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# 1 - APATANI TRIBAL WOMAN - NORTH EAST INDIA The Apatani, or Tanw, are a tribal group of people living in the Ziro valley in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh. Apatani women have always been considered the most beautiful among the Arunachal tribes. Their villages were constantly raided by neighbouring tribes, and the women kidnapped. To make themselves unattractive to the other tribes, Apatani women began wearing hideous nose plugs and tattooing their faces with a line from the forehead to the tip of the nose, and five lines on their chins. Their wet rice cultivation system and their agriculture system are extensive even without the use of any farm animals or machines. UNESCO has proposed the Apatani valley for inclusion as a World Heritage Site for its extremely high productivity and unique way of preserving ecology.
# 2 - Khasi Girl (Meghalaya) The Khasis are an indigenous tribe in Meghalaya with a total population of approximately 1.8 million. They call themselves Khun U Hynñiewtrep or “Children of the Seven Huts”. Their language, also called Khasi, is classified as part of the Austroasiatic language family. The Khasis are a matrilineal society. The traditional Khasi male dress is Jymphong, a long coat without collar and sleeves. The traditional Khasi female dress is called Jainsem or Dhara. Music runs deep in Khasi society and the town of Shillong is considered to be the Rock Music Capital of India
# 3 - Nocte Headman (Arunachal Pradesh) The Nocte (literally, village people) are an ethnic group primarily living in Arunachal Pradesh. They number about 111,679 (Census 2011) and are mainly found in the Patkai hills of Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh. Ethnically related to the Konyak Naga, their origins can be traced back to the Hukong Valley in Myanmar, where they migrated from between 1670 and 1700. They have chiefs who exert control over the village, and they are also consulted by village elders and priests on all important socio-religious ceremonies. Loku, which literally means chasing out of the old season of the year, is the main festival of the Nocte. The festival, which lasts for three days, involves the slaughter of cattle, entertainment and the gathering of food on the first day.
# 4 - Reang Man (Tripura) Reang or Riang are one of the 21 scheduled tribes of the state of Tripura. The correct nomenclature for this ethnic group is Bru and the name Reang was accidentally incorporated by the Indian government during a census count. The Reang speak the Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru. The Reangs are divided into two groups – Meska and Molsoi. Like most tribes, they have traditional dances, out of which the Hojagiri is the most renowned and widely known. It is performed during the festival of Lakshmi Puja, and is used to exhibit the entire Jhum cultivation. Males are restricted to singing and playing the music, while women and girls indulge in dancing. The Reangs are primarily Vaishnavis, but there are many Christians among them as well.
# 5 - Bihu Dancers (Assam) The Assamese people are a subgroup of the people of Assam. The first usage of the English word "Assamese" is noted in colonial times based on the same principle as Sinhalese, Nepalese and Canarese, derived from the Anglicised word "Assam with the suffix -ese”, meaning "of Assam”. Genealogically, the Assamese language belongs to the group of Eastern Indo-Aryan languages. Some believe that it originated from Kamarupi Prakrit used in ancient Kamarupa Kingdom. However it is known that along with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, Assamese evolved at least before 7th century A.D from Magadhi Prakrit. Bihu is the chief festival in the Assam state of India. It refers to a set of three different festivals: Bhogali or Magh Bihu observed in January, Rongali or Bohag Bihu observed in April, and Kangali or Kati Bihu observed in October.
# 6 - Rongmei Man (Nagaland) The Rongmeis are a major Naga tribe indigenous to Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. The ancestral home of the Rongmei Naga lies in the mountain ranges of Tamenglong and adjacent mountainous areas of Peren and Haflong. The Rongmei society is both patrilineal and patriarchal. The traditional religion of Rongmeis is known as Tingkao Ragwang Chap (TRC) or Pou-Pei Chapriak (ways of our forefather). Their main festival is Gaan-Ngai, which is celebrated annually between December and January. They are well-known for their most colourful dances among the Nagas. The Rongmei are involved in agriculture. They are also highly skilled in bamboo, wood, blacksmith and pottery works. Bamboo baskets, mats and shields are manufactured in abundance.
# 7 - Mishing Woman (Assam) The Mishing people or Misíng, also called Miri, are an ethnic tribal group inhabiting the districts of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat of the Assam state. The total population is more than 1 million in Assam but there are also more than 50,000 Mishing divided among three districts in Arunachal Pradesh: East Siang district, Lower Dibang Valley, and Lohit districts. Ahbang is a verse of hymn of praise and worship of gods and goddesses. Ahbang is sung by the Mibu (priest) at rituals. There are also community Ahbangs among the Mishing people, generally used in Pobua, a ritual festival, praying for better crops, health and happiness. The Mishings are a patrilineal and patrilocal society.
# 8 - Meitei Men (Manipur) The Meitei people are the majority ethnic group of Manipur. They are made up of seven clans who trace their written history back to 1563 BC. Their predominant language is Meitei, a Sino-Tibetan language. Its exact classification is unclear but it has lexical resemblances to Kuki and Tangkhul Naga. Manipuri dance, also known as Jagoi, is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It is also a religious art with the aim of expressing spiritual values. Innaphi is a typical Manipuri shawl worn by the women of Manipur. Phanek is a kind of hand-woven wrap-around skirt quite similar to the more well-known sarong.
#9 - Lepcha Lad (Sikkim) The Lepcha are also called Rongkip, meaning the children of God. They are among the indigenous peoples of Sikkim and number between 30,000 and 50,000. Many Lepcha are also found in western and southwestern Bhutan, Tibet, Darjeeling, the Mechi Zone of eastern Nepal, and in the hills of West Bengal. The Lepcha people comprise four main distinct communities: the Renjóngmú of Sikkim; the Támsángmú of Kalimpong, Kurseong, and Mirik; the Ilámmú of Ilam District, Nepal; and the Promú of Samtse and Chukha in southwestern Bhutan. The Lepcha have their own language, also called Lepcha. It belongs to the Bodish–Himalayish group of Tibeto-Burman languages. The Lepcha write their language in their own script, called Róng or Lepcha script, which is derived from the Tibetan script. It was developed between the 17th and 18th centuries. Most Lepchas are Buddhist, a religion brought by the Bhutias from the north.
In the ugly moments of history — times of conflict, war, oppression or censorship — two questions are provoked, over and over: what is good art in such times? And what good is art in response to such times?” Kamila Shamsie Art in a time of Conflict.Art in a sense may not be able to change anything in the eye of the storm but it does and must bear witness. National Foundation for India (NFI), a social justice philanthropic institution that has nurtured several civil society initiatives across India’s Northeast and the rest of the country also believes in bearing witness; “when we bear witness to conflict we also bear witness to transformation.”
Given that NFI is completing 25 years of its civil society strengthening work, Arteast is an initiative of NFI to raise pertinent questions through a series of engagements on art, livelihood, social justice, climate change, communication, history- past and present, issues that have a far reaching impact on every day life of people and of the nation.