Nagaland Tribes


The population of Nagaland is completely tribal. The Nagas who live here belong to the Indo-Mongoloid family. There are 14 major Naga tribes that include Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang. Earlier, Pochury tribe was a part of Chakhesang but later on, they separated out from the group. People of Naga might not seem to open up to the outside world, but their hospitality and friendliness is one of their unique traits. They receive a guest with great enthusiasm and serve them with a special drink or rice-beer.

A Tribal Tour of Nagaland allows one to experience the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets while trekking, jungle camping and rock climbing alongwith a rendezvous with its people.

The People

Tribes of Nagaland had no generic term applicable to the same. People of the plain gave the name 'Naga' to these hill tribes. This proved to be a great associating force to the tribes, now known as Naga.

Nagaland Tribes are usually of sub-medium height. Their facial index is very low and the nasal index corresponds to a medium nose. The skin is brownish yellow and the hair is straight. Every group of Nagas has the theories related to their origin. The Angamis, Rengams, Semas and the Lotha's contribute to the Kheza-Kenoma legend.

According to the legend, three sons went in separate paths and became the forefathers of Angami, Lotha and the Sema tribes. The legend of Themiakelku zie Lake near Khonoma was known to be the place where the first man evolved. The Rengmas and Lothas believe in other legend.

Cultural Facets


Clothes worn by men and women are different in every tribal sect, though they might have the same design for some occasion. A shawl, called 'Sutam', can be described of the Lotha tribe which is worn with white cloth along with dark blue horizontal stripes. Women wear a wrap-around skirt, 'mechala' and a shawl of colourful designs and weaves. Shirts worn by them are different as per the clans they belong. Red and yellow striped skirts are worn on special occasions. These skirts are called Azu Jangnup Su. Naga women also wear Neikhro costumes, which is an embroidered petticoat.

Men wear Rhikho, especially by those who are capable of offering a great feast or have not killed a big enemy. It is a white coloured cloth with four black coloured bands attached to it. Moyer Tusk is another ordinary cloth which is dark blue in color with the median band that has decorative crisscross patterns at the edges.

Dance Culture

Tribal dances are generally performed during marriages, harvest and festivals. War dances, bamboo dance and dance during festivals of every tribe are the common ones. While performing the rituals, the dancers adorn themselves in colourful dresses and jewellery.


The food of Naga tribes is simple yet flaunts a distinct flavour. Locals love spicy food and thus, most of the dishes served here have ample of spice. Bamboo shoot remains a major ingredient in most of the local dishes. Pork with Bamboo shoot and Fish with Bamboo shoot are two popular dishes among locals. Axone (fermented soyabeans) can be found in every household as it is used to make chutney. Anishi (colocasia) remains a main ingredient in the dishes made by the Ao tribe of Nagaland. It is teamed up with fresh pork or smoked pork.


Nagaland hosts some of the most vibrant festivals celebrated by various tribes residing here. Hornbill Festival is the most awaited festival celebrated by indigenous warrior tribes of the state. The festival beautifully underlines tribal cultural through songs and dances. Other festivals are the pre-harvest Amongmong, Tuluni of Naga tribe, Yemshe of Pochuri tribe, Yemshe, Nazu of Pochury Tribe and Sekrenyi Festival of Angami Tribe.

Languages of Nagaland

The principal languages of Nagaland are English, Hindi and tribal dialects such as Ao, Angami, Rengma, Chakhesang, Sangtam, Phom, Chang, Yinchunga, Khiamungan, Zeliang, Kuki, Pochury,Konyak, Wanchu, Sema and Lotha. Nagamese is a mixture of Naga and Assamese.

Visiting Nagaland and interacting with Naga tribes is an enriching experience for tourists.

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