The Mizo Pawndum Garment

 Pic : Mizomipa chhelo

Pawndum/Zawlpuan/Zawlkenpuan Is a unisex Puan of the Mizos but mostly worn by Males. Pawndum is worn by wrapping it around the waist and covers the lower part of the body down
almost to the feet. Traditionally, a young Mizo woman was required to weave a Pawndum and carry it along to her new home when she got married. If she failed to carry it to the
new home, it was considered her prime duty to weave one soon after going to her in-law’s place.
Failure to do so was looked upon as highly disgraceful in the Mizo culture. The Pawndum was to
be used as a shroud to cover her dead husband’s body had he died during her lifetime. It could
also be used to cover the bodies of any close relative on her husband’s side.
Although modern lifestyle no longer permits every Mizo woman to weave pawndums, to this day, every Mizo woman carries with her a pawndum in marriage and the practice of covering a dead husband's body in pawndum still continues among the Mizos. Pawndum has a deep cultural significance, even to this day. It assumes different names according to the purpose for which it was mainly used. Thus, when it was used to cover dead body, it was known by the name ‘Thihrin puan’ expressing condolence and tragedy. While it takes the name ‘Zawlpuan’ if it was presented as a token of affection and love or to establish cordial relationship with someone. Before marriage, it was also used as a Dawnpuanphah, which means that if a girl and boy sleep together on the Pawndum with the permission of the girl’s parents, the boy must marry the girl. If he refuses to do so, he will be required to pay a fine. At present, Pawndum signifies mourning at funeral. Thus, it is now worn not as an ordinary garment but in an occasion involving death. GI Indicator Journal -
The Mizos

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