The Folklore of Water and the Were-Snake Transformation Tradition: Heritage as Non-Human Persons among the Khasi of Northeast India

Margaret Lyngdoh (University of Tartu)

This presentation narrows focus on the Khasi from the broad topics like matriliny and “Indigenous Religion” to the foundational folklore of water and more specifically, the transformation traditions associated with it. I acknowledge the folklore of water to be a set of texts and practices that originate from and engage with water in its mundane manifestation and more specially, as comprising of “divine natures”. Firstly, I document this tradition of human-snake transformation; second, were-snake engagement with the ecology of water undermines standard conceptualisations of “nature” as a whole and as inclusive. Third, non-human persons become heritage bearers in the community.

Part of 02-07 Minority Peoples, Expressive Culture, and Heritage in—and from—the Southeast Asian Massif, Part 2, Thursday, November 02, 10:30 am–12:30 pm