The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Village Organization Among the Central Nzemi Nagas', M.A. thesis by Ursula Betts

caption: chapter two - the village
caption: the kuloa
caption: ritual centre of village; jumping stone and sacrifice centre
caption: water supplies through bamboo pipes
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: In the middle of the village street, approximately equidistant from the upper and lower gates, is the hazoa, the ritual centre of the site. It comprises a tilted block of stone from which the young men take off when jumping at the ceremonial sports included in all the major festivals, and a long mound of loose earth on which the jumpers land. The foundation ceremonies of the village are performed here and subsequently all cattle-sacrifices at the harvest-festivals and other annual feasts. (29) Heads taken in war were formerly buried by the hazoa and besides the sanctity which attaches to it from its regular ritual use, it has also the same peculiar significance as the Ao or Lhota head-tree. For certain rituals, notably that called heramui, a replica of the hazoa mound, without the take-off stone, is constructed just inside the lower village gate. This is never used for ceremonial sports and is reserved entirely for the heramui ceremony, which is never performed at the real hazoa in the centre of the village. [14 [Record T86718]
text: Where good springs are available on the slopes above the village, bamboo pipelines (katoa-mpui) are often constructed, and an additional water-supply is brought to troughs sited in the village street. The pipes are made of bamboos split lengthways, the nodes being chipped out. The sections are laid with their ends overlapping so that they form a continuous open runnel, and they are propped up on crotches whose varying height keeps the line's gradient constant over the uneven ground; (30) the sections are tied to each other and to their supports by strips of bamboo. Lines may be a mile or more long. The troughs (katoa- bung) into which they deliver are 12 feet or more long and are hollowed out of a tree-trunk. The ends project as shelves, are ornamented with female breasts carved in high relief, and have basins hollowed in them for the pounding of soap-creeper. Each kienga owns and maintains a pipeline and trough and receives an annual payment of one bamboo tube of rice-beer from each household using that supply. The village troughs are used chiefly by women, who draw water there and wash themselves, their children and their clothes. Men use separate bathing-places a little way from the village, wherever suitable spots, such as a point on the pipeline or a spring in the jungle, are available.