Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nagaland Odyssey Pt. 2: Ao Country

Figurehead at the front of an old (19th century) Ao Naga log drum in the village of Ungma, the Ao tribe's largest settlement. Log drums are whole trees that have been cut down and then hollowed out. They served a variety of functions, including inter-village communication, warning a village in case of attack, and ceremonial purposes. Apparently, back in the day, when a warrior would take heads he would first ceremonially drape them on the village's log drum, before hanging them on the villages special head-hanging tree. Log drums were mostly used by the more northerly Naga tribes, such as the Ao's and the Konyaks. Tribes such as the Anagami's and the Tangkuls didn't have them. However, various adjacent non-Naga cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Burma, and South-central China did. The styles of log drums from tribe to tribe vary considerably.