Konyak Tribe Essay

Konyak Tribe Term paper

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The Konyak Nagas The Konyak Nagas, Indian tribes living in the northeast frontier of India are an interesting culture to research. They were considered in the 1930s as a culture still daily living as they did in ancient days yet by 1947 the government of India took effective steps to bring them under its administrative control. The tribes are separated into several villages such as the Sangtam, Chang, Kaylo Kengyu, Angami, Konyak and the Wakching Nagas. The villages differed in language, political structure, and some aspects of material culture. Even though governing officials have interrupted the traditional ways of life of the Naga tribes, there are some things that have not changed. Within the Wakching village their houses, appearance, language, religious beliefs and interpersonal relationships have been carried down from ancient times. The Wakching village occupied a high point of abroad and uneven ridge in the Naga Hills district. With 249 Houses and a population of about 1300 inhabitants, it was the largest village within a radius of ten miles. Its size and strategic position secured it against the attacks of hostile neighbors. The houses were usually grouped together in a compact block and enclosed with a fence or they were scattered over the site in several areas with vegetable plots and bamboo groves around them. Structurally, the Konyak houses were of two types, one of the open front and high roof points and those of closed fronts whose roofs hung low over a front porch. The men s houses were largest in size eighty four feet long and thirty-six feet wide. The roof was made out of thick thatched palm leaves and at the sides the branches nearly touched the ground. Leaf bundles, flat decorated stick and small carvings of birds were hung from the front ends of the roof rafters, so they formed a curtain which gave the porch shade from the sun. The porch was about twenty-four feet deep. Benchs were made for working upon and sitting at. While walking through the four feet wide entrance way one would have to step over a low bamboo barrier, placed in the doorway to keep out stray animals. Stepping into a sixteen-foot wide, seven foot in length porch. To the right a wooden door opened up to a corridor like hall, which occupied the entire length of the house. Within this room was a rice-pounding table that was about ten feet long. Then one moved into the living room where the family lived and did most of their cooking in. The families slept in bamboo bunks usually the father with two children and the mother with two children. Baskets, fishing nets and farming tools were hung up on the walls. Spears stood in the corners and dao, were stuck in the matting walls. Utensils used in the preparation of food, cooking pots, pounding pestles, wooden ladles and dishes were grouped within reach of the cooking area. All items that were used daily were packed up in woven waterproof cane baskets and closed with lids. The only source of light was a small door in the wall of the living room. At the back of the house the hall widened into a utility room, which was the entire length of the house. Here the drying of rice and taro, an Indonesian root crop, took place. Also the cutting up of animals for food preparation and the entertaining of guests happened within this room. Finally, the back door lead out to a veranda about fifteen by twenty feet, half of it was covered with a roof and half open to the sky where the drying of washed clothes could hang. The bathroom area was located on the veranda sheltered from view with palm leaves and the waste in which fell to the ground was eaten by pigs roaming among the piles. The people of the Wakching tribe were very physically attracted in appearance and wore the most splendid of colorful ornaments. Men and women were of slender build and delicate bone structure and well-maintained their youthfulness in to their middle-ages. They have light to medium brown skin tone and dark brown or black colored eyes. Young men and women were well groomed, their bronze skin clean and their black hair nicely combed, often with fresh flowers stuck in an earlobe or hair knot. Men and half-grown boys seldom wore more than a tight belt and a small apron, only covering their private parts but still some were seen gossiping in the villages as late as 1962, with no aprons on. Men s belts were made of several coils of cane or of broad strips of bark, with long ends that hung down over the buttocks like a tail. During ceremonial occasions the men wear splendid attire depending on their achievements in the field of headhunting. While at the time of the annual spring festival all males, from small boys to white-haired grandfathers, wore some sort of headgear, only head-takers were entitled to the more magnificent headdresses. Most common were conical hats made of red cane and yellow orchid stalks, crested with red goat s hair and topped with a few tail feathers of the great Indian hornbill. Head-takers garnished such hats with flat horns carved from buffalo horn and tassels made of human hair. Boar s tusks, monkey skulls and hornbill beaks were other favored ornaments. Both men and women wore arm rings and neck ornaments of many different shapes and materials. The women and girls wore narrow, oblong pieces of cloth wrapped around their waist, with one corner tucked in over the left hip. These skirts were about ten inches wide and covered the body areas, which were required by the tribe to attain decency. A woman never took off her skirt in the presence of men, not even when bathing or fishing. Unmarried girls usually wore plain white or blue skirts, but married women preferred skirts with red and white stripes. A young girl with developed breasts and pubic hair could be seen walking around the village nude. Due to women s skirt covering only their private parts, when they would have menstrual blood appear on their thighs, they felt no embarrassment. In ceremonial celebrations a women s attire varied depending on her social status. A girl or woman of pure chiefly blood had the right to wear red and white striped skirts decorated with embroidery, glass beads, and tassels of dyed goat s hair. Women of minor chiefly clan were entitled to similar skirts, but to no decorative tassels. Commoners wore skirts of darker color, usually blue with no ornaments. All of these skirts were woven of cotton, and patterns varied slightly from village to village. The Konyak Nagas language is a Tibeto-Burman tonal launguage of which not even a simple word list was known. Though some
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