Arts and Crafts of Nagaland


The rich arts and crafts of Nagaland portray the artistic caliber and creative imagination of the local craftsmen of the north eastern state of India. Nagaland has several small scale cottage and medium scale industries that produce fine products of the traditional art of the state.

The art of weaving is primarily the domain of the female folk of Nagaland. The weaving industry is one of the important industries of Nagaland that has added to the financial strength of the north eastern state of India. The women of Nagaland design beautiful patterns on pieces of cloth to make them colorful and attractive. The excellent design patterns on the Angami Naga shawls bears relic to the unique artistic skills of the artists who have inherited the art from their forefathers. The men folk of Nagaland produce excellent pieces of wooden work. The artists carve exquisite designs on the wooden pieces. One of the traditional arts of Nagaland, the wood carving industry produces beautiful products that have an internationally acclaimed status.

The local indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland master in the art of making baskets which are decorative and functional as well. The baskets of different sizes and shapes are used for variety of purposes. The traditional ornaments of Nagaland reflect the rich cultural heritage of the place. The native population of Nagaland love to wear heavy jewelries on days of special festive occasions. The local citizens of Nagaland draw beautiful pictures of animals and birds on the walls of their houses to make them look attractive. Nagaland is famous for producing several beautiful items of bamboo and cane work.

Nagaland is famous for producing excellent pieces of pots from mud. The pots of Nagaland are used for storing water. The metal work is another industry that has flourished in the north eastern state.

Weaving

The unique weaving of Nagaland reflects the rich artistic skills and creative imagination of the local craftsmen who have inherited the art from their forefathers. An integral part of the arts and crafts of Nagaland, the weaving industry has helped to strengthen the economic base of the state. The weaving industries of Nagaland predominantly employ female weavers. Weaving industry is one of the traditional industries of Nagaland. According to the social customs of the ancient times, the wife of a particular man who had gone for hunting was not allowed to weave. However, with the passage of times, such social customs related to weaving have been relaxed and women can freely engage in the industry to earn their livelihood.

The state government of Nagaland has taken several steps to improve the condition of the small scale and medium scale cottage industries. Equipped with all the modern machineries, the weaving industries of Nagaland in the modern era produce world class products that have an internationally acclaimed status. The government of Nagaland has established training institutes in the districts of Dimapur and Mokokchung that imparts professional courses on weaving. More and more citizens of Nagaland are encouraged to take up the traditional profession of weaving to help in the balanced development of agricultural productivity and industrial sectors of the state.

The female population of Nagaland exhibit excellent command over the traditional art of weaving unique pieces of clothes. Most of the female folk of Nagaland weave their own clothes. The proliferation of the weaving industries has helped to raise the standard of living of the common masses of Nagaland.

Embroidery

The beautiful embroidery of Nagaland portrays the rich artistic caliber of the local craftsmen of the north eastern state of India. The local indigenous population of Nagaland design unique patterns on their shawls, clothes and other decorative items made up of cloth which reflects their cultural heritage. The splendid embroidery of the Angami Naga shawls of Nagaland has an internationally acclaimed status. Most of the tourists who visit the north eastern state prefer to buy the beautiful shawls as relic of the rich artistic creativity of the native population of Nagaland. Designed with colorful threads or wools, the Angami Naga shawls reflect the old glory and grandeur of the state of Nagaland.

Popularly known as Sami Lami Phee, the Angami Naga shawls were gifted to the valiant fighters by the ruler of Nagaland in recognition of their service during the ancient times. The Angami Naga shawls are usually embroidered with unique design patterns of several wild animals against the black base of the shawls. The exclusive embroidered cloths are an important part of the rich arts and crafts of Nagaland. Most of the local indigenous inhabitants have mastery over the traditional art of designing beautiful patterns of animals on the pieces of cloth.

The unique embroidered items help the state to earn huge revenues and have helped in the economic and social development of Nagaland. The state government of Nagaland has taken several landmark steps to improve the small scale and medium scale cottage industries for further enhancement of the traditional art of embroidery.

Wood Carvings

The Nagaland wood carvings are known for their elegant designs and excellent quality. Nagaland earns huge revenues from the wood carving industry of the state. An integral part of arts and crafts of Nagaland, the beautifully designed wooden works portrays the rich artistic caliber and imaginative skills of the local craftsmen. The tribes of Wanchos, Phom and Konyaks are known for their splendid mastery over the traditional art of carving beautiful products from woods which they have inherited from their forefathers. The excellent pieces of wooden work have internationally acclaimed status. Most of the tourists who visit Nagaland make it a point to purchase the pieces of traditional art as relics of the unique cultural heritage and artistic creativity of the place. The wooden pieces of art work of Nagaland are primarily used for decorative purposes.

The wood carvers of Nagaland produce unique pieces of wooden work from traditional instruments of adze, chisel, dao and axe. Wooden figures of human beings, elephants, hornbill, mithun head, tiger and other animals are the main products of the traditional industry of wood carving. The wood carving industry of Nagaland has led to the strengthening of the economic base of the state.

The wood carvers of the area of Konyak in Nagaland draw inspiration from the Khajurao art work and carve excellent figures of human beings. The state government of Nagaland has taken several steps to improve the traditional industry of wood carving in the form of extending financial help and moral encourage to the craftsmen.

Basketry

Nagaland basketry can be used for variety of purposes. Most of the local indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland know the art of making baskets from bamboo and cane. Bamboo and cane are easily available in the neighboring forest lands of Nagaland. An important part of the traditional arts and crafts of Nagaland, the aboriginal tribes of the north eastern state make beautiful and usable baskets for daily use. The art of making baskets have been mostly mastered by the men folk of Nagaland. Basket making in Nagaland reflects the rich mythical history and folk culture of the state. According to the unique folk culture of the Ao tribe of Nagaland, the local indigenous inhabitants had inherited the art of making baskets from the magician, Changkichanglangba on the sixth day of his death.

Prior to his death, the magician had instructed the native population that after six days of his death, they would find out some interesting things in his grave. As per the direction of Changkichanglangba, the local inhabitants did find several beautiful baskets of different sizes and shapes. Thus the art of basket making was introduced among the tribal communities of Nagaland. The baskets of Nagaland vary in size and shape. While the Angami tribe make cylindrical baskets, the Ao are proficient in making conical shaped baskets. An essential household good of the local inhabitants of Nagaland, the baskets are generally used for keeping vegetables, clothes, and crops.

Baskets of Nagaland also serve as decorative items. Most of the tourists who visit Nagaland prefers to buy the beautiful baskets for imparting an ethnic look to their house.

Traditional Ornaments

The Traditional Ornaments of Nagaland are worn by both men and women specially during festive occasions. The ceremonial metallic bell necklace of the tribal people is very famous. A number of small bells are attached to a string. Multi-stranded jewelry is very popular in Nagaland. The Classical Naga necklaces that are worn by tribal men and women, often consist of a number of beaded strands. The necklace-ends are completed by wrapped threads, small sheep horns, or knitted string. The hook of the necklace is generally carved into a horn or bone, or a button which is made from a small bead or coin. The Naga warriors pendants are designed in the form of miniature trophy masks in order to symbolize their bravery and courage. Colorful glass beads are generally strung on chords and tightened by coins.

The traditional ornaments of Nagaland are multi colored with simple designs and very beautiful. A necklace made of colored beads is generally worn by the natives around the neck. The beads are made from variety of paraphernalia like stone, bone or shells. They also wear armlets made of ivory or brass. The most common ornaments used by the Nagas are necklaces, ear rings, armlets and bracelets. The Naga ornaments are usually designed from ordinary to semi-precious stones, ivory, metals boar's teeth etc and are a hallmark of the high degree of creativity and dexterity of Art and Crafts of Nagaland .

Paintings

Cloth painting is a very popular form of painting of Nagaland. The natives belonging to the Lotha, Ao and Rengma tribal communities practice this highly skilled art of painting on clothes. The Ao art of painting is quite similar to that of the Rengmas even though the basic pattern is quite different. The famous warrior shawl of the Ao tribe is painted in white. Only a warrior who has headed a war or performed some feats of merit is allowed to wear this shawl.

On the white median band, figures of various animals like elephant, cock, mithun, tiger, cock and even Dao spear and human heads are painted with black color. The colors used in these painting are natural colors that are prepared by mixing the sap of a tree, with very strong beer and the ash of the leaves. Fine chiseled bamboo sticks are used in the form of brushes. Sometimes, instead of the ash of Tangko leaves the ash of bamboo leaves are used. This results in the formation of a gray fluid. The old men of the tribes who have perfected this art over the years work on the intricate paintings. They paint the motifs in free hand on the lines of thread. The Rengmas also use the same medium of painting.

The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Bamboo Works

Nagaland Bamboo Works are popular all over the world. This is because bamboo and cane are widely available in the forests of Nagaland and facilitate the growth and development of this skilled craft. Bamboos are used to make a wide variety of products which can be broadly categorized as:
  • Tribal Costume Accessories - The Tribal Costume Accessories like Combs, Konyak Naga Belt, leggings worn by Angami and Ao Naga men which are called Phipha are all made from bamboo.
  • Weapons - Weapons are an important part of tribal life. The Nagas make weapons like Chang Naga Cross-Bow from bamboo.
  • Domestic Products - They make cheap, light dishes from bamboo, which can be seen in every house of the state. Some of the domestic products produced from bamboo are Bamboo Saucers, Angami Naga Bamboo Spoons, Kedzu, a hayfork that is used by the Ao Nagas, Chang Bamboo Mugs and many more.
  • Musical Instruments - A wide variety of musical instruments are used by Nagas. The culturally refined Nagas have different musical instruments for different purposes such as Flute, Mouth Organ, Trumpet, Cup Violin.
  • Ceremonial Headgear - Most of the Nagas use a decorative ceremonial hat, which is usually made of bamboo.
  • Fish Traps and Fish Baskets - The Fish Traps and Fish Baskets that are used for fishing by the tribes are also made from bamboo. Lithuo is a fishing tray made of bamboo that is used by the tribal people in Nagaland.
Nagaland Bamboo Works are an inseparable part of the tradition and culture of the region. The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Mats

The Mats of Nagaland are a rage with the local inhabitants as well as tourists. In Nagaland, bamboo is one of the main elements which is used to make various types of handicraft articles. Likewise, the mats are woven from bamboo splits. The raw material is found in abundance in the state and bamboo splits are sold in bundles of thousand. The length of the splits ranges from 30 cm to 60 cm and its price varies depending on the width and the length of the splits. The outer layer of the bamboo is used to make the splits because the inner layer of the bamboo is soft and fibrous.

The Mats of Nagaland are used for various purposes like the construction of house, rugs for drying grains, pretty floor coverings, comfortable sleeping mats, window and door screens and also as a partition as well as a host of other decorative purposes. These mats come in a wide variety of colors, design and size and are used for interior decoration in various innovative ways. To add color to the mat colored or textured warp is used by the artisans. These mats are also used for making wall hangings, table mats, tray mats, flower sticks etc. The price of the mats depend on the quality of the delicate bamboo splits, number and the quality of the warp threads used and also on the size of the mat. The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Cane Works

Cane works of Nagaland form an important part of the handicrafts of the state. Cane is profusely used in Nagaland for making baskets and a number of items of utility. Tourists coming to Nagaland carry the cane works of Nagaland as souvenirs to their homeland. Nagas, the people of Nagaland, are known for their rich tradition of arts and crafts. Nagas use their skills to create different items of utility, such as hats, rain coats, etc. Basketry is of the most important form of craft in Nagaland. The cane baskets of the Khonoma village are known for their intricate design and weaving. The cane basket in Nagaland are made in the Tuensang district by the Khiamngam weavers. The delicacy and finesse of the basket gives it the appearance of lace.

Besides the cane baskets, the other cane works of Nagaland also include headgears and mats. Mats and headgears are made with the help of thin strips of bamboo or cane. In recent times, one can also come across beautiful furniture made of cane in Nagaland. Nagas also make head bands, leg guards, bangles, neck bands, necklace, armlets, leggings, etc. are some of the most popular cane works at Nagaland. The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Pottery

The pottery of Nagaland is one of the celebrated crafts in Nagaland. The pottery at Nagaland is a craft that is restricted to the women. It would not be wrong to say that pottery in Nagaland is a part of the Naga household. The pottery of Nagaland is a unique form of craft. Unlike the other parts of India, pottery at Nagaland does not involve revolving the wheel. In Nagaland, pottery is made exclusively with the help of hands: revolving the wheel for making the vessels is completely non existent in Nagaland.

The pottery in Nagaland are simple. The earthenwares made in Nagaland have functional value. The Nagas pay more importance to utility rather than aesthetics. Therefore, the pottery of Nagaland do not intricate detailing and designs. The Tseminyu and Ungma villages of Nagaland are famous for their pottery. Besides, it is noteworthy that the turnover of the craft is not much, as it is done only by women. Menfolk in Nagaland are exempted from making earthenwares. The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Metal Work

Nagaland metal work include weapons, ornaments and other miscellaneous items of utility. The ornaments made by the local smiths of Nagaland are very popular with the tourists, who carry the jewelries as mementos to their native land. In Nagaland, the Konyak blacksmiths were renowned for their metal works. The metal works in Nagaland are produced by the Konyak blacksmiths were in great demand in Assam, especially in the plains of Assam. Nagaland metal works, such as the local dao, ornaments, chisels, spears, etc., made by the local blacksmiths, are highly valued in Nagaland.

In Nagaland, the Rengmas are considered to be the best blacksmiths. In fact, it is the Rengmas who first learned to smelt iron by boiling and then heating the stone containing the iron sand. The weapons occupy a significant position in the society of Nagaland. In fact, the Nagas have been great lovers of weapons. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the shape and pattern of the weapons of Nagaland vary from one tribe to the other. Besides, dao and spear are two important weapons at Nagaland are used for hunting, as well as for war. The spear is usually decorated with goat's hair. The dao is one of the multi-purpose weapons of Nagaland. The dao consists of a wooden handle and a blade and is used for cutting tress and chopping meat. The Arts and Crafts of Nagaland are a hallmark of the consummate skill, expertise, talent and creativity of the tribal craftsmen.

Last Updated on : 22/06/2013