Saturday, July 20, 2024

Nagaland Crafts

About Nagaland Crafts   |    Picture Gallery

Wood CarvingWood Carving
The best wood-carvings are to be seen on the village gate, in the Morung, and in front of the house of a rich man or warrior. The working instruments for wood carving are simple. They include Dao, chisel, axe and adze. The figures generally carved are mithun head, hornbill, human figure, elephant, tiger etc. These figures have their usual symbolic meaning. The mithun head represents wealth; the hornbill, valour; the human figure, success in head-hunting; while elephant and tiger denotes physical prowess. In Konyak area, there are some carvings which have the Khajuraho touch about them; there are exotic motifs showing a dancing couple in an amorous posture. The Konyaks  are in fact, the best wood-carvers among the Nagas. The log-drums or xylophones which are laboriously hollowed out of the trunk of a big tree are excellent specimens of the Naga's skill in wood-work. The drum has generally a carved prow showing mithun, buffalo or tiger's head. In recent years, with the suppression of  head-hunting and the spread of Christianity, the art of wood-carving has suffered.

Bamboo WorkBamboo Work
The forests in Nagaland are rich in Bamboo and cane. Naturally therefore, Nagas are expert basket makers. The craft is restricted to men. Baskets are usually of two kinds, one to be kept in the house for storage purposes and the other to be carried on the back for day-to day use. The Ao (tribe's) basket is conical in shape, while the Angami basket is cylindrical  with the mouth slightly wider than the base. Generally all Nagas make their own baskets and there are no professionals.

Apart from the baskets, the Nagas also make mats and shields with bamboo. The Changs make attractive chungas or drinking cups. Necklaces, armlets  and leggings are made of cane.

Pottery is not very popular and is practiced in very few villages. There is no revolving wheel; the Nagas make their pots by the use of hands only. The craft is restricted to women and the turnover is not large.

Blacksmithy, though a comparatively  recent craft, is more popular. The smiths produce the normal requirements of villagers like the Dao, axe, sickle, jewellery, knives, spear points and butts etc. The Konyaks are the best blacksmiths. They make muzzle-loading  guns as well. The Lothas regard this trade unlucky  and believe that no blacksmith lives long after he stops the work.