There are some affinities between Naga tribe and some of the indigenous people in Indonesia. Some of the tribes in Indonesia like Batak, Dayak, Toraja, Bugis etc have some resemblance in their customs and tradition with the Naga people. Headhunting, house structure and social structure is similar with Naga tribe in India. Today, many Bataks tribe living in Sumatra were converted into Christianity and Islam.
There are six groups of Batak living around Danu Toba who distinguish themselves with their languages and habits.15 The Nagas and Bataks tribes are parallel in their tradition and customs. Both the tribes were well known for their headhunting. They were isolated for centuries from other contacts living in the hilly regions.
“The Bataks, is infamous tribe of former cannibals and headhunters. Their bloody feuds and guerrilla attacks on each other’s villages gained an apparently well-earned reputation for ferocity. They also practiced ritual cannibalism in which a token piece of flesh – of a slain enemy or of one judge guilty of a major violation of traditional laws – was eaten. The heads and hands of war captives were preserved as trophies.”
The Bataks also preserved the head of the war victims as trophies like the Naga tribe. In those days, reputation of man or manhood is reveal through their headhunting skills and bravery. The indigenous people in Borneo (Indonesia), known to the outside world as the Dayaks live by shifting rice cultivation and by farming of Sago palms. They are divided into different tribes, which were formerly prone to the internecine warfare that their headhunting customs demanded. Although, they are now mostly converted to Christianity, their cultures retain a great deal of their original vigor.
Traditionally, the Dayaks live in communal long houses known as Lamin in East and West Kalimantan, Sarawak and Brunei. Long houses are usually built parallel to the river, and rice barns and storehouses containing valuable is kept separate from the main building, to keep away from fire. In most of the Naga villages, there is separate house like those of Dayak tribes for living and storehouse.
Storehouses are build near to the main house, which keep rice barns, millets and other barns to avoid fire from main house incase any fire broke out from main house. The seafaring Bugis are found all over the Indonesian archipelago. They have settled in the Riau Islands, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sumbawa and Malaysia and have trading with all the smaller Islands. The Bugis have traditionally lived in pile-built wooden houses with slatted bamboo floors similar in style and layout to the basic Malay prototype. The characteristic decorative feature is a pair of crossed roof finials symbolizing buffalo horns.
Some of the Naga tribes also lived in pile-built houses like those Bugis. The Nagas old house structure is very similar to that of Bugis old house, which have a pair of crossed roof symbolizing the buffalo horns. The Nagas who treated the ‘Feast of Merit’ to the people have such kind of house structure with diagonally crossed wooden beam, which is attached to the eaves of the house symbolizing the buffalo horns.
The house with diagonally crossed wooden beam above the eaves is gradually vanishing. There is one Church at Senapati, Manipur where we can find the old Naga house structure with diagonally crossed concrete beam placed above the eaves symbolizing the buffalo horns. The Tana Toraja is located in the northern part of the South Sulaweshi Province.
Toraja is a name of Bugis origin given to the different people of the mountainous regions of the northern part, which remained isolated until recently. Their native religion is megalithic and animistic, and is characterized by animal sacrifices, ostentatious funeral rites and huge communal feasts.
“In former times, Toraja villages were sited strategically on hilltops and fortified to such an extent that sometimes access was only possible through tunnels bored through rock. This was all part of then common Indonesian custom of headhunting and inter-village raids. The Dutch pacified the Toraja and forced them to leave the hills and to build their villages in the valleys, and they also introduced wet-rice cultivation.”
The Nagas villages are also situated on hilltops and fortified in ancient time to protect from their enemies’ attack. There was headhunting between inter-village and tribe so it became necessary for them to fortify and to have village gate in all the villages. In the case of Nagas, the British pacified them and later there was no headhunting. On the front of the wall in most of the Toraja important houses are decorated with wooden buffalo head, adorned with actual horns.
In most of the houses in Naga villages also have similar decoration like the Toraja houses with carved wooden buffalo horns and real buffaloes horns hanged on the front of the wall. The number of real buffalo hanging on the front wall is depends on how many cattle killed during the Feast of Merit. But the other carved wooden horns are depended on the sculptured and designed of the house owner. The carved wooden buffalo horns and real buffalo horns hanging on the front wall of the house are still found in many Nagas villages.
By:- R.B. Thohe Pou
Via: E PAO
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