(Last Updated on : 02/08/2017)
Naga tribes of Nagaland appear to belong to a race which resided in south-west China. While its main body migrated to Burma and Malaysia to Indonesian islands. It had also sent a side stream into the hills of Assam. Naga is a generic term which is applied to several clusters of tribal
groups inhabiting the states
, South-eastern Arunachal Pradesh
and eastern Assam
, in the North Eastern region of India
. The largest Naga populations with sixteen distinct sub-tribes are found in Nagaland. They are Ao, Angami
, Chakhesang, Chang, Chirr, Khahmnungan, Konyak, Lotha, Makware, Phom, Rengma, Sema, Tikhir, Yimchunger and Zeliang
Location of Naga Tribes
The Naga people are a cultural group conglomerating of quite a few tribes inhabitant to the North Eastern part of India and north-western Myanmar. The tribes have related cultures and traditions and structure the popular ethnic grouping in Nagaland, with noteworthy population in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and in Assam.
Origin of Naga tribes
The word 'Naga' is used for tribes living in Nagaland and in some parts of Assam. On the basis of language
Nagas can be classified as a cross breed of Tibeto-Chinese, Burmese and Aryan
. Many Naga languages show Austric linguistic characteristics. The Naga tribes were roughly classified into four categories - the Southern Nagas, the Western Nagas, the Central Nagas and the Eastern Nagas.
The Naga also belongs to the Indo mongoloid race. The Naga groups share common cultural features like the youth dormitory system, house pattern, disposal of dead, betel chewing habit, marriage
pattern, life cycle rituals, traditional political organisation and clan system.
Language of Naga tribes
The Naga tribes talk in a variety of different Tibeto-Burman languages, with Anal, Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Lotha, Mao, Maram, Phom, Pochuri, Poumai, Phom, Rengma
, Rongmei, Sangtam, Sumi, Tangkhul, Thangal and Zeme. Naga people speak over 89 diverse languages and dialects, chiefly inarticulate with each other.
Etymology of Naga tribes
The word Naga is said to have been invented from the Burmese word Naka, meaning people with earrings
. Many Naga people have dropped over into adjoining Burma, Assam and Manipur also.
History of Naga tribes
The Naga tribes fit in to the Indo-Mongoloid race. It is thought that, the Nagas moved south-east from Sinkiang (China). Some of them tramped along with the Brahmaputra
into the present Arunachal Pradesh and some of them pushed to Myanmar (Burma) and Indonesia. From the myths
and legends of the Naga tribes, one meets that they have some association with the community
of Borneo. They have had general cultural traditional way of head-hunting
Naga tribes have the general system of terraced farming
with the people of Philippines and Taiwan. The sewing on the Naga clothes resembles the type done on the Indonesian clothes. Each Naga tribe has combined elements of Negrito, Austric and Mon-Khmer people. Most of the Naga tribes believe that their forefathers arrived in Nagaland from the South-East Asia. The tribes which inhabit the remote and less easy to get to areas of Nagaland were the first to enter the Naga Hills from the south.
Society of Naga Tribes
Nagas build their villages on hill tops. Naga village has been regarded as a small republic as every Naga village has existed as an independent village state or a small republic. The Naga built their granaries around their villages
. The youth dormitory is known as Morung among the Nagas. It is an important centre around which the Naga folklore flourished. It is equally important as a residential and training centre for traditional art
. Boy's dormitory is known as Ikhuichi and Iloichi is the name for dormitory of the girls.
Joint family is the traditional form though nuclear family has become a new trend. Agriculture
is the main system which regulates the soil
practice of the Naga tribes. Shifting cultivation and terrace cultivation are practiced. Agriculture is the main occupation of the Nagas. The practice of jhumming is done in two ways-first for paddy cultivation and second for growing vegetable like millet, maize
, oil seeds, , chilies, pumpkin, Gourd, potato, brinjal, mustard
, cucumber, beans, ginger and garlic. They also collect honey, resin, seeds, barks from the jungle and sell them in the market.
The Nagas also produce a variety of wooden articles such as utensils, rice
pounding tables, smoking pipes, musical instruments
, cups and plates of various shapes and size. They engage in elaborate wood carvings for decorating their Morung. Nagas excel in making baskets and mats. They make earthen pots by hand alone. One of the major contributions of the Christian Church
has been to liberate the Nagas from the fear of evil spirits and evils
of head hunting and continuous warfare.
Food Culture of Naga Tribes
The Naga Tribes may eat roughly everything. Rice is the staple food. Rice is eaten twice a day with fish curry, pork, mutton, or vegetables
, and if they can obtain nothing else, they eat chillies, salt andtree
leaves. Beef, dog, fowls, bird
, fish, crabs
, beetles, ant
and spiders are also eaten. The entire of an anima
l with skin, blood, intestine and even the eyes are habitually eaten. Milk
and milk products are considered as a taboo among most of the Naga tribes.
The Nagas have a preference to drink yi or madhu. At the event of marriages and festivals
, large quantity of madhu is consumed. Tea
is commonly consumed as beverage
smoking in pipe is also general among the Naga Tribes.
Costumes of Naga Tribes
The Naga Tribes wear a plain white cloth, locally known as subsu. The female skirt consists of a piece of cloth about one and a half metre long and about a half metre in breadth, wrapped around the waist. The colour of dress differs from tribe to tribe. Usually, the women
wear tsongtem (puttees) and the Naga men dress in lengta which consists of a narrow piece of blue or white cloth, some four feet long and 25 centimetres broad.
Women dress in big Shan hats. The Angamis cloth is of dark blue colour embellished with cowries, while those Semas and Lothas is a grouping of white and blue. Many tribes wear feathers and skins of birds and animals on their, ears and heads. The Naga Tribes are very affectionate of wearing ornaments. Skull cap of bear skin, hats of red goats hair are among the traditional wear.
Religion of Naga Tribes
The Nagas have no idols and they do not consider the image or idol worship. Although Christian by faith, they follow some of the old practices of tribal religions
Different types of Naga Tribes
Following are the different types of the Naga Tribes:
Classification of Naga Folk-lore
The Naga folk-lore may be classified according to the area of the diffusion:
(i) The folk-literature which are shared by more than one tribe.
(ii) Folk-lore of the particular tribe.
(iii)Village based Folk-lore.
Festivals of Naga Tribes
The various Naga tribes have their own distinct festivals. The different Festivals of Naga Tribes
are as follows:
The Hornbill festiva
l is a celebration held every year from 1st to 10th December, in Nagaland. It is also called the 'Festival of Festivals'.
Art of Naga Tribes
Each of Naga tribe has an exclusive way of building their huts. A general tradition among all the tribes is decorating the entrances of their houses with the heads of buffaloes. Clothing patterns are established to each tribe, and the cloth is woven by the women. They make use of beads with diversity, profusion and complexity in their jewellery
with a broad choice of resources, including glass, shell
, stone, teeth or tusk, claws, horns,meta
l, bone, wood, seeds, hair and fibre.
Weaving of colourful woollen and cotton
shawls is an innermost activity for women of all Naga tribes. The Nagas are specialist basket makers. Bamboo
baskets are made in narrowed and cylindrical shapes. Mats and shields of bamboo are also made. There are blacksmiths in each Naga village. They prepare dao, sickles, axes and spears. The Nagas are very good wood carvers.