The Stories of Our Ancestors Blog

The project is to record, document, translate and study the folklore of selected tribal communities in India. These stories are the indigenous myths and remembered histories: the tales of origination, migration, territorial conflict and community belonging. It is vital to record and preserve the stories that are at the root of community identities, and to make the material accessible to readers in English.

Phawang Wangham from Kamhua Noknu
Wancho Storyteller Ngamchai Wangsa
Wancho Storyteller Tangkaam Pheam

The Two Suitors

A moral story of a choice between two suitors, one handsome and the other plain

Phawang Wangham

crocodile 1

The Story of the Crocodile

Wangchan Losu

The story draws on mythology and history in the tale of a girl who marries a crocodile. Her parents consume her child who is mistaken as a fish, but the girl brings it back to life. Her parents are curious to know the details of her marriage, and on discovering the crocodile husband, they plan to kill it. The crocodile’s meat is distributed to the households in the village; and the entire village is destroyed by landslide and flood in revenge by the crocodile’s father. A single widowed lady and her two children are the only survivors.


The Story of the Two Gourds

Ngamchai Wangsa

The story is a poetic tale about the creation of the first Chief of the Wancho. Topa is given a special arum leaf that has been infused by people who are divine beings. He plants the leaf in front of his field hut and a magical gourd plant springs up. When he cuts the two gourds on the plant, he releases the first Chief of the community.


The Story of Flying Fox (Loakla)

Wangchan Losu

A local variation of a folktale that is also recounted by other tribal communities in North East India, the story is an interpretation for why the flying fox is shy and secretive.

Man and all the Animals

The Story of all the Animals

Ganchai Wangsa

Man is assigned by the animals to protect them. He betrays their trust when he starts killing them for food; the folktale is an imaginative explanation for how humans became separated from wildlife.


The Tragic Love Story of Wakka Village

Wangjay Losu

The tragic story recounts the power held by the Chief in the village, in this case over the life of a girl in the village, and the consequences of opposing him.


The true story of how Lonu (Ogamaan) jing was given to K/Noknu by Mintong village

Tangkaam Phe-am

The narration is an account of how the ownership a of particular forested portion of land was transferred from Mintong village to the people of Kamhua Noknu. In the deal, the people of Kamhua were called to help dispose of the two corrupt Chiefs of Mintong village.

tragic love story

The Love Story from Kamoi and Moctua Villages

Ganpang Pansa

The story recollects how the friendship between Kaimoi and Moctua villages deteriorated to become fully fledged war. In the tragic story, a boy from Kaimoi attempts to save his sweetheart from Moctua, and ends up beheading her to save her honour.


A Story of Tiger and Mankind

Wangchan Losu

The story imagines the kinship relationship between a family and a tiger, and it outlines traditional hunting techniques and the rituals for killing a tiger.


The Story of the Python and the Cobra

Wangchan Losu

A folktale about a competition for power between two snakes, the python and the cobra, it offers an imaginative idea for why the former is not poisonous and the latter is deadly.


Capital Punishment

Jatwang Wangsa

A brief account of the crimes that merited capital punishment in the past, and how the punishment would be decided and executed.


The Story of our Village and the Village in Myanmar

Wangchan Losu

The links between Kamhua Noknu and a village called Kahdan in Myanmar is an unusual story of kinship relationships


The Migration Story of Lower Kamhua

Wangchan Losu

A brief account of the links between Kamhua Noknu and the Nocte village that is now called Bordoria, in Tirap District.


The Story of Tiger, Man and Cicada

Wangchan Losu

The folktale about Tiger, Man and Cicada shows the integrated relationship between humankind and the natural world and it gives entertaining ideas about the discovery of fire, and the nature and habits of man and tiger. As a story of the trickster genre, each creature tries to outwit the other.

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The Stories of Our Ancestors project is comprised of two chapters. The field research for the Wancho study was successfully carried out in 2019 and 2020, producing recordings and translations of 32 narratives.

A summary of the stories that were collected.

The Stories of Our Ancestors (Wancho)Download

The audio-visual format is attractive and accessible to local communities and to younger viewers, whereas English text may not be available and accessible to them. The retellings recorded from the elders, who are the custodians of the traditional knowledge of the community, is the resource material for the next phase that uses the audio-visual medium of film and animation for collaborative research to study, interpret and represent the knowledge, culture and aesthetics of the community. One folk narrative from each cultural group will be adapted for a short film, to be produced in collaborations with students, media professionals and local artists.  In the context of this research, the participatory media practice initiated in workshops diverges from the commercial presentation and dominant processes of the entertainment industry.

For The Stories of Our Ancestors, the animated artefacts that are outcomes of the research are not merely juvenile entertainment:  the media practice is a tool to sustain local narratives, re-engage interest in traditional storytelling, encourage self-representation and the articulation of marginalized voices and to raise awareness about the value of indigenous knowledge.