The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

sound recording - "Inde-Nagaland : Chant des tribus Sema et Zeliang"

caption: Sema women's rice-husking song, "Thishoale"
medium: sound
ethnicgroup: Sema
date: 1985
person: Maison du Culture du Monde, Paris
text: The women arrive at the work area, armed with long sticks. They stand in a horse-shoe pattern around the pile of rice to be husked. Following the song leader, who begins the text below during the repeat of the verse, the dancers pronounce words of a mnemotic nature, intended to work out the time and to measure approximately the quantity of rice husked.
text: While doing this, they perform in perfect ensemble a sideways movement, passing one leg over the other. Coupled with the hammering of the beaters, this body movement allows them not only to sweep through the pounding area, but also to maintain a body rhythm in this hard and repetitive work.
text: The song chanted by the first group is repeated by the second group. Each group comprises three voices singing in major thirds. The women work with their jewellery of glass beads, semi-precious stones and silver ornaments whose jangling sounds enter into the rhythmic composition of their song. In particular they wear around their hips, a bead-girdle of mid-thigh length.
"Welcome, welcome,
Beloved young men, beloved young women
To begin the harvest
Make me a basket with a strap
With designs across it
Our noble chief is Mr. Kinghazhe
Our noble lady is Mrs Sumiko
O, the generation of young Naga men is so handsome
O, the generation of young Naga women is so beautiful
At the end, we will go. Goodbye, goodbye"