1st Edition

The Apatani Way of Life Shaping a Culture Through Bamboo, Cane and Land Use

By Ritu Varuni Copyright 2023
    100 Pages 72 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    100 Pages 72 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book celebrates the heritage of the distinctive Apatani community of the north-eastern Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh in India. It explores the fascinating indigenous knowledge of field and forest and a uniquely sustainable and enduring way of life that continues to evolve in the modern context. The book tells the story of how a material culture was shaped around bamboo and cane resources and nurtured by a strong community spirit and spirituality that transcended the human world and maintained an unbroken ethos of conservation through time. It highlights the eco-sensitive lifestyle of this unique community and presents an in-depth analysis of the Apatani tradition of the exemplary use of natural resources.

    Through this engrossing detailed study, the author observes how bamboo houses are built in three days, fish cultivated in a rice field and a single river used for millennia to feed an entire community. She highlights the triumph of the human spirit in engineering a cultural landscape out of a swamp, and how peaceful co-existence with nature can withstand the trials of time.

    Part autobiographical and powerfully personal, this book is a primer on sustainable living as practice. It will be of interest to researchers and students of tribal and Himalayan vernacular architecture, traditional bamboo-cane craft, urban ecology and geography, cultural studies, and sustainability. It will also attract general readership while being academically useful for anthropologists, sociologists, botanists, ecologists and environmentalists.

    1. The Cultural Landscape 2. Of Field and Forest 3. Of Bamboo and Cane 4. Crafting Bamboo and Cane 5. Vulnerability and Hope


    Ritu-Ngapnon Varuni better known as Ritu Varuni is a trained architect and designer, who wears many hats that include natural architecture, craft and furniture design, writing and poetry to creative thinking and ethical learning, and natural Himalayan farming. After completing her research thesis in Nagaland in the nineties, she was based in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam for six years, working on researching and developing the use of bamboo in housing and craft along with other grassroots work. Her design work under her studio name of ‘E’thaan’, has centred around traditional Indian craft design and skill development for most of her working life and has been exhibited in India and internationally. She has written many articles for books and journals. Currently based in Himachal Pradesh, Varuni is the founder-director of the Himalayan Rilung Foundation, which is focused on developing a hands-on, skillbased experential learning programme centred around the Himalayan environment called ‘Mountainwind’.

    "Ritu's book on the Apatani way of life gives a significant glimpse of attunement with nature. Bamboo and cane are more than physical natural materials here. These have a texture and feeling that kindles the human spirit and brings people together in inclusive and wholesome ways. From here and other similar places will come the topsoil for rejuvenating modern social life." 

    Professor Mr Savyasaachi (retd), Head, Dept of Anthropology, Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi, India.


    "A perceptive account of the bio-cultural landscape of the Apatanis and their indigenous knowledge systems developed over time. Relevant and insightful; the book  also reflects upon the challenges faced in preserving the traditional ethos with the changing social, economic and belief systems. The author’s quest for remedy and hope is unequivocal."

    Ms Koj Rinya, IFS ,Currently the Secretary(Horticulture), Govt, of Arunachal Pradesh, India.