moirang Kangleirol | Moirang Shayon | Khamba Thoibi | Sandrembi Chaisra
Fungawari Singbul | Funga Wari
Maikei Ngaakpa Lais | Leimalel | Sanamahi
Emoinu | Panthoipi
Legendary Creatures:
Dragons | Helloi | Hingchabi | Keibu Keioiba | Khoirentak tiger | Samadon Ayangba | Uchek Langmeidong
Mythical and Sacred Places:
Lai Lamlen | Khamnung | Kangla | Mt. Koupalu | Nongmaiching Hills | Thangching Hills