Khasi - Orientation



Identification and Location. The Khasi (who call themselves Ki Khási) live in two districts of Meghalaya State, India (21°10′ to 26°05′ N, 90°47′ to 92°52′ E), an area of some 16,000 square kilometers. This region is home to Several Mon-Khmer-speaking groups. The Khasi themselves live in the upland center of this large area. The Khasi designation for the Khasi Hills section is Ka Ri Khásí and that of the Jaintia Hills section is Ka Ri Synten. Other matrilineal and Mon-Khmer-speaking groups found in this region include the Lyngngams (Lynngam) who occupy the western part of the area, the Bhois who inhabit the north-central Region, the Wars who occupy the district's southern expanse, and the Jaintia (also called Pnar or Synteng) in the Southeast of the region.

Demography. According to P. R. T. Gurdon, who first studied the Khasi in 1901, the total population then numbered 176,614. Their number had risen to 463,869 by 1971.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Khasi speak a Mon-Khmer Language (belonging to the Austroasiatic Family). Khasi is believed to form a link between related languages in central India and the Mon-Khmer languages of Southeast Asia. While dialectal variation may be noted within different Villages, the major Khasi dialects are Khasi, Jaintia, Lyngngam, and War.


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