The Idu-Mishmis

The Idu-Mishmis are one of the major tribes inhabiting the north-eastern side of central Arunachal Pradesh. They live mainly in the Lower Dibang Valley and are believed to be the first to migrate into the Northeast from Burma. They are known for their sober nature, and for taking distinctive pride and honour in their deep-rooted values. Idu-Mishmis stand out due to their typical hairstyles and artistic patterns on their clothes. Linguistically, they fall under the Tibeto-Burman group.

Idu Traditions

A typical Idu house is rectangular in size and is made of bamboo, timber and thatch. Animists by belief, Idus stress in the existence of a high god and a host of spirits, both benevolent and malevolent. They also believe pregnancy is blessing of the divine mother and have birth ceremonies.

During the major festivals of the Idus namely, ‘Reh’ and ‘Ke-meh-ha’, the colourful traditional handloom dresses are proudly worn by both males and females. The Idu Mishmis have two famous dances. The ritual dance is led by their priest or priestess and this is performed at the junction of Ai-ah, Ai-him, Mesalah or Rren. The fertility dance is celebrated on the final day of the Rren ceremony.

Idu Artisan Crafts

Idus are experts in handicraft and weaving. Women in particular are very good weavers and have retained this artistic heritage since ancient times. Their women weave excellent coats and blouses with different exquisite designs. Their massive decorative sense is well reflected in the intricate designs. The Idu Mishmis have diamond designs and are woven on shawls, skirts, coats and bags. To add to it, their war coat is woven with nettle fibres, cotton and human hair.

Besides weaving, the Idu men are also excellent in making beautiful basketry items of bamboo and cane.