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 individual's relations with the kienga
caption: supervision of boys' dormitory; functions of dormitory
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: The leaders are married men selected by the kazeipeo to work with and supervise the young men and boys. The kazeipeo himself is in charge of and responsible for all the young men and boys who occupy what is in fact the front porch of his house, and he and his wife are addressed as 'father' and 'mother' by their charges. He is selected for his office by the village council and must be a man of means, good social status and strong character. Means are required because his expenses are considerable. The hangseoki serves as a hostel for travellers, and if they have no kinsmen in the village to offer them food, it is the duty of the kazeipeo to provide for them. During the various festivals of the Nzemi year the kazeipeo provides most, if not all, the rice consumed by the men of the kienga when feasting in the hangseoki; he must also provide hospitality when dance-teams from other villages arrive on a visit, and on many other occasions when food and drink must be provided in the name of the kienga. Since the prestige of the kienga is involved, such hospitality may not be stinted. He acts as a protector of the young men, and an unmarried youth suspected of a crime or otherwise in difficulty or danger seeks the help of his kazeipeo, who is in duty bound to protect him until the village authorities take charge of the case, and will in other ways give all the assistance he can. Before the administration of the Nzemi country the hangseoki served as guard-houses and, in the event of an attack on the village, the kazeipeo commanded and led the fighting-men of his kienga, most of whom, married or unmarried, were concentrated at night in the hangseoki. The (55) wife and daughters of the kazeipeo carry the water for the young men's washing-place in the hangseoki and are the only women who may enter the hangseoki with propriety. The hangseoki is not forbidden to women, but it is grossly immodest for any women not of the domestic family of the kazeipeo to enter or remain in it, and the wife and daughters of the kazeipeo never in any circumstances sit on the benches or remain in the hall longer than is necessary for their business. [21 [Record T86781]