KUNGA TASHI

Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

Zendong Lowang(pictured)is the headman of his village in Lower Chinghan. The traditional chief of the Ollo is the Lowang and each village has a chief. The title is passed down through the male line of the chief’s family. Even though villages are now well withing India’s parliamentary system the Lowangs still have influence, especially within the village councils.

Zendong Lowang(pictured)is the headman of his village in Lower Chinghan.
The traditional chief of the Ollo is the Lowang and each village has a chief. The title is passed down through the male line of the chief’s family. Even though villages are now well withing India’s parliamentary system the Lowangs still have influence, especially within the village councils.

These lower hills of the eastern Himalayas are covered with the results of centuries of Jhum and are often treeless. With the seasonal burning of the vegetation for making farms has come a fall in the fertility of the soil. The smoke from the Jhum can still be seen hovering over the hills. Despite this, a dense cover of jungle still coats most of the border.

These lower hills of the eastern Himalayas are covered with the results of centuries of Jhum and are often treeless. With the seasonal burning of the vegetation for making farms has come a fall in the fertility of the soil. The smoke from the Jhum can still be seen hovering over the hills. Despite this, a dense cover of jungle still coats most of the border.

The Jhum fields are not fertile enough for most crops yet poppy grows strong in this soil. In a space of limited control and minimal state regulation, the crop of opium is a lucrative grow. The low yields from other forms of farming and the exceptional amount of money the opium trade can bring makes it hard not to grow poppy in this region. In mid February the plants are in full bloom and the bulbs are ready to be cut to extract the resin that will make the opium. The poppy does not grow in a space that conventional imagination would deem criminal; rather it is a homegrown crop, native to the culture of the land. Most farmers are women who grow the crop among other plants in small homestead patches. Despite this, the trade remains illegal to the Indian state. Even as this image was being taken there were plans being made by the district administration to send a group to cut down and burn the crops. This cycle of illegal farming and the state burning the crops is a fixture every season. Yet poppy is grown since there is no alternative crop with such revenue that the state can provide in return.

The Jhum fields are not fertile enough for most crops yet poppy grows strong in this soil. In a space of limited control and minimal state regulation, the crop of opium is a lucrative grow. The low yields from other forms of farming and the exceptional amount of money the opium trade can bring makes it hard not to grow poppy in this region. In mid February the plants are in full bloom and the bulbs are ready to be cut to extract the resin that will make the opium.

The poppy does not grow in a space that conventional imagination would deem criminal; rather it is a homegrown crop, native to the culture of the land. Most farmers are women who grow the crop among other plants in small homestead patches. Despite this, the trade remains illegal to the Indian state. Even as this image was being taken there were plans being made by the district administration to send a group to cut down and burn the crops. This cycle of illegal farming and the state burning the crops is a fixture every season. Yet poppy is grown since there is no alternative crop with such revenue that the state can provide in return.

Like much of north-eastern India, Christianity has become a pervasive part of life for the tribes in Tirap. A mix of christian belief and traditional ritual defines the faith of the region.

Like much of north-eastern India, Christianity has become a pervasive part of life for the tribes in Tirap. A mix of christian belief and traditional ritual defines the faith of the region.

Yamna Halang’s family, like those of several others in Chinghan are partly in Myanmar. Her mother married into India and her father would later re-marry in Myanmar. For much of history these connections were part of the same geographic entity. Most families of this region have extended ties across the modern border. The slow growing rigidity of the boundary line has began to seep into the distancing of familial ties, as the permanence of these regions as part of separate nations has slowly solidified.

Yamna Halang’s family, like those of several others in Chinghan are partly in Myanmar. Her mother married into India and her father would later re-marry in Myanmar. For much of history these connections were part of the same geographic entity. Most families of this region have extended ties across the modern border. The slow growing rigidity of the boundary line has began to seep into the distancing of familial ties, as the permanence of these regions as part of separate nations has slowly solidified.

The conflicts in Lazu are complex and not explaining this complexity takes away the real nature of the troubles. As the district that borders Myanmar and Nagaland, Tirap falls between the long standing conflict between the centralized Indian state and the armed Naga factions. The NSCN-K which bases out of hills across the boundary in Myanmar is a presence that looms over the region. The tribes that inhabit the region namely the Nocte and the Ollo were categorized by the anthropologists as sub tribes of the Nagas but being across in Arunachal Pradesh means their contemporary history is divergent from that of Nagaland. Some would even suggest they have very little connection with tribes further down in the Naga hills. Despite this the NSCN considers the region part of its cultural sphere of influence. It is not uncommon for people of the region to have connections to the factions in Myanmar. This has also led the Indian armed forces into a troubled relationship with the people of Tirap. Like several other frontiers in India, parts of Tirap too is under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Unlike the other regions though, the implications of AFSPA are quieter and most citizens of India know little if not anything of the troubles in this part of the eastern borderland.

The conflicts in Lazu are complex and not explaining this complexity takes away the real nature of the troubles. As the district that borders Myanmar and Nagaland, Tirap falls between the long standing conflict between the centralized Indian state and the armed Naga factions. The NSCN-K which bases out of hills across the boundary in Myanmar is a presence that looms over the region. The tribes that inhabit the region namely the Nocte and the Ollo were categorized by the anthropologists as sub tribes of the Nagas but being across in Arunachal Pradesh means their contemporary history is divergent from that of Nagaland. Some would even suggest they have very little connection with tribes further down in the Naga hills. Despite this the NSCN considers the region part of its cultural sphere of influence. It is not uncommon for people of the region to have connections to the factions in Myanmar. This has also led the Indian armed forces into a troubled relationship with the people of Tirap. Like several other frontiers in India, parts of Tirap too is under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Unlike the other regions though, the implications of AFSPA are quieter and most citizens of India know little if not anything of the troubles in this part of the eastern borderland.

Dried palm leaves being prepared for repairing roofing in Lazu. In mid February the villages are abuzz with repair work. The houses made of palm and bamboo need work done on them to be ready for the harsh rains in the summer and the monsoon. February, the dry season and clear skies means its time to make much needed repairs to the houses around Lazu.

Dried palm leaves being prepared for repairing roofing in Lazu. In mid February the villages are abuzz with repair work. The houses made of palm and bamboo need work done on them to be ready for the harsh rains in the summer and the monsoon. February, the dry season and clear skies means its time to make much needed repairs to the houses around Lazu.

A flurry of activity on the roof of a party leader's house as the Local Body Elections near. India’s Panchayat system and especially in the case of regions like Lazu which have a significant amount of local body autonomy make local election intensely contested. Local factions of regional parties with their support from larger national parties make for a series of political negotiations that are very intricate and nuanced.

A flurry of activity on the roof of a party leader's house as the Local Body Elections near. India’s Panchayat system and especially in the case of regions like Lazu which have a significant amount of local body autonomy make local election intensely contested. Local factions of regional parties with their support from larger national parties make for a series of political negotiations that are very intricate and nuanced.

The villages of the Ollo, the tribe who constitute the majority of villages around Lazu are built with palm and bamboo. The stilt houses have a large front porch that sits above ground. In the Dry season the front porch is the center of activity in every home. From domestic chores, drying of fruit and herbs, weaving cloth and neighborhood gatherings this outer extension of the house is a significant part of everyday life.

The villages of the Ollo, the tribe who constitute the majority of villages around Lazu are built with palm and bamboo. The stilt houses have a large front porch that sits above ground. In the Dry season the front porch is the center of activity in every home. From domestic chores, drying of fruit and herbs, weaving cloth and neighborhood gatherings this outer extension of the house is a significant part of everyday life.

A vaccination programme being carried out in the village.

A vaccination programme being carried out in the village.

The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amidcelebration.

Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amid
celebration.

Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amidcelebration.

Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amid
celebration.

The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

The Worrang Juku is a collective celebration for the ollo on both sides of the border. Every year the villages on the Myanmar side send a dance troupe to join the dances. This year though(2018), the group across the border did not make it to the annual gathering.

The Worrang Juku is a collective celebration for the ollo on both sides of the border. Every year the villages on the Myanmar side send a dance troupe to join the dances. This year though(2018), the group across the border did not make it to the annual gathering.

Colonial era coins turned adornments for the festival attire.

Colonial era coins turned adornments for the festival attire.

Traders from Myanmar returning home. Their journey across this trans-border path back to their village will take two days. They carry essential supplies from the Indian side. The Indian state allows a limited amount of trade across the border, this often being small traders who carry goods on foot. To the north of the same path, construction is underway of new road to the boundary line. This new road is likely to change the regions connections to the other side. The hope among the villagers is that the road will open up new avenues in trade, tourism and mobility.

Traders from Myanmar returning home. Their journey across this trans-border path back to their village will take two days. They carry essential supplies from the Indian side. The Indian state allows a limited amount of trade across the border, this often being small traders who carry goods on foot. To the north of the same path, construction is underway of new road to the boundary line. This new road is likely to change the regions connections to the other side. The hope among the villagers is that the road will open up new avenues in trade, tourism and mobility.

Just another day in Lazu. For all the things that define a place it is the everyday that defines it the most.

Just another day in Lazu. For all the things that define a place it is the everyday that defines it the most.

  • 1

    Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

  • 2

    Village of Chinghan, Arunachal Pradesh, overlooking the hills of Burma.The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

  • 3

    In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

  • 4

    In the village of Lower Chinghan a house is being rebuilt, the making of which is a collective effort. At the end of the construction a pig is slaughtered and a feast is set for everyone involved. The village is still recovering from a large fire that burnt through a few years ago. Despite this most of the settlement is repaired and rebuilt.

  • 5

    Zendong Lowang(pictured)is the headman of his village in Lower Chinghan.
    The traditional chief of the Ollo is the Lowang and each village has a chief. The title is passed down through the male line of the chief’s family. Even though villages are now well withing India’s parliamentary system the Lowangs still have influence, especially within the village councils.

  • 6

    These lower hills of the eastern Himalayas are covered with the results of centuries of Jhum and are often treeless. With the seasonal burning of the vegetation for making farms has come a fall in the fertility of the soil. The smoke from the Jhum can still be seen hovering over the hills. Despite this, a dense cover of jungle still coats most of the border.

  • 7

    The Jhum fields are not fertile enough for most crops yet poppy grows strong in this soil. In a space of limited control and minimal state regulation, the crop of opium is a lucrative grow. The low yields from other forms of farming and the exceptional amount of money the opium trade can bring makes it hard not to grow poppy in this region. In mid February the plants are in full bloom and the bulbs are ready to be cut to extract the resin that will make the opium.

    The poppy does not grow in a space that conventional imagination would deem criminal; rather it is a homegrown crop, native to the culture of the land. Most farmers are women who grow the crop among other plants in small homestead patches. Despite this, the trade remains illegal to the Indian state. Even as this image was being taken there were plans being made by the district administration to send a group to cut down and burn the crops. This cycle of illegal farming and the state burning the crops is a fixture every season. Yet poppy is grown since there is no alternative crop with such revenue that the state can provide in return.

  • 8

    Like much of north-eastern India, Christianity has become a pervasive part of life for the tribes in Tirap. A mix of christian belief and traditional ritual defines the faith of the region.

  • 9

    Yamna Halang’s family, like those of several others in Chinghan are partly in Myanmar. Her mother married into India and her father would later re-marry in Myanmar. For much of history these connections were part of the same geographic entity. Most families of this region have extended ties across the modern border. The slow growing rigidity of the boundary line has began to seep into the distancing of familial ties, as the permanence of these regions as part of separate nations has slowly solidified.

  • 10

    The conflicts in Lazu are complex and not explaining this complexity takes away the real nature of the troubles. As the district that borders Myanmar and Nagaland, Tirap falls between the long standing conflict between the centralized Indian state and the armed Naga factions. The NSCN-K which bases out of hills across the boundary in Myanmar is a presence that looms over the region. The tribes that inhabit the region namely the Nocte and the Ollo were categorized by the anthropologists as sub tribes of the Nagas but being across in Arunachal Pradesh means their contemporary history is divergent from that of Nagaland. Some would even suggest they have very little connection with tribes further down in the Naga hills. Despite this the NSCN considers the region part of its cultural sphere of influence. It is not uncommon for people of the region to have connections to the factions in Myanmar. This has also led the Indian armed forces into a troubled relationship with the people of Tirap. Like several other frontiers in India, parts of Tirap too is under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Unlike the other regions though, the implications of AFSPA are quieter and most citizens of India know little if not anything of the troubles in this part of the eastern borderland.

  • 11

    Dried palm leaves being prepared for repairing roofing in Lazu. In mid February the villages are abuzz with repair work. The houses made of palm and bamboo need work done on them to be ready for the harsh rains in the summer and the monsoon. February, the dry season and clear skies means its time to make much needed repairs to the houses around Lazu.

  • 12

    A flurry of activity on the roof of a party leader's house as the Local Body Elections near. India’s Panchayat system and especially in the case of regions like Lazu which have a significant amount of local body autonomy make local election intensely contested. Local factions of regional parties with their support from larger national parties make for a series of political negotiations that are very intricate and nuanced.

  • 13

    The villages of the Ollo, the tribe who constitute the majority of villages around Lazu are built with palm and bamboo. The stilt houses have a large front porch that sits above ground. In the Dry season the front porch is the center of activity in every home. From domestic chores, drying of fruit and herbs, weaving cloth and neighborhood gatherings this outer extension of the house is a significant part of everyday life.

  • 14

    A vaccination programme being carried out in the village.

  • 15

    The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

  • 16

    Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amid
    celebration.

  • 17

    Paramilitary guard stands over the festival crowd. The unsettling shadow of conflict looms amid
    celebration.

  • 18

    The festival at the end of winter, the Worrang Juku has a special motive this year (2018). The Ollo tribe is opposed to their categorization as a sub tribe of the Nocte. Their festival this year is thus an assertion of identity, a representation to the state to restructure their position in the system. The nuances of local tribal politics adds vigor to what is otherwise, one of the smaller festivals for the Ollo.

  • 19

    The Worrang Juku is a collective celebration for the ollo on both sides of the border. Every year the villages on the Myanmar side send a dance troupe to join the dances. This year though(2018), the group across the border did not make it to the annual gathering.

  • 20

    Colonial era coins turned adornments for the festival attire.

  • 21

    Traders from Myanmar returning home. Their journey across this trans-border path back to their village will take two days. They carry essential supplies from the Indian side. The Indian state allows a limited amount of trade across the border, this often being small traders who carry goods on foot. To the north of the same path, construction is underway of new road to the boundary line. This new road is likely to change the regions connections to the other side. The hope among the villagers is that the road will open up new avenues in trade, tourism and mobility.

  • 22

    Just another day in Lazu. For all the things that define a place it is the everyday that defines it the most.

FRONTIER FIELDS OF POPPY

The northern reaches of the Patkai hills fall across the state boundaries of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland into Myanmar. The frontier tract like the rest of the boundary line was formed and derived from the arbitrary lines of the colonial government. The 1936 division that none native to the land knew about would in the decades succeeding turn into a division with rigid separations. Prior to the colonial division the region sat nestled in hills dense enough to provide isolation yet gentle enough to have several routes and connectivity. Through these hills ran paths to Myanmar and Southern china. The several tribes that draw history from this land too have genealogies that stretch across what is today trans-national terrain. The villages around Lazu in the eastern regions of Tirap district in Arunachal lie adjacent to the international boundary of India and Burma.

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