H: How the traditional Arunachali tribal dress was born #AtoZChallenge

For the letter “H”, let me tell you how the beautifully woven clothes of tribes of Arunachal Pradesh ( A state in north eastern part of India) was born. A folk lore is prevalent in Aarunachal Tribes about how these colorful clothes were created.


Among the Apa Tani people of the Ziro plateau, the story of cloth begins from a time in the remote past when there was nothing except cloud and water until fire was born. Following this the first man on earth, Abo Tani emerged out of the soil. In an account by Hage Pilya in his book Ranth Pigeh, Abo Tani was not born in the present form and passed through many epochs until he reached the present form. He was capable of fighting with gods and goddesses as he had Koga-Miiri, a third eye at the back of the head. He also had two spikes, one at each end of the heels. In this way he captured almost all the fertile land, rivers, the useful trees and plants and chased away all the spirits to the mountains and desert regions of the earth. AboTani even captured the daytime and left the night for the spirits until the gods, fed-up with the unending fights over land captured AboTani. His third eye and the spikes on his heels were eliminated and he was cursed to remain on earth with his dual nature of both good and demoniac works.

Apatani women weaving the fabric (Source- Flickr)

A delegation of Village Elders called the Bulyang summoned a meeting to discuss the terrible fate that had befallen man and appropriate cloth to signify the importance of the meeting was required. It was at this time that pulyeh– cloth, first came to man. It was made by an industrious lady whose name was Ami Tamang Binyii. Binyii was the first woman to identify the seeds of cotton. She wove a white cloth but it was rejected and thrown away. A bird, the white eagle picked up the cloth and draped himself with it so he remained white forever. Binyii roamed in the forest wondering what type of cloth would please the elders. One day she found a yellow dye from a tree and an idea struck here. She possessed the red dye of a creeper and mixing this with the new colour she wove a design that received the approval of the gathering and is today identified as the famous Jilang shawl motif of the Apa tani.

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The Jilang is meant only for the most revered shaman and is appropriately worn during religious ceremonies when deities are invoked to visit the homes of the descendants of Abo Tani. A white shawl, like the one the eagle picked up is given to men during marriage celebrations.


I am participating in AtoZ challenge with http://www.theblogchatter.com/ .

5 Comment

  1. I love all things about India and this just fascinates me, Pooja. I love the folklore behind it and the pictures. I really enjoyed this!
    Many Blessings,

    My A2Zs @ As the Fates Would Have It & Promptly Written
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  2. Loved reading about this story from the north-east 🙂

  3. What a lovely folk tale.

  4. […] amazing telling of how the traditional Arunachali tribal dress was born via Dr. Pooja Tripathi @ My way on […]

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