Culture of Mizoram



The culture of Mizoram reflects the quintessential lifestyle and traditional heritage of the inhabitants of the Mizoram, popularly known as the 'Songbird of the North east'. The people of Mizoram are collectively known as the Mizo. Etymologically, the term Mizo can be bifurcated into 'Mi' meaning people and 'Zo' that signifies the hill. Thus the very nomenclature of the tribal community illustrates the fact that they hail from the highland.

The residents of Mizoram are very proud of their cultural legacy and go great lengths to preserve it despite considerable foreign intrusion. With changing times, Mizoram too is moving towards modernization but the state government has ensured that every bucolic hamlet in the state, irrespective of its remote location, is endowed with an YMA (Young Mizo Association). This body has been designed with the sole aim to leave a distinct tincture of the traditional societal values and customs among the state's youth. This is reflected in the state's cultural extravaganzas and numerous fairs and festivals and music and dance that have been passed down through the generations.

It is rather interesting to note the indelible impact of Christianity on the state's culture. The advent of the 19th century Christian missionaries considerably enriched the state's culture. Not only was a new and formal writing script was developed, the strong impact of Christianity have resulted in the Mizo inhabitants emerging some of the finest choir singers in the Indian subcontinent.

The patriarchal Mizo society strictly follows "Tlawmngaina", a code of ethics that emphasizes on every individual to be kind, generous and hospitable to his peers, irrespective of caste and creed.

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Music of Mizoram

Music of Mizoram mainly comprises of both songs and musical instruments. The folk music occupies an eminent place among the traditional music of Mizoram. The folk songs of Mizoram can be broadly divided into ten types such as: Songs named after Tribes, Thiam hla & dawi hla (Invocation & Incantation), Dar Hla, Bawh Hla, Hlado, Puipun Hla, Lengzem Zai, Songs named after Tribes, Songs named after individuals, Songs named after modulation of the voice. The traditional music of Mizoram is usually accompanied with dance and drama.

The origin of music of Mizoram is a mystery story. Therefore, it is very difficult to chronologically arrange the sequences of the heritage of Mizoram Music. However, developments of some couplets can be traced between 1300 and 1400 AD during the establishment of Thantlang in Burma. B. Lalthangliana has stated that some of the folk songs that evolved during this period were Hla do (Chants of hunting); Dar Hla (songs on gong); Nauawih Hla (Cradle songs) and Bawh Hla (War chants). More songs were developed between late 15th and 17th Century AD.

A number of musical instruments accompany the folk songs of Mizoram. These musical instruments can be broadly classified into three categories: String instruments, Beating or Striking instruments and Wind instruments. Some of the String instruments are Tingtang, Lemlawi and Tuiumdar. Talhkhuang, Khuang and Dar, Bengbung, Seki are few Beating or Striking instruments. The popular Wind instruments are Hnahtum, Mautawtawrawl, Rawchhem, Tumphit, Phenglawng and Buhchangkuang.

To know more about Music of Mizoram read on.


Songs

The folk songs are the most popular Mizoram Songs. According to a study on the basis of the traditional system of classification, the folk songs of Mizoram can be divided into nearly 400 different types of folk songs. However, it can be broadly divided into ten categories such as:
  • Bawh Hla: It is a type of chant or cry that is produced by the warriors while returning back home after the successful raid.
  • Songs named after modulation of the voice: There are a number of songs that have derived their name on the basis of the modulation of the voice like Zai nem, Puma zai, Kawrnu zai, Vai zawi zai, etc.
  • Songs named after Tribes: Some of the folk songs are named after the name of the villages namely Lumtui zai, Dar lung zai etc.
  • Thiam hla & dawi hla (Invocation & Incantation): While executing different ceremonies the priests and the witchs usually chant these two forms of verses.
  • Hlado: It is the chant or cry that is raised by the hunters after their successful hunting expedition.
  • Puipun Hla: These types of songs are sung during merry and festive occasions. They are the most popular folk songs of the region.
  • Lengzem Zai: They are a type of love songs with no distinguishing form.
  • Songs named after Tribes: The various verse forms are named after a special tribe like Sailo zai, saivate zai etc.
  • Dar Hla: These songs are given name according to the usage of various musical instruments.
  • Songs named after individuals: A huge number of the folksongs of Mizoram have derived its name from the name of an individual. These individuals are either the original composers of the music or a beautiful women or the hero of a particular tribe.
Some of the major themes of Mizoram songs are patriotism, war, hunting, love and nature.

Musical Instruments

The Musical Instruments form an integral part of the music of Mizoram. Since time immemorial, the people of Mizoram have been using various types of musical instruments. If we compare the traditional musical instruments of Mizoram with other Indian musical instruments we will find that they are very simple and crude.

The Musical Instruments of Mizoram can be broadly classified into three categories: String instruments, Beating or Striking instruments and Wind instruments.The stringed-instruments of Mizos can be categorized into three types such as Tingtang, Lemlawi and Tuiumdar. Tingtang is similar to a guitar, comprising of only one string. Lemlawi belongs to the family of Jew's harp but the shape and size of this musical instrument is different. Tuiumdar has three strings which produces three different notes.

Striking instruments are the most popular Mizo musical instruments, which are used during the festivals and dances. Some of the varieties of striking instruments are Khuang and Dar, Talhkhuang, Bengbung, Seki. Khuang is a very important instrument which is used in almost all occasions. Depending on the various sizes Dar or brass-gongs can be segregated as Darkhuang, Darbu and Darmang. Wind Instruments

There are six types of wind-instruments in Mizoram namely Buhchangkuang, Rawchhem, Tumphit, Hnahtum Mautawtawrawl and Phenglawng. Rawchhem is quite similar to a Scottish Bagpiper or Chinese Snag, made from bamboo pipes or hollow reeds. Phenglawng is also made of bamboo and is like a Mizo flute. Buhchangkuang is another type of flute created from reed or a paddy stalk.

Mizoram Ethnicity

Mizoram ethnicity comprises of a variety of social elements like the different tribal groups, religions, rituals and festivals. The people of this region have kept alive their age-old socio-cultural lineage. Their colorful and bright clothes and traditional customs are still in use at this hilly part of India.

The state of Mizoram has a number of ethnic groups, which constitute the basic structure of Mizoram society. The names of the major ethnic groups of the state are Pawis, Lushais, Raltes, Paithes, Himars, Pangs and Kukis.

One of the fascinating aspects of Mizoram ethnicity is their ethical code. The focus of the ethical code of the Mizos is the tlawmngaihna. This local term implies that each person who belongs to this place is cordial, helpful, soft-hearted and sociable.

Religion

The main religion in Mizoram is Christianity. The religion of Christianity plays in shaping the socio-cultural life of the people of the state. The people of this state are strong followers of Christianity. The majority of the population is Protestants. One of the significant aspects associated with the Christian religious group of Mizoram is the Mizoram churches. The Christians often make huge donations to these churches. The popularity of the Christian religion at Mizoram can be understood from the statistical fact that about 83.81 % of the total population of the state in the year 1981 was Christian by faith.

The people who follow the Christian religion in Mizoram take part in a number of religious festivals like New Year's Day, Christmas and Easter. Singing carols and greeting other people by visiting their homes are significant parts of the Christmas celebration. The denominations of a Mizoram church include many different groups like the United Pentecostal, Welsh Presbyterian, Seventh-Day Adventist, Salvation Army, London Baptist, Roman Catholic, Sabbath Church and also the sects created by the Jews and Khuangtua Vanawi, a famous religious leader. The pastors sing, preach, take part in various rituals and give blessings to the people. Each denomination has a separate clergy.

There are also some other religious groups in Mizoram, which can be termed the minority religious groups. The people of these groups follow the religions of Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. An important fact about the Jew population of Mizoram is that about half of the total Jew population of India lives in this state.

Art and Crafts

There are various kinds of art and crafts in Miizoram, which form an important sector of the industrial market of the state. The main art and crafts of Mizoram are textiles, bamboo and cane works and basketry.

The textile industry is one of the main art and crafts of Mizoram. Generally, the Mizo women are engaged in weaving which constitutes a major sector of Mizoram cultural life. The people of Mizoram produce a wide range of textile products. Some of the most popular textile products of this part of India are puanspuon dum, puon pie, thangou puon, puon laisen, jawl puon, thangsuo puon, hmarm and zakuolaisen.

The bamboo and cane works constitute one of the well known art and crafts in Mizoram. The state is quite advanced in this craft and has a big role to play in the economic growth of the state. It is the domain of the Mizo men. The major bamboo and cane works of the state are hats, animal and fish trapscones, different types of baskets, japis, wide range of jewelry and circular boxes.

The basketry industry is a prominent segment of Mizoram art and crafts. Some of the popular products of the basketry industry of Mizoram are paiem, dawrawn, paikawng, tlamen, emsin, fawng-te-laivel, fawng and thul. The people of the state of Mizoram exhibit a great deal of expertise in all the above art and crafts of the region.

Basketry

One of the well known industries associated with the art and crafts of north-western India is basketry in Mizoram. There are four major types of baskets created in Mizoram. These different types of baskets are given below. The closed-weave basket is a type of basket, which is generally used by the Lushais of the state. There are three types of baskets that fall under this type of baskets of Mizoram. These are tlamen, paiem and dawrawn. Tlamen is used for carrying agricultural products and dawrawn is used for storing as well as carrying purposes. Paiem is used for carrying various agricultural products and also for marketing.

The open-weave baskets are meant for carrying purposes. There again two different varieties of such baskets are found in Mizoram. These are the emsin and the paikawng. The paikawng is generally used by the people belonging to the Lushai ethnic group. It is used by the women for carrying a variety of items like water tubes made out of bamboo, firewood and many other articles of daily use. The emsin is actually a decorated paikawng. It is similar to the paikawng in structure. It is used for carrying different items to the fields and also for marketing.

Thul is a type of basket produced here which is meant only for storage. It has a lid and is ideal for storing various household items. Some baskets are specially meant for storage and are small in size. There are two types of such baskets in Mizora. These are the fawng-te-laivel and the fawng. Both these types of Mizoram baskets are similar in structure, but the fawng-te-laive is smaller in size and is used to store yarn.

Bamboo and Cane Works

Bamboo and cane works of Mizoram is one of the major art and crafts that are associated with this part of north-eastern India. The people of this state make a variety of beautiful and useful items out of cane and bamboo. Generally, the men are engaged in making the cane and bamboo crafts at Mizoram. This art form is so rampant in this region of the country that the Mizo people even make their houses with bamboo. The floors and walls of the houses are made up of bamboo.

There is a wide range of Bamboo and cane works of Mizoram. The various kinds of cane and bamboo products of Mizoram are produced at the three different centers of handicraft located in Lunglei, Aizwal and Chimptuipui. One of the most important bamboo and cane products of the region are hats made of cane. Different types of baskets are produced by the people of this state. The different kinds of baskets made in this region are meant for carrying or storing different household items.

Other bamboo items are animal and fish traps. The bamboo cones, japis and circular boxes are used for storage purposes. A wide range of jewelry that are worn by the Mizo people are made out of bamboo. One of the well known bamboo ornaments of Mizoram is a traditional headgear. The Mizoram cane and bamboo crafts play a significant role in the economy of the state. There is a substantial market of cane and bamboo products as these handmade ethnic items are much in demand among the tourists.

Textiles

The textiles of Mizoram constitute one of the most significant art and crafts of the region. The textile industry of Mizoram offers a variety of garments, which are quite popular in the north-western part of the country of India. Many Mizo people are well known as skilled weavers. Weaving is one of the most important segments of the cultural life of the people of this state. The women are involved in weaving in Mizoram from a very early age.

The puans created by the Mizo weavers are in high demand in Mizoram. These resemble the lungis. The length and width of this piece of clothing are 3 inches and 4 inches respectively. This is one of the ethnic garments meant for the women of the place. With time, the Mizoram weavers are trying out various new designs on this piece of clothing. The Paiteis are known for making intricate designs on the cloth. However, the designs woven by these people are unique. The most popular textile products of these people of Mizoram are puon dum, thangou puon, puon pie and jawl puon.

The Hmars are often associated with a variety of designs. Some of the most popular types of Mizoram garments that they can weave are puon laisen, thangsuo puon, zakuolaisen and hmarm. The term thangsuo puon means well known cloth, while puon laisen means cloth that is colored red at the middle portion. Hmarm means the loin cloth meant for the women and zakuolaisen means the upper garment meant for the unmarried women.

Therefore, the textiles of Mizoram offer a variety of designs and weaving expertise, which make the garments produced in this part of India quite popular among the people of the north-western part of India.



Last Updated on : 28/06/2013



     


     

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