home | history | culture | tribes | photo gallery | writers bloc

 ARTICLES @Nagaland.faithweb.com


by Dr. Gautam Chatterjee.

Dr. A.K. Das, Professor Museology (Dr.Maulana Azad Chair) of National Museum Institute, India,is an expert on Naga life, culture  and arts  talks  to  Dr. Gautam Chatterjee, about the extinct culture of Naga out of his long field experiences.

G.C. As an expert on Naga life will you throw some light on the SUNGKONG or the log drum from socio-anthropological perspective. ?

Dr. Das.: This log drum is very integral part of Naga life. This is created out of huge tree trunk sometime going upto 30 to 40 mts. in length and 5 to 6 feet height. The drum is flattened from the bottom to place it

on the ground firmly and from the top through carvings a hollow is made and on bitting from top the sound emits. Some time those are highly decorated with human motif.

This log drum is not only restricted to create martial music but on all occasions from birth to death from

festivals to the death news and from announcing time of the elders meetings to declare emergency when the rival group attacks are the function of this log drum .

G.C. :Is there any sound code or rule of the sound beat?

Dr. Das : As such there is no formal codification of these sound beats. But through oral tradition everybody understands as a peculiar sound emits on all different occasions. This is more on the communication mode than a simple ritual of Naga people.

G.C.: When Naga people decides to change their log drums what’s the process and ritual they follow?

Dr. Das: This is a very elaborate process. First of all one of the Naga man has to volunteer to donate a tree from his own forrest area. Then youth go to cut the tree and after performing a ritual they start the

tree-falling process. And only tool they use is Dao. Then for seven days the process of bringing tree

from forest to village starts. These are brought through indigenous process. In all these days women and

girls bring foods and drinks for the youth who toe the log. Its almost a festival for them. Once the log

is brought to the village expert woodcarvers create the drum and do the traditional art work on them.

After a small ritual the drum is placed near the Morung or dormitary for regular use.

G.C. Will you explain the much talked about male dormitarty or Morung?

Dr. Das: Morung is a dormitary for youth say from 5 to 16 years who spend their nights here. There is a separate dormitary for females in this age group. Due to the open architecture of the Naga house and

for the sake of privacy of husband and wife children are to stay in Morung. But from these Morung the

youth keep a watch over the enemies and declare emergency through bitting the log drum on seeing enemies. Otherwise here in day time this Morung function as Gurukul without a guru. It means children and youth are informed by all the elders(not by particular person) about the tradition and customs . Likewise heritage and tradition is passed onto the next generation.

G.C. Today those practices are passing into oblivionness will you elaborate how the great Naga culture in its functional point becoming extinct?

Dr. Das: It all started in early nineteenth century when British intervened the hilly areas of North East India. British clergy men and American Baptist Mission went all about to enlighten this traditional people and conversion was the first step. Clergy men tried to erase the pagan (non-christian) culture and they even destroyed Morangs and burnt down sacred log drums to diminish the rituals of those traditional feelings. But by the seventies of this century a revivalism started and though Christian ,Naga people opted for their own traditional attire from the Headgear to shawl which was a silent demonstration to revive their lost culture and rituals .

G.C. Will you explain the context of lost culture and the present revivalism?

Dr. Das : Today you can see the age old traditions and festivals are again being revitalated. Though complete revival is not possible and be it art or culture this only remains symbolic than functional for which Naga culture was known for. Thus major portion of their tradition is lost and symbolism remains only at theatrical and aesthetic levels.

Dr Gautam Chatterjee



© Copyright 2002-2020 nagaland.faithweb.com, Inc.
nagaland.faithweb.com hosted by Faithweb Technologies