Nagaland State Museum : A window to the material and socio-cultural world of the Naga tribes

The Nagaland State Museum has a rich collection of Naga cultural and tribal artefacts giving a glimpse of the history and traditions of the different tribes of Nagaland. The State Museum is located at the Bayavu Hills in Kohima.

Nagaland Museum

The museum houses the collection of 16 tribes belonging to Nagaland. Through its display the museum presents the naga architectural patterns, social-customs, social hierarchy, costumes and various art and craft related to its own glorious history and culture.

Along with the artefacts various models and dioramas are built to present the socio-cultural aspect of the different tribes.

Some of the objects on display are :

  • Gateposts
  • Bamboo bird traps
  • Bamboo fishing traps
  • Stone sculpture of a Konyak couple
  • Bone sculpture of a Konyak couple
  • Ceremonial log drum carved out of animal bone
  • Chair assembled using elephant bone
  • Figurine carved of bone
  • Bone sculpture of a man
  • Male and female brass figurines
  • Necklace made of bone
  • Musical instruments made of bamboo and buffalo horns
  • Smoking pipe made of bone and
  • Traditional costumes
  • Jewellary etc.

Along with the other objects museum has collection of several animals and birds native to the north eastern hill states, displayed in its basement.

At the entrance is an art gallery which showcases the Naga Morungs or the bachelors dormitory. Also, various hut models, showcasing the variance of architecture between the tribes are displayed here.

On display are few skulls signifying the practise of head hunting amongst the tribes. Head hunting was universally practised by nagas. The taking of head in war earned the warrior an exalted status of fame, honour and glory not only in this world but an honorable place in life after death. The skulls in view are real trophies taking during head hunting raids.

Among all other displays, a Zelian lady model in her traditional finery, striking a pose while performing the ‘ Butterfly Dance’ can be seen. The Zeliangs have outstanding dances which can be on par with any other fine dance movements outside the state.

Also, an Angami couple visiting relatives in neighbouring village during ‘Sekrenyi’ festival is well depicted through the use of diorama. The Angami tribe is one of the major tribes of Nagaland. Kohima is inhabited by a major population of the Angamis. The Angamis are also known for terraced wet-rice cultivation; because of this labor-intensive cultivation, land is the most important form of property amount the Angamis.

Sekrenyi also called Phousanyi is a ceremonial feast of purification for the men folk. It falls in the month of February and is a ten day festival celebrated by Angamis which also marks the beginning of the lunar year. Carrying of meat, rice-beer and traditional cuisine to the relatives house is customary.

Another important presentation of the museum is the morung, which represents the socio-cultural aspect of the naga society. A morung or bachelors dormitory played a vital role in the naga society. It was an institution where knowledge was handed from one generation to the next . It also served as a recreational club.