Creativity, Expression and Preservation of Tiwa Art of North East India

The Tiwas, also known as Lalungs are one of the major tribe of North East India distributed mainly in central Assam. Among the Tiwas each village has a Samadi, an institution called youth dormitory. Samadi is a platform type house without walls and erected in a central place of the village. Only males are eligible for becoming members of Samadi. The Samadis act as the art and craft training centre for young unmarried youths. They learn their traditional art form while being in the Samadi. Youths must sleep in the Samadi at night and learn art and crafts along with keeping vigil over the security of the village. In the present study, Samadi has been conceptualized as a centre for the production of material culture along with the centre for showing creativity. The arts of Tiwas are associated with their crafts. Their imaginations and creativities are reflected on the rich craft that is part of their material culture and all these initiates in the Samadi itself. Carvings of animals and birds are seen in the entrance beam of the Samadi. To make the paintings and carvings in the pillars of the Samadi, colours are also prepared traditionally.

Their whole culture is primarily bamboo based and they manipulate that material in a variety of way to express their imagination. To store their traditional rice beer, they make some beautiful vessel out of bamboo leaves by using glue prepared indigenous way. Tiwas are very fun loving and enjoy their life most simply by balancing nature and utility.  

My present work involves the study of the creativity of the Tiwa youths. The focus is on the present scenario – the age-old tradition and practices which is on the verge of extinction. Emphasis is on the strategy for preservation of this lost tradition in the realm of the theory of Community Museum. The theory of Community Museum preponderates in the discipline of Museology which emphasis in creating awareness among the community about their rich heritage. A community becomes the guardian and conservator of their heritage through such. 

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