Falkawn is a small village situated 18 km. south of the main city of Aizawl. Depicting the lifestyle and culture of a typical Mizo village, this site is frequently visited by tourists. Art &Cultutre Department, Government of Mizoram Department has set up a Cultural Centre (Zokhua) at Falkawn in 1992. The centre is a mini live-museum where Zawlbuk (Dormitory), Lal In (Chief’s House), Pum (Blacksmiths) and other Mizo typical houses are erected. There are freedom fighter memorial stones and Taitesena commemoration stone.
A part-time chowkidar is engaged and the centre is frequently receiving public visitors.Entry fees @ Rs. 20.00 and Rs.10.00 for adult and children are respectively.
Contact No. Chowkidar : 8258808477
Traditional Mizo Village
Generally he Mizos moved from one place to another frequently in search of better jhum land as jhuming required shifting of cultivation site. A typical Mizo village was a humming nest of activities. A cluster of bamboo hut on stilts, the village was usually set on the crest of a hill. It was made up of about three to five hundred houses in general, with the chief’s elongated hut at the centre, flanked by the village elders’ houses. And within calling distance stood the large, hump-roofed Zawlbuk or bachelors’ dormitory where all the young men gathered at dusk and slept at night. This was the focal place from which one could gather news or muster help in case of emergency. It was also a training ground where Mizo boys were drilled and groomed to be responsible members of the society. Apart from the important personalities were Puithiam or priest, Thirdeng or blacksmith and Tlangau or crier. Though rich men and brave warriors and hunter enjoyed great prestige, there was practically no social discrimination. A gregarious and close knit society, they evolved some principles of self-help and co-operation to meet social obligations and responsibilities. The Mizos established a unique code of ethics called Tlawmngaihna which stands basically for selfless service for others. It is a compelling moral force that requires a man to be hospitable, kind, unselfish, courageous and helpful to others.
Social hierarchy & institution
Although social hierarchy did exist in early Mizo society, stratification was not at all rigid. As to the hierarchical order, there was a slight variation in the different areas, the orders were -
1.Lal (Chief) or royal family
2.Upa (elders’ or minister to the chief)
3.Ramhuals (expert jhum cultivators)
4.Zalens (men of possession exempted from paying fathang or paddy tax to the chief
5.Puithiam (priest) &thirdeng (blacksmith)
6.Bawis (who were driven to take refuge in the chief’s house etc.)
Among the Mizos, the father was the head of the family. He had authority over property for decent was patrilineal. The children would adopt the name of the father’s clan and all property belonged to male and they alone could inherit by dividing by the youngest son.
A big house called Zawlbuk or bachelors’ dormitory was built almost in every village. All unmarried and newly married young men generally above fifteen years of age were required to sleep there. Upon the Village and tribal life Zawlbuk exerted a very effective influence. The youths were ever ready for any emergency such as fire, tribal war etc. Training on the art of tribal warfare, wrestling, hunting and village governance were imparted to the youths. A dormitory was located in the open space on the highest pint of village opposite the house of the chief. The village elders, called Upa, had their house clustered nearby. Made of timber and bamboo, the zawlbuk had a thatched roof and its entrance was approached by a platform of rough logs at the uphill end. A hearth occupied the centre of the dormitory hall, while there was a raised bunk to sleep on spreading from the far end through the whole breadth of the room. The open space by the hearth served sometimes as a wrestling arena and sometimes as a dance floor. The zawlbuk was not only used as a place for sleeping by unmarried youths but also as a rest house by visitors to the village.
The house of commoner consisted of three parts: the front verandah, approached by a rough platform of logs, the main room, and a small closet partitioned off the far end, beyond which there will sometimes be a small bamboo platform. The verandah was termed ‘sumhmun’ from the ‘sum’ or mortar in which paddy was pounded, which had its place there. On one side, the careful housewife stacked her firewood, and the front wall of the house was the place on which the householder, if he was a skilful hunter, display the skull of the animals and birds he had shot; among them hang basket in which the fowls laid and even sit on their eggs, hatching out as numerous and as healthy broods as did the most pampered inhabitants of model poultry farms. The fowls spend the night in long tabular bamboo baskets, hung under the eaves, access to which was gained by climbing up an inclined stick from the front verandah. Hens with broods were shut up each night in special baskets with sliding doors.
From the verandah a small door, about two and half feet by 4, with a very high sill opened into the house, the door was placed at the side furthest from the hill and consist of a panel of split bamboo work attached to a long bamboo which slides to and fro, resting in the groove between two other bamboos lashed on the top of the sill, in which there was generally a small opening, with a swinging door, for use of the dogs and fowls when the big door was closed. Immediately inside the door, in one corner, were collected the hollow bamboo tubes which took the place of water pots; the opposite will often be a large circular bamboo bin containing the household’s supply of paddy.
Next was a sleeping platform, known as Khum-ai. Beyond which was a mud hearth in the centre wherein three stones or pieces of iron were fixed, on which the cooking post rested. The earth was kept in its place by three pieces of wood, that in front being a wide plank with the top carefully smoothed, which form a comfortable seat during cold weather. The earth was put in wet and well kneaded, and eventually become as hard as brick. Along the wall an earthen shelf serves the double purpose of keeping the fire from the wall affording a resting place for the pots. Over the hearth were hung two bamboo shelves, one above the other, on which future supply of paddy was dried, and various odds and ends were stored.
These shelves also served to keep the sparks from reaching the roof. Beyond, the fireplace was another sleeping place, called the Khum-puii.e the big bed - which was reserved for the parents, while the young children and unmarried girls used the Khum-ai; the bigger boys and young men, as stated, slept in the zawlbuk.Beyond the Khumpui was the partition dividing off the small recess used as a lumber room, and often as a closet. The beds and hearth were always on the side of the house nearest to the hillside, and did not usually extend quite to the centre, the rest of the floor being vacant, and, in order to avoid obstructing this, the posts which support the ridge were placed slanting, passing through the floor in line with the edge of hearth. Along the wall opposite to the hearth were lashed two or more bamboos forming convenient shelves, while a platform of the same useful plant was constructed from one across beam to other. Forked sticks tied to the wall or to the uprights from hooks, and the large bamboo, wherever used, had opening cut in them which converted each joint into a tiny cupboard. At the far end of the house, opposite the front door, was a similar door opening on to a small platform, whence a notched log served as a means of descending to the garden of the street. Many house have bamboo platform adjoining the front verandah on which the women folk sit and do their weaving, while the young men lied at their ease and flirt with any charming girls .
The houses of the chiefs (name LAL) were very similar to commoners’ house. Entering from the front verandah, the visitor found himself in a passage running along one side of the house, off which opened several small rooms inhabited by the married retainers, the other end of the passage opened into a large room with several sleeping platforms and sometimes two or more hearths, but otherwise similar to that above described. Beyond that was the usual closet, and a wide verandah partially closed in, which was especially reserved for the chief’s family. The verandah called ‘Bahzar” were forbidden to all except the chief or wealthy persons who had given certain feasts. A similar prohibition existed regarding windows, which were one of the prerogatives of the Thangchhuah. Openings in the side of the house were viewed with suspicion, as likely to bring misfortune, and a most progressive ones, indifference to the strong public feeling that the whole village would suffer for such an innovation.