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  • Writer's pictureSpeak Your Roots

Interview with Naphibahun Lyngdoh, Archaeologist

Updated: Aug 13, 2023



Celebrating International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, 9th August 2022


1. What do you think is special about the history of the Khasis?/ Ha ka jingsngew jong phi kaei kaba kyrpang ne kynsai shaphang ka histori jong ki Khasi?


Ka histori jong ngi ki Khasi ka long shisha kaba riewspah bad kaba kyrpang ha kiba bun ki liang. Haba ngi peit kylleng sawdong ngi lah ban ïohi ki jingtei jong ki mynbarim kiba bun rukom, naduh ki mawbynna-mawbyrsiew, ki jingkieng jyrmi, ki lynti hat, lynti rim, ki ïew rim bad kumta ter ter. Ka jingstad bad jingshemphang jong ki, ka pyni ruh ha ka jingynneh pynsah ïa ka Mei Mariang da kaba buh ia ki 'law kyntang. Kine ki pyni bad batai ia ngi ia ka histori kaba kyrpang jong ki Khasi. Ngi lah ruh ban ïohi ka jingkynsai ka histori jong ngi na ki riti-ki dustur, ka sap-ka phong, ka put-ka tem, ka shad-ka mastieh, ka riam-ka beit, ki khana-ki puriskam, bad kumta ter ter.


The history of the Khasis is one that is special and truly rich in many aspects. When we look around, we see the rich architectural legacy of our ancestors, from the Megalithic culture (mawbynna-mawbyrsiew), the living root bridges, market routes, old roads, old markets and so on. Their intelligence and wisdom is seen in their ability to sustain and preserve the environment through the setting up of " 'law kyntang" or sacred groves. The uniqueness of our history is also showcased in our tradition and custom, our talent and skill, our music, our dances, our attire, our myths and folklore, etc.


2. In your research, what have you found about the role of indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge?/ Ha ka kam wad bniah jong phi, phi lap aïu shaphang ka bynta kaba ki kynthei Khasi ki sei bor ha ka jingpynneh bad pynsaphriang ïa ka jingstad jingshemphang bad jingtip ïa la ka riti ka dustur?


Ha ka jingleit wad bniah jong nga sha ki shnong kiba pher bapher, nga lah shem bun ki riew kynthei kiba da ka buit ka sap jong ki, ki lah pynneh pynsah ïa ka riti ka dustur u Khasi. Kum ban shu ai nuksa, ka jingshna khiew ha ri Khasi-Jaiñtia lah sdang nyngkong eh ha Larnai kaba dei kawei na ki shnong ha Jaiñtia Hills, naduh ki spah snem mynshwa. Ha ka jingleit jong nga sha kane ka shnong, nga shem ba dei tang ki kynthei naduh kiba rit haduh kiba heh, kiba shna ia ki khiew ranei.


In my research in different villages, I had found that women, through their intelligence and resourcefulness have been able to preserve our customs and traditions. For instance, the art of pottery making in the Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills was first started centuries ago in Larnai, a village in Jaiñtia Hills. When I went to the village, I found that not only older women but even young girls were involved in the making of the black earthen wares called khiew ranei.


Haba nga leit pat sha ka shnong Mawsahew, nga shem ïa kawei ka sap bniah kaba dei ka jingthaiñ ki pla ïarong na u sla sohtrun bad kumba ngi tip ha ki por mynshwa, ha pyrthei baroh kawei ka dei tang ka Mawsahew bad ha Philippines ba ki pynmih ïa u ksai na u sla sohtrun (pinatex). Ha kane ka bynta ruh, nga shem ba bun na ki nong shna ïa kine ki pla ïarong kidei ki kynthei.


When I had gone to Mawsahew, a village in Sohra, I came across a particular skili that is unique to our region and that was the weaving of ïarong bags from the fiber extracted from pineapple leaves. As we know, since time immemorial it was only in Mawsahew village and the Philippines that the skill of spinning thread from the fiber extracted from pineapple leaves (pinatex) had been practiced. Here too, I found that many of the weavers of the ïarong bags were women.


Sha Umden, kaba dei kawei na ki shnong ka ka thaiñ Ri Bhoi, nga shem ïa ka jingthaiñ jong ki riam tynrai ki Khasi na u khniang ryndia bad hangne ruh bun na kiba trei ïa kane ka kam ki dei ki kynthei. Na ki nuksa kiba la kdew haneng, ngi lah ban ïohi ba ki kynthei ki sei ïa la i buit i bor bad ka sap ban pynneh pynsah bad pynsaphriang ïa ka jingstad bad ki riti ka dustur u Khasi. Hynrei kumban shu ong noh, ka jingpynneh ïa ka deiriti kaba riewspah jong ngi ka nym da urlong khlem ka jingiatrei lang shynrang bad kynthei.


In Umden, a village in Ri Bhoi, I saw that the weaving of our traditional Khasi attire from the eri silkworm is done mostly by the women. From these examples cited above, we see that women have made use of their intelligence, strength and skill to preserve and spread Khasi wisdom, custom and tradition. However, the preservation of our rich culture will not be possible without the combined efforts of both men and women.


3. What do you have to say to students who want to pursue their studies in History and Archaeology? / Phi don ban ong aïu ïa ki samla kiba kwah ban pule ha ki shlem jong ka History bad Archaeology?


Nga ai mynsiem ïa kito kiba don shisha ïa ka jingthrang ban pule Archaeology khamtam ïa kito kiba don ïa ka jingthmu ban wad bniah ïa ka Histori jong ki Khasi naduh ki por ba rim-ba jah.


As we all know, there is a dearth in research on the history of our people and region so I heartily encourage those who have a passion to study Archaeology to pursue research on Khasi history, dating back to undocumented times and ages so that they can contribute to the society as a whole.


4. Please suggest books on Khasi history that we can read./ Sngewbha ai jingmut ïa ki kot aïu ba ngin pule shaphang ka histori Khasi?


  • A K Nongkynrih- Khasi Society of Meghalaya

  • David Roy- A Khasi Remembered

  • David Syiemlieh- Layers of History: Essays on the Khasi Jaiñtias

  • Hamlet Bareh- The History and Culture of the Khasi People

  • J N Chowdhury- The Khasi Canvas

  • P R T Gurdon- The Khasis

  • Shobhan Lamare- Jaiñtia Oral Narratives

  • Soumen Sen- Social and State Formation in Khasi and Jaiñtias Hills

Ban rakhe ïa ka International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, ka Speak Your Roots ka la ïoh ban kren bad i @naphi_lyngdoh iba dei i Archaeologist. Ka kam wad bniah jong i ka la pynshai ïa bun ki phang jong ka histori bad jymbriew Khasi. ✍️🪖🛠️🏞️
La thmu ban kren bad i kum iwei na ki kynthei iba trei ïa ka kam wad bniah shaphang ka jaitbynriew ban pynshai shuh shuh ia ka phangpdeng mynta ka sngi kaba dei "The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge".
Khublei Shibun @naphi_lyngdoh ba phi la pynsngew ïa ki jingmut bad jingthmu jong phi lyngba kane ka jingïakren! 🙏😄
To celebrate International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Speak Your Roots had the opportunity to talk with @naphi_lyngdoh who through her archaeological research has illuminated many areas of Khasi history and culture. 🪖🛠️🏞️✍️
It is hoped that the talk with her as one of the women who is well-versed about the Khasi past will enlighten us about this year's theme "The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge". 🙏😄
🟡 Naphibahun Lyngdoh, is a Shillong based Archaeologist with interest in Ethnoarchaeology and Digital Archaeology.
Her research focuses on abandoned settlements, megalithic culture and the ethnoarchaeology of this region. She is a recipient of the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum Award, 2019 for her research on the Megaliths of Mookyndur. Her research has been published in national and international journals.
Congratulations Naphibahun and keep up the good work!!


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