Here’s a short article about living root bridges I wrote for Avaunt Magazine:
|WIDTH AT CP:||.7 m|
|HEIGHT AT CP:||2.6 m|
|NOTES:||A catastrophically damaged root bridge north of Kudeng Rim village. Much of the structure has been washed away, while the remaining roots are damaged. The structure has been replaced with a concrete bridge, as visible in the background of the photo above. It is very unlikely that the bridge will last much longer.|
Notes: Khonglah 4 is an unusual living root bridge that exists on the severe slopes between Khonglah Village, West Jaintia Hills, and the Amdep River. The access paths to it were faint and very steep. While the tree the bridge is formed from has clearly been heavily manipulated, most of the roots seem to have been guided at random. Only a small part of the tree’s areal roots have been employed to create a living root bridge. I wasn’t able to ascertain why this had been done.
Notes: This very small living root bridge exists on a path that leads from Khonglah Village, in the West Jaintia Hills district, to the Amdep River (a tributary of the Umngot river).
The structure was laid out along the path, but then a newer concrete structure was built parallel to it. The bridge is no longer in use, though it was still in good condition when I last visited.
In one form or another, The Living Root Bridge Project has been underway since 2015. Here, I’ll set down some of what I feel have been its main accomplishments.
It’s important to note that this endeavor is ongoing. In attempting to shed light on a phenomenon as varied and widespread as the creation of botanical architecture, there’s no clearly defined finish line.
1: The Living Root Bridge Project constitutes the largest and most comprehensive publicly accessible database of information and imagery pertaining to botanical architecture in existence.
The project has surveyed and photographed over 100 living root structures. For many of these, the data and imagery presented on this site continues to be the only readily accessible source of information.
2: The Living Root Bridge Project has served as a vital means of connecting researchers interested in botanical architecture from outside of Northeast India with guides and local villagers in Meghalaya. This has facilitated more study of the phenomenon, while also encouraging its preservation at a local level.
In this respect, the project has achieved its stated goal of providing a foundation of information on living architecture that specialists can build up from.
3: Data collected as a part of the project has been incorporated into the first peer-reviewed scientific paper on living architecture, (authors: Prof. Ferdinand Ludwig, Wilfrid Middleton, Friederike Gallenmüller, Patrick Rogers, Thomas Speck) soon to be published at Nature.com.
4: Articles about The Living Root Bridge Project have been featured in Inhabitat.com (here and here), Hyperallergic.com (here) , Avaunt.com (here), and other news sites. These have helped broadcast the message that Living Architecture exists, and needs protection, to people all over the world who might not have even heard of Root Bridges.
5: The Living Root Bridge Project has made it possible for me to write two books on the Khasi Hills: The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills, published by Westland India in 2017, and Peculiar Encounters: More Travels in the Khasi Hills, which will be released in 2019.
These books have also been important in getting the message out to a wide audience that Meghalaya’s botanical architecture is an important cultural resource, and in need of conservation.
The conservation situation faced by my living root bridges has improved, but there’s still a great deal more work to do!
NOTES: This is a small, though old and well established living root bridge, situated on the land of Khonglah Village, not far from, and on the same path as, the bridge designated Khonglah 1 This bridge also spans a stream which is dry most of the year.
Here’s my new Patreon Page. I’m using this to support both my research and creative endeavors. For a buck a month (that’s a quarter a week) all of my subscribers will get access to my next book Peculiar Encounters: More Travels in the Khasi Hills, when it’s finished on Jan 7 next year. This book will be available exclusively on Patreon.
For my other tiers, I’ll also be proving downloads of my fantasy/horror work, pre-release sample chapters of upcoming projects, and other great stuff.
I’m shifting from GoFundme to Patreon for a few reasons. First off, Patreon makes it a whole lot easier to share stuff with subscribers. Also, it’s just a better platform for the sort of work I’m doing.
Right now, the reason I need the page is that I’m scraping together funds for an extended trek in Northeast India in winter/spring 2019.
The primary objective of this trek is to take a West-East survey of the state of living architecture in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, comparing the examples found across the entire known range of the practice in Meghalaya. The idea is to create a “birds-eye-view” of the state of affairs confronting living architecture.
This will allow me to add a whole bunch of new entries to The Living Root Bridge Project, and so make the project a more comprehensive resource.
I’m also planning on using the experience to write another book on the Khasi Hills called: Through the Valleys of Living Bridges , sample chapters of which will be available on Patreon once I finish them over the course of the upcoming year.
In other news, stay tuned here for more updates on Living Architecture.
NOTES: This is a small living root bridge, situated on top of the plateau east of the Umngot River, near the Jaintia speaking settlement of Khonglah. The bridge spans a stream which is dry most of the year.
NOTES: This is an unusual, double interesting span living root bridge in the vicinity of Nongbareh village, located along a path that gives access from the village to the Umngot River. The large, well-established, roots hanging down from the center of the structure suggest that it, like Nongbareh’s other living root bridge, is an unusually old botanical structure.
|WIDTH AT CP:||1.5 m|
|HEIGHT AT CP:||2.8 m|
|NOTES:||This living root bridge spans the Amalayee river, which bisects the settlement of Nongbareh. The roots are strong and well-established, though damaged in places. The tree is considered by the locals to not be in good health. The structure is surrounded by houses, and the path it services is in constant use. Latex extraction appears to have occurred many years ago, but has been effectively banned. It is said to be a very ancient living root bridge.|
NOTE: PLEASE GO TO ANALYTICS AND ANALYSIS (APRIL 2017 DRAFT) FOR METHODOLOGIES. LR PROJECT DESIGNATION DOES NOT REFLECT LOCAL NAMES