Mikir - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The major Mikir subsistence activity is slash-and-burn or jhum agriculture. Land used for cultivation is prepared by cutting trees, burning them, and planting seeds in the fertile ash residue. The Mikir make no use of the plow and their farmland is not artificially irrigated. Major crops are maikun (summer rice) and phelo (cotton). Additional crops include castor oil, thengthe (maize), turmeric, hen (yams), birik (red pepper), hepi (aubergines), hanso (ginger), and 1ac. Fowl, pigs, and goats are domesticated. Fishing (with rod and line) is also a subsidiary activity. Deer, wild pigs, iguanas, and tortoises are hunted. In addition, the chrysalis of the eri silkworm, crabs, and rats are also consumed. Rice beer, tobacco (smoked and chewed), and betel nuts are also used by the Mikir, as was opium until its use was prohibited by law.

Industrial Arts. Few items are manufactured by the Mikir. Among those found are dyed woven cloth of cotton and silk, metal implements ( daos [adzes], knives, needles, and fishing hooks), ornaments of gold and silver (necklaces, bracelets, rings, ear adornments), and pottery (made without the use of the potter's wheel). Bamboo and wooden implements used within the household are also, one presumes, manufactured by the Mikir.

Trade. Little may be said of trade between the Mikir and their neighbors. It has been noted that the pressures of assimilation have led to a decrease in the indigenous manufacture of many items and a subsequent increase in the importation of foreign goods.

Division of Labor. The ethnographic literature does not contain much information on the Mikir division of labor. It is known that one task, the weaving of cloth, is the prerogative of women. Farming seems to be done exclusively by men.

Land Tenure. Village lands are apportioned by Household, each house being allotted its own fields. Male members of a household limit their labors to their own fields.

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