Friday, October 5, 2007

Boa-Benii-A Traditional Rope Trick of the Apatanis

Yet another video from Prof Christoph Von Furer-Heimendorf's archive. The video below posted by pirateDonkey at YouTube shows the traditional rope trick of the Apatanis called Boa Benii which is almost extinct now. I wonder if anyone knows this trick now or would prefer to perform this trick anymore.

Link via arunachalnews

Related Views:

Taku Tamu
Amazing Apatani Videos


  • Moli

    Good one


    Your Arunachaldairy

  • AG

    Thx Moli.

  • AG

    @ Richo,


  • yasiyalow

    I have a vague memry of seeing Boha Bennii. As a kid, I also used to tr at the lowest end of rope. Young men would behave very sportingly and try to impress young girls watching from their byagos. Some nostalgia, some reminiscence

  • AG

    Lucky you. I didn't even got chance to witness this traditional rope trick.

  • Buru

    Pl tell the literal translation or root words for Boa-Benii.

    I believe it comes from Babo.
    In Tagin, Galo and some Nyishis babo simply means a swing.

    Do you know that Galos used to have Babos too? In contrast to the Apatani one, they were constructed with one long tree trunk and another much shorter(say 1/3rd in height) so that the rope was in an inclined/sloped position. Again it was present throughout the year for play by both kids and adults.It apparently died out in the early fifties.

    I believe the Tagins too had Babos like Galos.

    The Babo has a prominent place in the mythology of struggle between Tani(Human race) and Taki(uyu or spirit race)of Tani tribes, suggesting that it had important semi-religious importance from the time Tanii tribes were one.

  • AG

    Loosely translated Boa-Benii would be 'rope jump'. Here I must tell you it should have been Babo-Benii instead of Boa-Benii as Boa means rope (that is tied to the Babo) and the trick is basically a Babo (guess for swing as well, as hinted by you) Trick as told by some elders. So the title would have been "Babo-Benii-A Traditional Rope Trick of the Apatanis"

    And yeah there is mythology associated with Babo that I have found out and I would be posting about it in a days to come-probably coinciding with the myoko festival of the Apatani's. Watch out for that post.

    And thx for information regarding the Babo's of other Tani Groups

  • NPR

    Don't you think it is "BOA-BENIING" than "BOA-BENII"???In my perception word "BENIING" is "Jumping" while "BENII" is a "Jumper". Though I myself too have not seen the boa-beniing in real life but literally,boa-beniing is a rope jump-its a kind of acrobatic skill.One can't call it as a babo-beniing.In Apatani "babi-biniing" or simply "babi" is the word for swing.Babo is the typical wooden structure of traditional impotance of taniis.

  • AG

    Yeah NPR, it should have been Boa-Beniing instead of Boa-Benii. My mistake.

    Regarding Babo Beniing, I confirmed it from elders. They were clueless when I asked them about Boa Beniing but as soon as I said the trick that were performed at Babo, they understood it and said, "Oh! Babo-Beniing. And hence, Babo-Beniing

  • Tanii_Gal

    I think Taniis normally call the structure and rope BABO and benii is jumper, beniing is jumping. I am unsure why they called it BOA, is it because this is the word used by other tribes? Perhaps.

  • AG

    Only the tree trunk that is erected along with the decorations is called Babo-I presume but not the rope that is tied later for Babo-Beniing.

    Yes Benii=jumper and Beniing=jump[ing]
    I too am not sure if Boa or Boha is used for rope.

  • Buru

    AG &all,

    why can't Babo be re-introduced as a sport for sake of culture?
    My understanding is that it was stopped due to its dangerous nature--this can be taken care of by putting safety nets underneath like in Circuses so that all and sundry can take part.
    It can be done during all major festivals and also as sports at school level too.
    All these should be done now before the elderly people who actually did Babo and know its intricacies pass away. Once they are gone,it will be gone forever.

    I hope you(& other Apatanii educated)take this humble suggestion seriously.

  • yasiyalow

    1. I think it is called Boha - Benniing/Bennii.
    2. Actualldy spelling Bennii can be used for both the performer and also act of performing. Depending upon the sentence, the same word can be prononunced separately. We tend to use ... iing towards many words which is phonetically not correct. eg we dont write Apataniing, but write Apatani. Again, Apatani is a minomer, it should be simply Tannii. Nowhere in Tannii rituals or literature word Apatanii is found. This name, Apatani must have been given by other tribes or outsiders. We will look forward to AG to confirm it from some village elders to see if Apatani is used in Ayoo or miji- migung or whether it can be traced to any other source from Tannii folklores except for works of outsiders like Heimendrof etc.. Eh AG! Some work ... huh?
    3. Babo is the long tree trunk that is erected during Murrung Pullo by those villages who are going to perform Myoko festival in the month of March of the same year.
    4. Two types of Babos are erected by most of the clans {used to be when I was growing up} depending upon the clan size. One babo is for grown ups called Akha Babo and the other one for teenagers called Saanting Babo. { Note, here you can add iing in the last part of word saantiing which means of same age eg. saanting aajing}
    5. Every household also erects number of small babos in their front porch ie. depening upon number of male children of householder. It used to be a very proud moment for the young boys to have Babo in their name.
    6. Boha is the rope that is tied from top of the Akha Babo to the peg in the ground at around 45 degree. This rope is made of tisser yaso inthe way mithun ropesare prepared.
    7. Bennii is not to be confused with jumping or swinging. Benni is bobbling act of up and down by using ones body in tandem with gravity to pull down the rope and again let it pull you up with its tensile strength. It was a kind of Bungy jumping, only difference being that in the Bungy jump the jumper jupms with his legs tied to a rope and then ones he jumps down he lets the gravity and ropes elasticity to pull hi up and down. Where as in the Boha Bennii, it is the tensile strength of strung rope made of special type of can called tisser yaso that was used to pull the player up and down.
    8. As for kids and young girls, they used to tie small swing towards the lower end of Boha and then pull them down and let it spring up. Well, it used to be very amusing.
    9.Buru, having said Boha benni was amusing, I hope to encourage the game as and when I happen to be in Ziro during murrung pullo i.e January by using whatever influence I can muster. Thanks for the suggestion.
    10. I met a father of one of my miinyong friends who told me that Babo used to be popular feature in Minyong area when he was growin up i.e around 1930s and 40s. Truelly, this must have been a common string that strung the tanii groups together before it was snapped by fast changing modern way of life.

  • Tanii_Gal

    As tanii children during Myoko festival we would have very big babos near all the LAPANGs and our brothers and fathers would go to the jungle and get the miniature Babos for our home and every home would decorate it and put it up in their own byago. I don't think anyone could swing on it except for small children because it would break.
    It is interesting to hear that other tribes had it too, how come only the Taniis preserved it for so long?
    The name Apatani came about because nyishi neighbours would called us as Appa+ Taniing. Appa is a brotherly or friendly term used together with someone's name so when the Brithishers asked the Nyishi guides who we were,they said Appa Taniing which later was shortened to Apatanii then to Apatani.
    I believe this is how we got this name despite not using it but I might be wrong.

  • yasiyalow

    video clip shows how the boha i.e cane rope was tied to babo and babo benni was played.Big babos were strong enough to hold back and give the necessary tensile strength for the game. I dont have very clear memory, only some vague memory of actual babo benii and almost no idea when and how it went out of fashion.
    As for its presrvation, even in Apatani plateau it has not been played since 1970s. May be we can do something to rejuvenite it.

  • Buru

    There is an intriguing possibility of a remnant of Apatanis being present in the Tibetan side of China.In the following article on an official Chinese website the author is basically describing the Apatani(Apadani) during ?Murung(Molang) festival.

    There is also the possibility that the website is describing the Ziro Taniis because it says the "Apadani"resides in Lhoyu( means Southern regions in Tibetan, a descriptive term for both present Southern Tibet like Nyingchi or Pemako as well as Arunachal,Which of course they claim as their own as "Zang nan" in Chinese). The Babo poles have been mistaken for Phallus worship;) It must be mentioned that actual genital worship does indeed take place among some tribes of Southern tibet, and sometimes Bokars(Adi subtribe) of Tibet are mentioned as being one of them.
    In Apatani folklore there is mention of a character Nyime Radhe. Could any Tanii brethern been left behind during migration, a descendent of Nyime Radhe?? Nyime means Tibet in ALL Tanii tribes.

    The article mentions the place of ApaDani as XibaXiaqu(meaning Xiba Valley, Xiaqu= Valley in Mandarin).
    Here is the Link
    I have cross-posted it in Let us save Tanii blog too(under "Photo collection from olden days" post).
    The article.......
    The Worship of Genital Organs

    Among the Lhobas who call themselves "Apadani," a festival called "Molang" is celebrated in the twelfth or the first month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. These people inhabit the Xibaxiaqu area of the Lhoyu region. A shaman chooses the date of celebration, on which, all the young men, led by the shaman, dressed up in the village to make a tour in a line to the nearby villages. When they pass a field, the shaman scatters rice into the field. The young men wave their long swords and hammer at copper trays, while an old man at the end of the line scatters rice powder all the way along. When they pass a field that is to be sowed, the young men with male organs made of bamboo walk into the field and dance production dances. When they go to dance and sing in the square of a village, the villagers serve them with wine warmly. It is a must that the touring group should go over all villages of the tribe. This festival prays for good harvest, because they see the similarities between the reproduction of crops and that of humans. In some of their communities, we still can see production organs made of wood standing by houses to show a wish for more offspring. As a matter of fact, many nationalities in China used to have this sort of worship; even now, some southern ones still have festivals in which traces of it remain. We can understand the causes of genital worship, if only we know the importance of reproduction.


  • Anonymous

    Hi All,

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    This is for all those qualified and eligible Arunchalee who have proved it by clearing the tough but the most respected exam of Arunachal Pradesh. I know that thier life will be bright hereafter, however despite the fact, I want to wish them all the good wishes for their future.
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    Tasso Tada

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