Graphic and plastic arts of the Zeliangrong of NE


Dr Budha Kamei
(Contd from yesterday)

Romantic songs : Ramruan Lu is a song of lamentation, love, anguish and melancholy. The songs are divided into Magian Lu and Nrah Lu. Magian Lu is a song to lament a death. Nrah Lu is the same, but the song to lament a death is sung with Nrah, harp. Magian Lu is sub-categories of Tuna-Gaan Magian Lu. It is sung to express profound sorrow over the separation of lovers, intimate friends etc. Children and young people are advised not to sing in the belief that it may invite bad omen, but learning is permissible for any one any time. The song is sung in solo either by male or female very slowly with full expression of the meaning at the same speed and same vocal till its conclusion.

Lullaby : Nah Kathu Lu is lullaby. It is sung to lull a baby to sleep, to caress or to stop from crying. Both man and woman can sing this song.

Poetical songs : Luruang and Luphai are the songs sung in the festivals. The themes of these songs are more of romance, cultural, social and moral life, historical events, occupation, economic resource and activities, topographical descriptions, and intermarriage and contemporary love affairs of the time. The songs are sung without musical instruments.

Praising songs : Luchian Lu is a song of good gesture and best wishes. They are classified into Meinou Kailong Pat Lu (song sung on the eve of marriage), Nouson Lu Chian Lu (song sung on the day of marriage) and Maku Luchian Lu (song sung on the preceding days of ritual ceremonies). Meithon Lu is a song sung praising individual for his great deeds or actions.
Song accompanied with a harp : Nrah Lu is a song sung with a harp. It is said that Gairemnang, a semi folk hero, once sitting on the top of Kimbut Hill and sang Nrah Lu describing the beauty of girls of the Kourang village.

Fine arts: The Zeliangrong are good artists and fond of fine arts. It is proved by their skills in weaving with different designs. They are experts not only in weaving but also in embroidery and appliqué works. Hence they produce different kinds of clothes of their own culture. There are different varieties of dresses for both male and female according to their social status and age in the society. In Zeliangrong society, a male member begins to wear a shawl and kilt locally known as Sineiphei and Thihnai at a tender age before puberty. And a young girl begins to wear Mareipan and Liangri Pheisoi as shawl and undergarment (Pheisoi). Mareipan is a white cotton cloth with strips at the side and embroidered pattern at the two tips. However, the adult boys and girls also wear Mareipan.

In other words, members of the dormitory use the Mareipan as shawl. Shawl is the most important item of the male dress among the Zeliangrong. There are different varieties of shawls worn by male members. The mature or senior youth including married males wear Pheingao, a white shawl with colorful stripes and at border two ends. Masin Pheipong, a simple white colored shawl is worn by middle age elder. But, it is not used as a ceremonial dress. They also wear traditional shawl of embroidered colors on a black body called Chingkhuangphei. Kourangphei, a shawl of black colour with two to three strips on the horizontal side and one yellow strip line on the vertical side is meant only for the aged people. It is a compulsory item of dowry at the time of marriage of a daughter.

An adolescence girl wears Nai as lower garment. Girls including married women wear different kinds of loin clothes such as Pheingao pheisoi, white loin cloth, Langmu pheisoi, black loin cloth, Langjin pheisoi, yellow loin cloth, etc. And Sinei phei, Khamtang phei and Mareipan are worn as shawls. Old women wear Khim pheisoi as loin cloth.

Crafts : The crafts of the Zeliangrong are to some extent comparable with other ethnic groups of Northeast. It can be clearly seen in personal ornamentation, basketry, carpentry works, carvings and engravings in wood, stone, ivory and conch shells as well as sculptures in wood and clay modeling.

Among the personal ornamentation, mention may be made of the Zeishu (an ear-ring made of the feathers of Zeishu bird), Gang Kam (neckband made of conch shell), Tukang, Tadantu (neck chain made of cornelian beads) and Baanpomta (an ivory armlet), Nathang (an armlet made of copper). These ornaments are worn by men. Female members wear different kinds of necklace, bangle like the Tadantu and Bantengta, and brass armlet made in spiral form like the Tadu, Nathang (brass bracelets).

The art of wood carving found among the Zeliangrong, are deserved to mention. It starts from the manufacturing of household utensils to the musical instruments and the decoration of the house. So it plays an important role among the crafts of the Zeliangrong. For instance, the craftsman carves out the nice bowls, dish, dish-on-stand, large and small mortars and pestles (for pounding rice and for grinding chillies and spices in the kitchen), water collecting and storing containers, shuttle, beating sword, ginning machine, reeling machine, spinning machine, spindle whorls, carved out dwarf benches etc.

Moreover, basketry works also play an important role in the Zeliangrong crafts. The skilled craftsman manufactures different types of baskets for different uses. Some baskets are nicely weaved and coated with glue so as they can collect and alone any form of liquid (water, rice-beer etc.). Some of the basketry works which deserves especial mention are: transporting baskets (with eye or without eye), dining table of cane and bamboo, stool made out of cane and bamboo, cane chair, basket for keeping clothes, covered baskets for keeping fishes or meat (dry or roasted), large storing baskets, measuring baskets etc.

Conclusion : To conclude, the graphic and plastic arts of the Zeliangrong make them distinct from other ethnic groups of Northeast. The art of carvings, paintings, decorative pieces, song, dance, and music etc., reflect the customs, economy, religious peculiarity or way of life of the Zeliangrong. Now, it is high time to preserve and promote the rich material and non-material culture of the people.


Source: The Sangai Express


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