Cultural extravaganza illuminates ongoing Hornbill Festival

Correspondents KOHIMA, DEC 6 (NPN): | Publish Date: 12/6/2019 11:09:16 AM IST

Splendid cultural performances by cultural troupes of 17 different tribes and Thai cultural troupe enchanted the visitors/tourists on the sixth day of the ongoing ten-day Hornbill Festival at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama.

With their graceful and elegant body movements, Thai cultural troupe captivated thousands of spectators as they perform traditional Thai dances in their elaborate costumes.

The cultural troupe presented “Manohra dance” – dance drama which presents the love story between Prince Suthon and Kinnari Manohra, a half-bird half-woman being.

“Koh rang” – a combination of four dances from four regions of Thailand signifying the union of the regions as one Thailand was also performed.

Through the performance of a fusion of modern music and traditional dance appropriately titled, “Welcome to Thailand”, the cultural troupe professed their love for their land and invited the spectators to Thailand.

Women artisans steal show signifying women empowerment: In its effort to revive the losing cultures and indigenous art, department of art and culture has initiated bringing in skilled potters from Lüruri from Phek district for the first time at the Hornbill Festival, stealing the show especially from the guest visitors.

The pottery tradition of Lüruri village of the Pochury Naga was a hereditary craft tradition passed down from mother to daughter dating back to ancient times.

The way craft came into their possession remains obscure but the craft tradition has been historically associated with Lüruri from the distant past notwithstanding its fragile status today. The introductions of substitutes in metal, enamel and plastics have been largely held responsible to its plight.

However, the women of Lüruri are presently taking measures at stemming the craft from sinking into oblivion. A renewed appreciation and demand for Lüruri pottery empowers womenfolk once again to be mistresses of their earth stories.

Though it may not fetch good return, coming far from Lüruri to Kohima to display the making of pots, the three women potters who were making pots at Kisama has no regrets as their intention was to demonstrate the making of pots and to encourage the younger generations on work culture.

Cotton processing, spinning and weaving from Kiphire: Before the introduction of mill spun cloth and yarn, Nagas had abundantly cultivated cotton to weave cloth and girls were initiated at a tender age to weave cloth.

Weaving skills were passed down from mother to daughter and a marker of eligibility and every community was self sufficient until the introduction of coloured staple yarn around the early 20th century.

With an aim to revive the traditional weaving women folks from Pathso village, Kiphire district demonstrated processes of manually from harvest, to be seeded, carded, spun, reeled to thread from cotton balls and woven to cloth which was practised since time immemorial.

The women folks regretted that the practise of traditional weaving was losing as the present generation barely care to learn.

They said, upon the introduction of coloured yarns into the interior Naga areas commercially the Naga no longer grow cotton abundantly and the tradition has all but vanished with the easy availability of mill spun yarns and readymade apparel.

Beadwork by Konyak women: Amongst the Naga groups, the beadwork of Konyak’s jewellery was exemplary, hosting intricate and specific design elements while equating it distinctive adornment characteristics from other jewellery of the Naga communities.

Konyak beadwork distinguishes clans, status and positions in the society. The use of blue beads in any ornament would signify the Angh (royalty) lineage which is exclusive to the Angh clan and subordinate clans to differentiate them from the commoners.

Women thread beadwork jewellery whereas the crafting of brass ornaments was the domain of men.

NWVA projects: For any hungry tummies, Nagaland Women Voluntary Association (NWVA) that runs a food stall at Kisama village at the 10-day festival was indeed a treat as the stall that offers buffet for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian was enriching.

For any visiting guest, the real non-vegetarian food will be found in NWVA stall with varieties of food items which was not found in other stalls and Morungs with a reasonable price.

The stall was run by NWVA comprising of the lady wives of legislatures and bureaucrats and senior lady officers ploughs back the revenue regenerated from the stall supports two AIDS afflicted children in each of the districts, to orphanage homes, destitute, mental hospital, elder women and to those people in need of support.

The association was set up to foster friendship in an informal setting and work together on social upliftment activities benefiting women and children in the state.

Poker work bamboo mugs: Bamboo mugs decorated with poker-work design called Dobu Thung, (dobu allude to decorated/designed, thung meaning mug/cup), was unique to the Chang Naga and its usage exclusive to male members.

According to the information provided by the department of art and culture, the origin of the design was enshrined in a folklore which narrates the story of a one-eyed giant ogre, who was the cause of many deaths occurring in the village.

A brave man therefore, took it upon himself to stand guard outside the village gate and he slayed the malevolent giant one eyed spirit.

He returned to the village with exuberant cries of victory when an insect called Dobu Yang/Doyang, landed on his head.

On close examination, he saw the beautiful motif on the back of the insect and was inspired to replicate it to differentiate himself from the rest of the villagers and tattooed the design on his chest to announce his victory in an act of self proclamation. Thus, he marked his wine mug with the design as the symbol of victory.

The bamboo piece to be decorated is cut and left to dry for two to three months around November or December.

Before it is completely cured when the outer bamboo covering is fresh and malleable, the outlines of the pattern are made with a thin sharp iron poker.

Next a sliver of the resinous bark of the langchi tree is left to smoulder in the hot ashes of a fire. Blowing at the glowing embers of the langchi sliver, the craftsman burns the outlined pattern with the glowing langchi.

Keeping it burning throughout the process the firing produces a dark brown pigment that stains the design imprinted on the bamboo surface to produce the motif of the mythical Dobu Yang.

Making of crafting crossbows: Another interesting crafts, seen in the ongoing 10-day Hornbill Festival was the making of crossbow which was the domain of men for the Pochury Naga of Lüruri village who possess accomplished skills and knowledge honed at an early age.

In the past, the crossbow was an important item of exchange in the barter trade and it prevailed until firearms were introduced and crossbow making declined drastically, however, despite its decline, its usage and crafting continues to be an integral craft tradition of Lüruri.

It is said that in Lüruri crossbows come in two sizes, large and small, serving different functions and the two types of arrowheads are used: One with a metal head called mürünatsha and the other a sharpened bamboo tipped arrow singka.

The larger crossbow attached with a metal tipped arrow is utilized for bringing down large game.

A smaller crossbow with a bamboo arrow head was used for shooting small birds and rodents.

When crafting a crossbow they uses the finest wood called Lagsing and jinagsing besides other varieties to achieve the best results while the horn of a stag deer was used in the trigger piece and the bow string braided with the bark of the Iükhraprü plant and a shrub called lüzow.

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