March 21, 2017

2992 INDIA (Nagaland) - Ao Naga

2992 Ao man during Moatsü Mong festival

The Aos are one of the major Naga tribes of Nagaland, Northeast India. Their main territory is from Tsula (Dikhu) Valley in the east to Tsurang (Disai) Valley in the west in Mokokchung district. 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. Racially the Aos are Mongolians, and is believed to have migrated from the far east 'through' Chungliyimti, in Tuensang district, where are still intact the six stones from which it is said that they emerged.

Monogamy is the common form of marriage amongst them, and the marriage between the blood relatives of family group is strictly prohibited. Their folk literature reflects the background of the people, their mind, character, religion, culture, superstitions and taboos. Their economy is dependent on agriculture. The Ao area is suitable for the development of animal husbandry, dairy farming, horticulture and forestry. They are well known for multiple harvest festivals held each year.

One of the most important is Moatsü Mong festival, celebrated in the first week of May every year. Various rituals are performed during this period. The Aos observe Moatsü Mong after the sowing is done. It is marked by peppy songs and dances. During this festival one of the symbolic celebrations is Sangpangtu, where a big fire is lit and men and women sit around it putting on their complete best attire, the womenfolk serve the wine and meat.

The customary practice of the forefathers was competing in making the best rice-beer and rearing the best possible pigs and cows to be slaughtered during the festival. The women weave the best garments and adorn themselves with all their finery. They join the men in dancing, eating and drinking and composing warrior songs. Singing songs in praise of the lover is done and the older men encourage the young to be heroic to defend them from enemies as head-hunting was practiced during their fore-fathers time.

The Ao Nagas have a rich tradition and culture. Their dresses involve intricate designs which require exceptional craftsmanship; the designs in the clothing are the main characteristic of distinguishing prominent clansmen from others, especially with regard to status in the society or village. The prominent people in the society or village were the Nokinketers or warriors or frontrunners, who enjoyed special status in the society; their status was highlighted by the dresses they wore.

The Aos warrior shawl is called Mangkotepsu. This shawl besides fulfilling the basic needs of clothing is highly revered by the people. In the past a man had to earn the right to wear this shawl by taking human heads in the battlefield or through acts of bravery and by offering feasts of merit as proof of his wealth. Anyone wearing without fulfilling these credentials was taken to task by the village council and had to pay heavy penalties for violating the revered code.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series dedicated to the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit, issued on October 29, 2015:
• Thomson's gazelle (5 INR)
• Black buck (5 INR)
• African rhinoceros (5 INR)
• Indian rhinoceros (5 INR) - It's on the postcard 2992
• African Lion (5 INR)
• Indian Lion (5 INR)

The second stamp is part of the series Charkha Spinning Wheel, designed by Sankha Samanta and issued on October 15, 2015.
• Peti Charkha (5 INR)
• Bardoli Charkha (5 INR) - It's on the postcard 2992

The third stamp is part of the series Builders of Modern India, about which I wrote here.

The last stamp, designed by Nenu Gupta, was issued on November 19, 2016, to honor the Third Battalion the Garhwal Rifles. The Garhwal Rifles is one of the most decorated infantry regiments of the Indian Army. It was originally raised in 1887 as the 39th (Garhwal) Regiment of the Bengal Army. It then became part of the British Indian Army, and after the Independence of India, it was incorporated into the Indian Army. 

Ao Naga - Wikipedia
Moatsü - Wikipedia
Ao Naga Tribe, Nagaland - India Netzone
Tsüngkotepsü (The Ao Naga Shawl) - Mokokchung Visual Diary 

Sender: subramanya (postcrossing) IN-227881
Sent from Sirsi (Karnataka / India), on 03.03.2017
Photo: Retlaw Snellac 

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