Home > Tradition > Folk and Ethnic tradition >

Singphos


Singpho:

Singpho, one of the powerful tribes living in plains and hills of Assam has the glorious story to tell about their deep-rooted eco-social and cultural aspects in greater Assamese national life.
The Singhpho are a hilly tribe of Mongoloid origin. Though their site of preoccupation is not known, the story goes that their abode was in the hills Singra-Boom in Tibet and from there formed several groups. Out of these groups, one went to China, one to Burma (now Myanmar), and the rest came over to India and settled in the hilly region, It is to be noted that the Singpho in China are known as Singpho

The Singpho have no written history of their own. As such their life history more or less depend upon legends. As the saying goes, their settlement in Burma was in the Hookang valley extended up to Patkai Hills. Due to the atrocities by the Burmese upon them or blooming of Bamboo flowers and subsequent famine, the Singpho entered into the eastern part of India, presently known as Dihing Patkai region.
During the first three decades in the 19th century, the continuous invasion of the Manns particularly in the conflict of the Sadiya Saikhowa battle most of the Singpho returned to their original home land Burma and few of them stayed back in the Patkai-foot hills.

After Indian Independence, the geographical location of the Singpho got divided and as a result a section of Singpho settled in the Lohit and Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh and the rest stayed in the foot hills of the Patkai range, the region covering Bisagaon, Inthem, Ketong, Khatanpani, Kotha, Ulup, Hassaek village.etc, in the Margherita Sub Division under Tinisukia District.

Socio-economic life of the Singphos.

 

The Singphos are divided into a number of clans or groups, each under a chief. Their clan organization is based on lineage or sub-lineage groups. Like other tribes of Assam, the Singhpho are also fond of living in Chang Ghar in the vicinity of forest nearing rivers and streams, having long sheds, sometimes running to 80' to 100' feet in length and 20' broad with several apartments. These houses are built with bamboo, wooden planks and posts and the roof are thatched with Takaw leaves. Physically they represent most of the Mongolian traits. They have oblique eyes, their cheek bones are high. The complexion is tawny yellow to dark brown. The Singpho men tie their long hair in a large knot on the crown of the head. The married Women tie their long hair in a large knot on the crown of the head and it is secured by silver-chains and tussels. They wear ornaments of enameled beads, etc. Married women are tattooed on both legs from the ankle to the knee. The men tattoo their limbs slightly.


Dresses & Ornament ....

The traditional dress of the Singpho also bears significance. The woman folk wears Bukang (Mekhela)The breast being covered with Nungwat or methoni and the waist is tied with Chinket like Riha. The head being covered with coloured turban called Bum-Bam. Like woman the men also have their specific dresses. They wear Lasababu-Bupa or Baka(Lungi). The Turban is worn in a special technique. They bear Empheng a a side bag hanging from the shoulder and a sheathed dao (a long Knife) on the other shoulder. All the people wear home woven. clothes. Menfolk don't wear any ornament. On the other hand the woman wear "Khaichi (Necklace), Pat Lakan or Jangphal Keru (ear rings) and Silver Lakchawp as finger ring. The head of the Royal family sets tiger teeth on the Sheaths of the Dao.

 

Rice Beer, or Beer made from fermented boiled roots is not merely a favourite drink of The Singhpho, but also a sacred libation for the spirits.

 

Tea & the Singhph

 

It is a well known fact that Retd. Major of Marhatta Regiment of the East India Company, Robert Bruce came to know about the existence of tea in Assam from Singpho King Bisa Gam.The Singphos have known and drunk tea long before the Englishmen discovered it. Robert Alexander Bruce who is credited with discovery of tea, was given a concoction of Liquor by the Singpho chief Bishagam. He developed immense curiosity for the potential of the liquor and began working for it and thus was discovered tea. As the story goes, on refusal to pay royalty the followers of the Bishagam chopped off the tea bushes cultivated by the British & it was later discovered that after chopping of the hedges, tea leaves was better in their quality. The garden Beesakopic thus evolved from the word Besaikubua (Chopped by the Beesha) Is not it time we put the historical fact in its right perspective?


Marriage...The Principal feature of the marital organization of the Singpho is the clan exogamy, that is no person may marry in his or her own clan. The study of the Singhpho marriages indicates that each clan normally prefers to confine its marital alliances to certain clans only. Cross Cousin

Marriage or marrying of one's own mother's brother's daughter is admissible. Thus it happens that once an individual has married a girl from a certain clan, it becomes customary for his successors to obtain their wives from the natal linage of his wife.

Religion, Faith & Belief of the Singphos.
The Singphos are Buddhist by religion. The most important spirits to whom they offer sacrifice are the Mu Nat (the spirit above), Ga Nat (spirit below), and the household Nat or Penate. If a man is injured in fighting, Palan Nat is invoked and in case of bleeding, Shama Nat is invoked. For a woman in childbed, Chisan Nat is invoked. The God of the sky is Ningshie Nat whose propitiation brings rain or sunshine. The spirits are appeased by sacrificing fowls, pigs and dogs. Buffaloes are sacrificed before undertaking any expedition.

According to their mythology they enjoyed immortality and unsullied happiness in the land of their origin; fall from grace resulted from the original sin of having bathed in forbidden water. On coming down to the plains, they have become mortal, and fallen from their pristine belief in one Supreme Being.
The Singpho bear the faith that after the creation of the Sun and the Moon by Mathun Mathai (the Creator of this Universe) the earth bloomed up flowers and fruits became a pasture ground for all creatures.

Navigations

Home | About us | Tradition | Setubandha | Personalities | Views Room | Rediscovering the core | Assam at a Click | Editorial | New & Events | Photos | M@il |

 
Copyright Srimanta.org. All Rights Reserved.

 Quick Contact