Necklace of ethnic groups of Naga, India: their meaning and function through time
(Kobe Yamate Unversity)
Hitoshi Endo (National Institutes for the Humanities)
Paper short abstract:
The ethnic groups of Naga (Nagaland State, India) wear very distinct necklace of their own, having the beads used obtained through long distant trade. It is an important symbol of identity signifying social status, sex, respective group as well as more recent notion of unified ‘Naga’.
Paper long abstract:
he present paper is to discuss cultural significance of necklace worn by ethnic groups of 'Naga' of Nagaland State, India. It symbolizes identity not only of sex or social status, but also signifies particular society which the owner belongs. Some of the drastic events in the last 150 years caused a change in the society of Nagaland which suggests that meaning/function of wearing (or not wearing) the necklace also must have changed. During 19-20th century, i) the British invasion, ii) incoming of Christianity and iii) the war of independence against the Central Government have led to an introduction of the notion of 'Naga', unifying more than 60 respective ethnic groups under one category. Thus, each group has now become Angami 'Naga', Ao 'Naga' etc. instead of strong attitude of independence among each group that was once under continuous conflict. At the same time, conversion to Christianity as well as westernization of life ways had led to discarding custom of wearing the traditional necklace. However, in the past several decades, wearing of the necklace gradually revived. Though some of the Christian Church does not encourage, traditional ritual/festival such as Sekrenyi (Angami Naga) is being organized by the locals. So called Hornbill Festival was also commenced by the Department of Tourism, Government of Nagaland in year 2000 where all the major groups of Naga gather and perform traditional dance and songs. Though the people are now Christians, the necklace signifies identity not only of respective groups, but furthermore, also the unified 'Naga'.
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