I have never seen this man. But I think he is the person I heard in my childhood. Those days my dad was telling us “There is a person who would give chocolates for showing and rolling your tongue”. I realized his anthropological research involved studying a lot of physical features.
Asim worked with the Anthropological Survey of India. At the time of this research, he was Assistant Anthropologist, based in Shillong. Perhaps, he was the first researcher who ever stayed in our village, Shidi, for nine months – three months each in 1981, 1982 and 1986.
His Publications on Lisu
Maitra, Asim. 1993. Profile of a Little-Known Tribe (An Ethnographic Study of Lisus of Arunachal Pradesh). New Delhi: Mittal Publications.
Maitra, Asim. 1988. A Guide Book to Lisu Language. New Delhi: Mittal Publications.
Singh, K.S. 1994. The Scheduled Tribes (People of India, National Series, Vol. 3). Delhi: Anthropological Survey of India and Oxford University Press. Page 693-4.
Significance of His Work
The finding he has documented is immense. It covered about our language, folk stories, livelihood, life cycle rites and many more.
His writings brought several historical perspectives.
- Our population was just 1016 (he counted each person) at that time. (Maitra 1993:11).
- Four families lived at Badadi (Pritnagar) in 1981 but no more lived in 1982.
- At Shidi, there was School, CPWD, APP, Assam Rifles. And two Marwaris engaged in agar business. (Maitra 1993:11).
- Administration view on us “The Lisus are ferocious people, no one can dare to move in the Lisu village in the evening. It is advisable not to go and stay there. ‘My stay in the Lisu village proved that statement wrong. The Lisu have a poisonous arrow, they use it for killing wild animals and not for killing human beings’.” (Maitra 1993:4).
As it is with some people today, the Arunachal Government was not clear whether Yobin and Lisu were separate tribes. This research clarified that doubt forever. (Maitra 1993:275).
Very few of our people have seen or own a copy of these books (A friend presented me a copy of Profile of a Little Known Tribe by a friend). And I wonder how many of our people who helped Asim during his field research understood what great work they were doing.
Asim left for us a legacy which will last. He still speaks our stories today and will continue.