The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Five. Heathens and Baptists
caption: ugly missionary churches
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Chantongia
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Nothing shows this disparity more clearly than the churches you find in Ao villages. Most of them are low, square, tinroofed buildings, the interior resembling an empty school room and the walls hung with crude colour prints of scenes from the Old Testament. Scenes which can mean singularly little to the average Naga. There may be some window panes of green and red glass, but next to nothing in such a church is made by Nagas. Yet there seems to be no reason why the churches of Aos should not be decorated with their own traditional wood carvings. Just as mediaeval craftsmen decorated Gothic cathedrals with fabulous animals, gargoyles and demons, so the expert wood-carvers among the Aos might be employed with advantage in building their houses of worship. In time new motifs could take the place of hornbills, monkeys and tigers, and a church containing the works of local artists would undoubtedly lie closer to the hearts of the (50) community than one adorned with foreign colour prints.