Landscaping Tribal Culture: Towards A Cultural Landscape Approach in North-East India.

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International Journal of Research and Scientific Innovation (IJRSI) | Volume IX, Issue III, March 2022 | ISSN 2321–2705

Landscaping Tribal Culture: Towards A Cultural Landscape Approach in North-East India.

Dr. Samhita Chaudhuri
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Bijoy Krishna Girls’ College, Howrah, India

IJRISS Call for paper


Abstract: North-east India, being the home of numerous indigenous groups of people, always plays a point of attraction for anthropologists and social scientists all over the world. The land with magnificent natural beauty and cultural heritage also form an ideal destination for a large number of tourists every year. As any natural landscape, when modified by culture group, forms a particular cultural landscape; thus North-east India provides a special type of cultural landscape if we look through the lenses of cultures and traditions of numerous indigenous people of this region. The human-nature interaction gets a new vista in this part of India. The present paper deals with some facts regarding human and nature relationships which take part among various groups of tribal people in ecological setting of North-east India to formulate a cultural landscape approach based on these human-nature interactions.

Key Words:- Natural landscape, Tribes, Human-nature interaction, Cultural landscape


The north eastern region is surrounded by foreign territories like Bhutan, Tibet, China, Burma, and Bangladesh on the north, south and the east except for a long narrow passage in the west which connects the region with West Bengal and the rest of India. North East India occupies an area of 255,000 sq km. This largely hilly area comprises about 7 percent landmass of India with the Bramhaputra valley of Assam is the most extensive plain area in North-East India. This part of the country occupies a distinguishing place due to its geographical, historical, social, cultural and political features. The region comprises seven states- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. This is the homeland of a large number of ethnic groups who came from different directions at different historical times. These groups belong to different racial stocks, speak different languages and have varied socio-cultural traditions. This region has been occupied by different streams of the Mongoloid people who came from the north and the east at different periods. The Australoids came to this region before the coming of the Mongoloids who partially or fully absorbed the Australoid strains.


The present research will focus on two objectives – 1] to describe the distribution of major tribes of North –East India and 2] to find out the extent of linguistic parameter in framing a specific cultural landscape of this region.
The study is mainly based on secondary sources like journals, books and Census Reports of India. These sources are utilized for detailed analytical construct. Number of people in different racial groups and people speaking a particular language has been calculated in percentage to get a clear picture of proportion of people under each category.
North East India- Demographic Importance
This is the homeland of a large number of ethnic groups. There are wide diversity in racial stock, language, socio-cultural traditions. The region plays an important transition zone between India and its neighbouring countries like China, Tibet, Burma and Bangladesh. The physical features of different tribes of North-East India suggest that the Australoid elements are present in some of the tribes. It has been stated that long ago one section of the Indo-Mongoloids spread over the whole of the Bramhaputra valley, North Bengal and East Bengal (now Bangladesh) giving rise to various tribal groups inhabiting this region. The diverse Mongoloid groups in course of time settled down in different habitats and ecological settings of the north-eastern region crystallized into distinct entities which are referred to as tribes today.


In 1925, Carl Sauer introduced the term ‘cultural landscape’ in an essay on ‘The Morphology of Landscape’. He introduced the term to express the ways of life in a place. In his words, “the cultural landscape is fashioned from a natural landscape by a culture group. Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium, the cultural landscape is the result” (Sauer, 1925). In this way, he distinguished between natural and social aspects of an area or a landscape and it may be introduced that landscapes are formed or natural land area and shaped by human being with their history and culture.