"Ladies Of The Mist"

Popularly known as 'Land of the Dawn-lit-Mountains', Arunachal Pradesh is India's remotest state, and the first Indian soil to greet the rising sun. In the fall of 2002, I had been hiking through the misty hills, photographing sparkling rivers, gurgling waterfalls, and cane bridges of this incredible land.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                                 Cane bridge                            Bamboo suspension bridge

My guide assured me that there were still a few Apatani ladies left in the the villages who had not abandoned their early practice of cane nose plugs. The Christian church had convinced them that it was barbaric, and most of the ladies we encountered had a large scar where the previous plugs had been surgically removed. We were told that there were still a handful of ladies who may be enticed to allow us to talk to, and photograph them, for the right price. Tinned tobacco was their choice for this privilege. We purchased the tins at a small kiosk, and proceeded to knock on some doors. It did not take long for the word to circulate that the tobacco was readily available. The Apatani, or Tanii, are a tribal group of about 26,000 (approximately), in Ziro valley, in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, India. It was customary for women to have holes in the sides of their noses, which they closed with plugs. The nose plugs and tattoos were once intended to protect mothers and daughters. In the past, the tribe’s enemies, the Nisi, often abducted young Apatani girls. By mutilating their daughters, Apatani mothers hoped that the Nisi would lose interest. The Apatanis used to practice facial tattooing and modification until the 1970s. The females had two sets of tattoos: one running from the forehead to the tip of the nose, and another set on the chin. The Apatani tattooing procedure was a primitive and very painful process. Mothers would make incisions in their four-year-old daughters’ skin with a thorn, and vigorously rub mustard oil and soot into the wounds. After this, they allowed the wounds to become infected, so that the tattoos grew larger and clearer. As in any other developing countries, teenagers have been influenced by Western culture, but the traditional lifestyles are still maintained. The Apatani have incorporated many ways of the modern world, but the traditional culture and customs still retain their significance.

©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved ©Kieron Nelson "Vanishing Cultures Photography" All rights reserved
                     Tinned Tobacco opens the doors                           Three tins for this wonderful grandmother

                                                                      

 

Recorded in Ziro Arunachal Pradesh - November 2002

 


Comments

Priya Balan(non-registered)
They sing beautifully!!! how sad that they have to ruin a child s face to protect from the enemies.. Women need to be strong in every generation. This can happen only if they put their mind to it.
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