Saturday, October 31, 2020

The People

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The Khasis

Monolith-khasi tribeThe Khasis are known by different names according to the tracts they occupy. Those who inhabit the northern lowlands and foothills are collectively called Bhois, those who live in southern tracts are called Wars.

While those inhabiting the tracts adjoining Garo hill are called Lyngngams or Dkos but  Khasi is the general name. The Khasi name for the people of the plains is Dkhar usually contracted to Khar. The Khasis which enumerates the exogamous clans of Khyrem Syiemship alone will show that a good proportion of the clans is made up of those descended from original ancesters from the plains. These clans or sects is called Kurs in Khasi. These Kurs are invariably exogamous. Marriage within the Kur is unthinkable to a Khasi. Ostracism is the least form of punishment. Society can inflict on those who contravene the law, the ultimate punishment.


The people of the Jaintia Hills belong to the same race as those who live in the Khasi hills to their west. They share some traditions of origin and with some understandable local variations, same customs, beliefs and habits. These language is variant of the standard Khasi language.

The people of the Jaintia hills have various names given by various anthropological authorities such as Jayantias, Syntengs. The people commonly refer to themselves as Pnars.

The Khasi and Jaintia tribal groups include :                

 (1) Khynriam in the central upland     

 (2) Pnar of the Jaintia hills. They are also called as the Jaintia and Syntang

 (3) War in the southern parts. 

 (4) Bhoi in the northern parts.

Besides these, there are Mikirs in the north, Lalung, Viate, Vaiphe and Hmass in the Jaintia hills, Rabhas and Garos in the north and the Ayongs or Hajongs found scattered in the southern parts.

The inhabitants of this area trace their origin to Austro-Asiatic family and have migrated from the south-east Asia. They came from the east and settled in groups to form scattered village settlements in the hilly terrain. The Khasis were shifting cultivators and widely practiced jhum cultivation.