In the midst of bounty hunters (part 2)

The first ethnic group, which we visited, were the Apatani people that live in very close villages in the fertile valley and near the hamlet Ziro. Their women are known for their nose plugs, which are a real site to see. We had luck to come there on Sunday, because it is the day after their mass of their religion called Donyi-Polo, a kind of a combination of animism and Christianity. They believe in the sun and moon, they sing really unorthodox religious songs, on the walls of their catholic churches hanged pictures of Jesus, but the mass is led by a woman – a shaman. A kind of adjustment to the situation here; but the main point is to have very obedient followers, which are led on a very short leash. Well, a really normal thing for every religion on this planet really… Donyi-Polo is, a matter of fact, the leading religion of these lands, because in the last few decades, the Arunachal people use to resolutely Christianize everybody with fire and swords, no matter the price or loss of the local vanishing authenticity and tradition of these lands. All based on the principle: “Vatican to all of the Arunachala villages!”. But in all seriousness, you can see that Vatican is very far away from here, very far, because when we asked our guide “Can they still marry more than one woman like in the old days, although they are raised catholically?”, he said: “Of course! One thing is faith but another thing is tradition!”.


We also visited some other ethnical tribes, the Nishi, Tagin, Adi, Adi-Galong, Adi-Minjon, Miri, Abore and Konyak. Just a few days on our journey we slept in some kind of hotels or run-down sleeping opportunities, all the other nights the indigenous people welcomed us into their homes and shared with us their tea, food and of course hours of stories and tales by the fireplace. If we try to compare these tribes with the ones Katja and I photographed in the valley of Omo, there is no comparison, because in Ethiopia we saw and experienced many unpleasant things, mostly because of our guide there who followed us. But India is different and I find many reasons each time I visit to call it MY India again. On the other side is it also true, that the lifestyle in Omo remained almost intact and when you walk through there, you really have the feeling time stood still at that place for a thousand years. In Arunachal there is also a lot of tradition left, but, for instance, you can see a big difference in the way they dress and you would have to edit quite a few pictures taken of them in the last few years. It is to say that the clothing and the items on the pictures belong to the family and the portrayed persons, but these are not often worn in everyday life but only on special occasions. So you can almost certainly tell that the new generation will already have a further distance to those traditional roots, than this one has. The traditions and habits of the cultures will most likely only remain in the ethnographic writings in books and on photographs; some of them on our photographs, because it was one of our goals of this photographical expedition.


Arunachal was really a special experience in every way you look at it; speaking as well as photographically as the expedition itself. I met new and a totally different place of India that I, in all my numerous travels, never saw before and visited the first time in my life and that was truly amazing. (For today ethnical group Apatani, more next Fridays)  


Tribe or ethnical group: Apatani people
Location: Arunachal Pradesh /North-West India
Estimated population: about 30.000
Language: Apatani (Tanii) language
Religion: Donyi-Polo, Christianity, remains of animism


Arne Hodalič
Arne Hodalič

My life-motto is “You can sleep when you’re dead!” and I stick to it every day in my life! I worked with the Company “Our Space appliances” for many years now, and together we have prepared numerous successful events, lectures and team-building articles for you to enjoy and read. The best part of it all is when Jure (the CEO of Our Space appliances) comes to visit my family and me at the seaside and together we can grill a tasty fish or 2. That’s when life becomes even better…

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