Indigenous Folklore

Adi women’s traditional ornament Benyop

Adi-Galo tribal lady in Ligu village, Arunachal Pradesh

The Adi (Bokar, Bori, Minyong,Padam, Pasi) tribal women of Arunachal Pradesh wear a distinctive locally made ornament benyop – the belt on which series of three, five, seven or nine brass discs are strung on a cane, screwpine fiber or leather cord.

The largest disc, its spiral motif represents the wheel of life, is placed at the centre, the others arranged in graduated sizes. This ornament is worn by girls and women until the birth of their first child.

The origin of the benyop is explained in a local myth. A male deity fell in love with a mortal woman. Whenever they made love he gave her a benyop disc. When a child was born she removed the disc girdle.

Belts decorated with natural stones or with cowries can be also found in some tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

Adi Galo woman wearing headband and trumpet-like earrings. Photo by Olga Rani

Adi Galo woman wearing headband and trumpet-like earrings. Photo by Olga Rani

Brass bangles are common and three to eight of them with increasing size from wrist to elbow are worn. On their feet women generally wear cane anklets. Necklaces made of coins are also much favored by the Adi women.

Adi shell necklaces – Aisheri are regarded sacred and more valuable than other ornaments because they are handed down from mother to daughter through many generations.

This article is written by: Olga Rani

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