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The Nyibu Performer

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Chapter Summary

At the Murung festival, the principal purpose for Apatanis is to make contact with the spirits. Everything depends on clear communication with them, and that requires the niyubu because only he can speak to the spirits in their language. an Apatani niyubu does not retrieve fugitive souls and spirit possession does occur but not to a nyibu. Although the niyubu chant contains a great deal of information (about spirits, ancestors, cosmology), the performance does not convey content. Instead, it communicates a sense of coherence. Standing on the lapang, unmistakable in his costume and speaking like no one else, the niyubu is a singular representation of tradition. A niyubus performance is overheard rather than heard. A discursive universe, hovering somewhere between imagination and experience, would describe the niyubu and his ritual speech, as well.

Keywords: Apatanis; communication withspirits; Murung festival; niyubu performer



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