Zeme Naga

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Rani Gaidinliu

Zeme Naga is an endangered language that originated from the Northeastern parts of India. Zemi, Nzemi, Zeme, Zemai, Zemei, Ziama, Jemi, Yemi, etc. are the different way the name of the tribe is spelt by different writers. The term "Zainme" means people, but depending on what tribe you belong to different words can mean different things. The Zemes that are inhabiting in Nagaland call themselves Zeliang and those of the Manipur borders are called Zeliangrong. There are many different tribes that speak Zeme Naga even though it is a endangered language. The tribes who still use this language are spread out among different parts of India.

Religious Practices[edit]

There are now about three different sections to the Zeme Naga The Pereses – the section of the Zemes who profess the traditional Zeme faith more or less unaltered; the Herakas – the section of the Zemes who profess the reformed brand of the Zeme religion propagated by Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu, and the Christian coverts. In North Cachar Hills, the majority of the Zemes now profess Heraka. Unlike the Dimasas, the Zemes have never been much influenced by Hinduism until the days of Heraka reforms. Elements from both Hinduism and Christianity have been incorporated among the Zeme Herakas. The Heraka system, which is originally conceived at the socio-religious milieu of Manipur, has absorbed many Hindu as well as Christian elements.""

The term "Zeme"[edit]

Zemi, Nzemi, Zeme, Zemai, Zemei, Ziama, Jemi, Yemi, etc. are the different way the name of the tribe is spelt by different writers. In North Cachar Hills ‘Nzeme’ (nesal ‘N’ is sounds before many words in Zeme vocabulary) is the original name of the tribe. The term ‘Zainme’/ ‘Nzainme’ stands for ‘people’. ‘Zeme’/ ‘Nzeme’, as this group of people call themselves, probably derived from the term ‘zainme’. The original name of the tribe was ‘Zemai’/ ‘Zemei’. The contemporary term ‘Zeme’ is a corrupt form of the same. The Zeme Nagas are again known by different names among different other Naga tribes. The Angamis call them ‘Mezama‘. They use the same word, but with slight tonal variation, to call the Rengma Nagas.

The only tribes of the southern group which are located inside the Naga Hills administrative district are the divisions of the Kacha Nagas, the Zemi, Lyengmai, and Maruoung-mai. These tribes are stituated to the south of the Angamis and have been very much influenced by them, the Zemi having been long virtually subject to the Angami village of Khonoma. The Angami dress is worn, though the kilt is merely put round the body and not fastened between the legs, and in some villages the exogamous clans have the same names as those in Khonoma…The languages are quite distinct from the Angami, and each of the three divisions has its own. These Kacha Naga tribes seem to be closely allied to the Kabui tribe in Manipur, and some of the Kacha Nagas are situated as far south as the North Cachar Hills.

The Decimal System[edit]

'Zeme Naga has a decimal numeral system. The numerals from eleven to fifty nine are formed without taking any affixes by compounding the basic numerals from 1 to 9 to the numerals 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50. 60, 70, 80 and 90 are purely multiplication of ten with the basic numerals. Although, 'kereu' denote 'ten' in Zeme, it is not used to form multiplicative compound. Instead of it, 'riak' (denotes ten) is generally used along with basic numerals to form lower multiplicative compound. The multiplicative-cum-additive compound numerals are formed from 61 to 69, 71 to 79, 81 to 89 and 91 to 99 by adding 'ze' between the two basic numerals. Zeme Naga is a tonal language, new data with tones are needed.<http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/numeral/Zeme-Naga.htm>

1. ket 21. əŋkai-ket 2. kəna 22. əŋkai-kəna 3. kət͡ʃum 22. əŋkai-kət͡ʃum 4. mədai 24. əŋkai-mədai 5. meŋeu 25. əŋkai-meŋeu 6. səruk 26. əŋkai-səruk 7. səna 27. əŋkai-səna 8. dəset 28. əŋkai-dəset 9. səkui 29. əŋkai-səkui 10. kereu 30. himreu, 36. himreu-səruk 11. kereu-ket 40. hədai, 48. hədai-dəset 12. kereu-kəna 50. reŋeu, 55. reŋeu-meŋeu 13. kereu-kət͡ʃum 60. riak-səruk, 61. riak-səruk-ze-ket 14. kereu-mədai 70. riak-səna, 75. raik-səna-ze-meŋeu 15. kereu-meŋeu 80. riak-dəset, 87. riak-dəset-ze-səna 16. kereu-səruk 90. riak-səkui, 99. riak-səkui-səkui 17. kereu-səna 100. hai-ket, 200. hai-(kə)na 18. kereu-dəset 300. hai-(kə)t͡ʃum, 400. hai-mədai 19. kereu-səkui 1000. tʃaŋ, 2000. tʃaŋ-(kə)na, 20. əŋkai 3000. tʃaŋ-(kə)t͡ʃum, 9000. tʃaŋ-səkui

Population and distribution[edit]

As Census of India stopped publishing caste and tribe wise population except those of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes after independence, and when the different tribes under Zeliangrong in different combinations are recognized as scheduled tribe in these states, the exact population of each of the independent tribes of this group is not possible to extract. The total Zeliangrong population (including Kabui i.e. both Inpui and rongmei), Kachcha Naga, and Zeliang as they are separately published in Census of India) is expected to be approximately 0.25 million, which constitutes about 10 per cent to the total Nagas. Other independent Naga tribes having population more than 0.2 million are the Sema, Konayak and Ao Naga.

Specific tribes of Naga still remained confined to their respective geographical pockets of concentration. Other than Zeliangrong tribes, the Tankhul Naga in Manipur, the Sema, Lotha, Chakhesang, and Ao Nagas in Nagaland are the other Naga tribes who are found outside their pocket of concentration. Wide distribution of the Zeliangrong tribes across the three states of Indian Union may be attributed either to the pressure of aggression from other Naga tribes (as it is well documented that they were under Angami oppression) or to their being one of the ancient tribes in the region (as according to the "Age-Area Hypothesis", wider distribution means greater antiquity). Contrastingly, however, wide and sparse distribution with regard to some recent immigrant Kuki/Hmar tibes is a reality. These people being recent migrants unable to find suitable settlement pastures and therefore dispersed off far and wide across the northeastern States. The situation perhaps is not the same for Zeme Nagas being one of the ancient migrants to this region. The districts of Kohima in Nagaland, Tamenglong in Manipur, and North Cachar Hills in Assam together, in fact, form one contiguous area, both geographically and ecologically. The Zeliangrong group of tribes is mainly confined in this pocket. Ursula Betts described the settlement pattern of this group, which I cannot do better than simply to quote.

"The north-eastern extremity of the Barail and its highest peak, Japvo, lie just inside the Angami Naga country. From the Angami border westwards – for the greater part, that is, of the Barail’s steepest and most spectacular length – the main range and its subsidiaries are inhabited by the Nzemi, Lyengmai and Kabui Nagas. They are closely related and are often referred to, particularly in early accounts, as the Kacha or Kachcha Nagas, a term of obscure origin. The Lyengmai live on the southern slopes of the Barail below the Japvo massif. The Kabui are to the south of them, on the parallel ridges running down through what was until 1949 Manipur State. The Nzemi lie to the north and west of these two tribes and occupy the main range itself, its terminal peaks in North Cachar, and the eastern edge of the plateau beyond Haflong. To the south of the Nzemi country are the plains of Cachar, thickly populated by immigrants of Bengali origin. To the west are the Khasis, of Mon-Khmer stock and speech; to the north-west are the Dimasa Kacharis, a valley-dwelling people whose territory, following as it does the course of the Diyung River and the lowlands on either side of it, drives a deep wedge into the Nzemi country and all but cuts it in two. These Dimasa Kacharis finally settled in the Diyung Valley in the middle of the sixteenth century, after being driven down the Assam Valley by the dominant Ahoms. Among the Nzemi east of the Jatinga gap there are scattered villages of Thado and other Kukis; west of the gap, among the Nzemi of the plateau, there are a few settlements of Biete and Rangkhol Kukis" .

In the State of Manipur, Kachcha Naga and Kabui (i.e.Inpui and Rongmei Naga) are separately recognized as scheduled tribes. Both the Kabui Naga and the Kachcha Naga are mainly concentrated in Tamenglong district of Manipur. A sizable chunk of the Rongmei population is also found in Imphal district (now divided into Imphal East and Imphal West). The Kachcha Naga population outside the Tamenglong administrative area – their home – is found in Senapati district of the State. Total of estimated population of each of the Rongmei and Kachcha Naga tribe in Manipur would be approx. 50,000 souls. In Nagaland, the Liangmei Naga of the Zeliangrong constellation is mainly found, and they are almost solely concentrated in the district of Kohima. There is also a sizable concentration of the Zeme Nagas. Their together population is expected to be 70,000 souls. In Assam, the Naga population is solely concentrated in the hill district of North Cachar Hills where the Zeme Naga is the single largest Naga tribe sharing more than 90% of the total Naga population. Any conservative estimation of Zeme Naga population in this district would be around 9,000 souls.

Social history[edit]

How and where the Kacha Nagas have come from is still shrouded in mystery. From folk narratives one can draw some speculations that their ancestors probably had migrated from the direction of Japvo Mountain to the present-day Nagaland and spread further towards south. Some scholars have connected them with the headhunters of Malay and races of the southern sea on the one hand and to China on the other. What caused their dispersal from their original native soil is a difficult question to be answered. The Zeme Nagas probably had migrated into their present abode in Barail range in search of brines (salt). Their historical association with salt perhaps is still surviving in their collective sub-conscious mind. At present, there is no such difficulty in getting the supply of food salt, which is not only easily available but also a cheap commodity. However, the people are in habit of storing salt sachets for several months if not years. Salt packets are often used as local currency. These can be easily exchanged for any other goods. Standard packet of salt is also used as measuring weight. In bride price, salt is included as one of the offerings. J. H. Hutton reported that of late when the Angami Nagas no longer were manufacturing "Naga salt", they used to purchase the same from the Kacha Naga, Sangtam or Tangkhul country. The Naga salt was said to have medicinal properties denied to ordinary salt.

In Dima Hasao District (Erstwhile North Cachar Hills), the Zemes are living for many centuries now. Laisong, Asalu, Shongkai, Peisia, Haijaichak, Khangnam, Baladhan, Hangrum, Thingje (Thungje), Longkai, etc. are some of the ancient Zeme Naga settlements distributed all along the western part of the Dima Hasao district bordering Tamenglong district of Manipur. Impoi is believed to be the earliest Kachcha Naga settlement in the region. During the days of Dimasa Kachari rule, the Nagas were subjects to the Dimasa Kachari kingdom. And they had good trade relations with the Dimasa Kacharis. Some scholars argued that they have probably driven out by angamis and migrated to their present location in Dima Hasao from neighboring Mountains of Kohima by a rout down the Barail range and reached North Cachar Hills when the Dimasa Kachari kingdom at Maibang was well established . By all probabilities, however, it seems that the Zemes might have had settled down in the hills of North Cachar or Dima Hasao much earlier than the wandering tribes of Dimasa Kacharis and Kukis entered the region. At least, since the 13th century the Zemes have been living on the Barail Hills. When the Dimasa Kacharis invaded the area, they asked the Zemes as to whom this land belonged to. The Zemes replied "Gechingpeu-ka" (Gechingpeu = the eldest of the eight sons of Hejale; Gechingpeu-ka = Gechingpeu’s, in which the last word suffixed as such is done in local Hindi dialect). That means the land of the eldest of the family of eight. And it is argued that the name ‘Barail’ has derived from ‘Bara’ i.e. ‘big’.

Zemes have had close interactions with Angami Nagas, as they lived at close proximity to one another sharing common space. The Zemes are called ‘Sengima’ by the Angami tribe. ‘Mezama’ is another name of the Kacha Nagas, to which Zeme is included, as is called by Angamis. The Angamis also use this term to refer Rengma Nagas, but in that case the pronunciation is slightly different . For long time, the Kacha Nagas were under Angami sovereignty, and even as they had migrated to the areas in North Cachar Hills, the supremacy of the Angamis over them continued until recently. It has been rightly pointed out that the Kacha Nagas owed virtual allegiance to the Angamis. They had to pay a kind of tax, which amounted to Rs.2/ per household per annum, or in lieu of the same they used to pay one basket full of paddy. Over and above, they had to assist the Angamis in their devastating raids on the plains. In some cases the Angamis had made their settlement in the Kacha Naga country, and where such settlements were made, the Kacha Nagas were to pursue the Angami pattern in matters of village organization and administration. The Angamis forced them and super-impose upon them their customs, dress, ornaments, etc.

The close similarities between the Western Zeme inhabiting the West of Haflong and the Northern Zeme inhabiting at the border of Angami territory in Nalaland speaks for the more recent migration of the Western Zemes from their Nagaland home. Apparently, the Zemes have entered into North Cachar Hills through several weaves of migration. For long time, they have been virtual subjects of the Angami people. Their migration into North Cachar Hills could possibly be linked to Angami subjugations and atrocities. Mr. Mackenzie writes:

The history of North Cachar is indeed, as has been shown, intimately connected with that of the Angami Hills. The tribes of Cacharis and Kutcha Nagas living in the eastern part of North Cachar were for many years harried by the Angamis", (p. 145)…"Angamis carried on raids against the Zemes who thus had to migrate further and further away from their original place of settlement till they came down to Barail range in North Cachar Hills.

Arguably, their settlement pattern as a long chain extending right from the eastern border of the North Cachar Hills district bordering Manipur and Nagaland down up to the west of Haflong speaks for migrations in waves through a particular rout. The Zemes living on the western part of the Haflong town demonstrably should be the latest migrants from Nagaland, as they have been driven out by the Angami aggression. They exhibit closer ethnic relations with their counterparts in Nagland.

Settlement pattern[edit]

Zeme villages are found situated comparatively in the interiors of forest than those of Kukis’ (or Thadoes) and of Hill Kacharis(Dimasas)’. Contrasting patterns are found among different tribes with regard to their preference for settlement. As the different species occupy different niches in a tree to survive without any direct contest with one another, the tribe men in North Cachar Hills seem to have carefully worked out a similar modality for peaceful co-existence. Like other Nagas, the Zeme Naga choose hill summit for their village settlement. The Kukis, Hmars and their kindred tribes construct platform houses on slanted ridges. The Hill Kacharis or the Dimasas prefer plateau (or flat ground), gorge or other low laying areas .

Quite invariably, Zeme villages are found nearby natural water source, preferably a running stream. However, the Zemes like other Naga communities habitually construct their houses on hill tope, which is never compromised for any other reason, even for the water facility. Other non-Naga tribes in the region are found to prefer settlement along hill ridges, which are usually being close to water hole/ stream, instead of being right on the summit, which being not often that close to such conveniences. Indigenous engineering of water canneling, however, brings water right up to the settlement. Although seemingly a modern devise, but actually an age-old practice that water is often channeled in from several meters away at source through the long chain of half split bamboo tubes put together into a narrow conduit.

From village defense point of view, construction of villages on hilltop has many advantages. In head hunting days, the people were very suspicious and watchful on every movement of any outsider. Their settlement perched on the hill summits is the best location to organize the required village security . Traditionally, for the purpose of defense, the village fences were well constructed often by using heavy stone slabs. On the forest line, careful nurturing of certain poisonous plants that cause blister and irritation on skin is the most popular and inexpensive way of securing the boundary. Even nowadays, the huge village gate clad with vegetative stings and other signs of danger are the clear remnants from the bygone days of ghastly Naga head hunting. Traditionally, in front of every bachelor dormitory a huge dugout drum is invariably found drawing attention of every new comer into the village. This is hammered to produce heavy "dong… dong… dong" sound to draw attention of the villagers either inviting them to join to a community feast or as a warning sing to take the required defensive position in event of the village is under attack (microphone has taken its place in recent time). Collective memory about things that once involved the people so much intimately, in fact, continues for years even after the situation has been changed in reality. In the days of head hunting, a person hardly would venture into territory of an unknown village without running the risk of getting caught and killed. The fear is still continuinging in their minds. Initially I could not understand why my field assistant, a Zeme by tribe, was absolutely unwilling to go to some of the interior Zeme villages like Hangrum. Also that once a young Zeme girl involuntarily labeled me as to be a ‘brave one’ while she came to know that I went Chaikam all alone on my own.

In North Cachar Hills, Zemes construct their huts rather haphazardly spreading over wide undulating topography. Like many other tribal communities in this region. Zeme villages are homogeneous. No two different tribes are found dwelling in any single village settlement. Within the same tribe the converted section (e.g. Christians) constitutes a separate village unit. The villages are, however, composite in respect of kinship and clan organization. People belonging to different clans do reside in a single village. In a large village, particular clan members often construct their dwelling huts at close proximity so as to form a homogeneous cluster. Such a segment within a village is popularly referred to as ‘Khel’.

In terms of population size, in North Cachar Hills, tribal villages are found to be very small. The average number of households in a village ranges from twenty to thirty . There are, however, exceptions. The village of Laisong - inhabited by Zeme Nagas, now all of them converted Christians - has about 100 households. The families being mostly of nuclear type, the total number of persons inhabiting a village is not that large. In case of shifting cultivation, ten to twenty times more land are required than what is cultivated at any given season. Therefore, if ten bighas of land are require per family at any given time of cultivation, then for a village of twenty families, the total land requirement would be in between two thousand and four thousand bighas, which is quite a large size. Thus, the population distribution and density are automatically happens to be very scattered and scanty.

Village political organization[edit]

In Zeme vocabulary, ‘kelo’ is the term stands for village or village organization. Socio-politically, the Zemes like other Naga tribes are strongly village oriented. Their village organization is stronger than their clan or tribal organization. Of course, in case the village is huge, any segment within it where all the residents are of one clan could be more strongly organized centering its own chief or headman than the whole village as an entity. In this respect I am quite agreeing with J. H. Hutton’s observation on Sema Nagas. To quote:

"Clan feeling exists, as does tribal feeling, but it has no organs. The basis of Sema society is the village (apfu, agana), or part of a village (asah), which is under the control of a chief" .

Unlike the Dimasas whose social organization is dominantly clan oriented, the Zeme villages are mostly the self-sufficient organizational units and are more strongly configured at that level. Their village organization like other Nagas is conspicuously stronger than their clan or tribe level unity. Every village is an independent unit in terms of its political, economic and social entity.

Zeme village political institution is with reservations a democratic set up . The executive members of the village council are selected by popular opinion. However, owing to their specific socio-economic status certain people (e.g. Kadeipampeu) are automatically incorporated into the council. Otherwise, every adult villager (both man and woman) is automatically a general member (Bakiangna) of the council. The council is led by the village headman (Mataipeu). The other executive members of the council are the assistant village headman (Mataicheipeu), secretary (Rausuipeu), village priest (Tingnapei, Tingkupau ), landowners (Hangdeu mpaube,Kadeipampeus), etc. The village elders from among the executive members decide the village headman by a voice vote. But, in case of several dominating clans involved, reaching to a consensus may not be that a simple way of going. The male folks represent the whole of the administrative unit of the village council. The women are not allowed to transgress much on the council’s vital affair. These days, the Zeme village headman especially the Gaunbura gets government recognition and is entitled to receive a monthly remuneration. This has further institutionalized the village administration bringing it right into the threshold of State politics.

Social life[edit]

Zemes like other Nagas are traditionally self-sufficient at their village level organization. Their organizational unity centers on the village organization, which is socially, economically and politically self-sufficient. Clan and tribe level solidarities are rather secondary so to say to their village level solidarity, which is conspicuously contrasting to Dimasa Kacharis’ social organization. The different types of prayer, offered at different levels by Herakas have broadly been organized involving their family and village level societal consolidations. Prayer at family level consolidates solidarity at family level, while prayer at village level does the same at village context. However, there is rarely any such ritual that consolidates clan or tribal unity. In olden times, when the practice of head hunting was rampant, the Zeme villages constantly were at feud with each other. So their villages were required to be more organized than tribal organization. At this point, the Zeme Nagas are quite opposite to what the Dimasa Kacharis are. Dancing and Instruments are a major part of culture in the Zeme Naga. The boys and girls are in separate youth dormitories but come and congregate in the central part of village to perform for the elders. Of the folk dances of the Zemes the popular ones are – Haripivelim, Johumpeselim, Kanguibelim, Kerapsaplim, Hakalim, Nbzchuinelim etc.

In their songs and dance performances they use their traditional musical instruments – Inchum, Hembeu, Inlubai, Kebuike, Metiyah, Inar, Kumtoi, Into etc.

The Zeme traditional male dresses are named as Injingni, Heni, Mopahai, Lauhepai, Khampefai etc. The young boys decorate their legs with rice powder paste and tie cane ropes just below the knee. The girls wear Mini Hegiangnine, Faimang, Faitik, Limfai and ornaments made of silver, brass and colourful bird feathers for the earlobes.

The new religion among the Zemes calls for unification of the different Zeliangrong tribes. With this aspiration every year (or in alternate year) the Zeliangrong Heraka Association Conference is organized involving all the Zemes irrespective of their sub-tribal, clan, and village level affiliations. The annual pilgrimage to Bhuban Hill temple by Herakas also contributes towards unification of the tribe.

Family, descent and inheritance[edit]

Zeme family predominantly is of nuclear type consisting of the married couple and their unmarried offspring. About 65 per cent households among the Zemes are of elementary family type composed of a married couple and their unmarried children. Only about 11 per cent of the households are of joint family type, where the couple is living along with their married sons or daughters.

The Husband or father is the head of a family. Children of either sex leave their family of orientation one by one as they are getting married. The youngest son most often continues to live with his parents. He looks after the old parents, and on their death he inherits the residential hut, although such property does not have much value.

Zeme society is partri-centric. Both descent and inheritance are reckoned through father’s line. Individual properties among the Zemes are very few and far between. Only some precious ornaments and household articles are considered to be personal. Landed properties (except the recently introduced registered ‘pata’ ploughable land) being nominally possessed, their inheritance is insignificant. The original village founders nominally acquire land that constitutes the village. Whoever subsequently comes and settles down in the village does not acquire any land unless either any of the original landholders donates a portion to him or he acquires that by a token purchase. Such traditional landowner is called Kadeipampeu literally the father of the land. Possession of land by Kadeipampeu is nominal. Anybody in the village can use his land without taking any prior permission. The Kadeipampeu, however, may expect some returns of the commodities produced in his land as gift, which in no case is an obligatory. Nowadays, this custom of paying some return, however, has already become obsolete.

The precious personal properties like ornaments, garments, instruments, weapons, etc. are mostly buried along with the owner on his death. Since the youngest son ultimately lives with parents, the residential hut and the household properties go to him. In this regard a form of ultimogeneture down the male line is found . A female generally does not acquire anything, but the parents can give articles to their daughters while they are still alive.

Kinship terminology[edit]

The Zeme Naga kinship terminology is similar to the South East Asian type. Except one’s own father, father’s elder brother, mother, wife, son and daughter, all other relations are referred by classificatory terms. There are only 11 distinctive terms used to define all the different types of relations. These are viz. Acha, Anai, Apai, Apau, Apui, Apeu/Apei, Akina, Asi, Ana, Anau/ Nang-Pui, Hena/Geching-Peu. Anai is used to define only female relations; while Apai and Apau are to refer grandmother and grandfather’s class and Apui and Apeu/Apei are to refer one’s mother and father. In rest of the cases term pui in the case of female and peu/Pei in the case of male is suffixed, as per the sex of the person addressed.

Relations belong to one particular generation with reference to Ego are usually referred to by a classificatory term. Quite amazingly, in some cases totally contrasting terms are used to the relations of equal genealogical status. For example, "Anai" is used to refer Fa Si, Mo Br Wi, Mo Br Da, Wi Fa Si, Wi Mo, Wi Mo Si, Wi Mo Br Wi, etc. Here, except the Mo Br Da, all the status is one generation above Ego. Wheres, Mo Si, also one generation above Ego, is referred to by "Acha", a term otherwise used to refer relations below Ego’s generation (i.e. children, grand children, and great grand children’s class). In using kinship terminology, it seems that the father’s side and mother’s sides is also taken into consideration. Cross cousin and parallel cousin are not given an equal status. Fa Si Da/So is coined by "Acha" i.e. equivalent to children and grand children, while Fa Br Da/So is by "Akina" i.e. equivalent to brothers and Sisters. Literally, Parallel cousins are given equal status to Ego’s own brothers and sisters, while Cross Cousins are lowered below Ego’s generation. This perhaps ovately speaks for the weightage that is given to one’s Parallel Cousins in kinship relation. Quite contrary to this practice, the Mo Br Da is called "Anai", which is usually used for status one generation above Ego. Mo Br So is called both as "Acha" as well as "Apau", which seem to be even more incongruent. This practice, however, could signify the ambiguous status of the said position. Fa and Fa Br are called "Peu", but in case of Fa (elder) Br "Hena-Peu" or "Geching-Peu" is used, as a term of reference, but such distention is not made while addressing him. In their myth of origin, the eldest of the seven brothers is named as Geching-peu. Only in the case of brothers and sisters class, the age factor is counted. If the person is senior to the Ego in real age then Akina-pui/-peu is used, or else it is Asi-pui/-peu.

Table: Kinship Terminology among the Zeme Nagas

Kin Types //Term of Reference //Term of Address

* So So), (So Da), (So Wi), (Da Hu), (Br So), (Si So), etc.// Acha (suffix pui for female; peu for male)// Usually by name * Fa Si), (Mo Br Wi), (Mo Br Da), (Wi Fa Si), (Wi Mo), (Wi Mo Si), (Wi Mo Br Wi) etc.// Anai For elderly male and female// Peu and Pui are used * Fa Mo), (Mo Mo), (Mo Br Wi), etc.// Apai// Same as terms of reference * Fa Fa), (Mo Fa), (Mo Br), (Wi Fa), (Wi Fa Br), etc.// Apau// Same as terms of reference * Br), (Si), (Wi Br), (Wi Si), (Fa Br Da), (Fa Br So), (Si Hu), etc.// Akina & Asi (If the addressee is younger than the Ego in actual age then he is referred as Asi)// Same or Peu / Pui is used in case of elderly man and woman, while in case of younger one by name * Fa// Apeu// Peu * Mo// Apui// Pui * Wi// Anau/ Nang-Pui// Taknonymy is used * So) and (Da)//Ana (also Acha)// By name * Fa (elder) Br// Hena-Peu/ Geching-Peu// Peu


A (my) + Cha (children) = (My children) Son and Daughter

A(my) + Pau (grand father) = (My grandfather) Grandfather

A(my) + Peu (father) = (My father) Father


There are multiple clans of Zeme; this includes, Napame, Nkuame, Heneume, Nriame, Sogame, and Pnma. Of them Napame and Nkuame. The different tribes are located in the hills of India. These clans are very exclusive and do not encourage marriage of a man and a woman from different clans. the age for marriage is older than other types of clans. The male is usually about 25 years old where as the girl is younger and usually married off at 19. There is never any cases of multiple spouses in the tribes. The Zeme Nagas have a lot of respect for the sanctity of marriage. Although the different tribes to do not involve themselves with one another they all have the same values and thoughts about marriage. They do not believe in polygamy. Something that they do allow is marrying your first cousin. But this only can happen if it is from the maternal side of your family. In older times the prospective husband used to work for the father of the bride for one year before the nuptials. Also the man would have to pay for the bride. If the two ever agreed upon divorce then the price that was paid for the bride would be returned. In more recent times the

for marriages is much more laid back. The decision for marriage is more based on love than a contract. Mostly it is an elopement and the husbands family throws a feast in the village.


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  • Roy, Babul. Zeme Naga Ethno-medicines and animal related practices. Curare: Journal of Medical Anthropology [Germany]. Sole 2010, Vol.33, No.1+2, pages 97–104. Refereed ISSN 0344-8622 Int.
  • Roy, Babul. Evolving Gender Relationships among the Zeme Nagas of North Cachar Hills (Assam). Journal of Indian Anthropological Society [India] Sole 2004, Vol. 38, pages 9–20. Refereed ISSN 0019-4387 Nat.
  • Roy, Babul. Folk Perception of Disease and Curative Measures among the Zeme Nagas of North Cachar Hills in Assam. Journal of Indian Anthropological Society [India] Sole 2004, Vol. 39, pages 57–66. Refereed ISSN 0019-4387 Nat.
  • Bower, Ursula Graham.1952. Naga Path. London: Reader Union, John Murray.
  • Bower, Ursula Graham.1950. Drums Behind the Hill. New York: William Morrow and Company.
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http://nchills.nic.in/NCHILLS-zemes.htm Krissa, Shea. "Zeme Numerals." 10 Mar. 1995. Web. <http://nchills.nic.in/NCHILLS-zemes.htm>. http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/profile/14894/overview