THE ARCHITECTURE OF MONPA AND SHERDUKPEN| THE TRIBES OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH

statue-tawang

The Monpa and Sherdukpen tribes are one of the major tribes of the Arunachal Pradesh.

Inhabitant of the high altitude in the mountain passing of Tawang and Bomdila in West Kameng district. The word Monpa derives from the Tibetan Language, and considered to all the tribes of Southern Tibet and Bhutan. Tawang came under the religious and cultural influence of Tibet and Tawang was administered by the Dalai Lama from Lhasa.

Though called to mind, my lama’s face

does not rise in my thoughts.

Not called to mind, my loved one’s face

gently pervades my thoughts.

These verses can easily stand comparison with any love of Byron or Shelley.

With the Monpas language seems to stand on the way of creative writing. The introduction of  Tibetan language Bothi in the schools of Monpa, opens a bright future of literary in the community.

THE ARCHITECTURE

The Architecture of Monpa and Sherdukpen are said to be one of the best in the Arunachal Pradesh. They have a gothic design for solid structure. The economic Monpas have solid foundation with stone slabs. The thickness of the underground base walls is about three feet and about five feet in depth. The size of the under-ground base is sufficient to stand itself without any plaster. The Monpas didn’t use adhesive plasters like cement and mortar for a very recent times. they use yellowish-grey soil for a thin plaster more for checking wind flow than as adhesive agent. The surface walls are erected on that solid base with stone slabs. The thickness of the wall from the plinth upward is about two and a half feet. This thick wall, above the ground, is gradually erected keeping provision for windows and doors. Since the stone slabs are naturally formed out of the sedimentary rocks in earth quake or rockslides they are not very even and of equal size. Naturally, in fixing the slabs, as the mason fixes the bricks, there remain some gaps between the slabs. These gaps are first plugged with small pieces of rock and then plusteres with that soil.

On the top of the walls beams, parlings and cross beams are fitted if in case the roof is plank-sheets and only cross-beams in case the roof is of stone slabs called yempa in local dialect. In the yempa roof two layers of slabs are laid in such manner that water does not leak through the roof which is as flat as an R.C.C. Roof with slight slant on one side. The meager quantity of water that may pass through the joints of the slabs of the top layer falls on the second layer and flows down the slant to the eaves. The plank sheet roofs beams and other arrangements are like that of C.G.I. sheet roof. The sheets are of 6’x6″x1/2″. The sheets are fitted on the wooden frame in two layers as in case of stone-slabs. Due to slope in a plank-sheet roof, chances of water leakeage is much less.

The windows of the Monpa houses are very small. When the flapped window is opened the flaps remain within the massive walls.

In absence of any adhesive plaster in the stone-slab walls of a house it may appear that the walls will fall down in the slightest jerk of an earthquake. But the walls are so skillfully structured and their breadth is so thick that they are almost quake proof.

Architectural skill in construction of a Monpa houses can also be seen in positioning of the house to avoid strong wind direction.

From the existence of bamboosheet wall and bamboosheet roof houses till now among the poor section of the Monpas it may be presumed that it was the original structure of Monpa house. In bamboo-sheet house the frame is very simple made of unpolished log or bamboo. That frosame is covered by bamboo-sheet walls on the sides keeping provision for entrance and roof above. The principles of two layers in the roof is same as with yempa or plank-sheet roof. In all probability they got the architectural knowledge from the Tibetans when there began social intercourse after the Monpas embraced Buddhism. In the forties of the seventeenth century there was a yempa roof in one house of the Tawang Monastery. In Urgyeling and Tsorgyeling Gonpas which were supposed to have been constructed in the twelfth century, stone slabs were used in walls. Whether the roofs were of stone slabs cannot be confirmed. But then, these two Gonpas were constructed under the influence of the Tibetan Lamas.

 

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