(The following are the Customary Laws and Practices of the Yimkhiungru Tribe in the days of yore. Many of them are still practiced till today. However, some of them have been replaced by modern system and practices which have been possible due to Christianity and Western Education: while some of them are disused anymore due to the afore-mentioned reason)
There was a visible social stratification among the different categories of people. The village founder s were accredited the status of a village chief. Their posterities were regarded as members of a royal family. In most of the cases, their words and actions were final and binding upon their subjects. Next in the social layers were the warriors and wealthy men. These categories of people were highly venerated and were distinguished by wearing special traditional shawls. They were also identified by wearing armlets of elephant’s tusk, tiger’s tooth, cowry embedded shawls etc. Furthermore, due reverence in the form of amu-khi (abstinence) is observed at the time of their death.
On the contrary, those men, who never have killed an enemy; prestigious animals of prey like the tiger, bear, and lion or host a feast of merit were distinguished by wearing a particular Ji-pu rhih (langdam) that would differ from the elites. They were forbidden to wear elite shawls and viewed inferior by others. During their death, no special honours were accorded to them.
POSITION OF WOMEN:
Both male and female were treated equally in the social sphere of life. They enjoyed working in the field, singing and dancing together during the festivals and other common social arrangements. The wives and mothers were consulted in all the family transactions. Women also played a vital role in consolidating friendship among the villages through inter-village marital relationship. It often bridged the gap between the belligerent villages which otherwise was not possible without their potent initiatives. However, females were never allowed to enter the Khiang Yam (Morung House) and to participate in the many sacred events and rituals.
The formation of a village may be proposed by one or more persons and followed by the members of the same clan or others. The reason prompting such proposal may be attributed to over population, better defence locations, greener pastures and so forth.
In the first place, the proposed site is surveyed in the guess of hunting expedition to find out the enemy’s raids was on the top consideration. The site is mostly surveyed at the end of the monsoon season. After the necessary survey of the proposed site, the chief of the parent village is approached for the final consent. The adjacent villages, whose village jurisdiction fall within the parameter of the proposed new village, are enticed with domestic animals and other precious articles. The neighbouring villages, whose jurisdiction does not fall within the parameter of the proposed new village, are also approached for the consent, protections and consolidation of friendship with some gifts.
After the consent is obtained, the main leaders shall perform rituals, sleep at the proposed site and obtain prediction from dreams as well.
The one who offers a cow during the dedication of Khiang-yam (village dedication) is accorded the Chief status. The status of other subordinate pioneers is accorded according to the type of animals they contribute. The status of the Chief and his assistant Chiefs are hereditary. The village is offered a name based on its geographical location, landscape, occurrences of a particular incident, extent of impressive things etc. In some cases, the Chief’s name itself is offered to the village. There are many processes involved and rituals performed in the establishment of a new village.
The Khiang-Yam is the first building constructed in the village. It has varied roles to be played. It is considered as the sacred place, a temple, a watch tower, a meeting hall, an educational institution, a place for keeping log drum, store house of war trophies and so forth. Only the warriors and matured male members of the village are allowed to enter/participate inside the Khiang-Yam (Morung). It acted as a vantage point to update and alert the advancement and approaching enemies, house burning, and occurrences of death etc. However, the female members are forbidden to enter it. The older members participate in sharing folktales, folksongs, folk dances and other professional skills whose legacies are being carried forth through the younger members from generation to generation. Hence, the Khiang-Yam (Morung) is the most important-organized institution in the village.
The dormitory (Khiang-Yappung) is a unique feature of the Yimkhiungru tribe. The rooms are constructed separately for both boys and girls. The young boys and girls who attains the age of social responsibility/puberty are enrolled in their respective Khiang-Yappung. It is like a modern day hostel where one or two members from among them are delegated the authority to supervise it. Besides other rules and regulations, strict time stipulation is maintained within which the members are to report to their respective Khiang-yappung. It too acted as an ideal institution for exchange of ideas, views and artistic skills. From time to time, the young boys and girls undertake various cleaning drives in and around the village and played a prominent role in any village events such as – the festivals.
The hollow in the log is so designed to produce a variety of sound signifying different meaning and information. It is carved out from a gigantic tree, which is given a local name like that of a newborn baby. The size and design may vary from village to village. In olden days, when there was no advanced technology and information, it played a vital role in disseminating the messages to far and vide. It is also used for storing war trophies and for performing rituals with enemy’s heads and limbs during the olden days. Since the Khiang-Yam is the watch tower and a clock for the village, one or two warriors are often entrusted as a sentry on roster basis
The best tree is surveyed and selected secretly and the intention to procure the same is concealed. It is imperative to mention that the tree should not bear any scar/s and unwanted knots on it. The whole length of the tree should have proportionate shape. The fortune of the village in connection to a tree is predicted/obtained through the dream of an occultist or sorcerer. During the process of cutting the tree and subsequent construction, if any undue circumstance occurs upon any member of the village, then the proposed tree is abandoned forthwith. Following the prediction and interpretation of the dreams, the party would set out for cutting down the tree and construction of the Log-Drum before the dawn approaches with necessary provisions and tools led by one man known as “ Wuhkenopuh” – meaning, leader and his counterparts known as “shoyimbuh”- meaning, one who arranges necessary expenses.
The Wuhkenopuh would be the first person strike/chop the tree after the rituals and only that the co-party shall assist him. Once the tree is felt, the branches, trunk and other parts of the tree are simultaneously truncated and the whole length is properly surveyed to allocate the best portion of it suited for carving out the proposed log-drum and is thoroughly covered with twigs and leaves so that no animals may excrete their waste upon the tree or damages it. Even after the proper authentication, if any scars or knots are detected on any portion, the log-drum is abandoned on the belief that such scars and knots are harbinger of imminent misfortunes.
Once the party set their hands upon the log-drum tree, it is deleterious for any of them to return home until the completion and final evacuation of the same to the village. The entry of the women folk at the site of construction is forbidden.
Depending upon the dreams of an occultist or sorcerer, as the case may be, a perfect cock possessing a shrill voice is strangulated to dedicate the name given to the log-drum.
After the completion, wild creepers are fastened around it, but the first rope should be fastened by the Wuhkenopuh and subsequently he is assisted by his co-party. Among the ropes, one of them is the most important one which should not be broken or damaged. Before the party leaves the construction site, they would thoroughly check to see if there is any surplus foodstuff. Such surplus foodstuff is abandoned near the stump of the log-drum tree for the spirit.
The Wuhkenopuh is the first person to start pulling the rope by pronouncing appeasing words so as to enable the log-drum to walk at ease. On the day, the men folk of the village would gather and give necessary assistances to the advancing party. It is to mention that, while dragging it, some warriors adorned in full traditional attires would sit upon it to facilitate its smooth movements. The log-drum should reach the village before the dusk. If dusk occurs before it reaches the village, the party would encircle it, cover it with twigs and leaves and sleep then and there until the next dawn approaches.
HEAD HUNTING (KU LUKHI):
Head hunting was an intrinsic characteristic among the people of the Yimchunger community. The enemy’s head and limbs were a trophy determining one’s status in the social sphere of life. The practice of head hunting was a regular feature occurring day and night at one or the other places of the villages. A person who brings the enemy’s head/s is regarded as the warrior and hence venerated from the highest degree of human conscience. In any decision and policy making, the voices of the warriors were upheld. Many songs, dances, and tales were composed in their honour. Even the period of abstinence (Moo-de among khi) is observed for some days at that time of their death. However, reckless and wanton killing were labelled as culpable homicide-deserving castigation. Such heads and limbs were neither expected at the village head-hung pole (me-kudung) nor considered as prestigious trophies. Yimchungru tribe practiced three- four major types of warfare namely: Duel, Bush war, (aram rithsu), Avenge war (royim rithsu) and open war (bodo rithsu).
The Yimchungers practiced patriarchal family system where the head of the family is the father. Family consist of the father, mother and children. Other members such as the cousins, nephews and nieces may also be included if their parents are dead. An adopted child is also included in the family.
The father is not only the head but also the manager of the family who is legally and morally entrusted with the task of providing all possible needs and maintenance of family’s status. At one point of time, the father even acted as a family priest who performs certain rituals especially during festivals and “Moo-de among khi”. The mother is never ill – treated and looked down. She is the home-maker and is consulted by the spouse and siblings in all family’s transactions.
MARRIAGE (YAMKHUN THSUKHI):
The Yimchunger Community followed the exogamous and monogamous form of marriage. However, in few villages, endogamy and polygamy too existed side by side. But, infidelity, bigamy and adultery were viewed as crime.
The chastity and competence of a girl is predetermined by the boy’s parents. The virtues and the legacies of her ancestors and parents are thoroughly taken into consideration. After satisfactory conclusion, the boy’s parents would invest every effort to build a cordial relationship with the girl’s parents with an object to woo their daughter’s hand into marriage in the later stage. In some cases, the choice of the boy is selecting his partner is accepted however, in most of the cases, the choice of the parents gets precedence over the choice of the son. Henceforth, the parents of the opposite sexes shall assist one another in both indoor and outdoor necessities.
During the festival of Medum-neo, the boy’s parents would slaughter an animal whereby the girl’s parents are invited for a lunch/dinner. In the subsequent year of the same occasion, the boy’s parents too are invited with the same degree of treatment by the girl’s parents. A gift known as “Mukdak-lak” in terms of a necklace or a wristband may also be presented to the girl. Since then, no other man can propose that girl. In the event of arrogation, inevitable confrontation and feuds may arise between the aggrieved and the offending party. A serious penalty may be imposed upon the girl and the defaulting man. After the proposal, two messengers – “mahtsahru” are selected by the boy’s parents for negotiating would be bride’s price and other necessities connecting to marriage.
In some cases, either the boy’s father or the messenger would offer a food package consisting of large pieces of meat known as “Awo-dum”. If the girl’s parents do not accept the same, it is construed that they are reluctant to give their daughter in marriage. Even if the girl’s parents are to accept also the, the same should not be received instantly at the first sight since it is a taboo to accept anything at the first instance. Therefore, the girl’s parents may accept the same only after the repeated offer for some time. However, in case the girl’s parents don’t accept even after repeated offer the same may be left then and there against the will of the girl’s parents and hurriedly leave the place. The girl’s father would then invite his brothers and nearest kinsmen to witness the gift offered by the latter, which may be construed as a tacit and implied acceptance of the proposal. If the girl’s parents do not want to accept the proposal, the same may be abandoned without consumption.
The bride’s price-“Mo-dun” may be charged in terms of domestic animals and ornaments etc. After the settlement of the bride’s price, another perfect machete known as- “Sho-khap Nuk” is offered to the bride’s parents. Since then, the formal marriage is expected very soon. Beside the bride’s price, the groom’s parents shall give a shawl/ornament to the bride’s mother and a traditional dao to one of her uncle that is commonly known as- “mother’s price” (beru dun) and – “uncle’s price” (ku-niru dun) respectively.
At the dusk of the marriage celebration, the relatives of both the parties shall gather at the groom’s residence to advice and inspire the spouses on how to lead a married life and how to co-operate with the relatives and friend in days to come. The bride’s parents and her relatives shall contribute articles, grains and ornaments known as- “Hah thsu jih khi” which shall be taken to the house of her husband. Marriage is conducted before the sowing of new seeds –during winter season favourably.
DIVORCE (CHAM-A-CHIH KHI):
- If a wife is barren, the husband may send her back to her parents or relatives, as the case may be, with her apparels (Tsum) and any of her preferable household articles.
- If a husband demises before the conception of a child, the wife may be snd back to her parents or relatives, as the case may be, with her apparels and any of her preferable household articles.
- If a husband demises after the conception but before the birth of the child, the wife if so desires, may be allowed to stay back at her deceased husband’s house to nurture their posthumous child.
- If the divorce takes place in good faith- on mutual understanding/arrangement, the house hold property is divided into two equal parts: one half goes to the wife and the other half goes to the husband. However, the house and other immovable articles/properties may be excluded from the purview of division.
- If the divorce occurs on account of the husband’s bigamous and adulterous nature, the wife is at liberty to collect any house hold articles and leave the husband’s house at once. Fine is imposed on the husband in the form of Jhum-land, wood-land or domestic animals etc.
- If the divorce occurs on account of the wife’s adulterous nature, she may be bound to recover the bride’s price. In this case, the other articles being fulfilled by the husband at the time of marriage, are also recovered to the husband by adding one extra to each of such items known as “Tung-khulang” and is ousted from the house merely with her apparel. The defaulting man is also seriously penalized to the extent of imposing fine in the form of jhum-field, domestic animals such as pig, cow, mithun, buffalo and other properties subject to the demand of the aggrieved party.
- If a married man and a married woman are guilty of adultery, the defaulting man is seriously penalized. Besides, the wife of such defaulting man has every right to desert her husband with any house hold articles she pleases. In this case, the defaulting wife is bound to recover the bride’s price and other expenditure being incurred during the time of marriage. The other articles being fulfilled by the husband at the time of marriage, are also recovered to the husband by adding one extra to each item known as “Tung-khulang”; and is ousted from the house merely with her apparel.
- If a man is guilty of causing illegal conception to a married woman, the defaulting man is seriously penalized with jhum-land, wood-land or pig, cow, mithun, buffalo etc. Besides, the child born out of the illegal conception is given to the defaulting man. Such erring wife is also driven out from the house bag and baggage: provided that if the conception of the child was through a forceful sexual intercourse or otherwise without the connivance of the aggrieved wife, such stern action in the form of driving out from the house may not be resorted to.
- If the divorce takes place on account of mere verbal altercation following the wife leaving her husband’s house, she may retrieve back through a mere verbal communication. However, if the husband had removed her with any of the household articles and “Tsum” (women’s casket), congenial relationship cannot be resituated without the initiative of the Messengers. It may be noted that the messengers who were selected for the purpose of negotiation and communication at the time of marriage of the spouses should be selected for the current purpose provided such persons are still living. To this end, an animal is slauthered and feast upon, as a token of re-conciliation and good will.
- At the instance of a divorce, the children of separated parents remain under the custody of the father. However, in the case of minor children, suckling babies deeply attached to mother and requiring the attention and care of the mother may be allowed to be kept in her custody till they attain the age of maturity. In this case, the husband is bound to provide alimony and maintenance for his divorced wife and children.
It can be liberally inferred that, adoption may be practiced mostly by the spouses who have no male issue. An orphaned or abandoned male child may be adopted. Sons of own brothers can be also adopted as own child. Once the adoption is made, by unambiguously expressing his intention to adopt the child in the presence of competent and responsible witnesses, it becomes valid and binding. The adopted child shall have inheritance rights. But, if he fails to look after his foster parents especially during sickness, calamity and death; he could be ousted from the family and denied inheritance rights. If the adopted child wishes to return to his original parents or relatives, he may be freed accordingly after recovering the expenditure so incurred in rearing him up by his foster parents.
SUCCESSION AND INHERITANCE (YAMRUP-LURUP):
It is the mandate of the customary law that the father should be succeeded by the eldest son. Nevertheless, in the absence of any competent sons, or when the deceased have no male issue, he is succeeded by his brothers or the nearest kinsmen, as the case may be. It is to be mentioned that, succession implies the deceased social status, properties and other previleges entail with his status. In the sphere of chief-ship also, the similar family custom is followed. It is believed that, when the crown is handed over to a wrong person, the village confronts many misfortunes and other calamities.
The females cannot inherit the father’s properties even in the absence of male children. In the absence of male child, the properties of the deceased will be inherited by close male relatives. Normally, the eldest son in the family gets the biggest share of the properties. He may be bequeathed his due share at the time of his marriage or at the time of leaving his father’s house. The youngest son is next in line to inherit the parent’s properties who is apparently supposed to be the last male member to stay at their father’s house and basically obliged to look after and assist them in all necessities until their death. Thus, if the father owns lesser properties, there is a high chance that the middle sons may be left out without any property.
FEAST OF MERIT (ANIO-JIKHI):
A person may express his intention to host a feast. During such an occasion, the neighbouring villages may also be invited by the host. Normally, this merry making occasion lasts for about nine days. In this occasion, the pole of the house, the hearth and the sun are consecrated and worshipped. The seasoned rice beer (Yiu-khu) is arranged in many wooden barrels known as “Tan”. The bulls to be slaughtered for the occasion are dragged around the village in procession chanting frenzy songs until they are finally brought back at the host’s residence. The bulls are then drowned to death after its mouth is kept wide open with the help of a bamboo piece vertically placed inside.
On the day of guest’s arrival, the host villagers consisting of young male and female would scatter and surround the main entrance of the village with stones, sticks and charcoal. As the guests enter the entrance gate chanting songs, those young people would unceasingly pelt stones, charcoals and sticks against them. Some of the young men may even charge the guests with their shields. The guests while still chanting would protect themselves under the shield from the attack until they finally arrived at the host house. Even after the arrival, they may not rest but would sing and dance praising and honouring the host and the host’s village. The damsels of the village would come in queue with rice beer, meat and rice to feed into the mouths of the dancing guests. Nevertheless, those damsels, whose hands were packed with eatables, would within a wink of an eye, hastily shift their hands from one mouth to the others of the dancing guests. Since the hands of the dancing guests are entangled against the hands of one another, one cannot receive the foodstuff with the hands other than receiving them by their mouths. Therefore, only the agile members would avail the provisions each time the offer comes. After having consumed to their heart contents, they would save the residue in their bags/caskets.
A man who hosts a feast of merit is venerated and achieves high status in the society. Such kind of person is identified by wearing a particular shawl Known as “Shih-peang khim”.
In some cases, the oncoming guests from the other village shall pelt stones at the house of the host in order to make them feel that enemy has seized them. As a reciprocal, the workers in the house shall come out and pelt charcoal at them. Therefore, each of the members of the parties should defend themselves from being strike at by the objects lest the one who has been struck at is construed to be facing certain predicament very soon.
On such occasion, the host may generously offer grains, meat, drinks and commodities to the paupers, infirm, orphans and to the widows.
Similar to that of village chiefs or the warriors, a period of abstinence is observed on account of the death of a person who hosted the feast of merit.
HOSTING OF BULL CUTTING FEAT (SHIH-MO-KIUKHI):
The cutting of bull’s tail takes place under the following reasons;
- To emulate the fame and prestige by wealthy men.
- To avenge the humiliation meted against individual persons with an intention to consolidate friendship.
- To consolidate friendship between individual warriors or the Chiefs of the belligerent villages.
The guest/ who is/are invited to cut the bull’s tail by the host should also reciprocate the succeeding year. In the event of failure, then it becomes a serious liability. Many process and rituals are involved to conduct this feat.
FUNERAL RITES (ME-BAH YAKLI):
Basically, the corpse is buried nearby the hearth. To avert the foul smelling of decomposition, the bonfire is always maintained upon it, besides depositing of cinders over it. The one reason of the practice of indoor burial was a precaution for avoiding damage of deceased body by animals in the event of burial outside. For the burial, the priest (amukeampuh) would measure the length and breadth of the corpse and dig a bit of earth. After which, the volunteers would take over him in digging the earth for the purpose. In the case of death of a warrior or a renowned hunter, a dog is slaughtered and then hung above the deceased’s head so that the dog would bark and lead the deceased to the land of the dead.
A pig is slaughtered whose nipples are cut-off and throw away with the utterance “Ha ching nu lapung mula, pupu lim yimde tso ang” Meaning, “here is no place for you, go in search of other place”.
Within the specific period of funeral observation, all the funeral provisions should be completely consumed or abandoned. It is deleterious to carry such meat, rice etc to the field or to any other places.
When a person dies, a bamboo or wooden poles are prepared for disposal of the deceased articles known as “Hah bah pung” at the outskirt of the village. In the case of a warrior, a traditional mug known as “ke-luh”, its handles and ball shaped bamboo crafts symbolising the war trophies (heads and limbs) are hung upon such poles in proportion to the number of enemies he had killed. In the case of wealthy men and hunters, befitting articles and trophies are also deposed upon such places, along with their attires, ornaments, weaponry and so forth.
The closing of funeral rites is marked by sweeping out the cinders and residues from the hearth of the bereaved family. After sweeping out all messy residuals, the utensils are cleaned and rinsed properly and also make the fresh fire from where the family members shall cook food for consumption.
RELIGIOUS LIFE (KING-AWUN YAKLI):
The Yimchungers were animistic and pantheist as well. They perceived the existence of spirits in the light of their own superstitious beliefs such as , Rija-bah (omnipotent), Arim-puh (Omnipresent) and Khiung-to puh (Omniscient. People believed that behind all occurrences of good and evils, there is always an invincible force controlling the whole universe. The existence of sorcerers and other categories of people possessing the supernatural powers were only precursors created to act as a means to disseminate and communication between humans and spirits (devil). Whenever the people have grievances or something to do with supernatural elements such as calling back the soul from the land of dead through – mediumers – (Akha-she); curing sickness, appeasing of spirits at haunted fields, rituals in the farm etc the assistance of those people were sought. There are numerous rituals throughout the year concerning farming, log drum, of weaponry and implements; main pole of the house/morung/farm hut, christening of babies, sickness, death and many others. It is said that marshy lands, huge stones, trees, cave, brook and other unique objects were an embodiment f spirits and their abode too.
SOCIAL TABOO (KHINZUNG-KHI):
- Some food stuff is forbidden for some clan members and vice versa, for instance, consuming of dog meat, blood of animals and intestines are forbidden and regarded as taboo especially for Khiungru clan.
- A elder’s share of meat should not be consumed or arrogated by the younger members of the family lest they should face imminent misfortunes in terms of pre-mature falling of tooth, decay and greying of hairs.
- It is customary that no new village could be established without the inclusion of “Khiungpuh” (priest_ and “Yangtan puh” (Farming priest). In the event of overriding the customary norms, the village shall never prosper.
- Only “Yangtan puh” is empowered customarily to sow the first seeds in any jhuming circle. The members of the village shall follow suit only after him.
- In the event of severe feuds in the family, who as a result, reasonably thought that the continuity of residing in the proximity is not possible, the members of the family shall cut off the cane stick- impliedly signifying their perpetual separation.
- If a person is killed by another person, the aggrieved and the defaulted families observe restraint from sharing any commodities towards each other until a compromise agreement is arrived at.
- The members of the belligerent villages also restraint from sharing any commodities or enter into inter-village marriages until a peace treaty is concluded.
- The last rite is not observed for a person dying unnaturally- leprosy, drowning, lightning strike, killed by wild animals, etc. The properties of such persons are abandoned forthwith.
- The male members are prohibited to undertake textile works such as weaving of clothes. They are also prohibited to wear mekhala and other female attires or from even touching them, especially when they have to set out for war, hunting or sports.
- When a man sets out to wage a war, the food-stuffs of such person should not be fastened around by a cane slit.
- During the observation of a “Genna” (Moo-de-amung khi), the members of the particular village are forbidden from entering the wood or attend to field works.
- It is a taboo to speak ill against or cause damage to “Head hung tree” (Me-ku-dung).
- During funeral observation, if the meat slips off from one’s hands or plate, the same should never be taken back since the same is believed to have been taken by spirits of the dead.
MAJOR INDIGENOUS GAMES: (TSUN-TSAH-AHORIBO-MUNG).
The following are the major indigenous game items practiced. These are played during festivals, merry-making and other social occasions.
- Top spinning
- Wild nuts
- Javelin throw
- Cock fight
- High jump
- Fat eating
- Arrow shooting
TRADITIONAL FIRE MAKING ( MO THSU KHI):
There are two types of traditional fire-making- namely, Molak and Molib. In the case of Molak, the sparks of flame is produced by striking two pieces of lime stones; whereas, in the case of Molib, the sparks of flames is produced by rubbing cane splits against the wood.
COTTON SPINNING (SANG PUN CHIMKHI):
The word “sangpun” is one of the essential commodities of the Yimkhiungru tribe. It is sowed and cultivated for weaving varieties of clothes. The cotton may be embellished with different colours obtained from different plant roots and leaves.
FESTIVALS ( THUNIO):
Throughout the year, the land is marked by one festival or the other. Every actions and circumstances are bonded by a sense of apprehension and gratitude as well. Therefore, for the protection and blessings, our ancestors were compelled to undergo many norms of purification and appeasements.
LIABILITY FOR CONTRIBUTION DURING FUNERAL:
- In certain circumstances, a person other than the relatives of the deceased may place shroud upon the corpse of the deceased known as the “Mi-phu khim”. The same should be compensated by offering a plot of land. This liability shall extent from generation to generation until payment.
- In certain cases, a person may share the funeral expenses which is actually the sole obligation of the aggrieved family. At this instance, the former may be necessitated to compensate the same by means of offering a plot of land. This liability shall extent from generation to generation until payment.
LAND DEMARCATION. (ARE-LUNG):
- The ridges, streams, river, stone, heap of soil, shrubs, mole, rocks, bamboo and banana groves etc are the objects acted as a boundary of the land.
- In the absence of any such objects, the land being cultivated or maintained since time immemorial by the fore fathers down to the present or the nearest generations may be taken into consideration.
- If a person wilfully trespass the boundary of the other person, a plot of land belonging to the defaulting person attached with the land of the aggrieved person is confiscated as a penalty. However, if a person unintentionally does the same, only a minimal penalty may be imposed upon or otherwise compromise verbally after killing a cock from the defaulting party. In this case, the village chief and elders and the owners of the adjacent land may resolve the dispute provided the dispute was not being able to be solved by the disputants themselves.
- In the case of villages, the parent/foster villages and the neighbouring villages, may act as witnesses for the authentication of such boundary.
OATH-TAKING ( THIYU CHIH-CHIM):
- The party solemnly swears by holding a tiger tooth or a soil in the name of the heavenly spirit and the earthly spirit that whatever he states is true and correct and further declares that, in the event of false statement he would bear any evils.
- A disputing party stands inside the circle so drawn with a spear in an erect position and consumes the soil yelling and calling the names of their ancestors, village founders, their own name and the cause of the oath taking. The belly and stomach of the defaulting party may swell instantly.
- The disputing party may also bite a tiger’s tooth in solemn declaration of their ancestors, their own name and the cause of the oath taking and invite the spirit of the earth and heaven to bear testimony of the same.
- A cane stick is encircled upon the ground. Inside the circle, an animal’s heart made into two equal parts would be laid upon the banana leaf. In between the slice heart, salt, ginger and chilly powder is then inserted. Both contenders shall be made to nibble at the meat by solemnly swearing and calling the heavenly and earthly spirits to bear testimony of the same.
- In the event of the stipulation of days, such as thirty or fifteen days, as the case may be, the happening and the non-happening of certain omens are observed, monitored and confirmed by the village chief and the witnesses or by any one so entrusted with the task by the competent authority.
- During the period of observation, the party upon whom the misfortune befalls is considered the defaulter. Such misfortune may befall upon the person of the defaulter concern or upon the family member, livestock or any other belongings of the defaulter.
SHARING OF ANIMAL CHEST (Shih-khuh jih-achih-khi):
An animal’s chest is shared among the like minded circle of friends at the time of their marriage till their death. The tradition is with a view to care and assist each other in all necessities.
Sharing of animal’s heart (Shih-mulong jih-achih-khi):
The animal’s heart is shared among the brothers. In their absence, the same may be given to ones father or kinsmen.
ELDERS SHARE OF MEAT (AZO SHIH):
The nose and tongue of an animal are considered as “Elders’ meat”.(Azo shih). Whenever an animal known as “Sando-shih” such as bull, cow, pig dog are slaughtered, these parts of the animal are normally given to the father by his son, grandson etc. After the death of the father, the honour of giving these parts goes to the eldest among the male clan member or any of the male clan embers residing within the vicinity.
EXCHANGE OF GIFT BETWEEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. ( KIONIORU-KUKRUK JIH ACHIH-KHI):
At the time of killing animals, known as “Sando-shih” , a neck portion of such animal is distributed among the married sisters. During the –Me-dum-nio festival, it is compulsory for the male member of the family to offer a chunk of meat or in case if they kill an animal of their own, a neck portion of such animal is presented to their married sisters. The married sisters shall in return offer a bamboo mug of special local rice beer, bake cakes of fermented soya beans (Mong-shuh-shuh), basket of agricultural products etc to their brothers.
UNNATURAL DEATH (SANG-WU KE-WUKHI):
- If a person is drowned or washed away by the water, the corpse of the deceased is laid upon the flat wooden platform, normally attached with standing timber, so arranged near or on the very spot of occurrence.
- If a person is killed either by a tree, stone, fire, lightning etc, the corpse of the deceased is laid upon the flat wooden platform, normally attached with standing timber, so arranged near or on the very spot of occurrence. The residual food grains and other household articles including the house itself belonging to the deceased are abandoned. If the field of the deceased is not harvested till such time, it is abandoned for once. The attires which are worn by the members during the course of mourning are also abandoned along with.
- It is a taboo to touch or to raise the corpse of the deceased who dies an unnatural death other than by the brothers or kinsmen of the deceased.
- The corpse of a person died of leprosy is left exposed similar to that of a person who died of unnatural elements. The relatives of the deceased died of leprosy shall weep clapping hands in reverse position.
- The house, granary, ornaments and other household utensils of the person who died an unnatural death including leprosy are abandoned forthwith. The last rite of such person is also not observed.
- The last rite of a woman died of miscarriage (Moo-mud) is not observed. However, the corpse of the deceased may be normally buried. All the crops and seeds of the deceased shall be abandoned and there shall be no crops transaction with the deceased family.
SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTE (MAH-KHAP):
The disputes may be settled in any of the following modes:-
- In the case of a dispute within the village, if the dispute cannot be settled between the contending parties themselves, it may be referred to the village administration/village chief. The judgement and the order of the village chief are final and binding over the disputants.
- In the case of feuds, over the boundary between two or more villages, the opposite parties shall meet at the conspicuous spot of the dispute or boundary and subsequently deliberate upon the matter. The expenditure so incurred will be proportionately contributed by the concerned villages. In the event of any dead-locks, arbitrator villages or foster father villages, if any, may be approached to settle the same.
- If the adjudicator fails to reach to a definite conclusion due to lack of evidence or when both the parties adduced evidence equally or the judgement is sharply divided among the adjudicator, the parties to the dispute may resort to the swear-on-oath. For this purpose, the aggrieved party may offer the other party to take an oath. Once the party agreed, the same become a contractual agreement and consequently, they are bound to fulfil the terms of the contract. If a party eventually decline the offer, he/they loses the case. Once the dispute is settled, a boundary is erected forthwith, in the case of land dispute or the disputed property is restored to the rightful owner, in the case of other property.
Both men and women gets tattoo on certain parts of their body, such as the chin, forehead, arms and legs. Tattoo for the girls signifies their puberty and marriageable age. Any girl who does not mark the tattoo cannot enter marriage.
The men who did not either kill an enemy or strike the enemy corpse are not competent to cause tattoo on their body. They should have either killed the enemy themselves or at least chop the dead body of enemies killed by others. The tattoo for the warriors and wealthy men differs from each other. The design of the tattoo may also be different from village to village and clan to clan. The old belief is that, in the land of the dead, the deceased soul shall be identified by his clan/village members through the tattoo he/she bores.
The Yimkhiungru tribe practiced various kinds of professions for their day to day sustenance: among which agriculture was the principal occupation. The other professional occupations were handicrafts, weaving, black smithy, animal husbandry, hunting and so forth. The general economy system was basically based upon exchange of goods which we know today as the barter system. Grains, salt, animals, metal etc were the primary commodities.
Witchcraft and possessing of spirits were common among the Yimkhiungru tribe. The following are some of the forms of witchcraft and possession of spirits:
- Sorcerers (Thumuru):- They are approached when a person falls sick and believed that the soul/spirit is captured by the evil spirit. They are also approached to suck out germs, bad blood, sticks, stones, nails, hairs etc from one’s body.
- Tiger spirit (Khuzu-me):- A person possessing the tiger spirit shall give protection to his love ones while resting or working and in all kinds of dangers. He may also survey the enemies’ villages and places before the warriors actually set out to wage war or ambush them. The enemies’ livestock may also be killed either for consumption or to cause loss to them.
- Guardian spirit (Thiyam-me):- Some household do have guardian spirits. The family who owns such spirits is generally from the priestly clan (Khiungru). They guard the house from thieves and other forms of trespass by mischief. However, if these spirits are not look after well, they may also cause nuisance and trouble to the owner and family.
SANCTIFICATION OF SEEDS:
After the clearance of the field, a day is selected for sowing the seeds of the village community. However, ahead of the day, the priest (Yang-tan-puh) shall venture out in the field and perform certain rituals. He would also bury/sow the seeds within a small patch of soil and return home. On the same day, no other members of the village should visit the field or enter the jungles for it was a taboo. He should not see or talk to any other person on the way. At the intersecting junction/main junction of the village road leading to the fields, he would cause a Y shaped mark known as –Mu-re-chin, where upon a rice beer shall be poured to obtain prediction. If the rice beer flows at the left side of the ‘Mu-re-chin’ it is predicted that the villagers shall cultivate more crops from the old field. However, if it flows at the right side, it is evinced that the new field shall catch bumper harvest. The succeeding day, the community genna is observed. Once the genna is announced, no members of the village shall initiate works or set into the jungles and fields. In the event of dereliction, unfortunate disaster shall befall upon the defaulter/s and even extent to the whole village members. Similar practice is done during ‘Thunushu-nio-nio’ and ‘rak-rak-punio’.