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Arunachal Pradesh People

About People of Arunachal Pradesh
About 26 major indigenous tribes and various sub-tribes resides in 3649 scattered villages of Arunachal Pradesh. Although, these tribal groups constitute the total population, but the density of population is very less. These tribes are mainly the migrants from Tibet-Burma, who colonized vacant lands in the longitudinal valleys, from the north and east. It was difficult for them to spread laterally across the land, so the skillfully crafted cane bridges helped them to access the rivers. The people are simple, friendly, hospitable and follow the traditional lifestyles. These tribes have a certain

Arunachal Pradesh People

distinct characteristic in language, dress and costume and have a rich cultural heritage. Some of the major Buddhist communities like the Mongpas and Sherdukpens of Bomdila and Tawang in West Kameng and the Membas (Siang) are located along the northern and eastern area. They belong to the Mahayana stream of Buddhism. The Khamtis, Singpos and Tangsas originally migrated from Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) and follow Hinayana Buddhist practices. The tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are divided into different groups on the basis of their socio-politico-religious affinities, living their lives independent of each other. The pattern of their lifestyle is same and they follow the same occupation. The societies are casteless and governed by chiefs. The adults were grouped according to their age for distinct social functions. The young are organized around dormitory institutions to follow the instructions of the older generation. The society is patriarchal and primogeniture and the fundamental laws of inheritance with variations are not uncommon. The people are highly democratic, and each tribe has its own organized institutions that maintain law and order, decide disputes and take up all activities for the welfare of the tribes and the villages. The members constituting these organizations are selected by the people. The Tribal Research Centre is deeply involved in the preservation of Arunachal’s tribal cultural expressions such as music, dance, folklore, etc.


Some of the major tribes are the Wanchos, Noctes, Khamtis, Singphos, Tangsas, Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Mishis and Nyishis. The Wanchos resides in the south-western part of the Tirap district bordering Nagaland. These people are fond of wearing decorated headgears and heavy strings of beads on the neck, arms, legs and ears. The Noctes resides in the central part of the Tirap district, to the north of the Wanchos. These people have a long and traditional contact with the people of the neighbouring plains. Many of them are Vaishnavites. Tangsas is a common name for the group of people that consists of the Lungchang, Moklong, Yugli, Lungri, Have, Moshong, Rundra, Takhak, Ponthi and Longphi. Each group is subdivided into a number of exogamous clans. These tribes occupy the Changlang district along the Indo-Myanmar front. The Singphos lives on the banks of Teang and Noa Diking rivers and extend towards the southeast into the land of the Khamptis. They are a fine athletic race with developed Mongolian features. They are expert

Arunachal Pradesh Women

blacksmiths and prepare iron implements of quality. The ladies are good weavers. They are Buddhists. The Khamptis live to the south of the Lohit district along the Kamlang, Dehing and Tengapani rivers with the Parasuramkund to the northeast and Tirap district of the south. The Khamptis are good craftsmen, enterprising traders and skilful agriculturists. They are Buddhists. The Mongpas are skilled weavers, traders and agriculturists who also make indigenous hand-crafted paper from plants discovered among the deep jungles. They also make the beautiful carpets, painted wooden vessels and silver articles. The gentle Sherdukpens are reputed for their folk dances embellished by folk tales and religious themes. Their Yak dance, Deer dance, Ajilhamu dance and Eagle dance are mesmerizing. These people also make beautiful masks and as well as periodically stage the pantomimes and mask dances. The Apantanis, Hill Miris and Adis make beautiful articles of cane and bamboo, and speak eloquently about their skill in handicrafts. The shawls and Jackets of the Apantanis and the Adis and shoulder bag and the Mishmi's coat are symbolic of the high weaving talents and artistic sense of the people.


The three main groups of the Mishmis are Idu, Miju or Kaman and Digaru or Taraon. The Idus, also called as Chulikata by the plains people, live in Dibang valley district. With roughly 25,000 members, the Idu tribe is divided into sections, each named after the river by the side of which they live. It is by the manner of hair that the Idus (Chulikatas) are distinguished from other tribes. The front hair is combed down on the brow and then cut straight across from ear to ear. The back hair is collected in a knot. There are about 18,000 Mijus or Kamans that live in the Lohit district, east of the Taraons. Their dress is very long, colourful and

Arunachal People

durable. The Kaman, specially the women, have an admirable sense of colour and pattern. Agriculture is one of the main occupations of these people. Taraon are also known as the Digarus. They are also good agriculturists.

The tribes of the East, West and Upper Siang districts together comprises of "adis". They may be divided into three main groups, which are Galos, Padams and Miwongs. Each of these groups can be subdivided into a number of sub-groups. The dances are very popular among the Adis. Their traditional dance is Ponung, which is also religious in character. The Galos weave clothes of highly artistic designs and their beautiful skirt has a central pattern of black yarn netted in regular designs of black and white. The Adis, Akas, Apatanis, Mishis, Nyishis, Mijis still follow traditional tribal forms of worship. Their animist practices are linked to the seasonal and agricultural cycles. They also worship Donyi-Polo, the Sun and Moon gods.



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