Abor - Orientation

Identification. The name "Abor" is applied, in a general sense, to all of the hill tribes that live in the area surrounding the Assam Valley. In a more specific sense, it refers to those peoples inhabiting the southern reaches of the Himalayan range in A-runachal Pradesh. The Abor label refers to fifteen related groups (Padam, Minyong, Pangis, Shimong, Ashing, Pasi, Karko, Bokar, Bori, Ramo, Pailibo, Milan, Tangam, Tangin, and Gallong), of which the Padam, Minyong, and Shimong are the most numerous. Abor settlements are also found in Tibet and China. The etymology of the word has been the subject of considerable debate. Two interpretations represent the range of opinion about the origin of the word. The first holds that abor is of Assamese origin and is derived from bori, meaning "subject, dependent," and the negative particle a-. Thus, "Abor" suggests one who does not submit allegiance (i.e., one who is hostile, barbarous, or savage). The alternative view connects the word with Abo, the primordial man in Abor mythology. The final - r is taken to be similar to final -rr in tribal designations such as Aorr, Simirr, and Yimchungrr, which means "man." In the 1960s, the Abor began calling themselves Adis because of the negative connotations of their former name ( see in the Appendix).

Location. Abor communities in India are concentrated on the banks of the Siang and Yamne rivers. Their territory, totaling some 20,000 square kilometers, has the India-Tibet border as its northern boundary, Pasighat as its southern boundary, and Gallong country and the Siyom river as its western boundary. The region's geographic coordinates are 28° and 29° N, by 95° and 96° E.

Demography. According to the 1971 census there were 4,733 Abor. A United Bible Societies survey suggests a total Adi-speaking population of 84,026 in 1982.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Abor speak Adi (also called Miri, Abor, Arbor, or Mishing), a language of the Tibeto-Burman Stock belonging to the Sino-Tibetan Phylum.

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