Let’s Meet The Apatanis! Ziro’s Most Enthralling Tribe

By Priyanka Sarkar

Photo by Stepan Sargsyan on Unsplash

Arunachal Pradesh, the cold, forested landscape, hiding unparalleled diversity with several specialist species, rain-forests, countless valleys, the enormous diversity of flora and ageless forests also conceals some little-known communities of the nation.

The land of 26 major tribes and more than 100 sub-tribes, Arunachal Pradesh is home to distinct ethnic groups and some indigenous clans. To learn more about these tribes, let’s get into the magnificent terrain of Ziro Valley, home to the Apatanis.

The Ziro Valley of Arunachal Pradesh lies to an elevation of about 500 feet above sea level. Surrounded by formidable mountain ranges, this valley has been inhabited by the Apatani Tribes, (the third largest tribal group residing in Arunachal Pradesh) for centuries.

Non-nomadic in nature, they are endowed with land-use practices but they also accept modernity. Their colourful culture, varied festivals, appealing handloom designs, art in cane and bamboos, captivating structure happens to be so unique. The wet cultivation plexus with a systematic agricultural pattern is comprehensive even without using any machine accoutrements. So, is their sustainable forestry road map.

Pic Courtesy : Adam Koziol

UNESCO proposed the valley for its extension as a World Heritage Site in view of the enormous high productivity and idiomatic trace to conserve the ecology.

This clan has a total of 7 villages in Ziro valley with houses all adjacent to each other. Among the few tribes who continue to worship nature, Apatanis belief in cultural practices that offer their festivals timeless universal values.

Considered to be one of the most beautiful tribes of the country, a traditional outfit with a rich colourful texture adds more elegance to the beauty of Apatani women. Known for their captivating large black nose plugs (Yaping hullo) and facial tattoos, these have gradually de-escalated with the recent year. Reportedly this practice commenced making the women look unattractive to males of neighbouring tribes.

Men, traditionally tie their hair in a knot just above the forehead (locally termed Piiding) with a brass rod (Piiding Khotu) measuring 12 inches that’s placed horizontally. Apatanis worship traditional ethnic religion, with a culture that emerged from remnants of Tibet. Festivals such as - Myokoh, Murung and Dree are celebrated in a whirl to keep the social fabric intact.

With limited needs and selfless love for nature, it’s hard to find an individual from the tribe left hostile, warmth and courteousness received from them is what you will embrace forever. The best time to visit Ziro is December when colours are painted on the sky with soft slushy snow. Arunachal Pradesh can mesmerise you with the beauty it has. Such guileless is its way. Visit the most iconic Ziro Valley, and be a part of its splendour for a lifetime.