Re-Visiting The Indigenous Past Of Northeast India

Apatani priests performing sacrificial rites during Murung Festival.
Date: 1944-45
Christopher Van Furer-Haimendorf

With the advent of modern science, the recent decades has seen urban influence penetrating even the lives of those who remain far away from cities. The same applies here in Northeast India. The indigenous peoples of the region, who occupy a remote frontiers consisting of rainforests and Himalayan mountains, have been witnessing the advent of roads and urban goods into their territory which only twenty years back appeared forbidden to the outside world. The cultures and customs which once was have already changed to some extent. And as years pass, more of it will disappear as younger people begin to choose alternative modern lifestyles over traditional. On the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2013, we would like to walk down memory lane through the means of vintage photographs and revisit the lifestyles of our region’s people to a time which once was but will never again be.

chief's daughter Adi Tribe Vintage Arunachal Pradesh
A chief’s daughter of Bor Adi Tribe. The identification of this girl is uncertain; when it was exhibited in Arunachal Pradesh in 2006, many local people did not recognize her of being a part of their state. It shows how both dress and ornamentation has changed in the last 100 years.
Year: 1859
Edward H. Higgs
An Apatani man performing bobo, or rope swinging, during Myoko spring festival, Hari village, Arunachal Pradesh. Year: 1954 University of Washington Libraries
An Apatani man performing bobo, or rope swinging, during Myoko spring festival, Hari village, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Apatani priests performing sacrificial rites during Murung Festival. Date: 1944-45 Christopher Van Furer-Haimendorf
Apatani priests performing sacrificial rites during Murung Festival.
Date: 1944-45
Christopher Van Furer-Haimendorf
A Hill Miri woman wearing the characteristic cane brassiere, Subansiri Valley, Arunachal Pradesh.
A Hill Miri woman wearing the characteristic cane brassiere, Subansiri Valley, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1955
Verrier Elwin
Aka woman with face paint and Tibetan ornaments, Jamiri village, India, ca. 1954
Aka woman with face paint and Tibetan ornaments, Jamiri village, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Sema Naga women crushing rice in log mortar with pestles,Tuensang District, Assam, India, ca. 1954
Sema Naga women crushing rice in log mortar with pestles,Tuensang District, Nagaland.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Monpa dancer wearing felt mask with cowrie shells, Shyo village, Northeast Frontier Agency, India, ca. 1954
Monpa dancer wearing felt mask with cowrie shells, Shyo village, Northeast Frontier Agency, India.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Minyong Adi man with chin tatoo holding bow, arrow and squirrel caught in trap, Ramgong, Siang Frontier Division, India, ca. 1954
Minyong Adi man with chin tattoo holding bow, arrow and squirrel caught in trap, Siang Frontier Division, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Daughters of Wancho Ang chief dressing their hair with split bamboo bands, cloth and metalic thread, Pongchow, Tirap Frontier Division, India, ca. 1954
Daughters of Wancho Ang chief dressing their hair with split bamboo bands, cloth and metalic thread, Pongchow, Tirap Frontier Division, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Chang Naga dormitories for unmarried men called Morung, Tuensang District, India, ca. 1954
Chang Naga dormitories for unmarried men called Morung, Tuensang District, Nagaland.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Shimong Adi man and woman harvesting millet and Job's tears, Siang Frontier Division, Arunachal Pradesh. Year: 1954 University of Washington Libraries
Shimong Adi man and woman harvesting millet and Job’s tears, Siang Frontier Division, Arunachal Pradesh.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
109 year old Apatani woman of slave class with nose plugs, Subansiri Frontier District, India, ca. 1954
109 year old Apatani woman of slave class with nose plugs, Subansiri Frontier District, India.
Year: 1954
University of Washington Libraries
Warriors of Adi Tribe. Year: 1940s John Howard Williams
Warriors of Adi Tribe.
Year: 1940s
John Howard Williams
nyishi tribe illustration arunachal pradesh vintage
An illustration of two Nyishi scouts on the lookout of British forces.
Year: 1875
Illustrated London News
An aboriginal man from the Lepcha people of Sikhim (Sikkim), India, circa 1868
An aboriginal man from the Lepcha people of Sikkim, India.
Year: 1868
GettyImages
A Rengma man from the Naga hill tribes in Assam, India, circa 1868 Photo by Hulton ArchiveGetty Images
A Rengma man from the Naga hill tribes in Assam. India.
Year: 1868
GettyImages
A Hill Miri tribesman from Assam. Year: 1870 GettyImages
A Hill Miri tribesman from Assam.
Year: 1870
GettyImages
A man from the Kookie or Kuki robber tribes of Cachar, Assam, India, circa 1870. getty
A man from the Kuki robber tribes of Cachar, Assam.
Year: 1870
GettyImages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is part of our series Celebrating Indigenous Peoples, focused on indigenous peoples of Northeast India and their times.

More in this series:

  1. The Konyak People of Nagaland | Celebrating Indigenous Peoples
  2. The Adi People of Arunachal Pradesh | Celebrating Indigenous Peoples
  3. The Angami People of Nagaland | Celebrating Indigenous Peoples