Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Legendary Bwrw

February 15, 1897. A large group of people was gathered at Bwrw. Some unusual people had come from the plains. A white man was leading a big group of armed soldiers. Their intentions were not friendly. With caution, some prominent Apatanis had set up a negotiations with them at Bwrw.

In the winter of 1896, the District Commissioner of North Lakhimpur received a report that a group of Apatanis raided a house, killing two persons and taking away four others as hostages. The owner worked with a British tea planter named H. M. Crowe and so, the Apatanis had violated the laws of the British government. Therefore, the prestige of the colonial administration was at stake.

The Chief Commissioner of Assam, based in Shillong, ordered a punitive expedition to the Apatani country with a force of two hundred soldiers.  The army, however, decided to march with three hundred soldiers and four hundred porters. And so, the expedition started under the leadership of R.B. McCabe (ICS), Inspector-General of Police and Jails in Assam.

After trekking through thick forests and steep hills for eighteen days, the group reached Ziro on February 14, 1897 with only 120 soldiers. Several groups had stayed behind at different stages on the way.

The Apatanis tried to stop the team outside Hong village, but ultimately gave way. Negotiations took place between the the Apatanis and the British government at Bwrw the next day. It was only about ten years back in 1889 that the Apatanis had seen a white man when H. M. Crowe, the tea planter came to their country, for the first time. This was their second contact with any white person.

Bwrw, even more than a hundred years back, was a beautiful place. Lots have happened in a century, but mother nature has changed little. One can still see the outlines of the pine trees that could be seen a hundred years back. The mythical Dolo-Mañdo still stands as firm as it always used to.

The landscape of Bwrw has changed a lot, though. A lively village is springing up here. Tourist lodges and other commercial buildings are coming up.  It is only befitting, one could argue,  that Bwrw where once all the Apatanis celebrated Myoko together becomes a villages again.  

(To read this post in Apatani, click here).


  1. Liked the word/name of place BWRW. If we still can use Bwrw for Biirii...which appears so dull !!

  2. @danigamboo, please have a look at the alphabets I am using now to write Apatani: http://tanii-agun.blogspot.com/2011/12/tanii-keju.html

  3. still have no knowledge about lalin yalu can u tell me pls!!!

  4. Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, the German anthropologist was popularly called Laliñ and his wife Betty Yalu. They visited Ziro valley much later - in early forties.