Mizo - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Mizos are now heavily involved in the money economy. About 80 percent of the people of Mizoram derive their sustenance from swidden cultivation on hill slopes. Wet rice cultivation was introduced in patches by non-Mizos—just after the annexation of the area by the British—in Thenzawl, Champhai, and Vanlaiphai villages, where a Burmese type of plow was used. Agricultural implements consist of axes, and hoes, and knives. Paddy, maize, cabbages, melons, cotton, and ginger are raised. Recently terracing has been introduced in Mizoram. The main cash crop is ginger. During lean months, the Mizo shoot birds with catapults and air guns, occasionally fish by poisoning water in hollows between the hills, and hunt animals. Domestic animals include pigs, poultry, and dogs; some people keep cattle. In the past every village had a number of gayals, which were killed for special festivals and Ceremonies. Nowadays these animals are rarely kept.

Industrial Arts. Each village has at least one blacksmithy where hoes, axes, and knives are made. Most of the Households have a sewing machine. Each family has a number of loin looms (backstrap looms) used by women. They weave cotton yarn with attractive geometric designs. Men practice carpentry. All men weave baskets of various sizes, shapes, and designs. Lacquering and the cire perdue or "lost wax" process of casting bronze have died out. Earthen smoking pipes are still handmade by women.

Trade. Since the regrouping of villages, shops are found in all villages. In the larger villages small markets are held. Otherwise people visit the few towns of Aizawl, Lunglei, Thenzawl, and Champhai for buying and selling. Bengali- and Hindi-speaking traders also do business with the permission of the administrative authorities. Peddlers move about in Villages too.

Division of Labor. The traditional division of labor is relatively fluid. Tasks such as weaving, winnowing, pottery making, etc. are women's jobs. Basketry, blacksmithy, carpentry, etc. are men's work. Nowadays educated urban women work as traffic police in Aizawl.

Land Tenure. Before 1947, rights of the village Communities and chiefs over their territory were recognized (the Chin Hill Regulation 5, 1896). With abolition of the rights of the chiefs, the authority of the village council over the land was finally established. It distributes land to each family for swidden cultivation and for residence. In the towns, plots of land for permanent ownership are distributed in response to individual application.

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