40 years ago when the Central Institute of Indian Languages was set
up, one of its main objectives was to act as a nodal agency for language
related research in India. The study of folklore engaged the attention of
the Institute right from its inception. The folklore unit of the Institute
became a leader in the study of folklore across the country. This must be
recognized because prior to that the accounts of folklore were confined
to report of British Administrators or the Missionaries and it was only
Central Institute of Indian Languages which wanted to establish the
study of folklore in the matrix of inquiry into the nature of human mind,
culture and society. The Institute did commendable work in the area of
tribal languages and many of the linguists collected several folk
materials for textual analysis. Several international scholars were
engaged in dialogue on the subject with experts from the Institute.
However, a great deal still needs to be done for the Institute to revitalize
folklore studies since they are of great importance.
"Folklore as currently understood goes beyond religious of
supernatural beliefs and practices, and compasses the entire body of
social tradition whose chief vehicle of transmission is oral or outside
institutional channels". It is, often, a source of history for predominantly
oral languages. Since Nagas are known to have a very rich component of
folklore which is being passed down the generations through word of
mouth, the documentation of folk materials is bound to be an important
integral component of the development of the language and culture of
There is also a concern in many circles that just as languages are
viewed as endangered, the entire cultural fabric is also under threat
because of rapid advancement in technology and social change. Modern
societies are being de-linked from their ancient tradition and unless
attempts are made now indigenous knowledge system links to the
folklore will also be lost. It is, therefore, commendable that in this
collection "the authors have prepared a scholarly collection of Sangtam
folktales which combines legend, dance, ballad and ritual, carnival and
so on in relation with social structure and biology and ecology that still
thrive in oral literature among the Sangtam community. The tales reflect the dynamic character of Naga folk culture as a whole and the Sangtam
community, in particular. The central theorem one could find from this
combination of Sangtam folktales is, they vividly portray the deep and
passionate lives of the ancestors of the Sangtam community and the way
they treated animals as a part of human society in the ancient world.
We hope this collection will help not only preserve the folk literature
of Sangtam community, but also become a valuable contribution to the
folklore studies in the country. I congratulate the authors.
This book containing folktales of Sangtam Naga is a completely new
English version for Sangtam community in the history of Sangtam
literature. It has been our long aspiration to compile Sangtam folktales
and publish it in a book-form for the past many years. But due to want of
dedicated experts and also financial constraints it had been delayed for
years together. In the meantime Shri Tsalongse Chodongse under the
guidance and inspiration of Dr. Kedutso Kapfo, Associate Professor,
CIIL, Mysore, has sacrificed and dedicated his valuable time to research
on this project. He had collected many Sangtam folktales from elders and
also from other available sources. This collection is particularly essential
for our community to preserve our rich folk culture and tradition for
generations to come.
For review and comment, the Sangtam Literature Committee
Members selected the following subcommittee members to edict the
original manuscript. Dr. N. Meren, retired Medical Director, Rev. Imtiba,
S.B.C., Kohima and Shri Miithingnyuba, Jt. Director, Employment
Exchange, Nagaland, Kohima. Accordingly, they had perused the
manuscript minutely and edited it in the year 2007.
This will be the first edition of Sangtam Naga folktales for Sangtam
community published by CIIL, Mysore. I, on behalf of the Sangtam
Literature Community, express our deep appreciation. We are indebted to
the concerned authority of CIIL, Mysore, for publishing this book. I
hope that readers of this book will get immense benefit.
Nagas are spread over Nagaland, part of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh,
Burma and Assam. One of the uniqueness of the Nagas is that, wherever
they may be, they passionately lived in folklorist’s lives. Every tribe of
the Nagas has their own rich folk literature. There 1s however striking
contrast between modern technology and folk tradition. The coming of
modem education and technology has immensely benefited younger
generation in their advancement of knowledge. At the same time, it also
endangers the survival of their culture and tradition. The present day
generation does not get much opportunity to listen to their folktales as
much as their older generations did.
The tradition of night-hour gatherings in the village played major role
in transmission of folktales from generation to generation among the
Nagas. However, this tradition is almost extinct even in the village
culture today. Causes of such extinction are several. Three major reasons
may be accounted here. First is the spread of Christianity in the villages.
The tradition of night-hour gatherings where the young adults listened to
the folktales told by their elders had been replaced by church services
where they only had to listen to the sermons of the preachers. Second 1s
literacy which brings modern education, technology and urbanization that
had penetrated in the village culture. Besides televisions, varieties of
children’s stories, comics and so on are available in schools and in the
markets. Third is schooling. Lessons incorporated in language subjects
are from outside source only. Even in mother tongue textbooks, most of
the stories are translated from outside source, though are appealing to the
children. There is hardly any local origin. This had caused negative
impact on the children. Directly or indirectly, children have taken their
folktales as something sub-standard and not worthy of listening to.
Incorporating legendary stories of native people in the school
textbooks can play not only a mere source of information about the lives
of their ancestors, but also can play an important role in mental building
and personality development of children. With this objective, the Central
Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, in collaboration with the
Textbook Section, Department of School Education, Govt. of Nagaland,
had attempted to collect folktales from various tribes of Nagas so as to include them in mother tongue textbooks.
Compilation of these Sangtam folktales is part of this objective. They
contain rich information of legendary history from the creation of earth
by Lihjaba to the growth of the great family houses of the Sangtans, one
of the tribes inhabited in the eastern part of Nagaland.
We wish to acknowledge our gratitude to the tellers of these folktales.
This compilation was possible only because of their sincere contribution.
Many tellers had contributed more, but we have not included some of the
stories told by them in our compilation. The reason is that, according to
us, they do not appear to be of Sangtam origin, but from some other
sources. We request the tellers to pardon us if there were any mistake in
our perception. Only the tales whom we perceived as Sangtam origin are
included in this compilation.
We also express our appreciation to Sangtam Literature Committee for
their cooperation and encouragement. Finally, we thank the Director,
Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, for taking up
responsibility for publication.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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