Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Clinch into the Past; Potters of the Aos

Soaking Clay in a basin for molding 
Creativity and to create something practical have always been synonymous to the Nagas. Both men and women had the ability to make something for their everyday usage using Dao or with bare hands. It is indeed fascinating when we hear their stories about the making of crafts, when some old folks take us to the journey to the past with nostalgia on their faces, making us think that we are seated in author H.G. Wells ‘Time machine’.
Such a great story from time immemorial can be heard in Changki Village, some 40 kilometres away from Mokokchung. The village with a historic past itself stands proud upon a hilltop giving out a grand look beneath its footstool the majestic green valleys and budding paddy fields. Changki villagers were said to be from potters’ background, travelling from the east and finally settled at the present place which we now call Changki.
Flat wooden surface and a bamboo pole to beat the clay
It is interesting to know that among the Aos, Changki was the only village to practice pottery as a profession by women. During those times when head-hunting was practice none of the other neighbouring Ao villages invaded Changki rather they make close allies since the invasion of Changki implies no Earthen utensils for rest of the Aos.
Earthen pots were bartered with basic necessary items and foods which were not found in the village during the past. It was also said that those pots were used in relief when neighbouring Ao villages faced natural calamities and devastations. One of the most fascinating stories about these simple earthen pots was that during those formative years of Christianity these pots were one of the greatest weapons in spreading the Gospel.
Wooden sticks for beating the clay and mushroom shaped tool curved out of stone for molding the pots
Molded miniatures of clay ready for the fire
When asked about how these pots were made, they said that in the past the clay from where these earthen pots were made were found only on specific places and had never used the ordinary clay. Women had to search deep into the forest in search of this clay. It is indeed a breath taking experience that needs great amount of skills and patience after these clays are brought home. They beat the clay on a flat wooden surface with the help of a bamboo pole. A mushroom shaped tool curved out of stone is used to mould the shape and then striking with an arrow-head shaped wooden stick. The finished pots are made to dry in near the fire place for sometime and then taken out, making a pile out then cover them with dried leaves and bake them until it is iron-hard.
Furnace for heating the Earthen Pots
This unique profession which has been practiced by Changki women now had lost almost all its importance and the art of making these are in the brink of extinction. For younger generations if not taken proper care of to preserve these priceless art will soon become only a lore, a story that will be narrated to with great regret.
While speaking to Rev. Satem an elderly in the village narrates that some enthusiastic scholars are researching the route from which Changki people migrated and said that there are some sites that they had excavated, which shows the sign of their early abodes. In those places remnants of earthen pot-necks and handles of the lids are found he stated.
Heated Pots ready for sale after necessary finishing and designes
In order to preserve this priceless heritage of Pottery, Village Development Board (Women) are taking intense care by organizing mass training to young damsels. Though not a mass scale production these earthen pots are sold amounting from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50. These women also with great expertise make miniature pots for showcase and souvenirs.
Visiting a village elder house in the heart of the village, he narrates, how his mother use to make these earthen pots with great skills. He shows his well collected treasures of earthen pots which are now 60 to 70 years old. These iron hard pots were once a container for rice, water and other essential items. They were once favourite utensils in village parties. Stating that rice cooked in earthen pots was much tastier, even meats were cooked with much delicacy than the present day pressure cooker, he narrated.
An Earthen Pot said to be around eighty years old use to preserve water and rice. It was said that the bride would bring earthen pots during marriage.
Clay and Ceramic utility for sale
The finish products for sale
Earthen pots were taken by brides to their in-laws during those days but now it had just settled to become a story, a memory to those wrinkled old faces to reminisce. This incredible art which was once a profession faces the war for survival. But the one good thing recently happened is the Government of India, Ministry of Textile in association with the Country Craft Development Society, Dimapur manages to identify this sole Ao Village and are taking a step more further to preserve and also intensify the skills giving a channel to meet the Global needs. With the training programme organized for fifteen days in handicrafts, these dynamic potters felt the changes within. A mixture of old pottery techniques with the modern day ceramic pottery and designs, Changki craftsmen are now preparing to face the challenge moving further ahead to meet the global market with humble beginning.



Friday, May 11, 2012


This is a real story of one hen that met with an accident during infancy making it walk proud and straight henceforth.

please follow this link for complete story

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tsüngkotepsü (The Ao Naga Shawl)

   Ao Nagas are one of the indigenious tribes of Nagaland, whose settlements are spread across the Mokokchung district in northeastern part of Nagaland state bordering Assam.
Tradition says that the Aos sprung up from Longtrok, literally meaning six stones. Legends tell that the descendents of Longtrok founded the Chungliyimiti village where they settled and stayed for a considerable period of time. In due course of time, the descendents of Longtrok crossed the Dikhu River through a cane bridge (Arr apu in Ao language) leaving other people behind. These people (the Aos) who went ahead leaving others behind came to be known as ‘Aor’ or ‘Ao’; the word in Ao dialect literally means ‘going’ or ‘gone’.
The Ao Nagas have a rich tradition and culture. Their dresses involve intricate designs which require exceptional craftsmanship; the designs in the clothing are the main characteristic of distinguishing prominent clansmen from others, especially with regard to status in the society or village. The prominent people in the society or village were the Nokinketers or warriors or frontrunners, who enjoyed special status in the society; their status was highlighted by the dresses they wore.

The Ao Naga warrior shawl is called Mangkotepsu. This shawl besides fulfilling the basic needs of clothing is highly revered by the people. This shawl can be worn only by the men folk alone. In the past a man had to earn the right to wear this shawl by taking human heads in the battlefield or through acts of bravery and by offering feasts of merit as proof of his wealth. Anyone wearing without fulfilling these credentials was taken to task by the village council and had to pay heavy penalties for violating the revered code.
    It is said that women of Chungliyimiti village used to design this shawl as a gesture to encourage their men to ward off repeated attacks by warning neighbouring tribes on the village.

Though the Tsüngkoteptsü looks like a simple shawl, yet every design or color imprinted on this shawl has a deep meaning and significance.
The white strip in the middle symbolizes courage and bravery. The pictures of the sun, the moon and the stars on the shawl signify the resulting fame of warriors who wear the shawl. The animals depicted in the strip resemble the physical power and the valour of men. The hornbill is a revered bird whose feathers are used for decorative purpose in ceremonial costumes. The image of Mithun (buffalo like animals) indicates the wealth of the wearer because only the rich people could rear these animals. Other symbols are depiction of weapons and shields used by Ao men during warfare.
Thus, this shawl which may look like an ordinary cloth is more than just a clothing to be worn by anyone. Though, the significance might not have a deep meaning for the younger generation (who knows many might not know what the images on the shawl signify), yet this shawl is a part of our culture, our history and our identity. If we are to be called as a people with a proud culture and deep rooted traditions, if we are to say that we are Ao people with a history; then we should take this Tsüngkoteptsü with a little more respect and every time we wear it – we should understand that we are wearing our history with us.  

Nursing Profession: an inside story

We are all Human Beings requiring Compassion and Understanding
Nursing Profession: An inside story: Please follow this link

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Repalemba: An Insight into a Photographer's Life.

A pioneer persona in the world of photography, Mr. Repalemba hailing from Mokokchung village, who indeed is the first Ao Naga photographer, has a priceless experience in photography field where the times were less helpful to add sparks in oneís creativity. Mr. Repa who intended to become a tailor by profession and indeed the first Ao tailor in Mokokchung town had a breakthrough in his life when he hit the road to shillong to learn more of his skills in tailoring that his fate changed when he dropped in to Touch and Go studio in shillong. With a fee of Rs.30 he explored the beauty and possibility of photography for one month, one hour each. That was the turning point in his life. He returned home with a big vision for the Ao Nagas especially residing in Mokokchung to give an opportunity to treasure the memories of those times as early as 1940s which seemed a rare perspective and a whole new experience. He opened his studio known as Hills Studio in 1944 which with much pride still exists just down the road off NST station.

 With a box camera and operating his business only on Sunday he survived the hardship of generous contribution going all over the villages and hills on foot to capture what are known as priceless pictures of golden memories.

Those were the times when the challenge of photography was not only on high skills of creativity but a great challenge in producing the outcome of his work as many manpower and sources were not prevalent and especially with no-electricity-to-assist I could really sense the plight of the situation as he expressed his experience of his early days of photograph-moment.
Later in the year 1952 after electricity invaded the town of Mokokchung he bought a German made camera with amount of Rs. 400 which is still placed in the Studio of Hills.

 Priceless antique of his possession and captured memories were lost for which we cannot have a quick peek of how it is or how it was but it is still a great privilege to have him share a goose-bump-moment as for us to know how things were and how far we sailed off and how todayís generation are pampered by technologies and innovation.  Having asked him how he wants our photographers to survive the trail of tough competition and constant change, his gestures and enthusiasm remarked with great pleasure of how todayís generation is taking up the field of photography and pronounced earnestly that he really wished this generation to work with sharp consciousness of responsibility and abducting the misuse of technologies which ruins the beauty and better concept of photography.

He also mentioned of his hard work and dedication in this field with honesty for which he believes the fruit is the blessing of his seven children and the good-health of his family and his livelihood with contentment.
Surely a moment of sharing with Shri. Repa worth million of wealth which in million years I can never go back to bygone days to feel and see how things were and how we had lived by.

 Cheers to photographers who gave us an opportunity to see the past and to all the photographers who are treasuring the moment of this hour which hopefully the next generation and coming species would appreciate the work of our clicks.
Portrait of Mr. Repalemba's Mother

Portrait of Mr.Repalemba's Mother-in-law

Portrait of Mr. Repalemba's Dad.

Project NREGA

This photograhps are taken of the NREGA ( National Rural Employment Guarranty Act) scheme workers, during the on going approach road work from unger village to kelingment village.In this scheme, people are provided with a job card and a daily wage of Rs. 118/- per day, for those who are unemployed. This project mainly focus on rural development. Under this project different types  of employment is generated, such as ,construction of drainage ,village Approach road ,culvert,retaining wall etc.

The Unspoken Language of Benny and the Kitty Cat

Puppy Benny and the Kitty Cat are best friends.
 They are never to be underestimated as pet animals. Their bound is beyond human language. They cannot speak as we do, but their action does a lot of talking about their love and affection for each other.

They were very young and cute when we first brought them into our home. As strangers they stared at each other, sniffed and chased around the kitchen as a way of introduction. They totally engaged every minute and hour in their curious, mischievous and playful nature.

However, after the sunset when evening came, they began to miss their Mum and their siblings, Kitty Meows while Benny barked.

When they could no longer find solace and comfort Kitty finally decided to curtail under Benny’s soft hair blanket.

 That became a routine life which ultimately grew into a very intimate relation.

They would even share food together.

Unlike Benny’s cousins they never quarreled over food.

Now that they are both mature caring Mums, they always share that unspeakable love and affection which always keeps them attached at all circumstances.

This is a small message to remind that animals too have feelings and emotions and they are not meant to be killed and feast for human pleasure.

Traditional Head Gear and a designed hat made of bamboo ...Photo taken at Rentikala Supong's, Mokokchung

Mithun Horn used for drinking....This photo taken at Rentikala Supong's Musuem, Mokokchung