The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

'The Feast of Merit among the Northern Sangtam Tribe of Assam', by C.R. Stonor, 1950

caption: details of the ritual
caption: privileges accruing from performance of feasts
medium: articles
person: Archer/ W.G.
ethnicgroup: Sangtam <Northern
location: Chongtore (Changtorr) Chimongre (Chimongrr)
date: 12.1947
person: Stonor/ C.R.
date: 1950
refnum: 'Anthropos', vol. XLV 1950
text: Of the many privileges attending the performance of the various feasts, it is striking that several have a direct connection with the feast in question. Thus, the symbols for yeast on the cloth for the Yungti feast are commemorative of the provision of beer which seems to be more important than the pork provided. In the Anitz, as we have seen, the split bamboos on the house ridge, and the model wagtails are symbolic of the dancers, while the mithan horns on the associated cloth represent the mithan sacrificed. So also does the hanging fringe to the front eave of the house, which represents a mithan's dewlap. This is however a simple adaptation of the ordinary house-style of the adjacent Chang Nagas.
text: Other privileges appear to be more than the normal attributes of a man who has distinguished himself by lavish expenditure in the interests of the community. Of this type are the right to wear Hornbill feathers (the sign of a rich man throughout the Naga Hills ), the clothes of both men and women, and the right of the feasters women-folk to wear ornaments. It is also clear that the minor privileges attendant on performance of feasts vary from village to village, as one would expect in a state of society where the village is the unit. Thus, in the Sangtam village of Changtorr the Yungti feast entitles to a porch at the back of the house, while in the village of Chimongrr, a very few miles distant, no back porch is built, but a large front porch is put up for performance of Anitz (Plate IV, Fig. 2
text: In the above account I have confined myself only to the details of observance and the accompanying ritual of the Sangtam Feasts of Merit. It is hoped to investigate the economic importance of the institution in a future paper.