Old cultures and portraits::Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Below are the very rare portraits of the ancient Indigenous Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.
All the pictures were taken when before Arunachal Pradesh was an full fledged state. So, the below picture depicts the History of Arunachalee people, when they first came to the consciousness about the world wide civilization.

Group of Hill Miris ( now called Nyishi's )

Group of Hill Miris ( now called Nyishi’s ) , Arunachal Pradesh

These Hill Miris are from the Kamla River valley, possibly from the settlement of Bidak or another Hill Miri settlement in the lower valley. Their earrings, machete, pipe, animal-skin bag, cane-belt, wrist guard (left arm of the central man) and general hair style are common throughout much of the Subansiri region…. However, the leaf head cover, heavy cane-work arm guard (central man’s right arm), cloth penis cover (man far left in background), grass penis cover (half visible on the far right) and textile (almost a coat, with narrow, dark borders on the central man) were more typical of the Kamla River area. (1945).

Portrait of a Digaru Mishmi woman


Portrait of a Digaru Mishmi woman, Arunachal Pradesh

 

This Digaru Mishmi woman is standing in the plains of Assam, probably near the town of Sadiya. She wears typical Digaru textiles, headband and ornaments, especially the earrings and the necklace of metal discs. She also wears a pair of jungle cat teeth and a key, hanging from her necklaces. (1937).

Sherdukpen dancer

 

Sherdukpen dancer, Arunachal Pradesh, India

This Sherdukpen dancer with a wooden mask is a figure in a version of a yak dance performed widely across the Tibetan Buddhist world. The dance tells the story of three sons, one of whom is dispossessed but is helped by a yak. He is performing for J. P. Mills, Adviser to the Governor of Assam for Tribal Areas. Mills came to meet the Sherdukpen Sat Rajas (‘Seven Kings’) at their winter camp on the Belsiri River, east of Charduar in Assam, where they presented him with an honorary scarf. Each year Sherdukpens (and other Arunachal tribes) came to Charduar to receive annual payments from the government. Charduar was the headquarters of the Balipara Frontier Tract, which included most of the eastern districts of present-day Arunachal Pradesh, where Sherdukpens (Akas, Mijis, Monpas and Buguns) live. Charduar (‘Four-Door/Gate’) was one of several duars along the base of the eastern Himalayas where hill tribes came to transact business with the rulers of the plains. Many tribes received an annual payment (posa) in goods and/or cash in return for not raiding villages in the plains. For some tribes, these payments continued for several years even after 1947. (1944)

Apatani boy during a ritual procession

 

Apatani boy during a ritual procession

This Apatani boy, standing in the paddy fields, is part of a longer procession led by a shaman during a large feast. He carries a brass plate and a bamboo stick, wrapped in cloth, with which to strike it (the only musical instrument used by Apatanis). He also wears a necklace… of expensive conch-shell beads, a man’s hair knot with skewer, a string of metal beads on the hair line and cane rings below the knee. Each year, several Apatani families celebrate this three-week long feast, involving mithun and cow sacrifice, public chanting by the shaman and complex gift-giving between the feast sponsor and various kin and ceremonial friends. During the procession, which takes place more than a week after the large animal sacrifice on the first day, the shaman leads a long line of young boys and men belonging to the sponsor’s clan. Dressed in ceremonial finery, they walk through the entire Apatani valley (only 8 kilometres long and 4 across), visiting all nine villages and each ritual platform in each village. At every platform, they perform a simple dance and are given food and drink.

Leader of Sherdukpen Sat Rajas

 

Leader of Sherdukpen Sat Rajas

This Sherdukpen man is the leader of the Sat Rajas (‘Seven Kings’), the representatives of a few Sherdukpen villages who came to the plains to transact business with the government. (1944) He wears ceremonial clothes and a hat influenced by eastern Bhutanese and Tibetan traditions. J. P. Mills, Adviser to the Governor of Assam for Tribal Areas, met the Sherdukpens at their winter camp on the Belsiri River, east of Charduar, where they presented him with an honorary scarf. Each year Sherdukpens (and other Arunachal tribes) came to Charduar, in Assam, to receive annual payments from the government. Charduar was the headquarters of the Balipara Frontier Tract, which included most of the eastern districts of present-day Arunachal Pradesh, where Sherdukpens (Akas, Mijis, Monpas and Buguns) live. Charduar (‘Four-Door/Gate’) was one of several duars along the base of the eastern Himalayas where hill tribes came to transact business with the rulers of the plains. Many tribes received an annual payment (posa) in goods and/or cash in return for not raiding villages in the plains. For some tribes, these payments continued for several years even after 1947.

Portrait of a Wancho Naga man

 

Portrait of a Wancho Naga man

 This photograph was taken by the anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf in 1962 in Mintong, Arunachal Pradesh, Tirap district, India.

Portrait of the Wancho girl(1962)

Portrait of the Wancho girl
Above is an portrait of an Wancho girl (1962)

Portrait of an Apatani man 1962

 Portrait of an Apatani man
Above is an portrait of an Apatani man surrounded with children and having his first click. (1962)

Portrait of a Mingyon Adi man 1937

 

Portrait of a Mingyon Adi man

This Minyong Adi man wears a cotton tunic with a rough texture, the result of the fact that the fibres were roughly spun. He also wears the short hair cut that was distinctive of Adis. He may be the headman of the village. This photograph was taken in Pangin village, Arunachal Pradesh, East Siang District, India in 1937.

Portrait of a Minyong Adi woman 1937

 

Portrait of a Minyong Adi woman

This Minyong Adi woman is standing in the plains of Assam, probably near the town of Sadiya. She wears typical Minyong jewellery, especially the earrings and broad metal ornament. A bamboo comb is also visible. (1937).

Portrait of a Mingyong Adi woman and child

Portrait of a Mingyong Adi woman and child

This photograph, taken in Rengin village, Arunachal Pradesh, East Siang District, India, shows a Minyong woman carrying a child on her back. She wears the high hair line, typical for Minyong men and women. (1937)

Portrait of Minyong Adi Shaman

Portrait of Minyong Adi Shaman

This woman is a shaman among the Minyong Adis in the Siang river area. Anthropologist Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf met her as he and his party were trekking near Yamung village. In addition to her earrings, with tassels, and elaborate jewellery, some of it silver, she wears dried bird skins. Women still practice as shamans among the Minyong Adis, although this is somewhat unusual among other groups in central Arunachal Pradesh. (1937)

Portrait of a Minyong Adi man

Portrait of a Minyong Adi man

The Minyong Adi man in this photograph (taken in Rengin village, Arunachal Pradesh, East Siang District, India) is smoking a pipe with a metal stem and bowl. He wears a handwoven jacket that was typical among Adis.

Mingyong Adi shaman

Mingyon Adi shaman

The Minyong Adi man in this photograph (taken in Arunachal Pradesh, East Siang District, India) is a shaman, as indicated by his elaborate jewellery and hair dress. Minyong Adis have both male and female shamans, who wear similar costumes. (1937)

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6 Responses

  1. picture are nice. I was in Arunachal during 1991- 92. Much has been changed now. I was lucky to read a first book on Apatanis written by a foreigner during the time.

  2. Mishmi woman has been wronly given a caption as `Portrait of a Minyong Adi woman 1937`. The other photos of the Adis are good. But its not easy to make to which tribe one belongs. The Adis belonged to same tribe. Its the Britishers which gave them nomenclature prefixing the name of villages. Such, Padam Adi, Pasi Adi, Karko Adi etc. The Padam, Pasi, Karko etc is the name of village only. The people inhabiting those village belonged to same tribe – the Adi with the same dialect and culture.

  3. i realy like the ornoments that a mishmi girl is wearing in her neck( buterfly like} and wants to know the name cause i have one of them. i agree with Ipertin that mishmi women has been wrongy given as adi minyong women

  4. Interesting photos. I saw few of them taken in 1962. As North eastern Indian tribes have changed a lot since then, when did the change happened ? In the 60’s, the 70’s,…? Because of the government policies, the christian missionaries, the will to evolve,…?

  5. nice collection of old photos… would like to see some more of the old collections….

  6. Wonderful post. These pictures are remarkable and tell a story of a time long lost. You have described very well.

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