Saturday, February 16, 2008

How many Tanii villages are there ? (2)

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 :

Hong, Hari, Bulla, Hija, Dutta, Michi-Bamin and Mudang-Tage.

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...



Moli said...

You know a great deal, too much detail.
Keep writing

NPR said...

Thanks for the appreciations.That post is effort made by my friend Pascal.B. We both are trying our best to bring out the best of our Apatani knowledges here.Keep visiting to learn more about Apatanis.

iccotdis said...

I am Sid from Nirjuli, Itanagar. I am studying at NERIST and as such I have been observing the Arunachalee and particularly the Nishi culture for the past 4 years. Recently, I visited the Ziro plateau and I really enjoyed my stay there.
In ur blog u have mentioned the fact, that people here are slowly forgetting their own culture. This is very true. I know many families here in Nirjuli, who teach their children Hindi rather then Apatani or Nishi or any other native language. Earlier, I used to wonder why the people are doing that. Later, I realized that the languages here are so varied that Hindi is the only medium which helps in inter-communication. Having said that, I think the younger generation should do more to preserve their own culture. Cultures and civilizations are made over centuries, but the globalisation can destroy these in mere decades.
Finally, very nice blog. Keep it up.

PB said...

Hi Sid,
Thanks for your appreciation of this blog. You're right when you say that the globalisation process can destroy native languages in only a few decades, this has already taken place in many parts of the world. Let's hope it won't happen in AP. Having said that, I think we should not oppose native languages and global languages. People need both, and ideally both should be taught to children either at school or inside the family. Many studies have shown that children who are taught in their mother-tongue at primary school obtain better results than others... Keep on visiting and leaving your comments.

Anonymous said...

Save Tanii, good work to preserved Abotani traditions and customs alive in this fast changing globalisation.In recent, societical development in Tanii plateua,be it religion or culture there has been seen many changed, for example MURUNG festival in january this year, a world most unique religious procession popularly called SUPUNG PEN is either of 07 different Tanii villages is not seen or heard.
And in recent concluded MYOKO festival only few BABOO has seen in host villages.Such a thing happening around should also observed,so as to awaken people conscience to save true value of Tanii.

buru said...

Can anyone confirm for sure whether Taniis initially settled in Talle Valley in the past before settling down in Ziro?( I wouldnt be surprised if they did, as it is very similar to Ziro, just colder)

I was told so by an Apatani once,but since the area is also claimed by another party I presumed the story could have been motivated?

Is there any realistic chance of Taniis settling there in the future due to population explosion?
I understand few families already tried and then abandoned it after a few years in the 90's.

NPR said...

It could have been more convinient for me to adress you as sir or madam or directlly by your name :) Whatever, your concern on fast changing world of Taniis are greatly appreciated.

Regarding Supung Peni, such processions are only taken out after having seen the omens from a chicken livers.Many a time it happens that even if a person is performing a Murung, we can't take out Supung peni.In other words, there are some classifications of Murung which will be put up in this blog in coming future, so keep visitng.

Oh,I almost forgetten about the BABOs. The changing scenario on the erection of Babos could be because of environmental conciousness among taniis( to prevent deforrestation)...thats the first thing coming into my mind being a student. And another reason could be Taniis have become lazzier these days...I m not sure about the reason behind this scene :)

NPR said...

We will need to do some serious research to gather more facts on your query about initial settlement of Apatani in Talley valley. In many of our folklore it has been mentioned about Talley valley, so I guess there must be connection between Taniis and Talley valley. This word Talley is original Tanii word for one of the eadible leafy vegetable which is locally found in the vicinity of Ziro and also heard from my friends that a plenty of Talley vegetable grows there (that must be the reason behind calling that place as TALLEY VALLY-literally-valley of TALLEY). Apart from watching some documentary from Doordarshan Kendra Itanagar on Talley valley and few snaps taken by my friends, I myself never got a chance to visit this place(my fingers are crossed and wishing for my prayer to be granted-I really wanna visit some day by myself).

By the way, who is the second party you are talking about???

Though my blog is not a correct place to discuss Politics ( I myself is a nonpolitical person too),still wondering who you are indicating!!! Predicting the future settlement, yes I am sure that people would be definitely settling there. Few years back there was a rumour saying that many of rich Taniis /non Taniis people have started building a guest houses (I am not sure how true is this rumour). And if you remember, once there was another a proposal of making Talley valley as Winter Capital of Arunachal Pradesh.Once if there is a proper road communications, I am sure people would love to live in such a nice place. But…but …but…since this place is coming under rich biodiversity hotspot zone, I am against the destruction of such place.I would rather say…no settlement in this valley…Save environment,save yourself!!!!!!

buru said...


I was told by one nyishi acquaintance that the area is also claimed by them.

But when I went to the valley several years back I found the Deodar trees had metal nameplates nailed high up in the trunks bearing Apatani names and addresses:)! You are too late to claim I think:))
And there was no sign of the money allocated for the Guest House except a few tin sheets--digested;)

I wouldnt mind Tanis settling there--that would be a guarantee that the surroundings except valley floor would be conserved:)
The valley is nearly same size as Ziro, swampy, highly fertile black soil, well watered with streams, more level than Ziro and damn cold(altitude of valley floor is 1 km HIGHER than Ziro)!
Look @ its size and location in Google Earth.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not convinced erection of Myoko Babo occusionally, could make any imbalance to local environment.You have so nicely described the significant,types & description of Babo in your blog.Babo is one of significant identity of being a Tanii which could erect only in Myoko,I supposed. I wonder how people celebrates Myoko by erecting flags,instead of BABOS!

NPR said...

Thanks for your informations on Talley valley.I really had to disgest so many things (lol :D). keep posting comments...yours are all worth reading and infomative, once again thanks a lot!!!

I have the same in my head too......why flags instead of Babos!!!!!!!!!!!1

Tage laling said...

GREAT work... keep up the good job!!
I am an Apatani but you seem t know much more about APATANESE than I do...

NPR said...

I am replying on behalf of my friend PB.First of all thanks for your comment here.Though PB is not Apatani by birth still he seems to be born to learn and teach tanii. He is gifted with a talent to learn Tanii in very sort span of time and he is busy with studies on many stuffs of Tanii. Keep visiting for more posts on TANIIs.

mudang said...

this is such a wonderful site about the apatanis i appreciate the work of those behind this program , who have done such a noble job of bringing infront of the world the clear scnerio of the tribe called 'APATANI'.

mudang said...

i request all the viewers of this blog to themselves and the apatanis everywhere updated about the happenings in ziro valley, and apatanis anywhere

PB said...

@ Mudang,
Thanks for your kind words.