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India - Arunachal Pradesh - Apatani woman

The dress of the Apatanis is elaborate and colorful, yet simple in style. Tattooing and the stuffing of large nose plugs (yaping hullo) were once popular among the women, although this practice has gradually fallen into decline in recent years. This practice is believed to have started because the women wanted to look unattractive to males from neighboring tribes. Apatani women were considered to be the most beautiful ones among all the Arunachal tribes. Younger members of this community have stopped this traditional practice.


Traditionally, the men tie their hair in a knot just above the forehead (locally called piiding) using a brass rod (piiding khotu) measuring 12 inches, placed horizontally. Strips of fine cane belt painted in red (yari) and bent into the shape of a horse-collar with an elongated end were also worn. These strips of cane are loosely fastened together, with the loop of the horse-collar being tied round the waist. The men also tattoo (tiippe) their chin in the shape of a 'T' under the lower lip. The women tattoo themselves with broad blue lines from the forehead to the tip of the nose and five vertical stripes under the lower lip in the chin. The women bundle up their tresses, which are rolled into a ball (dilling) on the top of the head. A brass skewer (ading akh) may then be inserted horizontally.

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Taken on August 27, 2008