The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript tour diary of W.G. Archer, S.D.O. Mokokchung 1947

caption: visit to Lungkam
caption: warriors' dress and head-taking
medium: tours
keywords: tsungrem
person: Sangpu
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Lungkam Pangsha Lungsa
date: 2.2.1947
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 31.12.1946-14.2.1947
text: Warriors' dress is now awarded to all Aos of the village who have either served as porter on expeditions in which heads were taken or who have been on active service in a war. When the Kalyo-Kenyu village of Pangsha was finished, Sangpu, an Ao porter was allowed to return with a head. As he neared the village the news spread before him and all the men went down to meet him. The head was brought in triumph to the gate and was there set down for all to view and handle. After that it was borne in procession to the log drum where it was again set down while men and boys beat out the great resounding notes. At the drum the oldest men addressed the tsungrem or spirit of the drum, saying 'May every warrior be safe and the whole village will flourish'. The head was then taken to the head tree and stuck on the top of a tall bamboo pole. All present were required to observe seven days as genna. The skull has since been tied with wire to the branch of the tree and although the lower jaw has gone two upper teeth are still remaining.
text: (55) As a result of this expedition and of service in war a number of Aos (including all the gaonburas as well as the christian head pandit of the village school) can now wear warriors' dress. This dress is the same for both Chongli and Mongsen clans in the village and includes the following articles. The body cloth is red with four black lines at the top and bottom and black with six black and red strips in the middle. The median band is white and is painted with abstract patterns signifying heads, bracelets, chabali, the wooden legs of eating vessels, and warriors with shields. The painted band costs two rupees and is obtainable in Lungsa. The next item is the cowrie apron. Any Ao of Lungkam can wear an apron with three horizontal lines of cowries and one vertical section of them. If he has become a warrior, he can add a second vertical patch while if he has gone to several wars or expeditions, he can sew a broad zigzag line of cowries above the horizontal lines. Two other items are a red baldric with cowries in a curve and some yellow beading for use at the waist and a great fringe of red goats' hair ornamented in yellow for wear behind the neck. Besides all this he can set the hornbill feathers in his head dress and can carry a spear with two red tufts and a plume of shaggy hair.
text: This insignia is still greatly valued and I was told that contrary to Mills' statement in the Ao Nagas it could never be obtained at least in this village by mere feasting or by purchase. Similarly the fact of handling the head in no way qualified the toucher for full dress but merely permits three pairs of cowries being added to the bottom edge of his apron.