Ahuna Festival 2012, Zunheboto (II)
In addition to the men hitting the raised mound with the sticks, others stand to the side pulling strips of bamboo (I think), while others swing bits of bamboo attached to a piece of string, all of which make a sort of buzzing noise, that I believe is supposed to ‘call the thunder’.
They also performend hango leh, which is a song sung while sowing.
The men from the village of Khükiye-Lukhai did aphila kuwo, which is often mistranslated as a ‘war dance’, since it was never performed by warriors before they went off to battle, or by victorious warriors. It was simply a dance performed during festivals.
Some men from Zunheboto performed winnowing of the paddy. According to H.S. Rotokha, the proper way was to have one man waving the paddy sifter up and down (along the vertical axis), while another waved his from left to right (along the horizontal axis).
And the women from Lazami village performed a thread spinning song called aye küzü, while ‘spinning’ thread from balls of harvested cotton.
Alright, just one more post about Ahuna and I’m done!
Ahuna Festival 2012, Zunheboto (I)
From L to R: Me, H. S. Rotokha, Abokali Sumi, Pukhazhe Yepthomi.
Before I get into the cultural activities in my next post, I thought I’d just talk about the entrance to the festival ground.
The photos below [WARNING: some nudity] are of what I think was a modern take on an old tradition: the genna post. The word genna appears to come from the Angami kenna, which according to Hutton, in his book The Angami Nagas, translates as ‘prohibition’ (1921: 190), though the meaning of the term is quite broad and would deserve a blog post of its own. [Note that the Sumi equivalent is chine, presumably related to the Angami word, but with the initial velar stop palatalisating before the front vowel /i/.]
And on the other side, we have pictures of the moon, sun, pieces of meat (steak actually), tiger, a pair of and a mithun head. Yes, disembodied breasts. I had to do a double take on that, especially given the highly conservative nature of Baptist Zunheboto.
I have no idea who commissioned the post, but it does bear the elements of a traditional Sumi genna post. Of such posts, Hutton (in 1921) wrote:
Genna posts, whether the front centre post of the house or the forked posts set up outside it, are carved both in high relief and with incisions, the latter taking the form of horizontal lines, crosses, circles, or arcs, and used to fill in space not devoted to the serious carving, which generally consists of mithan heads more or less conventionalised, and highly conventional representations of the article of ceremonial dress known as “enemies’ teeth ” (aghühu). … The only living thing other than mithan which seems to be represented in Sema art is the bird, which is carved out of a piece of wood and fixed to a crossbar between the “snail-horns” of the house. … The sun and moon are also represented, usually as plain circles or concave discs, also breasts, singly, not in pairs, significant of success in love, and wooden dao slings. – The Sema Nagas (1921: 48)
I’m not sure if anyone was offended by them (I suspect some people might have been ), but as you can see, there was some cultural precedent for them, even badly photoshopped ones. Of course, it doesn’t completely match Hutton’s description, but I’m sure there were others types of genna posts that he didn’t get to document.
For most of the festival I was actually busy at the Sumi Cultural Association stall (since the members were busy with the main festival events.) We were selling DVDs of the film, as well as calendars for 2013.
The calendars (tsalaphi) are unique in that they are completely in Sumi, with short explanations about the Sumi names for the various months. They are also accompanied by photos depicting the traditional agricultural activities / events typically associated with each particular month.