Ao woman in traditional attire
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mongsen Chungli, English|
|Protestantism (chiefly Baptist)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Naga peoples|
The Aos are one of the major Naga tribes of Nagaland, Northeast India. They were the first Naga tribe to embrace Christianity and by virtue of this development the Aos availed themselves to Western education that came along with Christianity . In the process the Aos became the pioneering tribe among the Nagas in many fields. Christianity first entered into the Ao territory when an American Baptist missionary, Edwin W. Clark, reached an Ao village called Molungkimong in 1872. Their main territory is from Tsula (Dikhu) Valley in the east to Tsurang (Disai) Valley in the west in Mokokchung district. They are well known for multiple harvest festivals held each year.
The total population of Ao Naga in Nagaland is almost 227,000 according to the 2011 census. Ao Nagas are found in the north-eastern part of Nagaland, mostly in the central Mokokchung District and also a few are found in the adjacent Assam state. Mokokchung, one of the districts in Nagaland, is considered as the home of the Ao Naga tribe. It covers an area of 1,615 km2 (624 square miles) and is bounded by Assam to its north, Wokha to its west, Tuensang to its east, and Zunheboto to its south. The physiography of the district shows six distinct hill ranges which are more or less parallel to each other and run in the south-east direction.
Tzurangkong Range: They lay adjoining the plains of Assam mostly along the valley of Dissai and Jhanzi rivers just before they flow into the plains of Assam. These hillocks are densely covered with bamboos and the climate of the entire range is warm.
Japukong Range: It is the outermost range stretching from north-east to south-west lying to the interior south of Tzurangkong Range.
Changkikong Range: This is a parallel range east of the Japukong Range.
Asetkong Range: It is a central range running from east to west but compared to the other ranges, it is the shortest one. This range lies between Melak and Menung rivers, and therefore, it resembles an island. Hence the name Asetkong (Aset meaning Island)
Langpangkong Range: It is the eastern-most range skirting along the course of Dikhu River. The river forms a natural boundary line of Mokokchung with Tuensang and Mon districts. This range is spread like a bed and so the name has been aptly given to this range. (Langpang means bed)
Onpangkong Range: It is the southern-most range forming an irregular boundary of the Ao area with that of the Lothas and Semas to the south and with the Sangtams to the east. It is called Ongpangkong as the land is higher and cooler than the other ranges. (Ongpang means higher)
With the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 19th century the Ao became the first to embrace Christianity among the Naga tribes. Many became Christians in the 1870s. Today, the Ao are almost 100 percent Christians, the majority being Baptists. Many Ao people have undertaken missionary work in other areas as well. The first Naga to convert into a Christian did so out of the act of love. The clan had a beautiful women whose father, the head of the Naga's, had decided that the first one to convert into a Christian would win her hand in marriage. The family is now known to be the most powerful family in the Naga clan. The families youngest members also known as the princess are Narochungla Tamjanmenla and Achung.
- Mills, J. P. (1926). The Ao Nagas. London: Macmillan and Co.
- Smith, William C. (2002). The Ao-Naga tribe of Assam. New Delhi: Mittal.
- Oppitz, Michael, Thomas Kaiser, Alban von Stockhausen & Marion Wettstein. 2008. Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India. Gent: Snoeck Publishers.
- Kunz, Richard & Vibha Joshi. 2008. Naga – A Forgotten Mountain Region Rediscovered. Basel: Merian.
- von Stockhausen, Alban. 2014. Imag(in)ing the Nagas: The Pictorial Ethnography of Hans-Eberhard Kauffmann and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, ISBN 978-3-89790-412-5.
- Wettstein, Marion. 2014. Naga Textiles: Design, Technique, Meaning and Effect of a Local Craft Tradition in Northeast India. Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, ISBN 978-3-89790-419-4.
- "A-11 Individual Scheduled Tribe Primary Census Abstract Data and its Appendix". censusindia.gov.in. Government of India. Retrieved 28 October 2017.