Monuments of the Hynniewtrep People of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, Northeast India


           
 File:India Meghalaya locator map.svg 





               
     
      Meghalaya is bounded to the north and west by the Brahmaputra River, to the east by
      the Cachar Hills of Assam, and to the south by the plains of Bangladesh.       
  

The Hynniewtrep people of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya have traditionally erected  stone monuments. These people, speakers of related Austro-Asiatic languages include the Khasi, Bhoi, Pnar and War groups, and they live in the central and eastern parts of Meghalaya: the East and West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi District, and the Jaintia Hills.
These administrative districts were created when the area was under British colonial administration, while the state of Meghalaya itself was only created in 1972.
Prior to colonial times the territory of the Hynniewtrep people in the Khasi Hills was divided into many kingdoms called hima, each headed by a syiem; 
One such hima is Hima Mylliem, whose main administrative centre is at the state capital, Shillong, but formerly its power-centre was at the village of the same name, Mylliem village, some 15 km south of Shillong.
The territory in the Jaintia Hills formed a single kingdom, the Kingdom of Jaintia, and it  was divided into smaller polities called elaka under the authority of a Doloi.
Hima and elaka, along with syiems and doloi , continue to exist, and are legally recognised by the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution as customary polities and rulers which exist and function under Hynniewtrep customary law, alongside the structure of the modern Indian state.

 The former power-centre of Mylliem is marked by a significant assemblage of megalithic monuments. These monuments consist of both upright standing stones (which are generally called mawbynna) and associated recumbent horizontal stones (mawkynthei); the monuments are associated with the significant clans of the hima.





Mawbynna at Iew Rim, the old market-place, at Mylliem village, the former seat of power of Hima Mylliem.


Similar assemblages of monuments are associated with the power-centres of other hima in the Khasi Hills, such as Sohra (or Cherrapunji), Shyllong, and Mawphlang, and with power-centres of  elaka in the Jaintia Hills such as Nongbah, Nongtalong and, the best known megalithic site in the state, Nartiang.



mawkynthei in the forground with some mawbynna  behind them. Nartiang, Jaintia Hills, Meghlaya

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