Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Konyak Villages

Traditional Konyak houses of Longwa village. Notice the large size of many of them.

My last few posts were all about the people we met in the Naga Konyak villages of Shangnyu and Longwa. This post - which will be my last from this trip to North East India - will focus on the villages themselves.

Both are interesting for the traditional houses made entirely from natural materials according to methods probably almost unchanged for hundreds of years. However, Longwa is the more beautiful of the two, almost as taken out of an old National Geographic Magazine. Another interesting characteristic of this village is that lies on both sides of the national border between India and Burma. However The Burmese government has no permanent presence here, so there is no passport control here and locals and foreigners alike can freely walk across the border. In fact, the local Angh (chief) - whose house stands at the top of village hill - crosses the border every time he moves from his bedroom to his kitchen as his house stands right smack on the border.

A view to the Indian military base at Longwa with the national border clearly marked by a fence. However the fence does not continue into the village (Picture: Ole Agersnap)

A grand view of a big part of Longwa Village. Only the military base, the church, the guest house and two or three other buildings are made of concrete. Everything else is built entirely from natural materials like wood, bamboo and straw

A really nice and typical house. In general they are not small huts, but large houses which can house entire families. The walls are made from some weaved material, possibly bamboo, the doorway and some supporting beams and framework are made from wood, while the roofs are made from thatch straw. The result is very aesthetically pleasing in my opinion.

For some reason many of the Konyak houses have three "poles" made from straw on the roof. Not sure if there is any significance to this apart from just decoration. If any visitor knows, please let me know in comments.

More houses

The enormous house of the Angh here stands characteristically on the top of the ridge. This picture is taken from the Indian side.

Interiors of the Angh's house. As you walk down the hallway you are literally walking on the border.

My brother in what appears to be the Angh's trophy room. In this picture he is standing in Burma.

Naga houses are traditionally built without windows - but light still manages to get in

Wooden beam with carvings. It appears to be a tiger on top.

Although less spectacular Shangnyu is also an appealing place, with the main attraction here being a large single-piece wooden panel with various fertility related figures and reliefs adorning it. According to myth it was carved divine angels, but I haven't been able to find an estimate on when that happened.

Wooden warriors with big "weapons"

Headhuntin is out but skulls still play a big role in Naga culture. Here a small hut is decorated with skulls from buffaloes and other animals

A look into the local super market in Shangnyu. For bigger purchases the villager have to go to Mon.

Naga men around the fire in a local kitchen

And this concludes the pictures from our big North East India trip. However, this blog is heavily behind real life, so I have actually been on many travels in the meantime, which means that many more adventures are coming up on this blog. In future I will mark the time at which the events described actually took place. In the posts to come you can look forward to among other things reports from Corbett National Park, Hong Kong, Ranthambore Tiger Safari, Goa as well as a new Northeast Trip. I will also be showing some pictures from our biggest adventure of them all - becoming a first time parent! You are more than welcome to come back and follow it all.

(The events in this post took place on 8 and 9 December 2008)


oreneta said...

Esben, you should publish this, people would buy it, tourists and folks who are interested.

Seriously. Have you heard of Blurb books?

I'm not connected in any way, but your site gets so much traffic and there is so much info and the pictures are so lovely.....

Always a delight to see your posts.

Esben said...

Thank you Oreneta. A few others have suggested the same, but at this point I'm happy enough to let anyone who wants to see my posts come here and see them. Most of the traffic I get is from Google Image Search.

Tali said...

hey Esben,will done, just love it- do continue to work on it and ya you can even introduce it to the world of tourists to see this beautiful place