The Nagas: People of Earth,Stone and Water
The origin of Naga people is lost in legend and myth. Some Naga tribes trace their origin to the bowels of the Earth, others to six specific stones and yet others to a water source.
The history of conflict and struggle among the various Naga tribes appears almost similar to 'Game of Thrones', the popular T.V. series currently being featured on HBO. Only in this case the fight was not for the Iron Throne but for land, natural resources and supremacy. The White Walkers, in this case were the invading British !!
Due to lack of written history, only speculations exist regarding the migratory routes of the Nagas into the Indian sub-continent. The Naga tribes share some aspect of their culture with the indigenous tribes of Indonesia, Phillipines, Malaysia, New Guinea and Polynesia.
There are seventeen major tribes in Nagaland, each occupying a distinct area, have a distinct culture, attire and language. Each Naga tribe has its own legend about their origin. Some excerpts number them to upto 37 which includes sub-tribes as well. However, the exact number of Naga tribes cannot be specified because they are found not only in Nagaland but also in the contiguous areas of the Indian States of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and in the neighboring country Myanmar as well. The reason being that the Naga inhabited areas was divided by the British rulers into different territories.
Some Naga tribes, such as the Khiamungan, Pochury, Sangtam, and Chang regard themselves as original inhabitants of these hills. The Angami, Chakhesang, Lotha, Rengma and Sema tribes have common traditions and myths of origin, and are believed to have originated from a single stock but later on got separated, occupied different hill ranges and gradually acquired separate identities.
We were unable to get accommodation for the Hornbill festival (which apparently gets booked a year in advance !!). This festival showcases various cultural aspects of major Naga tribes. So we pre-poned our Nagaland trip to March and had to make do with visiting the Nagaland State Museum at Kohima and Naga Heritage Village at Kisama, to get to know a little about the fascinating tribes of Nagalnd. Here I present some information and photographs of some of the Naga tribes, each equally interesting and each with a rich cultural heritage :
THE ANGAMI : Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
The origin of the word 'Naga' is contested. Some believe it originated from the Burmese word 'Naka' meaning people with ear rings. Others think its origin is from Sanskrit word 'Nagna' meaning naked.