Traditional Skills

Vieo of the process of making thread from the bark of the riha (riben) plant As demonstrated by Mrs. Rengya Tonglum in Kharangong village In the evening Lukam Tonglung then explained the whole process to me again. The riben plant grows in the jungles. Earlier, the Nagas use to make cloth using this thread but nowadays it has stopped as there is not enough of that plant to be found and because it is a very long and difficult process. But the cloth made from riben lasts forever, and it is also warm, and can be destroyed only by fire or if torn (when working in the jungles). So nowadays it is used only for these ritual purposes of tying around the wrist of newly borns, or newly weds or such. Before cutting the branches, a prayer has to be said, if the thread is to be used for ritual purposes later – Lukam recites it in Cholim for me, although his wife did not bother to do it before actually cutting the branch earlier (could be again a sign of Lukam’s over-acting). For making normal cloth no prayer needs to be said as they have to cut lots of branches from wherever they can find it. Once the thread is pulled out from the bark, as shown in the video, it has to be cooked in hot water to make it soft. Then it has to be washed and beaten (often at the river), then spun to get thread. It has then again to be cooked for a whole day with the water from cooked rice, when it gets a white colour and becomes like cotton. Then it has to be washed and beaten in the river and spun out again, twisted [women usually do the twisting when they are walking to work], to make thread. Meaning of tying the riben thread on wrists of newly-borns or newly-weds: Riben is a symbol of strength, of endurance and durability. So it is tied to ward off illness, death or bad luck. If sometimes the fate of the parents bodes ill for the child, if the mama’s tie the riben thread on the child, since they are stronger, the parents’ fate can get neutralised.
A recording of 0'51" in which Lukam Tonglum lists the Cholim terms for measurements, such as the span of fingers, hands and arms. This consists of the following sound file: SDM12-2008Tascam-088 recorded on 23/12/2007w
A recording of 0'51" in which Lukam Tonglum lists the Cholim terms for measurements, such as the span of fingers, hands and arms. This consists of the following sound file: SDM12-2008Tascam-088 recorded on 23/12/2007
This video describes the process of producing a variety of tea, popular among the Tangsas and the Singphos, using bamboo 'sungas' (ie cylindrical pieces cut from bamboo trunk with a bamboo joint at the bottom and open from the top) as container. The tea leaves are plucked and then cooked in a little water after which they are left to dry over the kitchen hearth. Once dry the leaves are crushed and sieved, and then stuffed into the 'sunga', a handful at a time, after which the sunga is temporarily closed with a 'kou'leaf and gently heated over a fire. After repeating this process several times when the 'sunga' is fully stuffed with tea, the burnt outer part of the 'sunga' is shaved off, the top is sealed (with a section of the sunga itself), and then the sunga is left to dry over a period of 2-3 weeks. The result is a compact cylinder of black tea, which can then be cooked with water to produce their special kind of tea. The main actor in the video is Mrs. Rengya Tonglum. The language of communication between MB and Mrs. Tonglum is Assamese. Mr. Lukam Tonglum is also seen by the fireplace at times and he adds his comments in Assamese to what is being said and done. The video is to be found in file SDM-ass-2009-11-4&6-MB-sunga-tea-making.avi
A recording in which Loekyam Cholim talks about the bamboo leash that is used while hunting pigs. This consists of the following video file: SDM12-20091225-01_SM_Lukam_Bamboo Leash.mpeg (This recording runs from 17’01” to 18’14” on the video cassette numbered ASSMVDP24DEC0901 - 1441 ) The details of this recording is as follows: SDM12-20091225-01_SM_Lukam_Bamboo Leash.mpeg: Duration 1'13": Demonstrating the wak bing²sing¹ mai²thang¹, the piece of vine that is used for capturing a pig around the neck.
A recording in which Loekyam Cholim talks about the bamboo leash that is used while hunting pigs. This consists of the following video file: SDM12-20091225-01_SM_Lukam_Bamboo Leash.mpeg (This recording runs from 17’01” to 18’14” on the video cassette numbered ASSMVDP24DEC0901 - 1441 ) The details of this recording is as follows: SDM12-20091225-01_SM_Lukam_Bamboo Leash.mpeg: Duration 1'13": Demonstrating the wak bing²sing¹ mai²thang¹, the piece of vine that is used for capturing a pig around the neck.
A recording in which Ringnya Cholim talks about the process of preparing bamboo shavings. This consists of the following video file: SDM12-20100114-01_SM_WarningSignal.mpeg (This recording runs from 23’41” to 25’21”on the video cassette numbered ASSMVDP12JAN1001 - 1452 ) The details of this recording is as follows: SDM12-20100114-01_SM_WarningSignal.mpeg: Duration 1'40": Preparing the bamboo shavings that are used to burn inside the bamboo tube that will be used for making the warning signal.
A recording in which Ringnya Cholim talks about the process of preparing bamboo shavings. This consists of the following video file: SDM12-20100114-01_SM_WarningSignal.mpeg (This recording runs from 23’41” to 25’21”on the video cassette numbered ASSMVDP12JAN1001 - 1452 ) The details of this recording is as follows: SDM12-20100114-01_SM_WarningSignal.mpeg: Duration 1'40": Preparing the bamboo shavings that are used to burn inside the bamboo tube that will be used for making the warning signal.
Some photos taken by Meenaxi Barkotoki while at Kharangkong village of Assam, India, in November 2009. The items belong to Lukam Tonglung. The paintings of a hornbill etc. are all to be found on the walls of Lukam Tonglung's house in Kharangkong.

Citation

Meenaxi Barkataki-Ruscheweyh and Stephen Donald Morey (2009 - 2010). Item "Traditional Skills" in collection "Tangsa, Tai, Singpho in North East India". The Language Archive. https://hdl.handle.net/1839/00-0000-0000-000F-4E4C-E. (Accessed 2024-07-25)

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