Wednesday, 14 March 2012


The origin of Darlong Music is a mystery. It is therefore, difficult to trace the origin, and to arrange the chronological sequences of the heritage of Darlong Music. Besides, there are no documental records. However, we have seen some couplets were developed during the settlement of Thantlang in Burma estimated between 1300-1400 AD. As recorded by B.Lalthangliana, the folk songs developed during this period were Dar hla (Songs on gong); Indoi hla (War chants), Hla do (Chants of hunting); Naiin-awi hla (Cradle songs). A greater development of songs can be seen from the settlement of Lentlang in Burma, estimated between late 15th to 17th Century.
The Darlong's are fortunate enough in having traditional way of classification of their folk songs. A study of their folksongs on the basis of the indigenous system of classification shows that the Darlong's are having about one hundred different types of folksongs. But it can broadly be classified into the following categories:
1.Indoi Hla(War chants)
This is the chant or cry raised by the warriors when returning from successful raid. The warriors chant Indoi Hla to show his superiority over the enemy, and in order to let his people know that a successful raid has taken place. No other members of the warriors except the killer of the enemy can chant this.
2.Hla do( Chants of Hunting)
This is the chant or cry raised by the hunters when a successful hunting has taken place. Chanting Hlado can be done on the spot, or on the way home, or just before entering the village, or on the celebration. Any one who witnesses his success can chant Hlado at any time and place.
3.Thiam hla and Dawi hla(Invocation & Incantation)
These two verse forms are chanted by the Priests and the witch while performing ceremonies.
4.Dar Hla(Songs on Gongs)
These are named after musical instruments. These songs are not sung by human voice, it is meant for musical instruments. Dar hla means ‘song for gong’. There are several songs named after the instruments; but Dar hla is the most popular and greatest in number. So it is commonly known as Dar hla. It has three musical notes.
5.Puipun Hla
These are songs named after merry and festive occasions. These songs are the most popular among the folksongs. People sung together with dancing at the time of merry and festive occasions.
6.Lengzem Zai
These are love songs. It has no distinctive form but it was named after the theme.
Songs named after individuals
A great number of Darlong folksongs are named after individual. Most of them are named after the original composer of the music as well as the verse tunes. But some of the songs are named after a beautiful women or the hero of the tribe.
Musical Instruments:-
From time immemorial, the Darlong’s have been using different musical instruments. Even though we cannot date the origin, the “Darlong’s of Kabaw Valley during late 10th to 13th century had developed their music as nearly as they have done today”. The traditional Darlong musical instruments are very simple and crude in comparison to other Indian musical instruments and very out-dated to Modern Musical instruments. They can broadly be divided into three categories: Beating or Striking instruments; Wind instruments and String instruments.
1.Striking Instruments
Most of the Darlong musical instruments used at the time of festivals and dances are striking instruments such as different types of Khuang and Dar, Bengbung, Seki,
Talhkhuang etc.
i)Khuang (Drum)
It is Darlong indigenous instrument which occupies a very significant place in Darlong social and religious life. ‘Khuang’ is a must on all occasions. It is made of hollow tree, wrapped on both sides with animal skin. The Darlong gives different names according to its size and length. The big sized one is call Khuangpui (Big drum), the middle one is called Khuanglaglaw; and the small sized, Khuangte (little drum). If it is longish, they called it Kawlkhuang. As far as the history of Darlong is concerned it is commonly concluded that the Darlong ancestors started using drum as far back as when they sung and composed song.Mr. Lianhmingthanga believes that it has been received drum from Chinese civilization through cultural diffusion. The process of that cultural diffusion might have passed through the Burmese with whom the Darlong, Hmar and Mizos had a close cultural contact which took place from the middle of the 9th century until the end of Pagan period at the close of 13th century. Khuang is the only Darlong traditional musical instrument that is popularly used in the 20th and 21st century. In the olden days, Khuang has no role in the religious functions; but today the use of drum is a must in every church service.
2.Dar (Gong)
Another popular musical instruments are various sizes of brass-gongs viz-Darkhuang, Darbu and Darmang.
Darkhuang is the biggest type. Darkhuang is very costly and is one of their most valuable possessions. In the olden times, it was sometimes used as a means of exchange; and sometimes the parent of a bride demanded Darkhuang for the price of their daughter. In one of the oldest folksongs we have the following lines: “Chawngvungi her price so high I gave necklace hut they refused, I gave a gong and they refused. They demanded our Darkhuang, Chawngvungi, her price unsurpassed”.
But this song (dor hla) is played with Darbu. Darkhuang is played on all occasions.
Darbu is a set of three different sizes of brass-gongs, producing three musical notes. Darbu is usually played by three experts. Some experts played individually by tying the two gongs, one on each sides of his body with rope and hung one gong by his left hand, produce three distinct, rhythmic notes by simultaneous beating. Darbu is meaningfully used on certain occasions like Khuallam and other traditional group dances.
Darmang is the smallest type of gong. It has no effect without other gongs or instruments, but it is used in the traditional dances to keep timing. All these gongs appear to be Burmese in origin, and therefore, it is tempting to conclude that Darlong’s got them from the Burmese while they were living in the Kabaw Valley during 9th to 13th century.
Benghung is another Darlong indigenous instrument which has some similarity with Xylophone. It is a musical instrument consisting of a series of flat wooden bars, producing three musical notes. Bengbung is usually played by girls it their leisure.
The process of making Talhkhuang is almost the same with that of Bengbung but Talhkhuang is much bigger than that of Bengbung. It is made of three wooden pieces which are curved out, the depth of the curves being made vary so that the sound produced when beaten are different in notes. It is played with a wooden hammer. The Darlong’s would never take Talhkhuang to their houses or anywhere else except to ‘Lungdawh’, The great platform at the entrance of the village. It is played when a chief or the village erected memorial stones.
Seki is the domesticated Mithun’s horn. The two hollow horns are beaten to lead or to keep timing for the other musical band like Darbu, etc. It was commonly used at the time of group dances.
7.Wind Instruments
The Darlongs have six varieties of Wind-instruments such as Rawchhem, Tumphit, Mautawtawrawl, Phenglawng, Buhchangkuang, Hnahtum.
It is a kind of Scottish “Bagpiper” or Chinese “Snag”. Nine small Bamboo pipes or hollow reeds, Having different sizes and lengths are inserted to the dried gourd. One of the pipes serves as a mouth piece. Small portions of the pipes are struck out so that it can produce sound when the instrument is blown. The Musician blows in to the mouth piece, and by controlling the holes with his fingers, he can produced various musical notes.
ii) Tumphit
‘Tumphit’ is made of three small Bamboos having different sizes and length. The types are tied and plated in a row with strings. The upper ends are cut open at different length so that each tube has different notes. The Players put the open tube against his lower lip and then blows down. This musical instrument was used during ritual ceremonies. Mizos use this instrument particularly on the occasion of a ceremony called Rallulam and chawng festival.
This is a Bamboo trumpet. Different sizes of bamboo tubes are cut off. The smaller tube is inserted to the bigger tube and so on. Many bamboo tubes are joined one after another till the last tube happens to be the size of a forefinger from where the trumpet is to be blown. A dry empty gourd, the bottom part is cut off and joined with bigger end of the bamboo tubes. The whole length can be more than five feet.
It is the Darlong flute made of bamboo. Originally, Phenglawng had only three holes producing three different sounds. Flute is popular among the other Indians.
This is another flute made of reed or a paddy stalk. This simple instrument was usually played by girls.
The Darlong boys can skillfully turn leaves of many trees into simple but indigenous musical instruments. They can produce interesting sound by blowing deftly folded leaves. This is called ’Hnahtum’.
Stringed Instruments:-
The Darlongs have only three kinds of stringed-Instruments such as Tingtang; Lemlawi and Tuiumdar:
i) Tingtang
This is Darlong guitar. Darlong tingtang is a kind of fiddle or violin having only one string. A piece of bamboo shaft is fixed in the gourd to carry the string made of Thangtung, the fibre of the Malay Sago palm. The hollow gourd is cut open and covered with a dry bladder of animal.
Lemlawi is the family of jaw harp but the shape and size are different. It is made of small pieces of bamboo. From the piece of bamboo, the craftsman took out a small portion with knife for its string. The sound it produces is controlled by the mouth.
iii)Tuium dar
This simple musical instrument is also made of bamboo having three strings producing three different notes. From the outer covering of the bamboo, three pieces of cane like strings are curved out. The strings are then raised up by inserting two pieces of bamboo. It is played like a guitar.
Popular Darlong Artiste include Zarmawi, Zaithanga, Hmingliana, Jarson and Hebron and many others. Lalhmudika Darlong is the first Darlong professional musician.

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