Saturday, September 22, 2007

Photo collection from olden days

These are a collection of Tanii photos from olden days (taken in 1954), digitally stored at the Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution and available at this link :

I thought it would be worth displaying them in my blog, as these pictures are rarely seen nowadays. they have been taken by foreign anthropologist Verrier Elwin in our grandparents' time. Looking at these photos, it's hard today to imagine how their life was.

This is a view of ‘taper panii’ (imprisoned man) with heavy wooden stock. During those days, when anybody was found guilty of some wrong-doing (for eg. a theft), he/she was inflicted a public sanction by having ‘taper’ (wooden log) put around his/her leg.

Tanii woman fetching drinking water in bamboo container (olden practice). I’m a bit confused with the name of this bamboo must be called ‘yassi dije’ or ‘sulu

Photo of ‘boa benii during the ritual called ‘babo achanii’ in the month of myoko. The ‘babo’ is this long wooden post standing in the centre of the picture .‘Boa benii’ is the kind of acrobatics performed by Tanii men around this mast during this ritual to mark their skill, but this is not without danger, one has to risk his/her life.

Apatani women sitting at ‘simbya’ (verandah of Tanii house). This photo shows the typical dressing of ladies in olden days with nose plucks and tattoos. They are wearing ‘kente aabi’ (a skirt-like hand woven lady wear) surrounded by bunch of ‘tasang’ (beads), and are wrapped in a ‘kente pulye‘ (hand woven shawl).

Picture of a Tanii couple. The woman is carrying a ‘yatii’ (a local version of umbrella) made of splitted cane or bamboo covered by leaves of a special tree. The man is carrying elyo (a kind of sword) and a loin belt of cane matted hanging from the waist like a tail, ‘ahu-yari‘, which was a traditional outfit of grown-up males.

I am thankful the person who has captured such a memorable photos of Tanii of olden days. These scenes can not be seen in the present generation. Nobody prefers to carry water in bamboo container, it’s an obsolete has been replaced by the use of plastic buckets or metal containers. ‘Yatii’ is replaced by modern umbrellas. ‘Ahu-yari’, ‘kente pulye’, ‘aabi’ etc. are no longer worn by Taniis.

This is another good video link that I have found from youtube-


yasiyalow said...

Beautiful collection. Your comments on the photos are qutie correct save for yasi hiije instead of Yasi dije.

Buru said...

There is an intriguing possibility of a remnant of Apatanis being present in the Tibetan side of China.In the following article on an official Chinese website the author is basically describing the Apatani(Apadani) during ?Murung(Molang) festival.

There is also the possibility that the website is describing the Ziro Taniis because it says the "Apadani"resides in Lhoyu( means Southern regions in Tibetan, a descriptive term for both present Southern Tibet like Nyingchi or Pemako as well as Arunachal,Which of course they claim as their own as "Zang nan" in Chinese). The Babo poles have been mistaken for Phallus worship;) It must be mentioned that actual genital worship does indeed take place among some tribes of Southern tibet, and sometimes Bokars(Adi subtribe) of Tibet are mentioned as being one of them.
In Apatani folklore there is mention of a character Nyime Radhe. Could any Tanii brethern been left behind during migration, a descendent of Nyime Radhe?? Nyime means Tibet in ALL Tanii tribes.

The article mentions the place of ApaDani as XibaXiaqu(meaning Xiba Valley, Xiaqu= Valley in Mandarin).
Here is the Link
I have cross-posted it in Arunachaldiary too(under Boa-Benii post).
The article.......
The Worship of Genital Organs

Among the Lhobas who call themselves "Apadani," a festival called "Molang" is celebrated in the twelfth or the first month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. These people inhabit the Xibaxiaqu area of the Lhoyu region. A shaman chooses the date of celebration, on which, all the young men, led by the shaman, dressed up in the village to make a tour in a line to the nearby villages. When they pass a field, the shaman scatters rice into the field. The young men wave their long swords and hammer at copper trays, while an old man at the end of the line scatters rice powder all the way along. When they pass a field that is to be sowed, the young men with male organs made of bamboo walk into the field and dance production dances. When they go to dance and sing in the square of a village, the villagers serve them with wine warmly. It is a must that the touring group should go over all villages of the tribe. This festival prays for good harvest, because they see the similarities between the reproduction of crops and that of humans. In some of their communities, we still can see production organs made of wood standing by houses to show a wish for more offspring. As a matter of fact, many nationalities in China used to have this sort of worship; even now, some southern ones still have festivals in which traces of it remain. We can understand the causes of genital worship, if only we know the importance of reproduction.


NPR said...

Thanks for your valuable link. I don't think Apatani is something related to Abadani of the Lhoyu region of Chinese teriotory. We Apatani, usualy calls ourselves as "Tanii". I exactly dunno how this "Apatani" word was coined. The word "Apa” in tanii language is generally used to address someone in an affectionate or respectful manner.

Without any relevant sources, it’s very difficult to judge and trace our origin. According to different historians, we Arunachalee (specially those who believes ourselves as the descendents of Abotani)seems to be have migrated from Mongolia/Tibet/China...and different people got different story to tell. If the author of the said link is trying to relate Apatani to Abadani, Murung to Molang and Babo to worship of genital I would like to say that this could be either a big mistake or a great coincidences of Apatani and Abadani. From that article it has been found that Apatani and Abadani shares a certain similarities. I tried to relate the article on Abadani to the Apatani of Arunachal Pradesh:

Molang seems to be similar to the ritual activities performed during the Murung celebrations of Apatani. The shaman (Nyibu in Tanii) is the person who decides the date of celebration. Regarding the tour of men folk can be related to the Peni iniing of Tanii Murung. During Murung ritual, all the men folk dressed in traditional dresses goes to tour to other villages lead by Nyibu to share the warm wishes of Murung and this tour is called as Peni in tanii. In such procession menfolk carryies Chiri elyo (Tibetan sword) and Talo (bronze plate) which is hammered through out. This procession is lead by the Nyibu(shaman) and he keeps on chanting the hymn and throws powdered rice with local wine made of rice/millet. This tradition of Peni iniing is full of fun for young people who indulges with Taku-Tamu lyidu. In Taku-Tamu, men folk carries bamboo sticks decorated with flowers. This is the most fun part of the Peni where young men from different village enjoys merry making with the young women of neighbouring villages by entertaining with Taku-Tamu and in return they are welcome by neighbouring villagers with warm gestures including serving of home made wine and varieties of non-veg dishes.

In some of their communities, we still can see production organs made of wood standing by houses to show a wish for more offspring....
I think this can be relate to the BABO of Apatani. In case of our Apatani custom,wooden structure-BABO is not the depiction of genital organ and its nothing to do with the prayer for good harvest.

Buru said...

Thanks for clarification NPR

PB said...

@ Buru
I agree with NPR, and I too believe that this paper is solely dealing with the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh. First in the Chinese transcription system (pinyin) ‘d’ stands for ‘t‘ sound, so that ‘Apadani’ will be read as ‘Apatani’ by Chinese readers. The fact that Apatanis are said to be located in Southern Tibet instead of Arunachal Pradesh seems to be imposed by press (auto)censorship. Given the present context, it simply wouldn‘t be politically correct for a Chinese editor to write it differently. Second, as NPR as rightly pointed out, the so-called ‘Molang’ festival seems to be nothing but Murung. And for babos mistakenly confused with a symbol of male sexual organ, you have here a perfect illustration of one stereotype commonly applied by the Han majority towards Chinese ethnic minorities. The open representation of sexuality among non-Han people is part of a process that has been described by anthropologists as the ‘eroticization of ethnic minorities‘. On this point you can read the following link :
Or the full article at :
You will also notice that a few other points discussed in this chapter (minorities always shown in their traditional dress and represented mostly by young women) apply as well to this website from which the article on ‘Apadani’ has been extracted.

Buru said...

Thanks PB, I suspected as much(as can be seen in my post).

NPR, what is that thatch grass seen in roofings of many old photos? Are they the swamp reeds of Ziro or mountain grasses?

All 'traditional'Apatani roofs now seem to have split-bamboo only.When did such grass roofs die out?

NPR said...

Those roofs are tatched with swamp reeds which is localy known as Tapfo among Apatanis.I think this practice has been vanished along with the frequent fire accidents that took place in Ziro.Apart from Tapfo, paddy straw were also used for the same. Though these materials are easily available and cheaper in cost factor but, in the terms of durability it do not last long as Ziro lies under subtropical zone. Then it was replaced by bamboo splits and at present there is trend of using corrugated sheets for roofing the typical tanii house.

prava said...

nice collections.Very rare photos