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 five: land tenure and agriculture
caption: the agricultural system
caption: choice of land for cultivation at Hga-ngi feast
caption: labour resources in rice cultivation; hiring labour
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 Central Nzemi year begins with the feast of Hga-ngi. Shortly before it the village council decides at a public discussion which tracts of agricultural land are most suitable for cultivation in the coming year, and right-holders who for any reason oppose the cultivation of their holdings may then state their objections. If the council over-rules them they have no further power of protest. During the Hga-ngi feast itself the tingkhupeo and his assistants take the omens for the coming year by means of split bamboos, and the bamboos are asked inter alia, whether the choice of land for cultivation is wise or not. Unless the omens are exceptionally bad it is unlikely that any change will be made, as the choice of land is conditioned by its state of regeneration. [5 [Record T86833]
text: When the tracts have finally been decided upon, each householder marks out the field he requires by cutting blazes on trees or setting up bamboo markers. The fields vary in size according to the labour the householder concerned can muster. (107) A man with no stored wealth in rice can count only on the labour of such members of his domestic family as are capable of field-work, and though he will receive assistance from kinsmen and neighbours organized into field working-parties, this is conditional on reciprocal labour in fellow-villagers' fields by himself and his family. On the other hand, a man with stored wealth in rice can realise a part of it by selling it for cash and call upon a reserve of labour in the form of kienga work-parties, since the young men do not normally take part in the reciprocal field-work pattern of the community. [6 [Record T86834]