The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Notes on the Wild Tribes Inhabiting the So-Called Naga Hills, on our North-East Frontier of India', by Col. R.G. Woodthorpe, 1881

caption: Angami kilts; cowries; cloths; coronet of bears' hair; hornbill feathers
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: AngamiMao
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: The kilt, the principal distinguishing article of dress of the Angamis, is a strip of dark blue or black cotton cloth from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet long, and 18 inches wide. It passes round the hips overlapping in front, and is usually fastened on the left side: the lower inner corner is drawn tightly between the legs by means of a string which passes up behind and hangs over the waistbelt. An occasional hitch is given to the string when the garment appears to be coming loose, and every requirement of decency is satisfied. When a man becomes (50) a warrior and has taken heads, he acquires the right to decorate his kilt with three rows of cowries; and in case of a very distinguished warrior, with four rows. The men of the Mao group of villages towards Manipur, however, wear cowries irrespective of any deeds of valour. Thrown loosely over the shoulder are worn from two to three cotton or bark homespun cloths, of dark blue, with a double border of bright scarlet and yellow stripes, or white with a border of blue and red stripes. On the war-path, these cloths are worn, one across the breast and knotted over the shoulders, the other bound round the waist: the folds of the latter they use as pockets. When going out to fight, the warriors often wear a large wreath or coronet of long bear' hair, which gives them a very formidable appearance, and from the back of this, or inserted in their chignons, spring three or five tall feathers, rising from small wooden stems covered with red hair, in which they fit so loosely that the feathers revolve with any movement or breath of air. For very conspicious bravery the right is conferred to wear in their headdress the long tail feathers, white with a broad band of black, of one of the many kinds of the large birds called hornbills, than inhabit the dense forest of the Burail Mountains.