The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on Nagas from 'Assam Administration Report'

caption: Nagas
caption: Relations with Tributary States and Frontier Affairs
caption: Ao villages: houses, granaries, morungs, drums; dress; weapons; physique; trade; fear of Semas
medium: reports
person: McCabe/ Mr
ethnicgroup: AoHatiguriaSema
date: 1884
date: 1885
text: 39. With the exception of Nungtang and Lopphemi, all the villages visited by Mr. McCabe belong to the Ao tribe, known hitherto by the names of Hatiguria, Dupduaria, Paniduaria, and Assiringia. The Ao villages are as a rule much larger than those of the Angamis, Semas or Lhotas, but are not nearly so well fortified as those of the Angamis. The defences consist of a ditch and a rude palisade, and in many instances, the villages are quite open.
text: The houses are raised on bamboo piles and in many cases the front of the house is one the level of the ground; the back portion is raised at least ten feet, the abrupt slope of the hill on which the house is built necessitating this device. In common with the Rengmas, Lhotas and Semas, the Ao tribe construct their granaries just outside the village, the reason being in all probability security from fire. On an alarm of fire being raised, they at once unroof the granaries and their stock of dhan is thus rendered safe. Another feature which they possess in common with the Rengmas and Lhotas, though opposed to the customs of the Angamis and Semas, is the presence in each khel, or sub-division of a village, of a Morang, or bachelor's house. This building is the most imposing structure in the village; here reside all the young unmarried men who supply the sentries on the look-out, erected as a rule over the gate of the village.
text: In close proximity to each Morang is a drum, a large tree hollowed out and elaborately carved. A large club fixed on a pivot immediately above the drum is used as a striker, and in times of alarm the dull booming sound of this rude musical instrument may be heard for miles around.
text: The dress of the men of this tribe consist of a loin cloth, and in cold weather of an extra cloth thrown loosely across the shoulders. These cloths are generally of a dark blue colour, interspersed with thin lines of red and white, none of them, however, possess any artistic merit.
text: The women wear a blue petticoat, and a loose cloth is thrown over the upper part of the body; some wear cotton stockings, and all free women are tattooed. Their chief feature, however, is large brass earrings passing through the upper portion of the ear, and fastened to the temples by a band passing across the head.
text: The weapons of warfare are the spear, dao, and shield, the latter being small, and of little use. The head is protected by a cane-work helmet decorated with boar-tusks, and a strip of wood, ornamented with the yellow skin of an orchid, with white seeds, and dyed goat's hair hangs across the chest. In physique the men of this tribe are superior to the Lhotas, but decidedly inferior to the Semas and Angamis; they have no great reputation as warriors.
text: The smaller villages are not allowed to trade direct with the plains, but are compelled to purchase salt and other imported articles from the more powerful trading communities. Nankam trades via Bamdubia, while Ungma and Susu use the Bor Haimong route. The villages of Molodubia and Salachu carry on an extensive trade with Amguri and Jorhat, and during the cold season numbers of men obtain employment on tea-gardens. The Semas are a stronger and pluckier race, but are certainly less civilised and more inclined to be turbulent. They are entirely cut off from all communication with the plains, and carry on a harassing warfare with their neighbours of the Ao tribe. Their expertness in the use of the cross-bow and superior courage make up for deficiency in numbers, and the Ao men always speak of them with bated breath as great warriors.