Tribes of Nagaland

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My dream of visiting Hornbill Festival in Kohima came true in December 2014. Festival is held in Naga Heritage Village ie some 15 kms away from Kohima. Festival displays house and clothing of each Naga tribe. Also tried to get pic of each tribe so u see their dress. View of festival area from a height. Light brown colored piece on left of pic is where dances are held.

Format of collection is board, tribal home and people of that tribe. First is KACHARI TRIBE. Their main festival is BISHU ie celebrated post harvest in January. The Kacharis are one of the non-Naga indigenous tribes of Nagaland who have also settled in Tripura and Assam. Was told they are from Assam. To know more Click here

Entrance to typical Kachari home. Of all the tribal homes at Hornbill this was only one with some artistic wood work as you see on two pillars. Dimasa are part of the greater Kachari group - one of the ancient Kachari tribes. To read about their history Click here

Kachari tribal girl. Of all the tribal girls at Hornbill she had the softest features and considered pretty by many. Note her ear rings and necklaces.

Outside every home members of tribe performed their dance so to showcase their culture to tourists. Note all homes are at a height, lowest level is open-air theatre where dance performances take place.

Close up of Kachari troupe dancers. Folk dances of this tribe are BAI-BUN, BAI MAIJAI, AJANG JANG ANG, BAI DIMA and KRAM JANG. Folk drama is NANA DIHONBA.

You see me with Kachari tribe girl. Note how colorful her dress is. Folk drama is called Nana Dibhonba. Indigenous game is called Rimin Nelaiba. Folk song is Slemah Dikhawbani.

Next is POCHURY TRIBE. Main festival is Yemshe in October. Tried to be as accurate as possible with captions. In case of any errors please mail correct caption.

Typical Pochury tribe home. What we call buffalo is called Mithun in Nagaland, ditto in Arunachal do not know other states in north-east. U see number of Mithun face with horns, it symbolises wealth in Naga tradition.

Members of Pochury tribe waiting for their chance to perform at the Hornbill Festival. Dances of this warrior tribe are U-HA, HO-WA, OH-HIA.

Colorful Pochury tribe. Other cultural events are KURIATSEI HIRILIA-HA, AE-WUH (game popular among young boys and girls in morungs), KUHUNYIE, KHALOLO-KUNE, A-HE, TUTU KHEI and LAWAI.

CHAKHESANG tribe. They celebrate seven festivals a year. Cultural events are DZULHA CIRO PHETA (salutation dance), TUKHRU-THURRO LIZZO (ode to the pied hornbill-great hornbill), DZULHA THUNYE PHETA (festival dance), DZULHA PHOSHU LIZZO (village founding folk song), MUCCI, MMHI MU DOTHO (yelling, exulting cry and stomping), DZULHA THURRI PHETA (war dance).

Their village home. Outside most tribal homes were tables and chairs where food and rice beer was served. Next is DZULHA RRIWHU LIZZO (ode to the dzulha warriors), DZULHA NYEDE LIZZO (mega festival song), SHIJO THUVA (crow picking twigs and pebbles), TSUTSU TATA (odorous wild-cat hopping).

Note their clothes. Famous Bollywood producer director Prakash Jha capturing memories for eternity. Next KHUHO LI (paddy field ploughing song) and TSAAPO SHELE (gist of the sowing song).

Prime Minister came for the inauguration of the Hornbill Festival. In his speech he asked the Nagas to reflect on what had they achieved in 50 years of Statehood, what are their aspirations, would they like to join the rest of India in its march to progress.

ZELIANG tribe. Cultural events are Song of Celebration, A folk song and dance, Good wishes for warriors before going to war, Harvest song, Song sung for young man and Folk song.

Typical home. Note the design of each home carefully, here they have displayed clothes as well. Centre u see face with horns of Mithun which symbolises wealth in Naga tradition.

Members of Zeliang tribe dancing in Hornbill festival. Note what men have worn on head.

It was quite cold during the day even. Keeping themselves warm and enjoying music as well.

Close up front view of members of Zeliang tribe.

In the heritage village are a number of shops that sell locally made handlooms, purses, necklaces, wood work etc. Handlooms are very colorful as you can see. Bought some lovely purses made of cane. Naturally so stuff here is expensive as compared to Kohima city. I found IMA Market in Imphal much cheaper for handlooms and bags.

Kuki is a tribe ie well known for its bamboo dance.


In traditional dress with gun in hand which indicates Warrior status. Drama is LOM CHANGTU. Traditional games MI LE SA KISAT(for boys) and CHANGMAI LOUTE (girls game).

Performing a dance, note the musical instruments being played on left of pic.

U see the very popular Cheraw or bamboo dance. Girls dance at the rhythm of dram and bamboos. The color combination of dress and stepping in between bamboos creates a rhythmic atmosphere. I loved the bamboo dance be it here or at the Sangai Festival in Manipur.

ANGAMI Tribe. Cultural events are THENYI RULU (folk dance), THIE TEISO (a folk love song), KIJU HANU (song of peace), KOTHOU (traditional top spinning), THUOLI (sword bean game), CHO CHO (game proving smartness), SEGUO MI (traditional fire-making).

Typical house. See right of pic they have pieces of wood like a stick tied round their waist. At entrance to home u can see series of pebbles, extreme right of pic u can see person with hand up aiming for the pebbles.

A close up view of members of the Angami tribe. Note the wooden sticks round men waist.

GARO tribe. Cultural events are WANGALA DANCE (is post harvest thanksgiving to the Sun God or Misisaljong, the god that provides mankind with nature''s bounties and ensure their prosperity is honored), RUGALA DANCE (also post harvest). Folk songs are ANCHING RE''RE and BADI DAKKE NA''ADE.

Typical home. It is at a height of couple of feet unlike other homes. Traditional Games are RE''''SU SOTA, ADING SALA, GOGRIPA, WAPANG KALA. To see pics of Martand Sun TempleClick here

Note the carvings of animals and men. To see pics of Hampi Fesitval Click here

You see me with a Garo tribe girl. Very good smile, note her dress and headgear. To see pics of Dev Deepavali Festival Kashi Click here

LOTHA tribe. Cultural events are Dance-EVONA WORONA (performed during construction of Morung), SHANTHA, ESU SHRU (war dance accompanied with deafening war cry), SHARISHE.

Typical home. Songs are RAPHA, HEYO-HE, MEYANG CHUMPHO. Next is YANPIYANTHAN (traditional marriage-in earlier days when boy liked girl and girls side agreed, boy''s family would kill a pig and take it to girl''s house for engagement party. Then boy would work in father-in-law house for one year. After that boy family would give another pig to girl''s family besides providing for marriage feast).

During festival time many tribes invite you to be part of their dance. Person in blue jeans is a friend enjoying the dance. He was fortunate to meet Modi as the PM was walking towards his vehicle post inauguration. Indigenous game is called KHUVRU VANTA and FUHO (game of cowries).

Enjoying rice brew. U can see meat hung across a stick ie getting ready for consumption. To see pics of Bastar Tribal Craft Click here

Girls of lotha tribe. Found the girls to be smarter then the boys not only here but all through my travels in the north-east. Love necklace and ear rings design. To see pics of Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh Click here

SUMI tribe. Cultural events are TOTIMI APHILO KUWO (women folk dance), APHI LE, AYUKUZULE (cotton spinning song), THISHO LE (rice pounding song), LEJO LE (song of appreciation), KUGHA KICHI TSA (a daughter and her step mother), ALU KUMULA LE (field clearing song), Seed Sowing Song, HADE LE (threshing song).

Typical home. Moon and Star that you see symbolise wisdom. To see pics of Tribal Museum Agartala Click here

Ladies dancing. In olden times Sumi had the knack of humoring, entertaining and amusing chiefs etc. When a rich individual had a feast for village, all men and women surrounded feast giver''s house singing folk songs and danced. It was accepted tradition for host to kill a big healthy mithun (avitsu) and a healthy huge male pig (avoli) for the feast.

Ladies dancing. This is the area where all dance performances take place. Naga Heritage Village is the permanent location for the Hornbill Festival. Very well laid out. Model tribal homes are part of the festival venue.

AO tribe. Folk dances are OH, NOKSH (performed in front of rich man house during festivals), OKI, SOYIM, TENEM SUNGJOK, NOKINKETER KIMA TSUNGSANGBA (performed in front of warrior''s house showing respect for warriors who saved from enemy attack). MOATSU is festival dance, ANGA MALU is fish dance.

Typical home. Lots of tourists eating food. Fortunately there was a counter for vegetarians and another that served lovely pizzas. On way out was a counter for chocolates, tea, fruits etc. All very well laid-out. There is a Museum also ie part of the heritage village complex.

Note their dress carefully. Men have put in their head tail feathers of the horn bill bird ie regarded as a symbol of bravery, valour and beauty. Next A PLAY is where boys and girls spend time together in the fields and dormitory (Zuki) to chose their life partners. To see pics of Trissur Pooram Kerala Click here

Dance performance just outside their model home. Note lady dress and necklace. Indigenous games are SANGPANG MANGABA (top spinning), JANGJALIBA (walking with bamboo stilts) and Demonstration of Pounding Grain.

CHANG tribe. Events are WAPYU CHIA (war dance performed around the beheaded head of the enemy), YAAN SOUBU (top spinning), SUA LUAH (folk dance during harvest festival), LAAUGH NGABU TETSIDA (ritual practice during drought), SEKMOU CHEMMOUBU OTUANG ONUT (cultivation song), BILEN CHIA (folk song).

Typical home. Next is CHISHOUK LAMSHUOK CHIA (song of reconciliation & friendship), Ritual for construction of village MORUNG (dormitory), SHANGBILI (female folk song).

Close up - wood panel has animals and skulls. In centre with horns is face of MITHUN. In Naga tradition it symbolises wealth. Bird with yellow beak is Hornbill. Skull indicates head hunter/warrior.

A Chang tribe couple. Lastly in BINTON SANGMAI denotes seeking of helping hands in times of trouble. Before conversion to Christianity, our people practiced idol worship and head hunting. In that backdrop one was compelled to maintain its own defensive policy by organizing a friendship treaty with neighboring villages known as binton sangmai.

Chang mean wearing headgear. To see pics of Khajuraho Dance Festival Click here

Kitchen behind a tribal home. Food cooked here is served to guests. Using British construct am calling the people whom I saw tribals. They wear jeans, speak very good English in fact would never know they are tribal unless someone told me so. Do not know what people in interiors of Nagaland wear but here it was invariably jeans or pants.

KHIAMNIUNGAN tribe, for simplicity calling them K tribe. Cultural events are WAR DANCE (performed by men only, is a replication of war with warrior''s holding shields, dao''s (machete) and spears, shouting war cries like a lion roaring and wild pig wandering fearlessly).

Typical home. Others events are EIU PHONG (jungle cleaning), KAO NIU SAO, JUNIAK NYUH (millet harvesting), ABENIU TSEM THAO (general village griding), TSEM SHIU, HAOTSAOSIE (celebrated post harvest), SHA LO YE (top spinning) & VEI KOI TI, YELIM YE SUIHANG NUHE VAI LEM YE ZUIHANG, JAM HANG (richest festival sponsored by one rich man for whole village for 10 days in Feb, he leads the people in invoking blessings for village by sacrificing his domestic animals).

Note wooden panels in centre and sides.

K men sitting with headgear in front resting on bamboo mugs. To see pics of Jaisalmer Desert Festival Click here

K leadies wearing long beaded necklace.

YIMCHUNGER tribe simply said Y tribe. For room stay in Kohima contact Nino Sewito 91 98563 43037. Did not use but highly recommended. Making bookings well in advance. Hotels try Hotel Grandeur 0370 2229699, Hotel View Point 91 9856346445, West View 91 9862011046. Hotel numbers from net.

Typical home. Cultural events are SANGKONG (log drum), THIRI-KU LUKHI (beheading enemies head), PINTHRUM THSUKHI (peace treaty), KHIANG YAM (the Morung), SANGPUN CHIM KHI (spinning and weaving), TSUNGKAM NEO/NEO-DO-NEO (celebrated in Jan post harvest).

Front view of home. Top is face of Mithun that symbolises wealth in Naga tradition. Lastly is DANJI YIMLU KHUN (millet harvesting). Post millet harvesting the Medemneo festival is celebrated.

Men of Y tribe.

Side view of men. Most performers were bare foot and minimal footwear. Very enjoyable to see each tribe perform. Number of events at Hornbill Festival - there were Band shows in the evening, fashion parade, wrestling matches - basically lots to see and enjoy. It was very cold in early December.

KONYAK tribe. Cultural events are PONGVIN PU (adolescence graduation ritual), YIPCHING PU (ballad), WANTANG PU (victory dance), SHAOBI PU (farmer''s song), MAI PU (ballad), SHUMSHU PU (song sang during pounding of grains), KHAM PONGPEI PU (beating of log drum), SANGFOU THREI PU (or sharpness competition is a compulsory combat training conducted at the Morung).

Typical home. Next is YANPU HANGPU (Aoleang is the main festival of the Konyaks and is observed in first week of April after sowing is completed), KHANGTAK PU (haircut, the traditional way of cutting hair was done using the dao and a piece of wood for tapping).

Mithun face in centre. Right has monkey sitting on elephant. Centre is man with a gun. Centre panel has birds on either side ie hornbill, on left side is a skull that indicates head hunter/warrior.

Konyak women holding sticks n men with spear. To see pics of Ladakh Festival Click here

Konyak couple with tourists.

A close up of Konyak girl, notice the beads ka necklace.

PHOM tribe. Cultural events are WEHOK ASHO (war dance ie accompanied by taunting battle cries), MOI ASHO (sung during gatherings to invoke blessings upon gathering and community), MAI ASHO (traditional love song performed by young men and women when they visit neighboring villages in pursuit of peace and harmony), MENVIH SHUHPU ASHO (performed during Yemho Festival that was celebrated post harvest).

Typical home. Next is SHANYAN SHAQ (farewell dance & song), ASHAK DAKPU (traditional weaving using back strap loom (the lion loom), LAKDAO CHU LEUNGPU (rice beer brewing), OW LEUNGPU (fire making), SHUM VUNGPU (log dream beating), VI LEUNGPU.

Front view. Left and right has Mithun face, elephant face, cannot figure out the third. Centre wooden panel has four monkeys with hands up.

Phom men dance during Hornbill Festival. To see pics of Tigers of Kanha National Park Click here

SANGTAM tribe. During earlier times buffalo sacrifice was performed when bonds of friendship were renewed within the village or with neighboring villages. From east to west Nagas have rich culture, the beauty of Saramati Mountains in the east, beauty of Japfu peak, the Dzukou valley in the west, the Dikhu river in the north-west and Dhansiri river in the south.

Typical home. Cultural events are TOK TSAHKIK-I (top spinning game), Women Indigenous game with a wild fruit called langthsa, Rice pounding.

Centre panel has Mithun face, man face, tiger face, skull, lizard I think and bird ie Hornbill. Skull indicates head hunter/warrior.

Ladies of Sangtam tribe with Pochury men behind them. Imphal to Kohima is app 4 hours by share a taxi, two hours from Kohima is Dimapur from where I took a train to Gauhati. There is a airport at Dimapur and Imphal.

RENGMA tribe. Cultural events RENGMA DAH (folk dance), folk songs KESO LU, SINGINYU GEN KERON LU, MAKECHO (indigenous game played after every 3 years, this is esp performed on the occasion of a newly constructed Morung inauguration to show/assess one''s bravery, agility and endurance.

Typical home. Other events are MAKELI (fire making), TEME TENYU KETEN (tiger-goats game), PVUKETUN KESU (wooden carved post pulling), SHYEKENYU (thrashing paddy).

Girls belonging to Rengma tribe. Details of cultural events w.r.t tribes are taken from booklet Culturally Yours published by the Directorate of Art and Culture, Government of Nagaland. I would also like thank them for helping me with finer details of captions. Had a great north-east trip. Started with Manipur, Kohima, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

Locally made flowers adorn the entrance to the shopping area where you get a variety of locally made handlooms and handicrafts. Surely worth a look and buy. I enjoyed Hornbill Festival and was sad could spend only 4 days there. Nevertheless had a great time.

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