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The Seven Sisters of India: Tribal Worlds Between Tibet and Burma (African, Asian & Oceanic Art) Hardcover – 4 Oct 2000
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"A beautifully illustrated and highly informative book that focuses on seven relatively unexplored and isolated Indian states."
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Yet the authors focus, quite understandably, on the unifying elements. Hence the topics visited: animistic-shamanistic Donyi-Polo (Sun-Moon) belief system, traces of solar and lunar cults (chapter 4), as well as religious syncretism (ch. 10); Christian missionary activities (ch. 11); ritualized dance traditions, festivals, etc. (ch. 7-8); material culture: tubular long-house structures (up to 90-m-long, ch. 5), textile and jewelry art (ch. 6); hunting, the significance of mithan buffalo, animal sacrifices (ch. 9, 11); megalith cultures (Khasis, Mizos, Nagas) related to ancestral worship, funerary rites, and fertility cults (ch. 12); tattooing and the once widespread practice of head-hunting (ch. 12); clannish or tribal societies where matrilineal descent is held in high esteem (Khasis, Jaintias, Garos, et al., ch. 13); the Hindu Tantric Mother Goddess Kamakshya/Kali's (blood) cult in Assam and vestiges of human sacrifices (pp. 159-63).
While there is no shortage of folkloric and mythological accounts, historical references are lot more sporadic. A brief overview concerning, say, the Ahom monarchy in Assam (1228-1826), the British (East India Company's) intrusion/colonization, ethnic or ideological insurgencies (especially since 1947), the border war between India and China in 1962 that affected NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh and occupied Tibet, would have been useful.
Corrigenda - Addendum:
+ The Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (of the Great Wall fame) ruled 221-210 BCE, not 7th c. AD (p. 27).
+ Gompa (Tib. dgon-pa) denotes monasteries, not temples (p. 109).
+ It's worth to note that the sky-ladder motif in connection with the ancestors of the Tibeto-Burman Akas (p. 27) can be found among other ethnicities, too. In (Old) Tibetan lore, for instance, it is called dmu/gnam skas/thag (heaven/sky ladder/rope) that was irrevocably severed by the "Sovereign Slain by Sword" (Tib. Gri-gum btsan-po) in a fatal duel.
A paper by Robbins Burling (University of Michigan), "The Tibeto-Burman Languages of Northeastern India" (1999) -- 7-9 years ago it was available online;
Ranju Bezbaruah - Priyam Goswami - Dipankar Banarjee (eds.), North East India: Interpretating the Sources of Its History 2008.
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