Back to news
17 Nov 2015 | News

The Music in Ziro

2 mins Read

70% Complete


By 7am, we were in Ziro. Rubu got us on the road that crisscrossed the vast horizon of paddy fields. To the east were low mountains clad with forests where a water stream gurgled past the paddy field. To the west were settlements steeped in tradition. One could sense a melody in the air, created by the forest, water, paddy fields, grazing grounds and milieu of culture.  Could we have asked for a better welcome to Ziro? We were lucky to have Rubu with us who left no stone unturned to help us understand the music we heard.

Called Apatani Plateau, Ziro is the district headquarters of Lower Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh where the Apatani tribe is said to have inhabited the area some five centuries back. The plateau topography is punctuated by undulating small hillocks and mountains. We marvelled at the gushing streams that burst through the forests, trained by bamboo and pinewood pipes to ensure water is made available to parcels of lands downstream. A combination of rice, fish, and millet cultivation marks the agricultural landscape. Rubu said what we were seeing had been developed as an intricate system linking forests, water, paddy and fisheries in organic way.

Soon we were crisscrossing Hong village. Lapañ, nago and babo, the socio-cultural structures, were seen generously punctuating the village around which celebration of life continues year around. Apatanis are amongst the very few tribes in the world that practice Donyi-Poloism (Sun-Moon), a belief that everything in nature originates and manifests from the divine.

In the evening, we visited Rubu’s uncle in a traditional bamboo long house. We tasted traditional homemade kodo beer with special Apatani salt called Tapyo, tasting somewhat like salt, but made at home using ashes of certain indigenous plants.

Our senses were fully soaked by Ziro, especially the music. That music has been played for centuries in the Apatani community by the forest, water, agro-pisci culture — a rich cultural fabric woven to perfection. It was the interaction amongst these musicians that created the magic, ably nurtured by the Apatani for centuries. Could there be a better example of a living bio-cultural landscape where the interaction of natural elements create such a melody?

Globalisation and an ideological onslaught from the outside have brought new challenges and opportunities to Ziro. The Apatani must challenge their aspiring youth to tread a middle path, and not compromise the music of Ziro that has been composed and nurtured for ages.

For me, the music has been resonating ever since then. No wonder, for all of its music, Ziro is included in India’s tentative list as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Related Contents

Continue exploring this topic

22 Feb 2018 News
Regional Workshop on Planning Transboundary Technical Collaboration for Landscape Management

The goal of the workshop was to concretize regional technical collaboration to support the nomination of the Hkakaborazi Landscape nomination ...

14 Aug 2018 News
A Commitment to Implement Water Use Master Plans in Saptari, Nepal

Participation of the private sector has opened up avenues for joint collaboration with local authorities for sustainable WUMP schemes and ...

26 Sep 2016 News
Partner Relationships Management System Version 2.0 launched

A Partner Relationships Management (PRM) System Version 2.0 was launched coinciding with planning and review meeting of the International Centre ...

8 May 2015 News
ICIMOD’s earthquake response task force maps potential helicopter landing sites

A team of GIS and remote sensing experts at ICIMOD are mapping possible helicopter landing sites for village development committees ...