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 three - the Ram or village community
caption: the moieties and the Tsami
caption: larger kinship groups, origin and history
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
location: Impoi Magulong
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: When the question of larger kinship groups is examined, it is found that for the vast majority of the Central Nzemi no larger unit intervenes between the tsami and the moiety, and that, with two exceptions, the tsami to which they belong are not linked with others to form clans. Some tsami believe, however, that they and certain other tsami have a common ancestry. For example, the Neomi Nubumheungtsami of the Asalu cluster can trace its line for eleven generations and is descended from the co-founder of Impoi, a village which was certainly in existence before 1706. The Nubumheungtsami claim a common origin with the Neomi tsami known as the Isuongpeonami, which is found in the Northern Nzemi village of Magulong in north-western Manipur. Members of the two tsami call one another by kinship terms, stay as honoured guests in one another's houses and set up funerary monuments to each other's dead notables. In the early part of the nineteenth century, or possibly at the end of the eighteenth, the Magulong community migrated to North Cachar to escape Angami pressure and remained there for some years. It would have been possible for the Isuongpeonami to have split off (41) from the Nubumheungtsami at this stage and to date their co-foundership of Magulong from that community's return from North Cachar about the year 1860; but the Nubumheungtsami explicitly state that the converse is true, that they originally came to the Impoi site from Magulong and that the Isuongpeonami are the stock and the Nubumheungtsami the branch which sprang from it. Since the Nubumheungtsami are rich in genealogical information, and have been connected with Impoi throughout their known history of some 200 years, their link with the Isuongpeonami must of considerable antiquity, and it might perhaps be held that they form a clan. But there is no tradition of a known common ancestor and no name for the corporate group formed by the linkage, and I do not feel it is justifiable to regard these two tsami as forming a clan. Among the Nzemi proper, the only other instance I found of a grouping of patrilineal descent groups into a clan was that of Nkwoami. Nkwoami is admitted to be of Nriami origin, but it now accepted as a third exogamous unit, although it is considerably smaller than either Nriami or Neomi, and intermarries with both. Unlike them, its name is not believed to derive from that of an ancestor. There are, however, immigrants of Kabui, and possibly Angami and Lyengmai origin, who appear to possess clans. These are the Impanmi, Impami, Ndaimi, Ngami and Hasanmi in the Nriami society and the Nraomi in the Neomi moiety, each of which numbers not more than five or six tsami. Of these, the Impanmi claim descent from immigrant bodies of Kabui Nagas which entered the Central Nzemi area after the establishment of Hangrum and Impoi, but before the end of (42) the Kachari Kingdom at Maibong, which was sacked and burned by the Ahoms in 1706. The present Habeingtsami of Impoi claim that their ancestors were the first Impanmi immigrants into the Central Nzemi area. They first settled at Hangrum and then moved to Impoi. Later Impanmi arrivals were the ancestors of the Gerongtsami, which is at present found in Thingje village in North Cachar, but went there from the Central Nzemi settlement of Toushem in Manipur, where there are still Impanmi tsami. From a third body of Impanmi immigrants descend the Nsungntsami of Longkai. The name Impanmi is that of an existing Kabui clan, as is Impami. The Kabui Nagas have a division into exogamous moieties, each moiety comprising some six clans; there is also a third unit, comparable to Nkwoami, which marries into either moiety. Impanmi and Impami would therefore seen to be immigrant bodies which have retained their former clan identities after incorporation in the Nzemi system, with its similar moieties. Ngami is almost certainly of Angami origin, Ngami being simply the Central Nzemi name for the Angami Nagas, [11 [Record T86771]