Women of the Apatani Tribe, in India’s Apatani plateau, are famous for the bizarre nose plugs they’ve been wearing since times long passed.
The Apatani, or Tani, are a tribal group of about 60,000 members, often praised for their extremely efficient agriculture, performed without animals or machinery. They have no written record of their history, and traditions are passed down orally, from generation to generation.
One tradition that is quickly fading into the mist of time is the traditional Apatani nose plugs, worn by most of the elder women in the tribe. There was once a time when every woman had to wear these bizarre accessories, but since the middle of the 20th century, the custom began to die. According to the Apatani, the nose plug was born as a way of protecting the women of the tribe. Apparently, Apatani women have always been considered the most beautiful among the Arunachal tribes, their villages were constantly raided by neighboring tribes, and the women kidnapped.
To make themselves unattractive to the other tribes, Apatani women began wearing these hideous nose plugs and tattooing their faces with a horizontal line from the forehead to the tip of the nose, and five lines on their chins. Let’s face it, that turns off any raider in search of beautiful women to have his way with.
But the tradition of the Apatani nose plug hasn’t been practiced by any woman born after 1970, and as time passes, this custom will probably soon be forgotten.
I used pencil to sketch and render this sketch.