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Ketholeno Neihu
Date of Publish: 2017-07-27

THE STONE-SITTING-OUT PLACES OF THE ANGAMI NAGAS WHERE THE PAST BECOMES THE PRESENT

 

A stone sitting-out place/ stone look-out place, stone sitting circle (as described by J.H Hutton, The Angami Nagas) of the Angami Nagas, which is called “Tehuba”, “Tsiephe/Tsekhwe”, or “Daho” in the local dialect forms an indispensible part of traditional identity.

Typically, this stone sit-out places is an art of masonry wherein it is firmly built with stones and mud fillings and arranged with tiers of stone seats in a circular manner but without the use of mortars which was unknown to Nagas in the olden days. Perhaps a dozen of feet high or higher, it is usually situated in a higher point of a village location and forms a central figure of the khel. It is found in every khel of the village.

When asked, village elders said they have no account of when the multipurpose stone-builds were built but it has remained since time immemorial or has stretched to more than a century for in the formation of any khel, a tsekhwe/ daho/kehuda was erected and in the preceding times, additional structures were added or clinging parts were repaired and retained from time to time. During the days of yore, the long-standing stones were carried to the villages from river-beds and deep mountains.

It served as a multiple meeting place. Usually on a day off from the fields, during gennas or in the evening villagers would come to the Daho/Kehuda/tsephe with local rice beer or the food to relish, converse or sing together. It also served as an important meeting place. It formed a coign of vantage for disputes settlement. However, today it has been replaced by Panchayat halls. One significance of it being built high was to make announcement on meetings, gennas etc or prompt of any impending danger which was usually done by the “Vivo”, the eldest person in the khel. During the olden days, it served as a binocular or look-out from which the approach of possible enemies or raiders could be easily seen, more over it also served as a bird-eye view of the whole village, its fields and far off distant villages.

Although the tsiephe/ tsekhwe/daho are still seen in almost all the villages in the Angami region, it has remained only as a sitting and relaxing place. Imminent meetings that took place in this place have now been replaced by panchayat halls or other meeting halls that came up the British administration. Today the public utilities that are constructed are more focused on housings which have also hampered the importance of this traditional endowments and productively using our past.

A young man said, “we have a better appetite when we bring our food to eat together here with our peers, also the very fresh view from here gives a different feeling.” Our history can begin to become great by reminiscing thoughtful drawing on the past and demonstrate a community’s symbolic honoring of the same. So do we need to attempt to reconstruct the avenues of our deferred maintenance of history?

Ketholeno Neihu

( Ketholeno Neihu is a student of M.A. ( Second Semester) at the Centre for Studies in Journalism and Mass Communication, Dibrugarh University. This feature has been produced as part of her Summer Internship at NEZINE)

Photographs used in this feature were taken by Ketholeno Neihu

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