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: costume: shell head pieces; hats; ornaments; girdles of polished plates of brass; aprons; cane leg bands; pole-axe; spears; chiefs' stools
medium: articles
location: Sangnoi
person: Dalton/ E.T.
date: 1872
text: Many of the Naga chiefs, as the Namsangya Raja or Kumbo, dress respectably as Hindus when they visit the plains, like highlanders putting on the trews, but at home they wear the national dress of a Naga chief or warrior, which is very fantastic but very picturesque.
text: They wear singular coronals made of pieces cut out of large shells, and on the crown of the head a little periwinkle-shaped basket-work cap, black with a scarlet border with peacocks " feathers and goats" hair dyed scarlet. Necklaces, bracelets, armlets of beads, shells, brass, and of cane-work, are worn in profusion, but no drapery to speak of. The girdle is of polished plates of brass with a kind of double stomacher above and below. A very small apron of black cloth decorated with small shell is seen below this in most of the tribes, but I have seen tribes who wore nothing of the kind. The legs are also ornamented with bands of cane colored red. The arms are a gleaming pole-axe with a short black handle, decorated with a tuft of red goats' hair; a broad headed barbed spear, the shaft of which is covered with colored hair like a brush, and a shield of buffalo hide from four to five feet long.
text: The women's costume is simpler, consisting of necklaces and an apron, or sometimes without the apron.
text: The great chiefs have chairs or rather stools of state on which they and their sons sit; the ruler's stool being the highest, that of the heir apparent a step lower, and the other members of the family lower still. On one occasion we had been for some time waiting for the attendance in camp of the Chief of Sangnoi, and the officers had left the camp (42) to view some part of the adjoining country. On our return, we found within the beat of our sentries, a scaffolding of bamboos twenty or thirty feet high, on the top of which was seated the Sangnoi Chief's son prepared to receive our homage! He was made to descend very rapidly and accommodated with a stool.