Culture of Mizoram
Dances of Mizoram
Khuallam literary means 'Dance of the Guests'. It is a dance usually performed in the ceremony called 'Khuangchawi'. In order to claim a distinguished place in the society and to have a place in paradise or Pialral one has to attain the coveted title of 'Thangchhuah'. Guests invited from the other villages at the Khuangchawi ceremony enter the arena dancing Khuallam. Traditional hand woven Mizo cloth known as Puandum is wrapped over the shoulders while dancing. Puandum has the colors black, red, yellow and green stripes. Significantly Puandum is an indispensable item which every girl has to take along with when she gets married. It is used when her husband dies to cover the dead body. As most other folk dances of the Mizos, this dance is accompanied by a set of gongs known as Darbu and no song is sung.
Cheraw is a very old traditional dance of the Mizos. It is believed that the dance had already existed way back in the 1st Century A.D., while the Mizos were still somewhere in the Yunan Province of China, before their migration into the Chin Hills in the 13th Century A.D., and eventually to the present Mizoram. Some of the tribes living in South East Asia have similar dances in one form or the other with different names.
This is an impressive dance originating from the Pawi and Mara communities in the southern part of Mizoram. This dance is known as 'Sarlamkai' whereas the Lushais referred to it as 'Rallu Lam'. In older days when the different tribes were constantly at war with each other, a ceremony to deride the vanquished beheaded skull of the enemy was usually held by the victor. This ceremony is performed to ensure that the vanquished soul remains a slave to the victor even when the latter also dies.
Chailam is a popular dance performed on the occasion of 'Chapchar Kut' one of the most important festivals of the Mizos. In this dance, men and women stand alternatively in circles, with the women holding on to the waist of the man, and the man on the women's shoulder. In the middle of the circle are the musicians who play the drums and the mithun's horn.
This is a popular fold dance of one of the Mizo communities known as Pawi. It is performed in groups of large numbers. Boys and girls standing in rows dance to the beat of drums. Shawls are used to help the movement of the arms, which also adds color to the dance. Only drums are used in this dance.
Chheihlam' originated after the year 1900 on the lines of the songs known as 'Puma Zai' and the dance known as 'Tlanglam'. It is a dance that embodies the spirit of joy and exhilaration. It is performed to the accompaniment of a song called 'Chheih hla'. People squat around in a circle on the floor, sing to the beat of a drum or bamboo tube while a pair of dancers stand in the middle, and recite the song.
Tlanglam is performed throughout the length and breadth of the State. Using music of Puma Zai, there have been several variations of the dance. This dance is one of the most popular dances these days by our cultural troupes in various places. Both sexes take part in this dance.
Khal Lam is another popular dance of Mizos in which a group of boys wearing specially made shawls dance to the beat of drums and gongs. The dancers wear one type of striped loin cloth (puan) and a uniform striped shawl (puandum). While one beats a gong, the dancers in a row more gradually forward, with small forward-backward steps, keeping with the time. The arms would be flayed, along with the steps.
This was originally a Lakher dance, but now it has been adopted by all the Mizas. Sawlakia means spirit of the slain. The dance was led by the warrior who had hunted a big game or killed a man. He would wear his best clothes and a plume of red feather. He would wield a gun or dao and a shield. He would be followed by other dancers in a row, who would also carry weapons, or cymbals or gongs. Some boys would stand in a group beating drums or blowing bugles. The dancers would move forward and slowly go round the head. While dancing weapons and shields would be wielded keeping time with drum or gong beats. All the time dancers would be plied with Zu by the women. This dance is a popular dance now. The modifications now are that there is no head in the circle and no Zu.
Crafts of Mizoram
The weaves and patterns bear a strong resemblance to similar textiles worn by the people of Myanmar and so do the clothes into which these fabrics are tailored. Like the other states of the Northeast, textiles in Mizoram are largely a woman's activity. One of the traditional textiles of the state is the puan. Although it is rarely seen today on the streets of Mizoram, the weaving and the patterns of the puan are remarkable. Shawls and puans are available at the local markets, which often look like textile museums with their vast variety of weaves, patterns and colours on display.
The 95-year-old Raj Bhavan, home of the present Mizoram governor, is a fine example of the state's expertise with bamboo and cane. The Mizos are also known for their basket weaving skills. Like the rest of the Northeast, the variety of styles and uses that the bamboo basket is put to is quite amazing. The Mizo conical bamboo basket called Paikwang is popularly used to carry firewood, cotton and such other stuff.
Some of the finest woodcarvings in the Northeast are found among the people of this region. The woodcarvings are usually of human figures or decorative pieces that adorn the youth dormitories in these villages and sculptures erected in memory of the dead. In ancient times, woodcarving was associated with religious beliefs
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