Tai Khampti. Traditional Bulding, Handicraft's and Costume. By:- Chou Khouk Manpoong


     The traditional pattern of Tai-Khampti house is orientally positioned facing south -north direction (nahong-paichan). It is made of strong timber structures on raised floor with thatched roof and entered by two ladders one from west-side and the other from south-side. The floor where west-side ladder is put is slightly lower called Khoung ma, used for dogs and keeping shoes. House walls are made of bamboo, floor is either bamboo or wooden planks. Every house has a boundary with bamboo fencing and a gate (Kang). The land surrounding the house within the boundary is used for growing vegetables, flower plants, fruit trees, bamboo groves, medicinal plants. The house is divided into five parts, namely Chan, Tup-chan, Kang-hong, Ti-non, Knok-tang. The Chan is a little lower unroofed open floor facing south used as sitting place, drying paddy, clothing. Tup-chan is the living room with 3 side walls, one side facing Chan is open with low roof and a fireplace in the center. This is used for sitting, sometimes for guests, village youngsters to sleep. Ti-noon and Khok-tang. Holes, of the size 2x3 feet, are cut on the walls which serve as window. The space below the raised floor call Tau-thun is used for domestic animals, like buffalo, cow, pig, keeping firewood, farming implements, looms (Ki-huk) etc. The roofs are so low that it becomes difficult to see the walls from outside. Three decorative tapers height about 3 feet, made of thatch or leafy stuff, are attached upright on both end of the roof with one in the middle a little taller, which is believed as resting place of the invisible guardian of the house (Fi-houn). The Tai-Khamptis are expert in making varieties of handicrafts, like carving in wood, bone, ivory, bamboo, cane, silver, gold, iron works as household articles, farm tools, weapons, jewels. They make embossed shields of buffalo hide, coating them with skill and taste. In making ivory handles, they evince great skill, taste and invention, carving high relief twisted snakes, dragons, monsters with gracefulness of design. They are fond of making masks mainly of horror type for use in dances. They can finely carve images of Buddha and other animals. The women are very expert in weaving and embroidery. they make blaborately designed shoulder-bags, hair bands, finely woven waist-belts, chequered cloth, prayer flags with beautifully embroidered design. 

     The Tai-Khampti people traditionally wear simple and elegant dresses. The men wear neatly fitting heap - length jacket normally of blue cotton with white turband and round the waist calf - length chequered cotton cloth. The long hair is drawn up into knot somewhat above the forehead. The women's wears are also impressive, the hair is drawn up in massive knot some 5 inches above the head and encircled by a crescent shape embroidered head band the tasseled ends of which hang down. The embroidered hand band seems most ancient formal dress. Later times white muslin cloth is also used in warping the head round keeping head to open. The lower garment of dark coloured cotton cloth is folded over the breasts under the arms reaching below the calf with a finely woven long waist pelt and a long sleeved jacket fastened in front with silver buttons running neck to belly. As ornaments, a pair of cylindically shaped pieces of bright amber is inserted in the lobes of the ears. Rounded thin gold or silver plates are also used as ear ornaments. Coral, silver chain are used as necklaces. Rounded crescent shaped solid silver work and broad rounded thin metal works coated with gold are used as bracelet.