Home Region:  Eastern India (South Asia)

Early A'chik

D G SC WF HS EQ 2020  in_achik_1 / InGaroE

Preceding:
[elite migration; A’chik Tribes] [elite migration]   Update here
Add one more here.

Succeeding:
No Polity found. Add one here.

The Garo Hills, located in Meghalaya in northeast India, have long been inhabited by the A’chik. The term ’Garo’ is of unclear origin, but is believed to have originated with the neighbouring Boro people. [1] The Garo people refer to themselves as the A’chik (’hill’) or A’chik Manderang (’hill people’). [2]
It is unknown precisely when the A’chik settled in their present location, but it is believed that they migrated to the hills from Tibet. [3] The A’chik had little contact with their neighbours before 1775, when local zamindars (Indian land-owning nobility) led expeditions into the Garo Hills. [3]
1788 saw the first contact with the British, who began to occupy the district in 1867. [3] Despite their initial resistance, the A’chik were overmatched by British firearms, and the British established full administrative control of the region around 1873. [4] The region remained a part of British India until Indian independence in 1947.
Population and political organization
During the precolonial period, the A’chik lacked elaborate political organization. The most important social unit was the matrilineal clan, the machong. [5] The chief (nokma) had relatively little power beyond religious functions and resolving minor disputes under the guidance of the village elders. [6]
Once the region was under British control, executive offices were simply superimposed onto A’chik structures. The British created the office of laskar, with limited power over about ten villages. [7] The A’chik were still left to settle their own disputes through the nokma, but they gained the right to appeal the nokma’s decisions to the court of laskars. [7]
Population estimates are unavailable for the precolonial period. The British colonial official and statistician W. W. Hunter estimated that the population of the Garo Hills was 80,000 in 1872. [8]

[1]: (Sangma 1995, 37) Sangma, Mihir N., and Milton S. Sangma. 1995. “The Garos: The Name, Meanings, and Its Origin.” In Hill Societies, Their Modernisation: A Study of North East with Special Reference to Garo Hills, 32-41. New Delhi: Omsons Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/M5IS3SBN.

[2]: (Sangma 1995, 33) Sangma, Mihir N., and Milton S. Sangma. 1995. “The Garos: The Name, Meanings, and Its Origin.” In Hill Societies, Their Modernisation: A Study of North East with Special Reference to Garo Hills, 32-41. New Delhi: Omsons Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/M5IS3SBN.

[3]: (Roy 1999, 2) Roy, Sankar Kumar. 1999. “Culture Summary: Garo.” eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=ar05-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/TXQNUE8P.

[4]: (Majumdar 1978, 30) Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan. 1978. Culture Change in Two Garo Villages. Calcutta: Anthropological Survey of India, Govt. of India. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/TZXMWMN5.

[5]: (Roy 1999, 6) Roy, Sankar Kumar. 1999. “Culture Summary: Garo.” eHRAF World Cultures. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=ar05-000. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/TXQNUE8P.

[6]: (Majumdar 1978, 22) Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan. 1978. Culture Change in Two Garo Villages. Calcutta: Anthropological Survey of India, Govt. of India. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/TZXMWMN5.

[7]: (Marak 1997, 52) Marak, Kumie R. 1997. Traditions and Modernity in Matrilineal Tribal Society. New Delhi: Inter-India Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/CS3PXEIH.

[8]: (Kar 1995, 54) Kar, Biman. 1995. “Changing A’chik-Mande: Need for Further Research.” In Hill Societies, Their Modernisation: A Study of North East with Special Reference to Garo Hills, edited by Milton S. Sangma, 52-58. New Delhi: Omsons Publications. Seshat URL: https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/itemKey/W7PJ27C6.

General Variables
Identity and Location
Utm Zone:
46 R  
Original Name:
Achik  
Mande  
Capital:
none  
Alternative Name:
Early Garo  
Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,775 CE ➜ 1,867 CE]  
Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
uncoded [---]  
Supracultural Entity:
South Asia  
Succeeding Entity:
British Colonial India  
Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
4,771,577 km2  
Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration  
Preceding Entity:
UNCLEAR:    [elite migration]  
Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity  
Language
Linguistic Family:
Sino-Tibetan  
Language:
A’chik  
Religion
Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[2,000 to 3,000] people  
Polity Territory:
-  
Polity Population:
[2,000 to 3,000] people  
Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
2  
Religious Level:
1  
Military Level:
2  
Administrative Level:
1  
Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent  
Professional Priesthood:
absent  
Professional Military Officer:
absent  
Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent  
Merit Promotion:
absent  
Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent  
Examination System:
absent  
Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent  
Judge:
absent  
Formal Legal Code:
absent  
Court:
absent  
Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
inferred absent  
Irrigation System:
absent  
Food Storage Site:
absent  
Drinking Water Supply System:
absent  
Transport Infrastructure
Road:
absent  
Port:
absent  
Canal:
absent  
Bridge:
absent  
Special-purpose Sites
Mines or Quarry:
absent  
Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent  
Script:
absent  
Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent  
Nonwritten Record:
present  
Mnemonic Device:
absent  
Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent  
Sacred Text:
absent  
Religious Literature:
absent  
Practical Literature:
absent  
Philosophy:
absent  
Lists Tables and Classification:
absent  
History:
absent  
Fiction:
absent  
Calendar:
absent  
Information / Money
Token:
unknown  
Precious Metal:
absent  
Paper Currency:
absent  
Indigenous Coin:
absent  
Foreign Coin:
absent  
Article:
present  
Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent  
General Postal Service:
absent  
Courier:
absent  
Information / Measurement System
Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
  Wooden Palisade:
present  
  Stone Walls Non Mortared:
absent  
  Stone Walls Mortared:
absent  
  Settlements in a Defensive Position:
present  
  Modern Fortification:
absent  
  Moat:
absent  
  Fortified Camp:
absent  
  Earth Rampart:
absent  
  Ditch:
absent  
  Complex Fortification:
absent  
  Long Wall:
absent  
Military use of Metals
  Steel:
inferred absent  
  Iron:
present  
  Copper:
unknown  
  Bronze:
unknown  
Projectiles
  Tension Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling Siege Engine:
absent  
  Sling:
absent  
  Self Bow:
inferred present  
  Javelin:
absent  
  Handheld Firearm:
absent  
  Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent  
  Crossbow:
absent  
  Composite Bow:
inferred absent  
  Atlatl:
absent  
Handheld weapons
  War Club:
absent  
  Sword:
present  
  Spear:
present  
  Polearm:
absent  
  Dagger:
absent  
  Battle Axe:
present  
Animals used in warfare
  Horse:
absent  
  Elephant:
absent  
  Donkey:
absent  
  Dog:
absent  
  Camel:
absent  
Armor
  Wood Bark Etc:
present  
  Shield:
present  
  Scaled Armor:
absent  
  Plate Armor:
absent  
  Limb Protection:
absent  
  Leather Cloth:
present  
  Laminar Armor:
absent  
  Helmet:
absent  
  Chainmail:
absent  
  Breastplate:
absent  
Naval technology
  Specialized Military Vessel:
absent  
  Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent  
  Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent  
Religion Tolerance Nothing coded yet.
Human Sacrifice Nothing coded yet.
Crisis Consequences Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions Nothing coded yet.

NGA Settlements:

Year Range Early A'chik (in_achik_1) was in:
 (1775 CE 1867 CE)   Garo Hills
Home NGA: Garo Hills

General Variables
Identity and Location

Original Name:
Achik

’Garo’ is the most frequently used term in the ethnographic literature. However, A’chik is the preferred self-designated term. Therefore, out of respect, we generally prefer “A’chik” instead of "Garo", except for source titles and direct quotations. ‘The Garos constitute one of the most important tribal communities in East and West Garo Hills. The Garos call themselves A’chik (Hill man), Mande (Man) or A’chik Mande. Ethnically, the Garos belong the the Tibeto-Burman race, whose cradle is said to have been North-West China, between the upper waters of Yang-tse Kiang and Hoang-Ho. The Garos have a close affinity with the Bodos, Kacharis, Kochs and such allied tribes of Assam valley.’ [1] ‘As stated earlier, the Garos prefer to call themselves as “A’chik or A’chik manderang” and as such, the appropriate term for their land will be “A’chik A’song” or “A’chik Land”.’ [2] ‘The word ‘Mande’ generally indicated ‘human being’ to differentiate from other beings as ‘Mande or Matburung’ (man or animal) and “Mande or Me’mang” (man or ghost). It is exceptionally used in rare cases to indicate the whole community from others like ‘Mandema ba Rori’ ‘Mandema Nepali’ that is whether hill man or plain people and Nepali. But it is not commonly used for the whole community. A’chik is suffixed by the word Mande as “A’chik manderang”, and in short form as “A’chikrang”.’ [3] The term ’Garo’ is not used as an ethnonym by the people themselves: ‘There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word ’Garo.’ They are known as ’Garos’ to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as ’Achik’ (’hill man’).’ [4] Many members of the group self-define as ‘Garo’ when talking to outsiders, but it can also be used as an offensive term (seems to depend on tone and context). [5] "At present, Bangladeshi Garos refer to themselves as Mandi (which literally means ’human being’), whereas Indian Garos generally call themselves as Achik (hill dweller). Historical data show that different groups used different names in the past, and that there was never one name for all". ‘The word ‘Garo’ is not a Garo word and hence it has no meaning in their language. In fact, they never utter the word among themselves nor do they like to be called by that name.’ [2] The etymological history of the term ’Garo’ is unclear, but the word might be of Boro origin: ‘P.C. Bhattacharya in his ‘Notes on Boro, Garo and Shans’ pointed out the possibility of the word ‘Garo’ to be of Boro origin. The word ‘Garo’ has two morphemes, Gar + o and meaning ‘one who has left’ or ‘separated’. The Lexico Statistical Dating Analysis conducted by Robbins Burling and P.C. Bhattacharya evidently showed that the Boros and the Garos spoke the same language and that their linguistic separation took place in about the first millennium B.C.’ [6]

[1]: Burman, J. J. Roy 1995. “Christianity And Development Among The Garos”, 210

[2]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 38

[3]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 40

[4]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[5]: Bal, Ellen. They Ask If We Eat Frogs: Garo Ethnicity in Bangladesh. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007: 72-4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/ARMDH9MD

[6]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 37

Original Name:
Mande

’Garo’ is the most frequently used term in the ethnographic literature. However, A’chik is the preferred self-designated term. Therefore, out of respect, we generally prefer “A’chik” instead of "Garo", except for source titles and direct quotations. ‘The Garos constitute one of the most important tribal communities in East and West Garo Hills. The Garos call themselves A’chik (Hill man), Mande (Man) or A’chik Mande. Ethnically, the Garos belong the the Tibeto-Burman race, whose cradle is said to have been North-West China, between the upper waters of Yang-tse Kiang and Hoang-Ho. The Garos have a close affinity with the Bodos, Kacharis, Kochs and such allied tribes of Assam valley.’ [1] ‘As stated earlier, the Garos prefer to call themselves as “A’chik or A’chik manderang” and as such, the appropriate term for their land will be “A’chik A’song” or “A’chik Land”.’ [2] ‘The word ‘Mande’ generally indicated ‘human being’ to differentiate from other beings as ‘Mande or Matburung’ (man or animal) and “Mande or Me’mang” (man or ghost). It is exceptionally used in rare cases to indicate the whole community from others like ‘Mandema ba Rori’ ‘Mandema Nepali’ that is whether hill man or plain people and Nepali. But it is not commonly used for the whole community. A’chik is suffixed by the word Mande as “A’chik manderang”, and in short form as “A’chikrang”.’ [3] The term ’Garo’ is not used as an ethnonym by the people themselves: ‘There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word ’Garo.’ They are known as ’Garos’ to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as ’Achik’ (’hill man’).’ [4] Many members of the group self-define as ‘Garo’ when talking to outsiders, but it can also be used as an offensive term (seems to depend on tone and context). [5] "At present, Bangladeshi Garos refer to themselves as Mandi (which literally means ’human being’), whereas Indian Garos generally call themselves as Achik (hill dweller). Historical data show that different groups used different names in the past, and that there was never one name for all". ‘The word ‘Garo’ is not a Garo word and hence it has no meaning in their language. In fact, they never utter the word among themselves nor do they like to be called by that name.’ [2] The etymological history of the term ’Garo’ is unclear, but the word might be of Boro origin: ‘P.C. Bhattacharya in his ‘Notes on Boro, Garo and Shans’ pointed out the possibility of the word ‘Garo’ to be of Boro origin. The word ‘Garo’ has two morphemes, Gar + o and meaning ‘one who has left’ or ‘separated’. The Lexico Statistical Dating Analysis conducted by Robbins Burling and P.C. Bhattacharya evidently showed that the Boros and the Garos spoke the same language and that their linguistic separation took place in about the first millennium B.C.’ [6]

[1]: Burman, J. J. Roy 1995. “Christianity And Development Among The Garos”, 210

[2]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 38

[3]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 40

[4]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[5]: Bal, Ellen. They Ask If We Eat Frogs: Garo Ethnicity in Bangladesh. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007: 72-4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/ARMDH9MD

[6]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 37


Political organization was decentralized prior to the imposition of the British colonial administration. The precise role of the Zamindars remains to be confirmed (see above).


Alternative Name:
Early Garo

’Garo’ is the most frequently used term in the ethnographic literature. However, A’chik is the preferred self-designated term. Therefore, out of respect, we generally prefer “A’chik” instead of "garo", except for source titles and direct quotations. ‘The Garos constitute one of the most important tribal communities in East and West Garo Hills. The Garos call themselves A’chik (Hill man), Mande (Man) or A’chik Mande. Ethnically, the Garos belong the the Tibeto-Burman race, whose cradle is said to have been North-West China, between the upper waters of Yang-tse Kiang and Hoang-Ho. The Garos have a close affinity with the Bodos, Kacharis, Kochs and such allied tribes of Assam valley.’ [1] ‘As stated earlier, the Garos prefer to call themselves as “A’chik or A’chik manderang” and as such, the appropriate term for their land will be “A’chik A’song” or “A’chik Land”.’ [2] ‘The word ‘Mande’ generally indicated ‘human being’ to differentiate from other beings as ‘Mande or Matburung’ (man or animal) and “Mande or Me’mang” (man or ghost). It is exceptionally used in rare cases to indicate the whole community from others like ‘Mandema ba Rori’ ‘Mandema Nepali’ that is whether hill man or plain people and Nepali. But it is not commonly used for the whole community. A’chik is suffixed by the word Mande as “A’chik manderang”, and in short form as “A’chikrang”.’ [3] The term ’Garo’ is not used as an ethnonym by the people themselves: ‘There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word ’Garo.’ They are known as ’Garos’ to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as ’Achik’ (’hill man’).’ [4] Many members of the group self-define as Garo when talking to outsiders, but it can also be used as an offensive term (seems to depend on tone and context). [5] "At present, Bangladeshi Garos refer to themselves as Mandi (which literally means ’human being’), whereas Indian Garos generally call themselves as Achik (hill dweller). Historical data show that different groups used different names in the past, and that there was never one name for all"‘The word ‘Garo’ is not a Garo word and hence it has no meaning in their language. In fact, they never utter the word among themselves nor do they like to be called by that name.’ [2] The etymological history of the term ’Garo’ is unclear, but the word might be of Boro origin: ‘P.C. Bhattacharya in his ‘Notes on Boro, Garo and Shans’ pointed out the possibility of the word ‘Garo’ to be of Boro origin. The word ‘Garo’ has two morphemes, Gar + o and meaning ‘one who has left’ or ‘separated’. The Lexico Statistical Dating Analysis conducted by Robbins Burling and P.C. Bhattacharya evidently showed that the Boros and the Garos spoke the same language and that their linguistic separation took place in about the first millennium B.C.’ [6]

[1]: Burman, J. J. Roy 1995. “Christianity And Development Among The Garos”, 210

[2]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 38

[3]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 40

[4]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[5]: Bal, Ellen. They Ask If We Eat Frogs: Garo Ethnicity in Bangladesh. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007: 72-4. https://www.zotero.org/groups/1051264/seshat_databank/items/ARMDH9MD

[6]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 37


Temporal Bounds
Duration:
[1,775 CE ➜ 1,867 CE]

‘After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [1] During the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was subject to increasing colonial influence, ‘a process that culminated in the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and absorption of the subcontinent within the British Empire. Direct administration by the British, which began in 1858, effected a political and economic unification of the subcontinent. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the subcontinent was partitioned along religious lines into two separate countries-India, with a majority of Hindus, and Pakistan, with a majority of Muslims; the eastern portion of Pakistan later split off to form Bangladesh. Many British institutions stayed in place (such as the parliamentary system of government)’ [2]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/place/India


Political and Cultural Relations
Suprapolity Relations:
uncoded [---]

The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [1] Zamindars located in Assam led expeditions into the Garo Hills and subjugated parts of them: ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [2] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [3]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[2]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[3]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Supracultural Entity:
South Asia

The A’chik are usually classed with the Bodo Peoples: ‘According to Sir George Grierson’s classification in the LINGUISTIC SURVEY OF INDIA, Garo belongs to the Bodo subsection of the Bodo-Naga Section, under the Assam-Burma Group of the Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Burman Language Family.’ [1] ‘The Garos living in the East and West Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya in northeastern India speak the Garo dialect. They are one of the best known matrilineal groups in India. Here the Garos are not the only aboriginal tribe--they are the MAJOR aboriginal tribe. Others are the Hajong, the Koch, the Rabha, the Dalau, and the Banais who reside on the adjacent plains of the neighboring district. There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word ’Garo.’ They are known as ’Garos’ to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as ’Achik’ (’hill man’). The Garos are divided into nine subtribes: the Awe, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Matabeng, Ambeng, Ruga-Chibox, Gara-Ganching, Atong, and the Megam. These are geographic subtribes, but are also dialectal and subcultural groups.’ [1] ‘Linguistic affinities and personal traits clearly show that the Garos are only a division of the great Bodo race of Assam. The Bodos were spread, as at present, throughout the whole of the Brahmaputra valley as well as in North Bengal. Aryans are now generally believed to have entered into Assam by two routes, one leading from the west through the Gangetic valley and the other through the Himalayas along the courses of the rivers entering Assam. The Bodos who were the earlier inhabitants of the province also came here in different hordes and following different routes from the north-west as well as from the north-east. It may be supposed that the Bodos, before entering into Assam and North Bengal which might have been then a part of Assam (Kamrupa of Old), divided themselves into groups somewhere in the Himalayan kingdom of Tibet. I think the ancestors of the Garos of Assam came down from Tibet to Bhutan and thence by following the course of the river Sonkos and her tributaries to Dhubri (now headquarters of the district of Goalpara) and this might be the latest migration of the people of the Bodo race into Assam and North Bengal. These people then crossed the Brahmaputra at different points and populated the southern parts of Goalpara, the northern and the western parts of the Garo Hills and then gradually they spread in the entire Garo Hills and some parts of the Kamrup district.’ [2] ’Linguistically and ethnologically, the Garos belong to the Bodo family, who were one-time occupants of a large part of the Brahmaputra valley but were probably pushed into the hills by later invaders. The Garos strongly believe that their ancestors came from Tibet and settled in Cooch Behar for about 400 years.’ [3] ‘The denomination of these linguistic speakers was subsequently driven away by the Tibeto- Burman hordes into Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills. This is the only part of the North East India in which this sub-family exists now. The three groups of the Tibeto-Burman family like Kuki-Chin and Naga were driven to the North-Eastern Hills. The Bodo dominated in the plains of Garo Hills and the North Cachar Hills. They were later subdivided into Garo, Kachari, Mech, Dimasa, Tippera, Lalung, Chutiya and Rabha groups (Barkakati 1969). Playfair ( c.f. Barkakati, 1969) writes that the Garo and the Kachari originally belonged to one group before splitting into two groups-one group over the Southern bank of Brahmaputra and the other Kachar, spreading over the North Garo Hills. The latter was occupied by the British in the year 1872. Prior to this the area was administered as a part of Bengal. The area became a part of Assam in 1874, when it was carved out as a separate province.’ [4] ‘The non-Garo settled population of the district consists of the Hajong, Koch, Dalu and Rabha (All excepting the Hajong are Bodo speaking tribes). The Hajong have adopted the Jharua dialect of Assamese and have been greatly Hinduized. The Dalu are closely akin to the Hajong but they are recent migrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). These people inhabit the outer fringes of the district extending to the adjacent areas of the neighbouring plains districts. They are in occupation of the fertile agricultural lands suitable for wet paddy cultivation. There is also a small number of settled Muslim population (nearly 5% of the total population of the district according to 1961 census) in the north-eastern tip of the district adjacent to the Dhubri subdivision of the Goalpara district and to the district of Rongpur of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).’ [5] We have followed eHRAF in the grouping of Bodo Peoples with South Asia [6] . We have used the figures provided in this non-academic source [7] .

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 6

[3]: Thomas, M. C. 1995. “Religious Beliefs And Customs Among The Garo”, 200

[4]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 38

[5]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 17

[6]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=1

[7]: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/south-asia/land-area-sq-km-wb-data.html


Succeeding Entity:
British Colonial India

‘After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [1] During the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was subject to increasing colonial influence, ‘a process that culminated in the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and absorption of the subcontinent within the British Empire. Direct administration by the British, which began in 1858, effected a political and economic unification of the subcontinent. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the subcontinent was partitioned along religious lines into two separate countries-India, with a majority of Hindus, and Pakistan, with a majority of Muslims; the eastern portion of Pakistan later split off to form Bangladesh. Many British institutions stayed in place (such as the parliamentary system of government)’ [2]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: http://www.britannica.com/place/India


Scale of Supracultural Interaction:
4,771,577 km2

km squared. The A’chik are usually grouped with the Bodo Peoples: ‘The Garo are a Tibeto-Burman-speaking matrilineal people, the bulk of whose population - some 240,000 - is to be found in the Garo Hills in the western part of India’s Meghalaya state. But there is also a much smaller Garo population - about 80,000 - living in Bangladesh territory, most of it in the far north of Mymensingh district on the Indo-Bangladesh border.’ [1] The A’chik also interacted with Zamindar and British forces entering the hills area. Zamindars controlling neighbouring areas led expeditions into the Garo Hills, subjugating parts of them: ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [2] ‘After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [3] During the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was subject to increasing colonial influence, ‘a process that culminated in the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and absorption of the subcontinent within the British Empire. Direct administration by the British, which began in 1858, effected a political and economic unification of the subcontinent. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the subcontinent was partitioned along religious lines into two separate countries-India, with a majority of Hindus, and Pakistan, with a majority of Muslims; the eastern portion of Pakistan later split off to form Bangladesh. Many British institutions stayed in place (such as the parliamentary system of government)’ [4] We have followed eHRAF in the grouping of Bodo Peoples with South Asia [5] . We have used the figures provided in this non-academic source [6] .

[1]: Khaleque, Kibriaul 1988. “Garo Of Bangladesh: Religion, Ritual And World View”, 129

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29

[3]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/place/India

[5]: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/browseCultures.do?context=main#region=1

[6]: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/south-asia/land-area-sq-km-wb-data.html


Relationship to Preceding Entity:
elite migration

The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [1] Zamindars located in Assam led expeditions into the Garo Hills and subjugated parts of them: ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [2] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [3]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[2]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[3]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Preceding Entity:
A’chik Tribes

(Relationship): The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [1] Zamindars located in Assam led expeditions into the Garo Hills and subjugated parts of them: ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [2] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [3]
(Entity): Prior to British imperial rule, the A’chik tribal population was not organized around a common political or administrative centre, with clans and lineages being the only supra-local social institutions: ‘The Garos are divided into nine subtribes: the Awe, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Matabeng, Ambeng, Ruga-Chibox, Gara-Ganching, Atong, and the Megam. These are geographic subtribes, but are also dialectal and subcultural groups. According to their beliefs and religion, the Garos are divided into the SONGSAREK (following their indigenous beliefs and practices) and the Christians.’ [2] ‘After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [2]

[1]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[2]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[3]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Degree of Centralization:
quasi-polity

Prior to British imperial rule, the A’chik tribal population was not organized around a common political or administrative centre, with clans and lineages being the only supra-local social institutions: ‘The Garos are divided into nine subtribes: the Awe, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Matabeng, Ambeng, Ruga-Chibox, Gara-Ganching, Atong, and the Megam. These are geographic subtribes, but are also dialectal and subcultural groups. According to their beliefs and religion, the Garos are divided into the SONGSAREK (following their indigenous beliefs and practices) and the Christians.’ [1]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo


Language
Linguistic Family:
Sino-Tibetan

Language:
A’chik

The A’chik people refer to themselves as speaking the A’chik language, however many scholars use the term ‘Garo’. ‘The Garos living in the East and West Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya in northeastern India speak the Garo dialect. They are one of the best known matrilineal groups in India.’ [1] ‘Garo is the language of the Garo people. But due to the presence of divisions among them into sub-tribes, the language spoken by them are different from one another, from region to region. However, the educated Garos have maintained the language into one single dialect which they use in literature. The early Baptist Missionaries had translated Garo language in Roman script. This modified form of language used in literature is understood by all and is easier for communication among the different subtribes.’ [2]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: George, Mathew 1995. “Development Of Education In Garo Hills: Continuity And Change”, 188


Religion

Social Complexity Variables
Social Scale
Population of the Largest Settlement:
[2,000 to 3,000] people

Inhabitants. There were no large settlements before the British colonial period (see below). We therefore need to consider the size of residential village communities. The following information seems to refer to the present rather than the past: ’The population in a village ranges from 20 to 1,000 persons. The population density tends to decrease as one moves towards the interior areas from the urban areas of the districts. Villages are scattered and distant from one another in the interior areas. These villages are generally situated on the top of hillocks.’ [1] The material provided in the ’settlement hierarchy’ section (see below) claims up to 300 houses for pre-colonial villages and a decrease in the mean size of villages after colonial ’pacification’. Domestic units were large: ’The household is the primary production and consumption unit. A Garo household comprises parents, unmarried sons and daughters, a married daughter (heiress) with her husband and their children. In principle a married granddaughter and her children should be included, but in reality grandparents hardly exist to see their grandchildren married. Some households may--for short periods only--include distant relatives or non-related persons for various reasons.’ EXTERNAL_INLINE_REFERENCE: ;Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo; We have hypothetically assumed 6 to 10 residents for a pre-colonial household. The code is accordingly provisional and open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo


Polity Territory:
-

in squared kilometers The Garo Hills districts cover an area of 8,000 square kilometers at present: ‘The two Garo Hills districts are situated between 25 degrees, 9 minutes and 26 degrees, 1 minute north latitude and 89 degrees, 49 minutes and 91 degrees, 2 minutes east longitude, covering an area of 8,000 square kilometers. The districts border Bangladesh on the south and west and Assam on the north. Hills cover most of the district, with plains along the fringes. There are a number of hilly streams and rivers; excepting for the Simsang River which forms a wide flood plain none is navigable. The monsoon area produces a thick vegetation on the hills.’ [1] This regional integration was an artefact of colonial rule. Prior to the establishment of colonial rule, there was no unifying regional authority to govern the Garo Hills as a whole, given the decentralized nature of the A’chik political system. Local headmen led villages or clusters of villages and these therefore controlled smaller bits of land, probably with uninhabited frontier zones in between. It is accordingly difficult to identify a reasonable code for this variable.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo


Polity Population:
[2,000 to 3,000] people

People. ‘The Garo Hills were sparsely populated at the time the British came. According to Hunter, population of the Garo Hills was 80,000 in 1872; there was hardly any immigration and the hills were mostly populated by the Garos. Population went on increasing rapidly after that. In 1901 Garos were 74% of total population. It became 78% in 1951 and 85% in 1961 and 78.81% in 1971. High rate of growth of population is mainly due to population influx. What is of interest is, considerable influx of Garo population which is evident from the increasing proportion of the Garos in the total population.’ [1] Numbers for the late 18th century are apparently unavailable, as we have assumed that no systematic censuses were taken prior to colonial rule. The population of a A’chik quasi-polity would accordingly have encompassed some villages or village-clusters rather than the whole hills area. The following information seems to refer to the present rather than the past: ’The population in a village ranges from 20 to 1,000 persons. The population density tends to decrease as one moves towards the interior areas from the urban areas of the districts. Villages are scattered and distant from one another in the interior areas. These villages are generally situated on the top of hillocks.’ [2] The material provided in the ’settlement hierarchy’ section (see below) claims up to 300 houses for pre-colonial villages and a decrease in the mean size of village after colonial ’pacification’. Domestic units were large: ’The household is the primary production and consumption unit. A Garo household comprises parents, unmarried sons and daughters, a married daughter (heiress) with her husband and their children. In principle a married granddaughter and her children should be included, but in reality grandparents hardly exist to see their grandchildren married. Some households may--for short periods only--include distant relatives or non-related persons for various reasons.’ EXTERNAL_INLINE_REFERENCE: ;Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo; We have hypothetically assumed 6 to 10 residents for a pre-colonial household. The code is accordingly provisional and open to re-evaluation.

[1]: Kar, Biman 1995. “Changing A’Chik-Mande: Need For Further Research”, 54

[2]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo


Hierarchical Complexity
Settlement Hierarchy:
2

levels.
(2) Village; (1) Hamlet
The A’chik population was mostly rural, relying on subsistence agriculture. The following information is taken from the ’colonial era’ data sheet and therefore remains in need of verification. Residential villages varied in size: ‘Villages are scattered and distant from one another in the interior areas. These villages are generally situated on the top of hillocks. The houses are built together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pig sties. The houses are built, together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pigsties, on piles around the slope of the hillock, using locally available bamboo, wood, grass, etc. The approach to the rectangular house is always built facing the leveled surface of the top, while the rear part of the house remains horizontal to the slope. Nowadays new pile-type buildings using wood and iron as major components are being made in some traditional villages also. In addition, buildings similar to those of the neighboring plains are also constructed. The villages may remain distant from agricultural fields (JHUM). In order to guard a crop (during agricultural seasons) from damage by wild animals, the people build temporary watchtowers (BORANQ) in trees in the field. Bachelor dormitories exist in some villages for meetings and recreation.’ [1] The mean size of villages may have decreased during the colonial period: ‘In former days, Garo villages were of considerable size and used to contain as many as two or three hundred houses. Liability to attack by a neighbouring village made this necessary, and the danger was further guarded against by sowing the approaches with sharp-pointed bamboo stakes called wamisi in Garo, but better known as panjis. These presented a very formidable obstacle to an enemy, and effectually prevented a sudden attack. Nowadays, when every man is at peace with his neighbour, the necessity no longer exists for large collections of houses, and the difficulty of finding sufficient land close to big villages for the support of their inhabitants, has resulted in their being broken up into small hamlets situated perhaps as much as four or five miles apart, which, however, in most cases, retain the name of the parent village. In order to distinguish them there is added to the name of each hamlet the name of its nokma, or headman.’ [2] ‘In Garo society the village is the largest group of which all the members regularly join in cooperative activities, but more extensive organizations are also recognized. First, several neighboring villages may be considered to be related. One of these is usually believed to have been the original village from which the founders of the other “daughter” villages moved. [...] The peace which the British imposed on the hills may have made it possible to live in smaller and more scattered villages than the people had formerly done. Perhaps most of the groups of linked villages that are now to be found have resulted from the splitting of larger villages during the period of British rule. The difficulty of access to the fields would make more dispersed settlement desirable so long as enemies did not threaten. Nowadays villages only rarely move, split up, or die out. I saw just one village in the process of being moved. This was an undertaking that was destined to last for three years, since the villagers could not muster sufficient labor to rebuild more than a third of their houses in a single year. The move was being made solely for the sake of the water supply, which was failing at the old site.’ [3] New villages grew out of small pioneer hamlets: ‘There are different sizes of village in the Garo Hills. I have seen small villages consisting of two or three huts, practically isolated from all the advantages of a big village. On the other hand, in a big village there may be as many as fifty or more huts. The size of the big village entirely depends on the space that is available for the house building and also the facilities the inhabitants of the village may derive for cultivation and other purposes from the surroundings of the locality. The largest village, I visited, was situated on the slopes of the hills, as is the usual practice, facing long strip of valley, nearly about a mile and a half long and about half a mile broad. It is easily understandable that people living in such villages take to plough and utilise the valley for agricultural purposes. It has, therefore, the advantage of accommodating larger people than it is possible for the village which is situated on the hill slopes and which is to depend primarily on jhum cultivation as described hereafter. Usually, an average sized village contains ten to fifteen houses. The economic factor is one of the main guiding principles regarding the expansion of a village. Availability of arrable land or hillocks for jhum cultivation, good drinking water, facilities of conveyance and also facilities of market places are some of the main factors, which the Garos consider before they fix up a place to start a new village. The common practice is to have one house for one family consisting of husband, wife, and children. Occasionally, the old mother or the mother-in-law also stays in the family.’ [4]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 40

[3]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 235

[4]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 7


Religious Level:
1

levels.
(1) Village Priest (Kamal)
‘A Garo religious practitioner is known as KAMAL. The word is used to mean ’specialist’; thus a midwife may be a kamal. A kamal has neither special privilege nor prestige from his service to the society.’ [1] The village priest or healer dealt with misfortune caused by malicious sprites: ‘These mite live in many places. Some dwell in the village, others in the jungle, near a tree, or by a stream or waterfall. A fork in a road is a favorite place, and powerful mite are said to live on mountain tops. All are dealt with in the same general fashion, though the details of the sacrifices differ. Several men usually spend about two hours building an altar. Most altars are built of bamboo and leaves, but the precise form depends upon the particular spirit to whom the sacrifice is to be directed. Once the altar is built, a ritually skilled man must offer an egg, a chicken, a pig, or even a cow, depending upon the seriousness of the disease and the demands of the mite. This priest kills the animal in a ritually prescribed manner, and smears the blood on to the altar. He recites a number of chants while standing or squatting before the altar, and usually pours a bit of rice beer on to the ground as an additional offering. At a sacrifice to cure disease, as on other occasions when animals are ceremoniously killed, the priest inspects their viscera for omens. If the proper portion of a chicken’s intestines prove to be filled, for instance, the prognosis is good; otherwise it is bad. While the priest is performing the ritual, the men who have helped build the altar sit around, chatting and joking, with no outward signs of respect or attention. There is no ecstasy and no sleight of hand, and the sick person is not even necessarily present. When the formalities are completed, the helpers prepare the animal and cook it into a curry. Rice is boiled, and all of the helpers share in the ensuing meal. Typically, the entire sacrifice, from the time the participants first assemble to the time they finish the feast, takes three or four hours. Afterward the participants go to their own houses. They are not supposed to go to their fields for the whole day, though they may do chores about the house. Sacrifices of this sort are the commonest kind of ceremony performed by the people of Rengsanggri. They involve only a half dozen or so neighbors and relatives, and they are held whenever the need arises. Occasionally two or three may even be held on the same day if several people in the village are sick. Altogether several hundred sacrifices are likely to be performed in the village of Rengsanggri in a single year.’ [2] They also officiated at village festivals: ‘Wangala is one of the three festivals at which group dancing takes place. This occurs in the courtyards in front of the houses, where people like to keep a sizable cleared space for this very purpose. Both married and unmarried people take part, though dancing is generally felt to be most appropriate for the young, especially those who are unmarried. Group dancing is almost exclusively a night pastime, and may continue intermittently until dawn.’ [3] During the pre-colonial period, some missionary contact took place, but Christianization itself only accelerated after the British occupation: ‘The third major influence on the Garos, and in some ways the most important, has been that of Christianity. American Baptist missionaries began to have a few peripheral contacts with the Garos even before their hills were occupied by the British. Missionaries were stationed in Goalpara, a town on the Brahmaputra just north of the Garo Hills, and some of their work was with Garos. However, intensive Christianization began only after the occupation of the hills. American missionaries followed the government officers into the hills and like them set up their headquarters in the town of Tura, which remains the center of Garo Christian activities today. The missionaries not only evangelized, but from the beginning carried out extensive medical and educational work.’ [4] Accordingly, this variable was coded for A’chik practitioners rather than Christian missionaries.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 55

[3]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 66

[4]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 312


Military Level:
2

levels.
(2) Village Headman (Nokma) and Lineage Elders or temporary leaders of village clusters; (1) ’Citizen-soldiers’;
Given the absence of a standing A’chik army, the village headmanship should be taken as the primary institution for ad-hoc, improvised military organization. Male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [1] The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed (see also above).

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 65


Administrative Level:
1

levels.
(1) Village Headmen (Nokma) and Councils;
Clans and lineages exercised social control on the village and local levels: ‘In Garo society the most important social group is the clan known as MACHONG. A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A CHATCHI (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter--or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother--to be heiress (NAKNA DONQIPIKA MECHIK) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the NOKROM of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents’ house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.’ [1] Local authority was exercised by lineage elders: ‘The authority within a lineage is exercised according to age, the older member always being allowed to direct and punish the younger members. The age differences are otherwise symbolized in only one way-the order in which rice beer is served. When beer is first passed out at a gathering, the people should be served in order of formal seniority. A maternal uncle should be served before his nephew, and an older brother before a younger one. Even an older sister may precede a younger brother, though generally men and women do not drink together. [...] In spite of this formal deference, older people do not monopolize positions of power, and an old person cannot exercise authority outside his lineage simply because of his age. One defers to one’s lineage seniors, but not to old people in general.’ [2] Village headmen acted as intermediaries in local disputes: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone’s cattle cause damage to another’s crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [1] ‘Traditionally, the nokma’s position was connected with the indigeneous customary rites. His temporal and ritual powers in a traditional society were linked with his position. The conversion of a nokma to Christianity automatically led to the loss of his ritualistic role. When the nokma’s were endowed with real temporal power, the resistance was great as Nokmas were non-Christians. But when the Nokma accepted Christianity, nokmaship passed to another person who could act as a nokma in performing rites and rituals. However, the Government still recognized the converted persons as nokmas. This created dislocation in the traditional system, one looking after the customary right and other ritual responsibilities. As the author has tried to show that in the traditional system the two roles cannot be separated, the two roles are enmeshed into each other.’ [3] Nokmas also formally held titles to land: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man.’ [4] While village headmen were acknowledged later by the British administration, the imposition of appointed officials led to a loss of political power among Nokmas: ‘There was a move for retention of the old institution of nokmaship which could not function with authority since the British administration had appointed the laskars and sardars for the smooth running of their administration from 1824 onwards. The nokmas became only the clan chief and custodian of the clan land a’king. The nokma could not administer effectively as he used to do prior to the British administration in the district. The nokmas were supposed to be well versed with their functions and duties in the villages. The British administration enforced the Rules of Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills both Civil and Police in 1937. These rules have been renewed again and again. They are in use till the present day. The head of the district administration was the Deputy Commissioner and his Assistants and it has never been changed.’ [5] The ’colonial era’ data sheet was coded for the British administrative system; accordingly, this datasheet reflects the pre-colonial situation of village autonomy. The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed (see also above).

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 177

[3]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 163

[4]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 22

[5]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 170


Professions
Professional Soldier:
absent

Full-time specialists The office of laskar was introduced even before British occupation, but this was not a military role in the strict sense of the term. ‘As stated earlier the institution of laskar was first introduced by David Scott in his Draft Regulation of 1819, for the effective administration of the Garos. The main duty was to report on killings and serious offences within their jurisdiction. The Act of 1874 gave this office a legal status. Laskar was assisted by sardar in his duties and acted on behalf of laskar in his absence. The Commissioner tried the Garo cases, where he had to consult laskars and sardars connected with the traditional customs and manners of the tribe and also their opinions as to the guilt or innocence had to be taken into consideration.’ [1] The A’chik had no standing armies or professionalized armed corps. During the pre-colonial period, male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [2] The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed (see above).

[1]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 54

[2]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 65


Professional Priesthood:
absent

Full-time specialists ‘A Garo religious practitioner is known as KAMAL. The word is used to mean ’specialist’; thus a midwife may be a kamal. A kamal has neither special privilege nor prestige from his service to the society.’ [1] ‘It is the duty of the Kamal to perform certain rites and the ceremonies of naming a child, marriage, funeral and the investiture of chiefs.’ [2] The Kamal was not a full-time specialist: ‘Professional shamans, or any other kind of professional intermediaries between human beings and supernaturals are absent among the Garo. Any person who is conversant with the technicalities of magico-religious rites can perform them. However, magico-religious rites performed for the well-being of the community in general are performed by the village priest ( kamal) who is supposed to be well acquainted with the procedure of such rites. There may be several such specialists in the village. Usually after the death of the seniormost the next senior man steps in. The office of the kamal is in no way hereditary. He does not enjoy any special privilege in the village community.’ [3] ‘There may be more than one kamal in a village, but the major rites are performed by the oldest and the most experienced kamal. The office of kamal is not hereditary. Anybody who is able to master the rites can be engaged as a kamal. The word kamal implies the sense of a specialist-a midwife is also known as a kamal. Often rites of propitiation for minor ailments in the household are performed by the head of the family himself. The kamal does not enjoy any privilege because of his services to the villagers. He has to cultivate his plot of shifting land just like any other villager. He also does not get any remuneration for performing the rites.’ [4] ‘The kamal’s life has certain drawbacks, for his duties are often both onerous and unpleasant; for instance, when he has to watch by the side of the dead for long hours together, reciting tedious funeral dirges. Very little remuneration is given him, and in no way does the priest enjoy privileges which his fellow-villagers do not share. He must work in the fields and grow his crops like the rest, and the only way in which his lot is different from that of his neighbours, is that he must devote his attention to the requirements of others, even at personal inconvenience. In such circumstances it would be imagined that the post was a difficult one to fill, yet every village has its kamal and he never seems to shirk his duties.’ [5]

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Thomas, M. C. 1995. “Religious Beliefs And Customs Among The Garo”, 206

[3]: Goswami, M. C., and Dhirendra Narayan Majumdar 1968. “Study Of Social Attitudes Among The Garo”, 65

[4]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 25

[5]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 98


Professional Military Officer:
absent

Full-time specialists The office of laskar was introduced even before British occupation, but this was not a military role in the strict sense of the term. ‘As stated earlier the institution of laskar was first introduced by David Scott in his Draft Regulation of 1819, for the effective administration of the Garos. The main duty was to report on killings and serious offences within their jurisdiction. The Act of 1874 gave this office a legal status. Laskar was assisted by sardar in his duties and acted on behalf of laskar in his absence. The Commissioner tried the Garo cases, where he had to consult laskars and sardars connected with the traditional customs and manners of the tribe and also their opinions as to the guilt or innocence had to be taken into consideration.’ [1] The A’chik had no standing armies or professionalized armed corps. During the pre-colonial period, male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [2] The potential role of Zamindars remains to be confirmed (see above).

[1]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 54

[2]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 65


Bureaucracy Characteristics
Specialized Government Building:
absent

Merit Promotion:
absent

Village-level leaders such as headmen or elders were not subject to examination, but chosen locally even in the post-colonial period: ‘After Playfair, we get some accounts on the institution of nokma by Robbins Burling (1963), D.N. Majumdar (1966), C. Nakane (1967). Burling mentioned about the mode of succession to the office of a nokma who looks for a nephew, a young man from his own lineage and preferably from his own village, who will become his son-in-law and an official heir. Burling also pointed out, the lands of the nokma is identifiable in terms of his possession of title to village land (a’King). When a nokma owns such a piece of land, he is referred to as a’King nokma. The nokmas were not supposed to sell a’King land without consulting the villagers and that too never to an outsider.’ [1] Regional officials associated with the British system, such as laskars and sordars, were not formally examined either: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [2] ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [3] The precise structure and geographical extent of Zamindar rule remains to be confirmed. The Zamindars were aristocrats from neighbouring territories attempting to collect taxes from the local population, and therefore should not be considered bureaucrats. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [4] ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [5] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [6]

[1]: Chakrabarti, S. B., and G. Baruah 1995. “Institution Of Nokmaship In Garo Hills: Some Observations”, 76

[2]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 40

[3]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 245

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[5]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[6]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Full Time Bureaucrat:
absent

Full-time specialists The village headman and elders were not bureaucrats. A colonial bureaucratic structure was superimposed onto the A’chik system of informal village and lineage leadership only after British occupation. ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos were decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [1] The office of loskor was introduced even before occupation, but became fully formalized only after that: ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [2] The British administration interfered with the Zamindar system. ‘During the first few years of the British rule in Assam the district of Garo Hills was treated as a part of the Goalpara district. The whole tract was placed under a Civil Commissioner. This officer took into his hands the collection of rents claimed by the Zaminders from the Garos, and abolished the duties levied by them on the hill producers. For some years a policy of non-interference was followed but without the desired success; so it was decided to appoint an officer-in-charge of the hills and in 1869 a.d. the Garo Hills were formed into a separate district with Tura as its headquarters. It is said in some parts of the district even now that the British administrators had to get away with many of the influential chiefs and other men of the tribe by killing them for, they could not easily bow down to the foreigners. Once this hills area was completely brought under the control of the government, the Garos lived peacefully.’ [3] The Zamindars were aristocrats from neighbouring territories attempting to collect taxes from the local population, and therefore should not be considered bureaucrats. The precise structure of the Zamindar system and its geographical extent in the Garo Hills remains to be confirmed. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [4] ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [5] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [6] The British administrative structure later curtailed the more informal powers of village headmen: ’In the same way the introduction of offices of sardar, hill mandal and hill mauzadar curtailed the powers and authorities of the nokmas and their village councils. The new offices were created for the effective administration over the Garo with the idea of village self-government under the direct control of Deputy Commissioner at the centre.’ [7]

[1]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 40

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 245

[3]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 8

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[5]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[6]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29

[7]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 52


Examination System:
absent

Village-level leaders such as headmen or elders were not subject to examination, but chosen locally even in the post-colonial period: ‘After Playfair, we get some accounts on the institution of nokma by Robbins Burling (1963), D.N. Majumdar (1966), C. Nakane (1967). Burling mentioned about the mode of succession to the office of a nokma who looks for a nephew, a young man from his own lineage and preferably from his own village, who will become his son-in-law and an official heir. Burling also pointed out, the lands of the nokma is identifiable in terms of his possession of title to village land (a’King). When a nokma owns such a piece of land, he is referred to as a’King nokma. The nokmas were not supposed to sell a’King land without consulting the villagers and that too never to an outsider.’ [1] Regional officials associated with the British system, such as laskars and sordars, were not formally examined either: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [2] ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [3] The precise structure and geographical extent of Zamindar rule remains to be confirmed. The Zamindars were aristocrats from neighbouring territories attemtping to collect taxes from the local population, and therefore should not be considered bureaucrats. ’Zamindar, in India, a holder or occupier (dār) of land (zamīn). The root words are Persian, and the resulting name was widely used wherever Persian influence was spread by the Mughals or other Indian Muslim dynasties. The meanings attached to it were various. In Bengal the word denoted a hereditary tax collector who could retain 10 percent of the revenue he collected. In the late 18th century the British government made these zamindars landowners, thus creating a landed aristocracy in Bengal and Bihar that lasted until Indian independence (1947). In parts of north India (e.g., Uttar Pradesh), a zamindar denoted a large landowner with full proprietary rights. More generally in north India, zamindar denoted the cultivator of the soil or joint proprietors holding village lands in common as joint heirs. In Maratha territories the name was generally applied to all local hereditary revenue officers.’ [4] ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [5] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [6]

[1]: Chakrabarti, S. B., and G. Baruah 1995. “Institution Of Nokmaship In Garo Hills: Some Observations”, 76

[2]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 40

[3]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 245

[4]: http://www.britannica.com/topic/zamindar

[5]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[6]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Law
Professional Lawyer:
absent

Village headmen and lineage elders exercised judicial authority on the local level: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone’s cattle cause damage to another’s crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [1] ‘The judicial authority of the Garo is based on the institution of Nokma. Nokma looks after the village land as well as members of the village. The village judiciary system started with the a’king Nokma or Songni Nokma and the clan elders of that village. Nokma took the leadership in all village activities and since he was supposed to be a warrior, he was not expected to hesitate to punish the guilty if he suspected a foul play. In the past the Garo principle was ‘blood for blood, head for head’.’ [2] Only during the colonial period were higher-level judicial authorities established: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [3] It seems that the Zamindars did not push for legal formalization.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 43

[3]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 40


Formal Legal Code:
absent

There was little legal formalization on village level: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone’s cattle cause damage to another’s crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [1] Prior to enforcement of colonial regulations, disputes were decided by ordeal: ‘Since the annexation of the Garo Hills by the British Government, a body of men called laskars has been formed, who act as a kind of rural police and also as honorary magistrates. They are empowered to deal with all minor matters and settle unimportant disputes. They do this by calling together meetings of villagers, in which they sit as presidents and give final decisions. Their powers do not exceed those of inflicting fines and awarding compensation to injured parties. This is but an adaptation of the ancient usages of the people, for in former times, the village met in conference to decide any matter in dispute between its members. When in these meetings evidence could not be adduced, recourse was, and is yet had to trial by ordeal. This is of two kinds, the s˘il-s[unknown]o °a, or ordeal of hot iron, and the ch[unknown]okéla-s[unknown]o °a, or ordeal of boiling water.’ [2] Only the colonial authorities introduced formal legal codes that applied to different administrative levels: ‘The application of the Rules for the Administration of Justice vested in the village headman and laskars with judicial authority created some formal stereotypes for the administration which affected the traditional set-up, based on unwritten customary laws. The Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure were not applied but only the spirit of the Penal Code was followed. A villager can no longer avenge a death by killing. The sanction of tribal law does not lie in custom alone but in the principles on which their society is based. ‘ [3] ‘At present, there are atleast three major sets of statutory instruments relevant to the judicial administration which are applicable in the Garo Hills District. They are: (a) Rules for the Administration of Justice and Police in the Garo Hills, 1937, issued on the 29th March, 1937 to the extent to which some portions of these Rules still survive. (This is a matter of considerable obscurity), (b) Rules for the Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills Autonomous District, 1953, issued on the 18th December, 1953 and (c) The Assam High Court Order, 1954 dealing with the jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to various District Council Courts in the tribal area in question.’ [4] It seems that the Zamindars did not push for legal formalization.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 74

[3]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 163

[4]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 57


Local disputes were settled in informal village councils: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone’s cattle cause damage to another’s crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [1] ‘The Garo system of trial of cases beings with earth-taking. The complainant and the accused both swear by taking a lump of soil in their hands in front of the gathering with a promise that they will state the truth and nothing but the truth. It is believed by some Garos that this is the origin of the word “A’chik”, others believed that they have been called the A’chiks as they inhabited the high undulating land.’ [2] Only during the colonial period were higher-level judicial authorities introduced: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [3] ‘The cases which are brought to the courts are serious and quite entangled ones, otherwise these could be decided amicably at the mahari or chra level in the village. When one does have a dispute involving an alien village, one does not get any support from any member of that village since they do not belong to the same clan. The village authority decides the case and gives judgement according to the customary law.’ [4] The same is true for the office of laskar: ‘The laskar had his jurisdiction over many villages and was the agent of the British Administration. This system still continues at the district level. The laskar used to bring the cases to the subordinate District Council Court from the Village Court. From the District Council Court the appeals could be preferred to the High Court at Gauhati.’ [5] ‘When the Britishers took over the administration of this district, one witnessed an imposition of hierarchy of new political and administrative units in the district over the traditional democratic village set-up. The British Government, being actuated with the desire to have effective control over the villages and to facilitate the collection of revenues and house tax introduced the office of laskar with limited police, civil and criminal powers. Accordingly there was a laskar over a circle of villages; each having jurisdiction covering ten or twelve of villages. Although, the villagers were left to settle all disputes through the nokma and the village courts, they had right to appeal to the court of laskars against the decisions of the village councils.’ [6] It seems that the Zamindars did not push for legal formalization.

[1]: Roy, Sankar Kumar: eHRAF Cultural Summary for the Garo

[2]: Sangma, Mihir N. 1995. “Garos: The Name, Meanings, And Its Origin”, 38

[3]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 40

[4]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 164

[5]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 42

[6]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 52


Specialized Buildings: polity owned
Market:
absent

According to Marak, plains markets were frequented by the A’chik even when raiding was still practiced: ‘They visited markets at bordering plains with their produce from the hills like raw cotton, chillies, ginger, wax, rubber, lac and other things to barter for essential items such as salt, dried fish and jewellery of all kinds and most important metal implements and weapons which they needed so desperately. In other words, to generate surplus they needed slaves. To get slaves they had to attack the plains or neighbouring villages. To win and capture slaves they needed to be strong and alert. Obviously in a situation like this economic strength promoted the physical strength.’ [1] Were these markets permanent structures or open fields where stalls could be set up, ad hoc? If the A’chik built permanent structures to function as a place for an exchange of goods then code as present, otherwise absent.

[1]: Marak, Kumie R. 1997. “Traditions And Modernity In Matrilineal Tribal Society”, 45


Irrigation System:
absent

’The Garos may be roughly divided into Hill Garos and Plains Garos, and both classes inhabit the district which owes its name to the tribe.’ [1] The primary subsistence strategy of the hill country was slash-and-burn/dry cultivation, whereas wet cultivation was practiced in the plains. Wet cultivation was only expanded in the post-independence period. ‘Hill farmers seem to have had little opposition to the clearing of some land for wet rice, even though this has meant that it could no longer be used for dry cultivation. In most villages the areas in which wet cultivation is possible are more or less limited, it never yet having occurred to a Garo that hillsides might be terraced; and the threat of alienation of the land has not yet seemed particularly serious. Strangers, and sometimes even non-Garos, have been allowed to settle and clear new land. At the present time the laws passed by the Garo Hills District Council in an effort to encourage wet rice cultivation provide that if local villagers do not take advantage of suitable land, others will have the right to convert it to paddy fields. In some cases new settlers have probably paid the nokma or even the a’king owners (title-holders) a fee to permit its use and alienation. Some might interpret this as a’wil, the fee that is traditionally paid to the a’king owner by non-villagers who wish to use dry fields, though ordinarily a’wil confers only a temporary right. Others might interpret it as purchase price for the land; or, finally, it might be considered a bribe, since no such purchase is recognized as legal by the government. However regarded, such a fee might help to smooth over any antagonism toward the new arrival, though in practice it appears that the villagers have often failed to appreciate the value of potential paddy land and have let it go with little or no opposition.’ [2] The code reflects dry rather than wet cultivation.

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 4

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 304


Food Storage Site:
absent

Village granaries were built in one place, but individual granaries were owned by households rather than the community: ‘In one corner of the village, or if it is a very large one, in two or three places outside the ring of living-houses, there is always a collection of smaller huts, which, from their size and appearance, are clearly not intended for human habitation. These are the village granaries, of which each family possesses one or more. The custom of building all the granaries in one place no doubt has its origin in the fact that the grain is thus in less danger of fire than if it were stored in the living houses. In many parts of the hills the grain is protected from the inroads of rats and other vermin by laying the floors of the granaries on posts, the tops of which are carved in the shape of a mushroom, so as to give the animals the least possible foothold. The practice of placing these granaries at a distance from other houses has, however, its drawbacks, for it is no rare thing for an elephant to come round at night, and finding unguarded houses full of his favourite food, to pull one down and help himself to the contents. In these granaries the paddy is placed in a large basket made of strips of bamboo, which takes up nearly the whole of the floor space. Bunches of Indian corn and millet are often suspended from the roof, and various roots occupy the remaining space on the floor.’ [1]

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 39


Drinking Water Supply System:
absent

Villages relied on natural water sources: ‘Unlike other hill tribes, such as the Nagas and the Lushais, who build their villages high up on the slopes of hills, the Garos construct theirs in valleys or in depressions on the hillsides, close to running water. They attach great importance to pure water, and it is quite the exception for them to live at any distance from a good stream. The sites chosen for the houses are nevertheless generally steep, and the villages are rarely on flat ground.’ [1] Access to rivers was an important factor when choosing a site for a new village even in the post-independence period: ‘There are different sizes of village in the Garo Hills. I have seen small villages consisting of two or three huts, practically isolated from all the advantages of a big village. On the other hand, in a big village there may be as many as fifty or more huts. The size of the big village entirely depends on the space that is available for the house building and also the facilities the inhabitants of the village may derive for cultivation and other purposes from the surroundings of the locality. The largest village, I visited, was situated on the slopes of the hills, as is the usual practice, facing long strip of valley, nearly about a mile and a half long and about half a mile broad. It is easily understandable that people living in such villages take to plough and utilise the valley for agricultural purposes. It has, therefore, the advantage of accommodating larger people than it is possible for the village which is situated on the hill slopes and which is to depend primarily on jhum cultivation as described hereafter. Usually, an average sized village contains ten to fifteen houses. The economic factor is one of the main guiding principles regarding the expansion of a village. Availability of arrable land or hillocks for jhum cultivation, good drinking water, facilities of conveyance and also facilities of market places are some of the main factors, which the Garos consider before they fix up a place to start a new village. The common practice is to have one house for one family consisting of husband, wife, and children. Occasionally, the old mother or the mother-in-law also stays in the family.’ [2]

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garo”, 38

[2]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 7


Transport Infrastructure

The A’chik initially used trails only. Sinha and Majumdar report roads, but only for the second half of the 20th century: ‘There is but one cart road running from Bagmara to Damra via Tura, the headquarters of the district. It is a fair-weather road for vehicular traffic. In the rains, however, most of the temporary bridges become unsuitable for traffic. The other short roads run from Tura on to Phulbari and the other to Mankachar, the border region on the north and west of the district. There is a camel track running very close to the central ridge connecting Damra with Tura being linked with Siju. The Assam Trunk Road runs on the north of the district. The inhabitants of the place usually have to walk over the hills following the foot tracks to go from one place to another. Where the rivers or rivulets are sufficiently deep, people use dugout boats to cover the distance when necessary. Towards the centre of the district, boats as a means of conveyance are very risky. The slopes are too steep, and the boulders under the surface of the water are too big for safe plying of boats.’ [1] ‘The village is connected by a road maintained by the Garo Hills District Council, to the district highway passing along the western border of the district. By this road the districthighway is 11 miles from the village. An extension of the same road connects the village to another highway which connects Tura with Phulbari, passing almost diagonally half-way through the district in north-westerly direction ( see Map 3). Regular passenger buses ply through both of these highways and the distance from the village to the district headquarters by either is 31 miles. The headquarters of the Selsela Development Block under the Community Development Programme were established in a place about 4 miles away from the village, in 1958, and at present the headquarters of the Development Block are taking the shape of a small township.’ [2]

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 1

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 33




The A’chik initially used trails only. Sinha reports temporary bridges, but only for the second half of the 20th century: ‘There is but one cart road running from Bagmara to Damra via Tura, the headquarters of the district. It is a fair-weather road for vehicular traffic. In the rains, however, most of the temporary bridges become unsuitable for traffic. The other short roads run from Tura on to Phulbari and the other to Mankachar, the border region on the north and west of the district. There is a camel track running very close to the central ridge connecting Damra with Tura being linked with Siju. The Assam Trunk Road runs on the north of the district. The inhabitants of the place usually have to walk over the hills following the foot tracks to go from one place to another. Where the rivers or rivulets are sufficiently deep, people use dugout boats to cover the distance when necessary. Towards the centre of the district, boats as a means of conveyance are very risky. The slopes are too steep, and the boulders under the surface of the water are too big for safe plying of boats.’ [1]

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 1


Special-purpose Sites

Information / Writing System
Written Record:
absent

Prior to the colonial period, the A’chik were illiterate: ‘Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. Before the district of the Garo Hills was taken over by the British, the people living in the areas bordering Goalpara and Kamrup used to write in Assamese character while those living in the borders of the Mymensing and the Sylhet districts used to write in Bengali character; the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language.’ [1] ’In the Garo Hills the percentage of literacy was only 0.85 percent in 1901. It went upto 2.65 percent in 1931. Prior to Independence, the literacy was only 7.31 percent (1951 census). Between 1951 and 1961 there was a spectacular increase. In 1991 the literacy percentage in the Garo Hills was recorded as 37.04 percent, much below the national average as well as the overall state average of 48.26 percent. In the Garo Hills there is a positive cor-relation between the level of literacy and the extent of participation in the active economic life.’ [2]

[1]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 50

[2]: Pandey, M. C. 1995. “Demographic Profile Of The Garo Hills”, 27



Phonetic Alphabetic Writing:
absent

Nonwritten Record:
present

‘The fact that the Garos migrated from Tibet to India is recorded in their own traditional literature; the memory of their leaders Jappa Jalimpa, Sukpa Bonggepa and the manner of their journey awakened again each time their history is narrated by the bards. Research into their origin and language during the British rule confirmed their tradition though the exact place of their former home could not be located. Scholars differ on the routes they followed; Playfair holds the view that the present settlers in Garo hills came in separate batches along the river Brahmaputra. D.S. Rongmuthu, who has done research in traditional Garo literature is of the opinion that they came through Garhwal. According to some scholars their migration dates back to the Vedic period. In the course of their migration over the years they became scattered all over North-East India and Bangladesh. The bulk of the tribe eventually settled down in Garo Hills and gave the place its name.’ [1] ‘The oral literature thus evolved has been tenaciously handed down from one generation to another, which thus assumes the character of an indispensable link between the past and a particular generation. Through it any generation can trace back its own origin and history.’ [2] ‘The oral literature has also been indispensable in another sense to the life of the Garos, it has permeated the very fabric of the life of the community. Though the primary object of the bards in narrating the history, legends and myths is undeniably to entertain, the desire to inform and to create awareness, too, might be another. The literature is not merely to entertain, it is part and parcel of festival, various ceremonies, rites and rituals and important occasions. Without it, they cannot be complete, just as the various ceremonies, religious and otherwise, is incomplete without the rice beer and the Wangala without the dance. Literature, thus, in the traditional society, by which I mean the community practising traditional religion, customs and ways of life, pervades a great deal of the activities of life. Its role is comparable to that of the written literature which has emerged recently.’ [2]

[1]: Marak, Caroline R. 1995. “Garo Poetry”, 171

[2]: Marak, Caroline R. 1995. “Garo Poetry”, 172


Mnemonic Device:
absent

Memorial posts were erected for the dead: ’A suggestion made to me of a further link between the Kacharis and the Garos is the resemblance which exists in form between the monoliths of Dimapur, the former capital of the Kacharis, and the k˘imas or memorial posts which the Garos erect in memory of their dead. The comparison is of great with small, for the Dimapur stones are of immense size, while the k˘imas are but wooden posts. Still, the resemblance certainly exists, and the fact that k˘imas are always carved to the same pattern (except when they represent a human face) tends to prove that the carving is done on some definite principle, handed down perhaps from one generation to another, the origin of which has long been lost. When we consider further the small number of the monoliths, it is not improbable that they were erected to commemorate a chief or person [Page 17] of high degree, while the ordinary person had nothing better erected in his memory than the k˘imas which are set up in every Garo village.’ [1] Ceremonial gifts served to ’record’ obligations between families: ’Kokam is a payment given to those who slaughter a cow in honor of the deceased. Slaughtering may be done by a son, but also by a more distant relative, whether a member of the same lineage or not, and it is frequently done by the man who leads a party from another village to attend a funeral. Killing a cow brings honor both to the deceased and to the man who organizes the killing, and the occasion provides a fine meal to the friends and relatives who help. The organizer receives the kokam from the household of the dead man, and like magual this is most appropriately a brass heirloom gong, though something else may be substituted if no gongs are available. The gong is carried back to the organizer’s village, where the cow is killed and a slender wooden post erected to advertise the event. The gong thus acquired can be used for nothing other than to be returned to the original family when somebody in the acquiring family dies. At that time the original family must sacrifice a cow in return. In other words, the kokam gifts form a symbolic record of the obligations that are set up for returning the honor of killing a [Page 200] cow, and in this way households bestow honor upon one another. One man may be followed in death by several cows.’ [2] But are symbolic buildings or moveable objects mnemonic devices? Probably they should not count as such. A mnemonic device, like the abacus, or knots on string, will usually be a reusable tool designed specifically to assist the memory in a particular area and serve no other function, such as ceremonial or form of payment.

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 16

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 199p


Information / Kinds of Written Documents
Scientific Literature:
absent

Sacred Text:
absent

Literacy only spread after the British occupation of the Garo hills: ‘Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. Before the district of the Garo Hills was taken over by the British, the people living in the areas bordering Goalpara and Kamrup used to write in Assamese character while those living in the borders of the Mymensing and the Sylhet districts used to write in Bengali character; the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language.’ [1] ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in A’chik language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [2]

[1]: Choudhury, Bhupendranath 1958. “Some Cultural And Linguistic Aspects Of The Garos”, 50

[2]: Shira, Lindrid D. 1995. “Renaissance In Garo Literature”, 176


Religious Literature:
absent

Practical Literature:
absent


Lists Tables and Classification:
absent



Calendar:
absent

‘The agricultural tasks which follow assignment of the plots to households are precisely defined, and are followed with considerable regularity. The Rengsanggri people have a nodding acquaintance with the European calendar and are sometimes able to arrange government business according to its terms; but in describing their own agricultural cycle they more often use the Bengali calendar, though even this is imperfectly understood. They are acquainted with the names of the twelve Bengali months, though the Garo pronunciation of them might surprise a Bengali. They know that a new moon marks the beginning of a new month, and they are usually able to assign a particular agricultural task or festival to a particular month; but they do not understand how the lunar calendar is kept in step with the solar year, and they cannot usually tell the name of the present month with confidence. Beyond any formal calendar, however, they also note natural signs: they know, for instance, that when the bright red blossoms of the mandal tree burst forth the time has come to plant rice.’ [1] There was no written calendar before colonization.

[1]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 30


Information / Money

Precious Metal:
absent

After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable. But this process did not predate colonization: ‘Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.’ [1] No precious metals are mentioned. The Zamindars attempted to tax parts of the A’chik population: ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [2] The precise nature of these taxes still need to be established.

[1]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 225

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Paper Currency:
absent

After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable. But this process did not predate colonization: ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [1] During the colonial and early independence periods, barter trade was gradually displaced by monetized exchange. The coins and bank notes used were of Koch, colonial and national origin. ‘This shows how due to the adoption of permanent cultivation the cash income position from crop sales in Wajadagiri has improved.’ [2]

[1]: Alam, K. 1995. “Markets Of Garo Hills: An Assessment Of Their Socio-Economic Implications”, 112

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 106


Indigenous Coin:
absent

After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable. But this process did not predate colonization: ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [1]

[1]: Alam, K. 1995. “Markets Of Garo Hills: An Assessment Of Their Socio-Economic Implications”, 112


Foreign Coin:
absent

After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable. But this process did not predate colonization: ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [1] During the colonial and early independence periods, barter trade was gradually displaced by monetized exchange. The coins and bank notes used were of Koch, colonial and national origin. ‘This shows how due to the adoption of permanent cultivation the cash income position from crop sales in Wajadagiri has improved.’ [2] The Zamindars attempted to tax parts of the A’chik population: ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [3] The precise nature of these taxes still need to be established.

[1]: Alam, K. 1995. “Markets Of Garo Hills: An Assessment Of Their Socio-Economic Implications”, 112

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 106

[3]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 29


Article:
present

After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable. But this process did not predate colonization: ‘Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.’ [1]

[1]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 225


Information / Postal System
Postal Station:
absent

During the colonial period, some journals were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [1] This suggests that neither couriers nor institutions resembling a postal service were present prior to colonization.

[1]: Shira, Lindrid D. 1995. “Renaissance In Garo Literature”, 176


General Postal Service:
absent

During the colonial period, some journals were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [1] This suggests that neither couriers nor institutions resembling a postal service were present prior to colonization.

[1]: Shira, Lindrid D. 1995. “Renaissance In Garo Literature”, 176


Courier:
absent

During the colonial period, some journals were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [1] This suggests that neither couriers nor institutions resembling a postal service were present prior to colonization.

[1]: Shira, Lindrid D. 1995. “Renaissance In Garo Literature”, 176


Information / Measurement System

Warfare Variables (Military Technologies)
Fortifications
Wooden Palisade:
present

‘Besides the sacrifices for individual cases of illness, there are certain ceremonies which are observed once a year by a whole community or village, and are intended to safeguard its members from dangers of the forest, and from sickness and mishap during the coming twelve months. The principal of these is the Asongtata ceremony. Close to the outskirts of every big village a number of stones may be noticed stuck into the ground, apparently without order or method. These are known by the name of asong, and on them is offered the sacrifice which the Asougtata demands. The sacrifice of a goat takes place, and a month later, that of a langur ( Entcllus monkey), or a bamboo-rat is considered necessary. The animal chosen has a rope fastened round its neck and is led by two men, one on each side of it, to every house in the village. It is taken inside each house in turn, the assembled villagers, meanwhile, beating the walls from the outside, to frighten and drive out any evil spirits which may have taken up their residence within. The round of the village having been made in this manner, the monkey or rat is led to the outskirts of the village, killed by a blow of a duo, which disembowels it, and then crucified on bamboos set up in the ground. Round the crucified animal long, sharp bamboo stakes are placed, which form chcvaux de frisc round about it. Those commemorate the days when such defences surrounded the villages on all sides to keep off human enemies, and they are now a symbol to ward off sickness and dangers to life from the wild animals of the forest. The langur required for the purpose is hunted down some days before, but should it be found impossible to catch one, a brown monkey may take its place; a hulock may not be used.’ [1] ‘In former days, Garo villages were of considerable size and used to contain as many as two or three hundred houses. Liability to attack by a neighbouring village made this necessary, and the danger was further guarded against by sowing the approaches with sharp-pointed bamboo stakes called wamisi in Garo, but better known as panjis. These presented a very formidable obstacle to an enemy, and effectually prevented a sudden attack. Nowadays, when every man is at peace with his neighbour, the necessity no longer exists for large collections of houses, and the difficulty of finding sufficient land close to big villages for the support of their inhabitants, has resulted in their being broken up into small hamlets situated perhaps as much as four or five miles apart, which, however, in most cases, retain the name of the parent village. In order to distinguish them there is added to the name of each hamlet the name of its nokma, or headman.’ [2]

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 92

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 40


Stone Walls Non Mortared:
absent


Settlements in a Defensive Position:
present

‘I have noticed that the Garos, particularly those living in the interior of the hills, like more to live on the slopes of the hills than in the plains of the valley. There are villages wherefrom they are to travel up and down of the hills for three days or more to go to a market place. It appears that they do not grudge it even though they cross very high hills.’ [1] ‘“The villages were irregular, hidden in hollows of the hills or on clinging spurs surrounded by jungle covered heights. They were so covered by bamboos and tall trees and as such houses could not be easily located except through the sound or clamour coming from the bottom of the gorge. The paths were zigzag across the peaks or descend through the craggy sharp hillsides. They were susceptible to regular animal depredation - wild elephants, tigers, etc.” which remain as a scourge in many Garo villages even today.’ [2] ‘Unlike other hill tribes, such as the Nagas and the Lushais, who build their villages high up on the slopes of hills, the Garos construct theirs in valleys or in depressions on the hillsides, close to running water. They attach great importance to pure water, and it is quite the exception for them to live at any distance from a good stream. The sites chosen for the houses are nevertheless generally steep, and the villages are rarely on flat ground.’ [3]

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 9

[2]: Momin, A. G. 1995. “Economic Changes In Garo Hills: Some Perspectives”, 94

[3]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garo”, 38









Military use of Metals

Guns were absent prior to colonization, but axes, spears and swords are reported: ‘Implements which are mainly used by the Garos are very few in number. Mongreng is a variety of axe, and banuk or oaiseng is another variety. Besides these, they have spears with very big iron heads. They also have mellam, i.e., a short sword, about three feet long. It is made of iron and is straight in shape with sharpened end on both sides. It has a horizontal narrow crossbar from two ends of which they usually tie the taft tail hair of bulls or of yak if they can manage to purchase it from upper districts of Assam. Yaks’ tail is very much in demand by the Garos, and they consider it as a precious possession. The lowermost portion of the sword serves as the grip which is pointed at the end. This, they say, helps them to stick the sword on the ground when necessary.’ [1] ‘The only property which has acquired prestige value after the contact of the Garo with the outside world is the gun (Garos did not have firearms before British occupation). It is not only a useful device to protect the household from enemies, for hunting (in fact, it is the only weapon of hunting of the present day Garos or for killing and warding off wild animals. Besides, a household possessing a gun enjoys a special prestige.’ [2] The sources mention iron rather than steel. We have therefore assumed that steel was absent prior to the British colonial period.

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garo”, 11

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 125


Guns were absent prior to colonization, but axes, spears and swords are reported: ‘Implements which are mainly used by the Garos are very few in number. Mongreng is a variety of axe, and banuk or oaiseng is another variety. Besides these, they have spears with very big iron heads. They also have mellam, i.e., a short sword, about three feet long. It is made of iron and is straight in shape with sharpened end on both sides. It has a horizontal narrow crossbar from two ends of which they usually tie the taft tail hair of bulls or of yak if they can manage to purchase it from upper districts of Assam. Yaks’ tail is very much in demand by the Garos, and they consider it as a precious possession. The lowermost portion of the sword serves as the grip which is pointed at the end. This, they say, helps them to stick the sword on the ground when necessary.’ [1] ‘The only property which has acquired prestige value after the contact of the Garo with the outside world is the gun (Garos did not have firearms before British occupation). It is not only a useful device to protect the household from enemies, for hunting (in fact, it is the only weapon of hunting of the present day Garos or for killing and warding off wild animals. Besides, a household possessing a gun enjoys a special prestige.’ [2]

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garo”, 11

[2]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 125


Expert needed. Inferences from the presence of iron cannot be made. Did they have access to copper ore? Did they external trade?


Expert needed. Inferences from the presence of iron cannot be made. Did they have access to ore? Did they external trade?


Projectiles


not mentioned in sources detailing A’chik weapons and tools


It is unclear from these descriptions whether self bows or composite bows were in use: ‘Bows and arrows are well known to the Garos, but they are very seldom used; in fact, I have never seen a bow in the Garo Hills. Garo atés, or choppers, vary in shape according to locality and the source from which they are obtained, for they are not made in the hills. In the south, the pattern is that which the Bengali ryot makes use of; in the north, the implements are purchased from, and are of the pattern used by the inhabitants of the western Khasi Hills.’ [1] ‘Bows and arrows are not used by them now. They say they used them formerly. In folktales, mention of bows and arrows is found. Spear is very rarely used for killing animals. They are rather used for self protection. Very few people have guns. Others remain satisfied with spear, mongreng, banuk, dao (all three are different forms of axe), etc., for their self protection and also for occasional huntings. Those who live near a river or a stream pass many hours of the day and at times of night as well in fishing. They use various methods in catching fish. For the purpose of this paper, it is not necessary to describe them here.’ [2] We have assumed self bows for the time being.

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 32

[2]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 21


not mentioned in sources detailing A’chik weapons and tools


Handheld Firearm:
absent

Guns were absent prior to colonization: ‘The only property which has acquired prestige value after the contact of the Garo with the outside world is the gun (Garos did not have firearms before British occupation). It is not only a useful device to protect the household from enemies, for hunting (in fact, it is the only weapon of hunting of the present day Garos or for killing and warding off wild animals. Besides, a household possessing a gun enjoys a special prestige.’ [1] ‘Three men in Rengsanggri owned antiquated guns. They occasionally shot a jungle fowl or, rarely, a larger animal such as a deer, but hunting afforded a barely significant addition to the diet. No other hunting devices were ever used. The forests do provide many wild crops-leaves, herbs, bamboo shoots, etc.-which lend variety to the cooking though they do not add much bulk. Banana leaves from plants that have gone wild in the jungle are collected in large numbers, since Garos use them as plates to hold their food at meals, throwing them away after a single use.’ [2]

[1]: Majumdar, Dhirendra Narayan 1978. “Culture Change In Two Garo Villages”, 125

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 46


Gunpowder Siege Artillery:
absent


Composite Bow:
absent

See above.


new world weapon


Handheld weapons

not mentioned in sources detailing A’chik weapons and tools


‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [1] ‘In the afternoon most of the villagers join in this feast, and the men then beat gongs and one by one some of them dance with a headhunting sword inside the nokma’s house.’ [2] ‘The principal weapons of the Garos are swords and spears, without one or other of which they are rarely seen. The sword is very quaintly designed, and would be found awkward to use by anybody but a Garo. It varies from 3 to 4 ft. in length; has a straight blade about 2 ins. broad, a blunt, arrow-shaped point, and from hilt to point is made of one piece of iron. The grip is very thin, and instead of being straight, is curved, and ends in a flat, sharp-edged, rounded head. This sharp hilt is supposed to enable the owner to stick his sword into the ground by his side when he halts, so as to have it always ready to his hand. At each end of the crossbar is attached a bunch of cow’s-tail hair, or what is more greatly prized, part of a yak’s tail. The sword is always carried naked, and is never placed in a sheath or fastened to the body. It is a most useful possession to the Garo on the march, for with it he can clear jungle which bars his way, split firewood and cut up his food, besides using it for the mainpurpose of defence. These swords are purchased from the Megams in the Khasi Hills district, and appear to be of Khasi origin. The ordinary weapon can be purchased for two or three rupees, but an heirloom is much prized, and cannot often be bought.’ [3]

[1]: Marak, Llewellyn R. 1995. “Arts, Architecture And Wood Carving”, 138

[2]: Burling, Robbins 1963. “Rengsanggri: Family And Kinship In A Garo Village”, 68

[3]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 31


‘A Garo spear is a formidable weapon, for it is provided with an iron head, 1 ft. or 14 ins. long and 2 or 3 ins. broad. It is very sharp, and is fitted into a bamboo shaft about 5 ft. long. The heads are first cemented into their sockets with lac, and then very neatly bound to them with thin withes of cane, which further servo the purpose of preventing the shaft from splitting. With these spears two or three men will attack a bear, and even tigers are occasionally killed with them. In the big drives for game which the Garos sometimes organize, spears are invariably used, and numbers of pig are slaughtered with these weapons. The heads are of foreign make and are brought by Bengali traders to the markets at the foot of the hills. The spears are used only for thrusting, and not for casting.’ [1]

[1]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 32


not mentioned in sources detailing A’chik weapons and tools


not mentioned in sources detailing A’chik weapons and tools


Battle Axe:
present

‘Implements which are mainly used by the Garos are very few in number. Mongreng is a variety of axe, and banuk or oaiseng is another variety. Besides these, they have spears with very big iron heads. They also have mellam, i.e., a short sword, about three feet long. It is made of iron and is straight in shape with sharpened end on both sides. It has a horizontal narrow crossbar from two ends of which they usually tie the taft tail hair of bulls or of yak if they can manage to purchase it from upper districts of Assam. Yaks’ tail is very much in demand by the Garos, and they consider it as a precious possession. The lowermost portion of the sword serves as the grip which is pointed at the end. This, they say, helps them to stick the sword on the ground when necessary.’ [1] ‘Bows and arrows are not used by them now. They say they used them formerly. In folktales, mention of bows and arrows is found. Spear is very rarely used for killing animals. They are rather used for self protection. Very few people have guns. Others remain satisfied with spear, mongreng, banuk, dao (all three are different forms of axe), etc., for their self protection and also for occasional huntings. Those who live near a river or a stream pass many hours of the day and at times of night as well in fishing. They use various methods in catching fish. For the purpose of this paper, it is not necessary to describe them here.’ [2]

[1]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garo”, 11

[2]: Sinha, Tarunchandra 1966. “Psyche Of The Garos”, 21


Armor
Wood Bark Etc:
present

Shields were made of bark or leather: ‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [1] ‘The Garos have two kinds of shield. The sepi is made entirely of wood, or of flat lengths of wood bound together and covered with very thin strips of cane or bamboo, while the danil is made of bearskin or cowhide stretched on a wooden frame. Both kinds are of the same shape and size. They are about 3 feet long by 18 inches broad, roughly oblong, but with slightly concave sides, and with a gentle curve backwards over the hand. They are fitted with handles made of cane.’ [2]

[1]: Marak, Llewellyn R. 1995. “Arts, Architecture And Wood Carving”, 138

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 32


‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [1] ‘The Garos have two kinds of shield. The sepi is made entirely of wood, or of flat lengths of wood bound together and covered with very thin strips of cane or bamboo, while the danil is made of bearskin or cowhide stretched on a wooden frame. Both kinds are of the same shape and size. They are about 3 feet long by 18 inches broad, roughly oblong, but with slightly concave sides, and with a gentle curve backwards over the hand. They are fitted with handles made of cane.’ [2]

[1]: Marak, Llewellyn R. 1995. “Arts, Architecture And Wood Carving”, 138

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 32





Leather Cloth:
present

Shields were made of bark or leather: ‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [1] ‘The Garos have two kinds of shield. The sepi is made entirely of wood, or of flat lengths of wood bound together and covered with very thin strips of cane or bamboo, while the danil is made of bearskin or cowhide stretched on a wooden frame. Both kinds are of the same shape and size. They are about 3 feet long by 18 inches broad, roughly oblong, but with slightly concave sides, and with a gentle curve backwards over the hand. They are fitted with handles made of cane.’ [2]

[1]: Marak, Llewellyn R. 1995. “Arts, Architecture And Wood Carving”, 138

[2]: Playfair, Alan 1909. “Garos”, 32






Naval technology
Specialized Military Vessel:
absent

inland polity


Small Vessels Canoes Etc:
absent

inland polity


Merchant Ships Pressed Into Service:
absent

inland polity



Human Sacrifice Data
Human Sacrifice is the deliberate and ritualized killing of a person to please or placate supernatural entities (including gods, spirits, and ancestors) or gain other supernatural benefits.
- Nothing coded yet.
- Nothing coded yet.
Power Transitions
- Nothing coded yet.