Art & Crafts of Nagaland
As Quoted by Dr. Verrier Elwin,
they have made their own cloth, their won hats and rain-coats; they have prepared their own medicines, their own cooking-vessels, their own substitutes for crockery...
The Nagas have a rich tradition of art and craft anchored in their lifestyle that has always been in harmony with the surroundings they are living in. Skilled tribal craftsman and artisans have always been the strength of a tribal society that had, for many centuries, been self-dependent. They lent their skills to produce items of common utility, as well those with ritualistic and artistic value. Skilled craftsmen are employed to carve marvellous village gates, house posts and Morungs in Naga villages. Nagaland has many shopping options to shop from famous markets and bazaars in the city. Handicraft items of fine storage baskets, wicker drinking vessels and containers are woven by craftsmen whose skills had been inherited from generations of skilled craftsmen, and makes it the most shopping items among the tourists.
It was these craftsmen, weavers and artisans who ransacked the forest in search of wood, barks, dyes and other resources, that were used to carve out fine works of art and weave colourful clothes, that singled out each Naga tribe.
Naga storage and carry baskets woven from fine strips of cane and bamboo are well known and sought after for their utility as well as aesthetic value. Headgears and mats are also woven from fine bamboo and cane strips. Due to the developing shopping markets and malls in the recent years, entrepreneurs have utilised the skills of these craftsmen to weave beautiful cane furniture that are being marketed and appreciated all over the globe.
Naga women are excellent weavers and the colorful shawls, bags and jackets woven by them are genuinely popular. Each tribe uses unique colours and motifs, that are often based on tribal folklore. In addition, woven clothes were adorned with beads, cowrie shells and goats hair to denote the wealth and status of the weaver. Body cloth symbolizing Feast-giving and Head-taking added to the variety of clothes woven on the backstrap loom. The woven products of Nagaland have found its way into the National as well as International marker.
Nagas are exceptional woodcarvers. Making use of simple rudimentary tools and implements such as the local dao, hand drill and chisel, skilled craftsmen produce great piece of art that local adorn village gates and house posts as well as objects of utility like the common wooden dish.
Shop for some of the finest woodcraft has now been commercialised and craftsmen have been able to use their traditional skills to generate income for themselves. The Diezephe Craft village in Dimapur District is a fine example of a craft concentrated village where the major sourse of income is from woodcraft.
Pottery was known to the early Nagas and was generally done by the womenfolk. The pots made were generally very simple and importance was given to its functional value rather than aesthetics. Tseminyu and Ungma village were well known for pottery by aluminum and steel vessels, which have long replaced the simple clay pots.
Iron tin and brass were used to produce weapons as well items of utility and ornaments. The Konyak blacksmiths were famous for their works in the early days and their products were in great demand in the plains of Assam. To this day, the local dao, spears, chisels, ornaments and other items of utility are still made by local blacksmith whose skills are highly valued in society.