In a previous post a list of 33 Tanii villages has been presented which corresponds to the way they are recognized by the administration and registered as such in various censuses. But Taniis in general, when questioned about the "village" of their family, almost invariably mention the 7 following names only :
What can be the reasons of this difference ?
These names correspond to 7 original villages and, till 1950, all Taniis inhabiting the valley were living in one of them only. All other settlements found today on the plateau are posterior to the advent of Indian administration, i.e. roughly after 1950. The foundation of those 7 original villages probably dates back to the time when the ancestors of Taniis first entered the valley. Oral tradition assumes that this first flow of immigrants came by following 3 distinct routes : those who settled at Hari and Bulla are said to have come through a Northern passage; those who established at Hija, Dutta, Michi-Bamin and Mudang-Tage from the East; and those who ultimately settled at Hong by following a North-Eastern route. The same tradition also states that each village bears the name of one founding ancestor, and that these 7 founders were all descendants of the same forefather reckoned in paternal line. However, the exact genealogical relationships between them as well as the names of paternal ascendants vary to some extent from place to place. Here are 2 examples of such variations :
The two genealogies only partially overlap, but both lead more or less to the same village grouping. In this grouping Hija, Dutta, Michi-Bamin and Mudang-Tage form one group, Hong stands alone, and Hari is associated, at least partially, with Bulla (i.e. with Reru, Tajang or Kalong). This way, the division of the society in 3 groups according to the route followed to enter the valley parallels the repartition of the population in 3 patrilineal descent groups, as it also parallels the repartition of villages in 3 groups for organizing Myoko festival on a rotational basis.
In the same previous post it has also been said that the word lemba, which is often mistakenly taken for “village”,, can in fact denote either a village in the general sense or that part of a village inhabited by a single clan, and therefore having a clan platform (lapan). However, it should not be deduced from this that all villages or hamlets listed in the Census are considered by Taniis as true lemba, although most of them do have lapan nowadays. For it seems that a settlement is viewed as lemba only if, besides lapan, it also comprises a nago (clan ritual centre where important ceremonies are performed, especially during Myoko) and a Myoko yugyan (clan ritual ground where pigs are sacrificed during Myoko). According to anthropologist Fürer-Haimendorf, these 3 conditions are necessary for villages to have the word lemba suffixed to their names.
New lapan have frequently been constructed in the new settlements outside the 7 original villages. For eg. 7 lapan are to be found at Lempia. But, according to B. Nani & Y. Radhe (2004), “no nago or Myoko yugyang has come up at the newly created villages”. Thus, new settlements or census villages - including Old Ziro- are not considered as independent or separate villages from a ritual point of view. For this reason they are simply known by their respective names, and only the 7 original villages normally have the word lemba suffixed to their names. At the time of important festivals such as Myoko all families living in those new villages join their clan members to attend the ceremonies performed at the clan common sacrificial ground (yugyan). Consequently, most lapan found in the new settlements serve only for private rituals. So is the case for eg. at Lempia : its inhabitants are mostly from Tajang and still go regularly to perform important rituals at Tajang, and for Myoko they join their respective clan members at the yugyan of Tajang. So is also the case for Old Ziro. Despite the fact that this village has been founded nearly 60 years ago “the inhabitants prefer performing rituals at their original lapang, as a result of which only insignificant rituals are performed at the lapang at Old Ziro.”…(B. Nani & Y. Radhe, 2004)
This way, a clear-cut boundary is drawn between villages which are ritually independent and those which are not. A cluster of houses set apart geographically from some bigger settlement, despite having distinct boundaries, may not be considered as a lemba, whereas what simply looks as a village quarter with no visible boundaries may be considered as such... And by answering the question : “Which village are you from ?”, so far Taniis still identify themselves with one of the 7 original villages to which their respective clans originally belong. Thus, new settlements or census villages do not necessarily make villages which are relevant from a sociological point of view...
memories of migration