Sunday, 25 February 2018

We are the World Blogfest ... # 11 - People and Nature work together to 'knit' life-connecting bridges ...



My late contribution to this month's #WAWTB gives us nature allowing the Khasi peoples to 'bridge the gap', ensuring villages remain connected when monsoon flooding comes to the Khasi Hills in Eastern India ... part of what we might recognise as Assam ...


Double-decker living root bridge
These bridges have been made and kept repaired for at least a recorded (in 1844) 180 years ... the living  (aerial) roots of the Rubber Fig Tree are guided across a river or stream allowing them to attach, sometimes self-grafting, and become secured on the other side - they strengthen over time. 


Apparently as long as the trees are healthy the living root bridge will last, naturally self-renewing. 

Working a bridge



Locals maintain the bridges ... passing on their knowledge down the generations ... keeping each structure a perpetual work in progress.





The red area shows vaguely where the
Khasi Hills are situated in India
Floods could cut villages off - as these hills are one of the wettest places on our planet receiving up to 20 feet of rain (6 metres) in a month ...




The Meghalayan (living in the clouds) peoples are the architects of living root bridges in the East Khasi Hills - and who need to get across the streams and rivers to stay in touch and to get to their fields give the characteristics of these structures as:

Living tree roots which become
embedded in rock on opposite sides of river beds
Total length can be over 50 metres
Load limit ... up to 500 people
Design life ... up to 500 years


Peoples working with nature ensure that this knowledge is passed to each successive generation ...


If you would like to take part in this blogfest ... please join us - details can be found here: via Simon Falk - who participates with us



We are the World - In Darkness Be Light





Here are more details on the Khasi peoples and their bridges ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

96 comments:

Botanist said...

Fascinating article, Hilary. Thank you!

Jo said...

Saw a programme which included this information Hilary. Absolutely fascinating. The ingenuity of the human mind knows no bounds.

Chatty Crone said...

Well you might not believe this - but I watched a show on this - it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. Sandie

Susan Scott said...

Nature and her peoples working in harmony - this is so uplifting Hilary thank you. 180 years old? AMAZING!

D.G. Hudson said...

Lovely tradition, and glad they are passing on that knowledge to their descendants. I wonder if it sways a lot, as it looks flexible in that image. It's interesting how people come up with ingenious solutions to meet their needs.

Sue Bursztynski said...

A living bridge! Wow, that is amazing and beautiful.

Jz said...

Wow, that is really interesting!
Thank you, Hilary! :-)

Out on the prairie said...

I have never heard of this.What a great achievement to have designed.

Deborah Weber said...

This is utterly amazing and absolutely wonderful! I love not only the brilliance of this, but that fact that this is indigenous wisdom that has been kept alive and in practice for so long.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ian - thank you ... it always amazes me how creative humans can be ...

@ Jo - as you say the ingenuity of humans ... oh that's good you've seen a programme about the Khasi peoples ...

@ Sandie - well done ... and I'm so pleased you saw a show on these living bridges - they are amazing aren't they ...

@ Susan - as you confirm 'Nature and her people working in harmony' - and yes I gather the bridges can last for longer ... as long as the trees are still alive ...

@ DG - It is part of their life the fact they pass on their knowledge ... as so many indigenous peoples do. I'm not sure about the swaying ... I guess there must be some - but each root will have a different tension. People are extraordinary in so many ways.

@ Sue - Like you I find the whole idea of a living bridge ... just wonderful.

@ Jz - delighted you found it so interesting ...

@ Steve - it's quite extraordinary what we can do with plants ... they're doing it with furniture in England - so I guess plants can do other things ...

@ Deborah - as I mentioned to Steve ... there's living design in England now - chairs, tables, etc are being created using plants - willow I believe is one of the species. But it's great that the Khasi are ensuring they can keep in touch and get to their fields ... and I would think the Ficus would be a stronger rooting system.

Thank you so much for visiting - it's such an appealing idea: utilising living plants to make bridges across the Himalayan streams ... cheers Hilary

Jacqui Murray said...

This might be the best blog yet, Hilary. Who would imagine a living root bridge? I'm going to have to Google this one.

Joanne said...

that is stunning. Nature does its work, but man learns, helps, maintains, and continues its work. Fascinating and worthy of We are the World.

Janie Junebug said...

The bridges are amazing. I'd never heard of them before, so thank you for showing us.

Love,
Janie

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Really pretty interesting stuff, I am glad I came and read this today

Vallypee said...

Fascinating, Hilary. I've never heard of those bridges before. Nice to see man and nature working together!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jacqui - I think I've seen them elsewhere .. probably in South America ... it's a fascinating concept - and essential to their way of life. The two links I've put up tell you more ... but happy you'll be checking things out. Delighted it's interested you so much ... there's also ladders ...

@ Joanne - yes, nature is extraordinary, but as you say man learns, helps, maintains and continues the work ...

@ Janie - good to see you again ... and I'm pleased you've enjoyed learning about these structures ...

@ Jo-Anne - that's good to know - it was a good idea to pop on over here!

@ Val - thanks ... I certainly hadn't heard about the Khasi peoples or where the Khasi Hills are, or to look a little more closely at the map of that part of the world. As you say nice to see man working with nature so empathetically ...

Cheers and thanks for sharing my interest in these bridges - Hilary

Julie Flanders said...

Wow this is so interesting! Thanks for sharing. I've never heard of anything like this before. Amazing!
Hope you are well, Hilary! :)

mail4rosey said...

That living bridge is pretty nifty. Not sure how much I'd trust them if the water below was shallow (or full of predators). ;) :) Definitely interesting and very cool pics.

Liz A. said...

Keeping those up is certainly a skill. For some reason, though, they creep me out. I'm not sure why.

Debby Gies said...

What an amazing story Hilary. And my gosh that is a ton of monthly rainfall! :)

Read/Write/Run said...

Hello Hilary,

I thought I recognized your name from comments on my blog. Thanks for stopping by and following my blog. I'm impressed with the number of followers you have. Interesting story too. Talk about efficiency, using nature to build and sustain a bridge is truly great. Thanks for sharing.

Ken

Lenny Lee said...

wow! that is so cool. a great mix of nature and man working together to insure safe passage for years to come. i looked at the BBC video and saw how the locals help direct the roots by placing lengths of bamboo that act as scaffolding. how clever is that! great and really interesting post.

Lynn said...

That is amazing!

RO said...

You find the most fascinating information, and I love it! Hugs...RO

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie - good to see you ... and I'm so glad I was able to introduce you to the Khasi and their work ...

@ Rosey - the danger is the very fast flowing water in the monsoon ... so you'd be glad of the bridge - I'm sure you'd use it ... but it's an amazing way to traverse the landscape ...

@ Liz - I'm sure if you were there it'd be normal to you and your fellow villagers ...

@ Debby - the rainfall is huge isn't it ... difficult to imagine that amount of rain ...

@ Ken - good to see you again ... and thanks for coming by from Susanna Hill's story competition. Their life is extraordinary isn't it ... they make the most of what's around them ...

@ Lenny - yes it's an amazing place to live, with a peoples from a different culture - yet making the most of what they've got. So glad you had a look at them making the bridge (or maintaining it) ...

@ Lynn - isn't it ... so wonderful to see the bridge ...

@ RO - delighted you enjoyed finding about the Khasi peoples and their bridges ...

Thanks so much for your visits - have good weeks ... cheers Hilary

Rhodesia said...

Wow so interesting thank Hilary for sharing this with us all. Have a good week Diane

cleemckenzie said...

Now that's what I call brilliant engineering! And they've been at it for 180 years? I feel a metaphor coming on. It's about roots and culture and living in nature.

Sandra Cox said...

Oh my gosh, I've never heard of these bridges. Absolutely fascinating.
Thanks, Hilary.

Juliet Batten said...

How beautiful to hear of these living bridges. Thanks so much Hilary; you always unearth the most fascinating things and this one is very close to my interests.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Amazing! I didn't know about these bridges. They look a lot sturdier than some of the regular ones in the US, ha!

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. When man and nature work together, wonderful things happen. I have seen this rubber tree root bridge on a National Geographic documentary years ago. Hope you are having fun. Kim x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - it is such a good reminder that we need nature to help us through life ... in this case in a structural way ...

@ Lee - isn't it clever and they've been doing it for longer than 180 years ... as long as the trees are alive and healthy - then the bridge will last ... and could easily be metaphorical ...

@ Sandra - I'm so glad I posted now - as it looked many commenters knew about them ... it's great that man can live with nature and utilise its values in this way ...

@ Juliet - I knew you'd appreciate these trees being utilised in this way ... man helping trees, yet trees giving us their roots to help us ...

@ Elizabeth - you're right they could well be sturdier than some of our modern developments ... but most definitely probably last as long or longer ...

@ Kim - it's interesting what we can find out about around the world via tv or documentary film ... but man and nature can work so well together ...

Thanks so much everyone ... just glad you enjoyed seeing these living bridges - cheers Hilary

troutbirder said...

The wonders of human ingenuity. And we think we are so smart. I remember my first anthropology course at Minnesota. What a opening of my mind that was....

Paula Kaye said...

Very cool bridges!

Pamela Wright said...

That's so fascinating - thanks for sharing Hilary. I love hearing about these sort of things as so many of us have lost the ability to do traditional crafts and it's lovely to hear about one that is still going and helps keep people safe.

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

Wow! That is amazing and so wonderful! I would love to see one of these bridges, although I don't know if I would have enough courage to walk on one. I wonder if they feel stable or if they move when walked upon.

Thank-you for the article and have a lovely week,
Andrea

bazza said...

I am sure the Khasi people have featured in more than one Carry Film. Probably Carry On Up the Khyber or Carry On at Your Convenience....
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s mostly harmless Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Troutbirder - as you say ... the wonders of our ingenuity. Anthropology - I imagine that'd be so interesting to study ... all the aspects of it - I can quite see your fascination with it.

@ Paula - thank you ..

@ Pamela - yes it's sad traditional crafts are disappearing ... though there seems to be some renaissance in Britain ... but for the Khasi it's the life-blood to their world ...

@ Andrea - I'm sure they're safe and I expect there is some movement - bound to be I guess ... but like you I'd like to give one a go sometime ...

@ Bazza - they may well have featured in a Carry On film ... or some of their concepts converted into British type antics - I can see it ... yes: good thought ...

Cheers to you all ... those in snowy Britain - from me here in a damp corner of Vancouver Island - Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

That is an awesome, amazing thing. I don't need a bridge to anywhere, but I still want one of these!

Karen Lange said...

How interesting! I need to check that out. That's a long time to maintain bridges - 180 years. What a legacy though, and a useful service. Glad you shared this info with us. I had no idea. Enjoy the rest of the week! :)

Sandra Cox said...

Just stopped by to say hey. Hope your Wednesday has been a joyful one.

Shannon Lawrence said...

A load limit of 500 people. Wow! Interesting tidbits.

Elsie Amata said...

Twenty feet of rain? My gosh! I love that they have passed down the knowledge of bridge building from generation to generation. I feel like in so many other countries, that's been lost over time.

Elsie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jeffrey - I know one of those in the garden ... or up here in Canada and I could swing through the trees and cross the ravines more easily ... hahaha ... unlikely (very!) ... would be fun ...

@ Karen - it's such an interesting history ... I loved taking a bit of time to find out about the Khasi peoples and where they're from ... so I'm glad you enjoyed finding out too ...

@ Sandra - thank you ...

@ Shannon - I know the load limit was/is somewhat extraordinary ... but I guess they've tried it ...

@ Elsie - yes that 20 feet of rain in a month sounds horrendous doesn't it - so no wonder they need these bridges ...

Thanks for visiting - and so glad the Khasi people are now known about a bit ... and that I found out where Assam is, and too where the Khasi hills are ... thanks for your comments - cheers Hilary

RO said...

Wow! 20 feet of rain in a month??

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Now that is a way to build a bridge and ensure that it lasts for future generations! Thanks for sharing this.

Sandra Cox said...

The load limit and design life is almost greater than today's bridges:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ro - it is incredible isn't it ... a foot of rain would be terrible ... but 20 feet of it ... one cannot conceive that much ...

@ Tyrean - yes - an amazing way to build a bridge and ensure it lasts for many generations ... glad you enjoyed finding out ...

@ Sandra - it certain is an amazing feat of natural engineering ...

Cheers to you all - I'm now in rain ... but am sure I won't get 20 feet of it! Hilary

Christine Rains said...

Wow, that is so neat. I think the architects of today can learn something from those bridge makers. Have a lovely weekend, Hilary! :)

Sherry Ellis said...

So fascinating! It's great that the knowledge is being passed on to the next generation.

DMS said...

This post was amazing. So fascinating. I love that the bridges are made out of living roots and that people have been doing this for so long. So happy this knowledge is getting passed on to each generation. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Linda said...

Wow, I had no idea anything like that existed. Nature is really amazing!

Chrys Fey said...

I'd be very scared about having to cross one of those bridges, but I can see how they can be useful, especially in the case of floods or other disasters.

Romance Reader said...

Interesting and fascinating post, thanks!

Madeleine Sara said...

Wow that's wonderful and interesting! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Christine - I'm sure the bridge designers of today have taken note - there seem to be some amazing bridge designs around ...

@ Sherry - isn't it wonderful they pass that essential knowledge on ...

@ Jess - thanks for coming by .. and I'm so pleased the post interested you ... I know you too will pass it on ...

@ Linda - they are pretty extraordinary aren't they - life giving paths for their societies ...

@ Chrys - I'm sure once you've done it once and seen members of your village go over - you'd just follow along - but it does take some thinking about: for us westerners!

@ Nas - good to see you ...

@ Madeleine - am happy you enjoyed the post ...

Cheers to you all - and thanks for your visits ... Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Have a weekend filled with sunshine and sparkle, Hilary.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

You share the most intriguing stories, Hilary. I learn so much here. Thanks with all my heart for helping your readers learn about the world. Have a great week!

Arlee Bird said...

When old ways work to fulfill the purpose for which they were designed then those are reasonable ways to perpetuate. Recently I watched a documentary about peoples in Peru who build rope bridges to span vast gorges. Periodically they have to be redone, but for what they are they seem to last quite a while and get people to where they need to go.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Friko said...

A very interesting post. Isn’t it amazing what inventive people can achieve without the help of technology. I bet our bridges don’t last half as long and need constant repair.

Hope you are well and reasonably content in your new, cold, home.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

A living root bridge - wow, I'm just amazed.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Getting on one of those bridges is on my bucket list for sure!

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

That is just plain cool. Nature is awesome. I love that they use and maintain the bridge with no harm to the tree!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - now into another week ... loved your hellebores and hope the thoughts of planting went well.

@ Victoria - thanks ... I just enjoy writing up different posts and am always delighted you enjoy them ... your Memoir explorations with your family are a delight to read ...

@ Lee - the ancient crafts are usually pretty good aren't they - as you found in Peru ... yes I've seen those on tv too. All things need repairing ... the way of life ...

@ Friko - I quite agree ... incredible what humans can achieve without technology and the industrial revolution. Sadly you may well be right ...

Thank you re the situation ... it is warming up I'm delighted to know that spring is on its way. I hope your Welsh border home coped with the recent spell of Siberian blast ...

@ Diane - it is extraordinary what is out for us to find out about - other peoples create ways to get on with their lives ...

@ Nila - oh that would be fun ... though now I don't think I'd be able to trek up there ...

@ Holly - humans and nature work well together - when left alone from some fellow men! But it's great to know about ...

Cheers to you all and thanks for coming by - Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Hi-ya, Hilary. I've blogged about those living bridges before, too. Fascinating, aren't they? But, OY! Twenty feet of rain in a month??? Wow!

Sandra Cox said...

Twenty-feet of rain in a month.....Yikes!

Pat Hatt said...

Goes to show what one can do when they put their mind to it. That is a ton of rain though.

Patsy said...

What great bridges – and an excellent demonstration of how looking after our environment isn't just a 'good thing' but beneficial to us all.

Sara C. Snider said...

Those bridges are amazing. I had no idea they existed. Thanks for the article!

Bish Denham said...

I absolutely love the living bridges. They should act as a metaphor in our own lives; be a living bridge.

Suzanne Furness said...

Wow, aren't those bridges amazing? I have not heard of the root bridges before so really enjoyed reading this. I hope you are getting on well on your travels, Hilary.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

This is super cool. Thoroughly impressed by human ingenuity, and it's always nice to see people working with, instead of against, nature.

diedre Knight said...

Hi Hilary!

Isn't mother nature fabulous? I love bridges in general, but those made by or with the help of nature are exceptional. Always so heartwarming to see timeless traditions being passed on - and kept alive. Wonderful post!

Lisa said...

Wow, Hilary! I've never heard of these people or the bridges. They are both totally fascinating!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is the coolest thing in nature that I never heard about before. We should all learn to live in such harmony with our neck of the woods.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - that's great you've seen the living bridges before ... and yes fascinating and I loved finding out where the Khasi Hills are .. but as you say 20 feet of rain is a bit much ... squelch, squelch ...

@ Sandra - it's an extraordinary amount of rain isn't it ...

@ Pat - I know = the human can do many things ... but as we know that is one lot of rain!

@ Patsy - exactly ... the locals know what they're doing ... and sensibly preserve their environment for their people ...

@ Sara - I'm glad you enjoyed the read and learning about these bridges ...

@ Bish - extraordinary aren't they ... what a great idea your metaphor is ... 'be a living bridge' ... we could all so easily practise that ...

@ Suzanne - that's great that you've enjoyed the read and the learning about these rooting bridges ... all well here thank you ...

@ CD - yes working with nature rather than against and helping their community connect with each other and with their few fields and crops ...

@ Diedre - mother nature ... is great isn't she. I'm sure these bridges have been made for centuries ... but only recorded in the last 200 years or so. As you say it it heartwarming to know that locals are keeping their timeless traditions alive ... so glad you enjoyed it ...

@ Lisa - yes .. thanks re the note on the peoples - they deserve the credit for their bridges and for keeping the tradition going for their communities ... both fascinating ...

@ Susan - I'm just so glad so few of you had comes across these living bridges ... and as you so rightly say we should all live with such harmony in our own areas ...

Thanks so much everyone - amazing to hear from you all - cheers Hilary

D Biswas said...

People in the north-east of India are known for their grit and determination-- I knew this story, it is told often in India--thankyou so much for highlighting it, and being part of #WATWB!

Damyanti

Lynda R Young said...

Those living roots are amazing. I hadn't seen that done to them before. So impressive.

Dan said...

Those bridges are amazing, Hilary. I missed this post, but I'm glad I decided to check again. It's so cool that they are living, and that they will last so many years. I doubt we could build anything that would serve that well.

RO said...

Just peeping in to say hello! Hugs...RO

Sandra Cox said...

Just stopped by to say hey. Hope your day is filled with sunshine and sparkle.

Deborah Barker said...

Truly amazing what nature can provide given the chance. Loved this piece, Hilary. Debbie X

sonia a. mascaro said...

Just stopping by to sending you lots of hugs!
Have a lovely weekend!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Damyanti - looking at where they live, as I did for the Khasi peoples, I quite understand what you're saying. I'm glad you can endorse my posting for the #WATWB ... such a great blog hop.

@ Lynda - it's such a natural way to create a bridge - yet not something that we could easily do with our western world plants ... the concept and bridges themselves are impressive - aren't they.

@ Dan - well delighted you managed to check in - and found something of interest. We do build incredible structures ... out of materials of various sorts ... but nothing living that I'm aware of - so it's an incredible service to their community.

@ RO - thank you for checking in ...

@ Sandra - you too .. thanks for looking in - yes a bit of sun today ...

@ Deborah - thanks ... these ideas are so essential to know about and to appreciate other areas of the world. Good to see you ...

@ Sonia - thank .. you too -hope all is well down in Brazil ...

Thanks everyone - cheers for now - Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Enjoy the weekend, Hilary.

Susan Kane said...

How amazing that nature always solves problems if we let it. The Khasi people are such a legend for all to follow.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

So interesting, Hilary!! Sorry for my absence :)

Birgit said...

I have not heard of this and I am amazed about the trees! this is how nature and people can live in harmony especially with the huge rainfall they receive. i learned something new! i am off to read more about it

Mark Noce said...

So cool:) My grandfather was stationed in Assam during WWII. It's a difficult place to penetrate nowadays.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

How interesting. I had never heard of these. Nature is amazing.

Sandra Cox said...

Just goes to show architecture and engineering have been alive and well for a long time.
Have a great one, Hilary.

Karen Lange said...

Stopping by again to say hello. Hope you are having a good week! :)

jabblog said...

Beautiful idea - rather slippery in the wet, I imagine.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandra - good to see you ...

@ Susan - nature is extraordinary, as too the Khasi and their traditional way of life ...

@ Keith - no worries, life grabs us sometimes ...

@ Birgit - I just found the whole thing fascinating and how wonderful the human is to be able to realise the value of nature. That's great you went off to look at their way of life a little more.

@ Mark - how great to know your grandfather was in Assam in WW2 - which will bring this post to life a little for you ...

@ Elizabeth - sometimes nature and other peoples surprise us with their ingenuity ... good to see you here.

@ Sandra - it is amazing isn't how the disciplines work together so easily ...

@ Karen - thanks for looking in again ...

@ Janice - yes I guess it must be - but I'm sure the Khasi are used to the mud and manage rather well ...

cheers to you all Hilary

Emily Bloomquist said...

Brilliant idea and execution! Thank you for sharing this Hilary. ~Emily

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Emily - it's a great way of keeping their community together isn't it ... and so effective ...I'm sure there are similar in South America ... but good to see you - cheers Hilary