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 kienga
caption: link between dormitory groups and moieties
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: Custom among the other Naga tribes suggests that at one time the Nzemi kienga may have conformed more or less closely to the exogamous units. There are always two kienga, very rarely more; they are called the nre-kienga, the 'upper kienga' and the nkhang-kienga, the 'lower kienga', and the hangseoki with which they are associated are situated, as the names indicate, in the 'upper' and 'lower' parts of the village respectively. 'Upper' indicates that part of the village (50) nearest to the main hill, and 'lower' the part furthest from it. Where the spur is steep the distinction is obvious, but where, as at Hangrum, the village runs along an uneven ridge, the 'lower' hangseoki may in fact stand at a greater altitude than the 'upper' and they can only be distinguished by reference to the main range or peak from which the ridge or spur derives. No trace of coincidence between the Nzemi kienga and the Nzemi exogamous divisions now remains, and kienga members are recruited by an unusual method. When word is received that a child has been born a party of girls or boys, according to the child's sex, hurry to the house from each leoseoki or hangseoki to claim the baby for their kienga; the first party to arrive secures the child as a member. Fathers and sons and brothers are thus often found in different and rival kienga.