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: use of coin
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
location: Asalu Mahur Laisong Magulong
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: The use of coin is now widespread among the Central Nzemi. It varies in some degree with the village's position and is related to the distance from the neighbouring markets. For certain purposes coin is universally used, as in the annual (117) payment of Rs. 3/- house-tax or the part-payment of bride-wealth, but in other fields its use may be restricted to a greater or less extent and in any case this use is wholly dependent on the convertibility of coin into rice, the only true Nzemi wealth.
text: For example, in the Asalu group coin serves for almost all transaction, including the hiring of casual labour, because it is readily converted into rice at the nearby market at Mahur. At Laisong, which is 20 miles from the market as against Asalu's 7, coin still has a wide use, but because Laisong deals less frequently with the market than does Asalu and there is therefore less coin in circulation, rice forms a simpler and more generally acceptable medium for small transactions, of the value of one rupee or fractions of a rupee. In Laisong it is more difficult to hire casual labour for coin payment that it is in Asalu, for in Laisong coin cannot readily be exchanged for rice. Unless he is collecting coin for bride-wealth, the rich villager from whom rice must be bought prefers to exchange it direct for labour on his fields, which shows him a profit in an increased rice-crop. In Magulong, however, and in other Central Nzemi and North Nzemi villages which are 40 miles or more from the nearest market, coin is gladly accepted in exchange for labour because it is so much more easily carried on salt-buying expeditions than are large loads of cotton and dried chillies, although the coin in circulation in these communities and the range of its use in transactions are otherwise approximately the same as in Laisong.