Friday, September 4, 2009

Dora Kulu

The Apatanis believe that human beings everywhere are considered to have originated from one place though they have settled down all over the world. While migrating from the place of origin, the Halyañs, the non-tribal people went ahead and the Taniis were following them closely behind. At one place, somebody saw a cut end of a banana tree. He noticed that a good one hand's length had grown up from the cut portion.

"They have gone too far ahead," he told his friends. "We won't be able to reach them."

"In that case," they discussed among themselves. "Let us settle down here itself."

And that was how, the tribal people, the Taniis, settled down in the hills while the Halyañs went ahead to the plains.

So, banana trees have played significant role in the lives of our people. It is interesting, especially because these trees do not grow at Ziro. For optimal growth, they need an average temperature of 27°C, and that at Ziro is much lower.

The exception is the famous Dora Kulu in Hija village. A grove of banana trees has been surviving amidst granaries and kitchen gardens, behind narrow lanes for centuries now. And the growth is robust by any standard.

The grove is said to have been planted by a person belonging to Dora clan of Hija village. As the banana groves started growing, the people of Dora clan started dying one by one. Few remaining migrated to other villages. Today, Dora clan is considered extinct, though few are still surviving in Hong village.

Whatever the truth behind such stories, the banana grove in Hija village is unique given the climatic conditions of the area.


  1. Kanno,

    Is there any relationship with genetic make up of those people?

  2. Hi Kanno,
    Good work being done.
    There still are some Dora's in Hija village, though most of them (if not all) are female members.

    I read in some medical journal where some scientist had done research on some clan (even some class of animals) who, by chance inherits such genes where by male members are more inclined to produce YY chromosome rather than YX. This genetical make up is passed on to the progenies. So, down the line i.e centuries later, the clan looses all its male members as their chance of of producing male heir becomes dimmer and dimmer, and looses its existence. It seems, this is one of the nature's queer ways.

  3. 1.If I am not mistaken, Kulu= wild plantain, whereas Kupak = domesticated ones. Does the Dora Kulu bear edible bananas?
    2. what is the literal translation of a "halyan"?; For eg Nyipak(equivalent of Halyan/Haring), in Tagin and Galo, literally translates to: discarded,or rejected,or poor-quality people.

    3.The banana tree story have an alternate version in Galo; here the Dimi-a mountain demon( called Miira in Nyishi)was chasing humans but when he saw the growing end of the cut plantain he gave up.Again a related story says the uyus(spirits) gave up chasing humans when they came across a spider web, thinking the humans were waay ahead(which a friendly spider had spun in a hurry--thus house spiders are never harmed among Galos).

  4. prev post was by me --Buru;

    For the same reason Kulus dont grow in Ziro, I feel the story of Burus within the valley are pure myth;Its too cold for reptiles,esp in past.People transfer the location of a myth as they migrate-- eg the location of Krishna in Bhismaknagar,AP, or Ayodhya in Thailand(Ayutthaya),or towns called London,Glasgow,Gloucester etc in USA and Australia.

  5. Hi Buru!

    1. Dora is a name of clan as well as a place where they live in Hija village. And kulu means banana in Apatani.. Kulu infact means wild banana, but wild bananas are also eaten, as I know it, because we used to eat when we were in VKV Sher, near Kimin and relished it.

    2. Halyang doesnt have any other literal meaning except for non tribals, though halyang in general means things of poorer quality. In apatani the general classification are three i.e apatani, mishang( akang mishang, ayo mishang, tagin mishang, adi mishang, miri mishang or naga mishang, idu mishang, monpa mishang, wancho mishang and so forth and so on) and halyang.
    3. The folk lore among the apatanis say that we all were moving together, till younger brother happened to be engaged in some amorous affair most probably incestuous activity, while his elder brother moved on and seeing the overgrown banana stump remained back in Ziro. Actually, the party that moved ahead are ascribed to miris rather than halyang in most of discussions.
    4. Well, kulus(bananas) do grow in Ziro. I used to see it in Papo i.e a place towards the end of Ziro Airfield going to hapoli, when I was child. But, since it doesnt bear good fruits, it is not cultivated and is associated with many superstitions. Even Dora kulu bears fruit, but I havent seen anyone trying to taste it. What with so much of superstition going around it.
    5. The myth of buru(crocodile) might be true in a sense that Ziro was a big swamp with gigantic trees all around. The burus( crocodiles) described in mythology might not be as per literally descriptions in mythology, but some of the crocodile families do live in same climatic condition as Ziro. I still have tree trunks in my paddy fields.
    6. In Apatani myth, there are Nyime and Nyifa(Nifa). Nyime are the people who lived in hills and Nyifa are the people who lived in plains. Even as I was growing, I used to hear of Nyipa Ilyo(Nyipa dao)and other products which was considered as cheaper and made by plains people. Nyime ilyos(daos) and other artifacts like chiri were costlier and came from mishang belt as was known to apatanis.

    7. But thesae are limited to my knowledge and what I can recall from my childhood. For last 31 years I have been away from Ziro valley most of the time. Dr. Kano, who is in Ziro can confirm from elders and enlighten us more.
    8. Buru, last but not the least, your queiries and points you make are very incisive and helps a lot in digging out the truth.

  6. Dani,

    1&4. Of course I understand Kulu(kolu) is wild, I was asking what is word for domesticated banana?
    I can also say that u would have got constipation if you had too much of Kulu in Sher:))
    There are some species of wild banana(there r several distinct species) which are good to eat.

    2&6.I understand 'mishang' is considered offensive, esp neighbouring communities.Again does 'mishang' carry a literal translation?I think Nyime( Tibet) is a 4th category you omitted?
    Also ur post makes it clear that 'nyifa'( I even heard Seppans using that word) is the 'proper' word for plainsmen,esp since it carries the prefix Nyi/mi(human).

    3.While there may or may not be truth to why Taniis dithered,I dont think Tanis were preceded by Miris.There are areas in Minyong-Padam region where they still point out the original habitats of Miris, down to their clan( eg Pegu,Doley,Narah etc!).The Miris apparently had a subservient position vis-a-vis present day Adis,a la Sulungs to Nyishis.But then, who knows, it may have been true too in the even remoter past..

    5.I am not aware of any croc living at 1500mts asl,under freezing conditions.How will it come up the Ranganadi/Subansiri?
    All Western Tanis have tales locating the Buru in their areas, including eyewitnesses! Again all the Western tribes have various stories of how a great Nyibu(priest) enchanted the brass plates(Talo)to chop up the Buru underwater.So the Buru even if it existed, would have been BEFORE the Western Tanis fragmented( the Buru is apparently known by another name among eastern Tanis).
    My Candidate would be the Chinese alligator,once widespread in China/SEA but now near extinction in Anhui province.This species is particularly known for its burrowing habits--it burrows into the lake/riverbank from below the waterline and then comes above waterline under the ground--so nobody knows the entrance.

    7.Ziro needs u back

    8.I can also be quite nasty if the necessity arises( Ask AG in AD;)


  7. Great discussions.
    Is kulu the plant and kiipa the fruit? Just a thought. Kulu sanii. Kiipa aai. Yes, Dora Kulu do bear fruits, but nobody has ever tasted it.
    Sulu is right - bananas do grow at Ziro, especially today when some people are trying planting edible bananas. With success. I would still say they are not native to the place. Look at all the wild bananas as you drive up from Kimin and suddenly they disappear as you move towards Ziro.
    I sincerely believe crocodiles/alligators/something of that family inhabited Ziro in the past. First, we have the word 'buru' and 'biiyi'. Second, we have stories of those creatures basking in the sun (in Riime Arañ). And there still are 'buru ubus' where they used to hibernate in winter. As we know they are cold-blooded animals and use external heat regulation - thermoregulation, these facts are consistent enough to prove that some family of crocodile/alligator did exist at Ziro.

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  9. Hi! Sulu, Buru and Kanno,

    Good argument. This is the spirit to maintain. Observed that many things have gone in and you all are nearing the end of the tunnel.

    Keep it up.

  10. Buru,

    1.Since apatanis dont have domesticated bananas, I dont remember exact word for it. May be kiipa aayi is the right word. I have a vague memory of that word.
    Well, fear of constipation used to hang like demoscole's sword,, but the call of the hungry belly was always stronger.

    2.I think, Mishang and Tanang being considered as offensive, is very late development, because these were the same terms we grew up and these were the terms used for centuries before. Nowhere in Apatani languague, either in recitations of incantations nor in folklores, or in any mythology the words Nishi and Apatani are found. Only mishang and tanii are used. Infact MANYANG word which means friend were so endearing to each other when we called by this word -manyang. It was used by both tribes for each other, in the most cordial and friendliest way. But now, even this word is taken as offence sometimes.


    I did use nyime and nyifa in my previous comments. It is in sync with your explanation.

    3.I think my contention of miri is only based on general discussion and might not be correct. Though, I think it might be true, and we hills tribe of tanni group might have stayed back at some place, may be not near Ziro, but some where else along the migratory route.

    4. Your contenttion on Crocodile also looks more plausible.

    5. Ziro is my dream world and it seems it will remain so refusing to come in terms with reality. When I said, I have been out of Ziro for long time, my intention was that since Dr. Kano is in Ziro, he will be in a better position to tell us about the correct meaning.

    6. BURU, sorry to say I didnt find any of your post in AD nasty enough. I think you will have to work harder to be associated such terms. !!! smirks and smiles!!!!

    I think, rather than patting and going along with the sail, in this kind of forums we can afford to put forward our points and argue. There needs to be intellectual masturbation, no simple back pattings. Thats only needed for encouraging kids. I love when there are differences and arguements. It just shows there are thinking people in the forum.

  11. Tago and kano,
    Iw as working on my comments while you two uploaded ur comments.

    DrKano, you have clarified many of my doubts which was in the doldrum areas of my mind.

  12. kanno,

    what is biiyi?

    Also, in the book "Hunt for the Buru" by Ralph Izzard,on which you have a post too, he has mentioned that the Taniis informed him of Burus still surviving in a remote place called Rilo.Does anybody know where Rilo is?(not that I believe it,just curiosity).


  13. @buru, good question. I don't know what is 'biiyi' just as we don't know what exactly is 'buru'. But we are sure from the descriptions that they are some creature of crocodile/alligator family. Some say that 'buru' is crocodile and 'biiyi' is alligator. Just conjecture, of course.
    I don't think anybody know where Rilo is just as nobody for sure know where Nyime is. We just assume that Nyime may be today's Tibet.
    I know we have lots and lots of works to do to know ourselves better!

  14. I get you!

    biiyi= biiyik/buik= crocodile in other Western Tani lingo.Often it is spoken as Buru-Buik when on the topic!

    Buru= a reptilian variously described as lizardlike,serpentine,pig-like/hippopotami-like, always aquatic and with magical powers.

    *Note that both words were derived from Tab=snake,denoting its a reptilian .Bu-ru(also called Buro,Biro ,Bur,Bir etc in Tani lingo) prob derives from its stated capacity to drill subterranean holes(uru/aru),or perhaps because of its notoriety of burying humans/properties/entire villages by tunnelling underneath(Ru-nam)?

    There is no doubt as to what is Nyime.It is Tibet for sure--as it is stated as the origin of the various ornmaments and swords we valued--which are proven Tibetan.Eastern Tanis call Tibet as Mime(mi=nyi).
    But where is the supposed location of Rilo was my question.


  15. We all agree that ziro is not the place of origin of banana. However, wild edible banana was there in Mishan areas. I also remember, I used bring kkiipa from Lot, Ripii, Taderko of linya mishang when I accompanied my mother. Kiipa is apatanized word of mishang 'kopa/kopak or so.

    It is said that buru once existed in Tabyu putu and was killed by myamya talo which still is in existence but lost its power. Is there any relationg between Rilo and tabyu putu. Please do some research.

    From the circumstancial and material evidences We can conclusively and comfortably we can say that Nyime is tibet only.

    Good arguments.

  16. Is killing of Buru & buru clan has got any relation. Just curious to know?