Ziro Valley – Serenity Calling
Surrounded by undulating hills and punctuated by streams, the Ziro valley is a highly fertile landscape which is home to the Apatani, an ethnically distinct tribe whose relationship with nature lies at the heart of its cultural identity.
The livelihood of the Apatani people is based on agriculture, specifically paddy cultivation, where every centimetre is prudently utilized to maximize the yield of three crops: millet is planted on the inside walls of the plots, rice is grown in the irrigated fields, and within this carefully constructed network of ponds and channels, fish are also farmed.
Strolling through a typical village in Ziro valley, we spotted many storage granaries. Unlike the villagers’ bamboo houses which are built very close next door to each other, the granaries stand somewhat apart from the dwellings as a precaution in case of fire.
The Apatani women are very hard-working, looking after household jobs while also carrying out the main tasks in the paddy and tending to vegetable and bamboo gardens.
The unique facial decorations worn by the Apatani women truly set them apart. In the past, all females tattooed themselves with a broad blue-green line running down the forehead to the tip of the nose and with five stripes on the chin. And girls would have their first cane nose studs inserted in their nostrils at the tender age of six or seven years. The so-called Yaping Hullo were then successively replaced by larger plugs. Sadly, the application of these beautiful adornments is rapidly dying out.
Out in the middle of the placid patchwork, in the company of jumping fish and honking frogs, is the perfect place to stop for a while and absorb the natural serenity of Ziro.