The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: costume
caption: kilt
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Maruong
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: The kilt was formerly assumed much later that it is nowadays (i.e. at the first Hgangi after the boy attains a suitable age) and a young man went naked until the neighbours' comments grew too pointed. By present custom, a boy assumes the kilt as soon as he attains the age of puberty, but boys small for their age, especially if their parents are poor, may be made to go another full year without a kilt, and in the cold weather they are put to the greatest difficulty to be warm and yet decent, with only one small body cloth. The Maruong used to be less clothed than they are now, boys going naked later and old men discarding the kilt and wearing only a small cloth twisted round the waist with one end hanging down, Tangkhul fashion, as a nominal covering. This fashion is still to be seen, I am told, among the Nagas from Henima direction, who come to buy salt. Nowadays all elderly men wear the kilt, though they are not so careful in covering themselves as the younger men.
text: Bucks are the most careful about covering themselves, and never discard their kilts at night. If a buck's kilt should fall apart while he is asleep, some friend replaces it, lest a woman of the malik's family should come through and see. Some married men discard the kilt at night, most do not, until they are fairly elderly, but they are more casual than the bucks and nearly always hitch up their kilts at the back when they sit down, to save wear. Bucks seldom do, even in completely masculine society.