The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Descriptive Ethnography of Bengal' on Nagas by E.T. Dalton

caption: Section 6. The Nagas of Upper Asam
caption: war-dance: description of one witnessed at Sangnoi
medium: articles
location: Sangnoi
person: Dalton/ E.T.
date: 1872
text: The Naga war dances commence with a review or sham fight. I witnessed one at Sangnoi in which vast numbers were engaged. The warriors are armed with a spear used as a javelin, a battle axe or dao, and a shield of buffaloe hide or of bamboo work covered with tiger or other skin, large enough to cover the wole person.
text: They advance in extended order, making admirable light infantry practice, for nothing can be seen but the black shields creeping along the ground. They are thus impervious to arrows, but their cover is no protection against a bullet. When sufficiently near to their imaginary enemy, they spring up and fling the spear; this is supposed to take effect; a tuft of grass represents the head of the dead foe; they seize it with the left hand, cut it out with the battle axe, and retreat with the clod hanging by the grass over their shoulder as the skull or scalp. A sort of triumphant song and dance in which the women join follows this.