Arunachal Pradesh formerly known as North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA) is called “The Land of Rising Sun”. The state is covered with elevated peaks and valleys; hence the climate depends on the elevation. Low-altitude areas have humid subtropical climates and high-altitude areas have subtropical highland and alpine climates.
Arunachal Pradesh is home to about 26 tribes with a rich and diverse culture. These tribes are known for their sensitivity towards nature and this in turn dictates their use of local materials. In this article we cover an ancient material that is now being revived as well as bamboo, an abundant resource in the area.
Bamboo plays a key role for the construction of tribal Adi houses in Arunachal Pradesh. The bamboos that are used for the construction of the houses are collected one to three weeks before the construction. The collection time of materials for building an Adi house depends upon the waxing and waning of the moon.
The ropes are processed and kept on the attics above the fire. The material stored for longer periods tend to last longer as well.The ropes that are stored for a longer period on the attics last longer. The heat and the smoke generated seems to have a curing effect on the materials stored above. Raw materials for making ropes such as Madang (Cephalostachyum pergracile) and Tabum (Schizostachyum seshagirianum) used for construction and thatching leaves are collected within three days before the new moon.
The materials collected before the new moon are said to be free from infection and last long whereas those that are collected at other times are said to be attacked by termites and insects and do not last long.The bamboos which are used for the floor and the wall should be processed within three days after collecting from the field as they are amenable for splicing. The bamboo culms used for floor and wall are split neatly and spread over the ground to make them flat. The most preferred material for roofing is the leaf of Tek / Taa-eek (Livistona jenkinsiana).
The leaves of the roof above the fireplace last longer for eight-ten years and leaves from other areas of the house last only for four-five years. The leaves used for thatching are collected two to three weeks before the construction of the house. They are arranged in a circular manner, dried and pressed by placing stones or logs of wood. The leaves are kept in a place enclosed by bamboo fences to protect them from grazing by cattle and are dried till they turn brown.
The Monpa handmade paper, made from the bark of a local tree called Shugu Sheng, has medicinal values too. Monpa paper craft is made by tawang scheduled tribe people, known as monpa. They were the early people to practice this handmade paper. Slowly and gradually this art become an integral part of the local custom and their source of earning livelihoods. Monpa paper is made from the bark of the tree Shugu Sheng, grown locally in Tawang.
To make Mon Shugu, the inner fibrous bark of the Shugu Sheng shrub is dried, boiled with a solution of ash, made into pulp and then cut into sheets of paper. The process of making this paper is entirely organic with no chemical additives. This naturally processed paper possesses strong tensile strength and is durable. The paper has great historic and religious significance as it is the paper used for writing Buddhist scriptures and hymns in monasteries. The states khado and village industrial commission (KVIC) has now revived a 1000 year old ancient paper mill in order to boost economy.