Kecharhe Alun: Annotated Transcription and Translation of the Karbi Oral Epic


Dharamsing Teron
Centre for Karbi Studies
Michael Heneise
The Kohima Institute


This upcoming book is a full transcription, translation, and musical annotation of the Kecharhe Alun funeral epic in Karbi Anglong, Assam, recorded by a team led by Michael Heneise and Dharamsing Teron in 2017, funded by the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research. Performed from memory, the Kecharhe Alun is the most significant, and longest (several days) single piece of chanted poetry in the Karbi oral literature repertoire, though it has never been thoroughly studied, or properly recorded, transcribed, or archived until now. As the indigenous Karbi population of Assam, numbering 419,534 (2001 India Census), is scattered throughout Eastern and Western Karbi Anglong districts in Assam, regional variations in the epic exist. Moreover, both the gender and social status of the deceased person are also important factors, and entail additional variations in the narrative. Thus, the book features an ‘authoritative’ version, based on level of detail, quality, and complexity, and documents variations as annotations to the fully articulated and musically notated single version.

Author Biographies

Dharamsing Teron, Centre for Karbi Studies

Dharamsing Teron is an independent researcher (graduated in History from Diphu Government College, Gauhati University) from Diphu, Karbi Anglong, who is engaged in documenting Karbi folklore. He is editor of the Karbi Studies series, the first volume of which appeared in 2008 under the banner of Karbi Young Writers’ Guild, as a result of combined efforts of activists and new writers. Since then, he has edited Memories, Myths, Metaphors (2nd Edition, April 2012), as well as Reclaiming the Ancestors’ Voices (Vol. 2, 2011), co-edited with Sikari Tisso, and Folktales from the Fringe (Vol. 3, collection of popular Karbi folktales/2012), also with Kabeen Teronpi, Kache Teronpi and Valentina Teronpi In Search of the Drongo and Other Stories (Vol. 4) all under the banner of ‘Karbi Studies’. He is currently working on ‘Karbi Oral History.’ He lives in Rongmili, Diphu.

Michael Heneise, The Kohima Institute

Founder and publisher of Highlander Press, Heneise has conducted research in the Andes of South America, and in the Himalayas of Northeast India, and is generally interested in the intersection between indigenous knowledge, sacred ecology, and modernity. His doctoral research at Edinburgh explored the relationship between dreams, sacred landscapes, and personhood among the Nagas in India. He is editor-in-chief of The South Asianist, co-editor of The Highlander, both open access journals published by Edinburgh University. He is also on the editorial board of Gitanjali and Beyond which promotes creative writing, artistic expression and research on Rabindranath Tagore’s work and life. Prior to Edinburgh he studied anthropology in Ecuador at the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO). He is a member of the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology, and is presently based at The Kohima Institute, where he is a Firebird Foundation Research Fellow, recording and documenting the Karbi Kecharhe Alun funerary epic in Assam.

Cover for Kecharhe Alun: Annotated Transcription and Translation of the Karbi Oral Epic