Nagaland, a state known for its scenic beauty, its tribal culture, and it’s art. About 20% of the state is covered with dense forests which is the home for various species of bamboo, timber along with other flora and fauna. The tribes mainly depend on the forest for their daily needs and livelihood. Bamboo is an integral part of their routine, where they use bamboo in their utensils, handicrafts, and also in the construction of houses. About 5% of Nagaland’s economy is dependent on this cultivation and usage of bamboo.
Bamboo Cultivation © www.downtoearth.org.in
Nagaland’s association with bamboo dates back to many generations of these tribes. They use bamboo in weaving the baskets, making lamps, knitting shawls, preparation of decorative spears, table mats, shoulder bags, carvings on wood, and in many more ways. Each tribe has a unique pattern of the settlement like Ao and Lhota arrange their houses in a linear to the street, stoned pathways of Konyak tribe, etc.
A traditional Naga dwelling is constructed using timber as posts, bamboo for walls and roof members, and thatch for roofing material. These materials are great insulators, which help in warming the interiors of the house quickly. A bamboo grid placed over a cooking fire is lit centrally in the space for cooking meat and other implements, which also works like a fireplace for the family. The entrance of the house is used for pounding rice, storage of grains, animals, and as a stay for unmarried boys. The next room known as ‘Abidelabo’ is used as the storage of firewood and a sleeping place for unmarried girls of the family followed by ‘Akuzu-Abo’. The heart of the house is where the leader of the family and his wives sleep, also becoming a center fireplace with bamboo poles and a bamboo grid above for cooking meat. As approaching towards the back of the house height and width of the house reduces from 3m and 6m to 5m and 9m at the rear entrance. These houses have no window openings, light and ventilation take place only through the doors.
The structure of the roof is constructed with bamboo as a ridge weaved with thick grass forming ornamentation and the sloping roof allows the rain to wash quickly. The roof heights at the eaves are closer to the ground and save the walls from damping during monsoon. The gable of the roof is stretched covering the verandah of the house. The ridges are mainly arched and decorated with thick grass and bamboo artifacts. Rooves of the Khiamniungan tribe are made of slate stone and bamboo.
The articulation of these houses with animal skulls and human skulls is a method to showcase bravery of the leader and males of the family from animal hunting and headhunting. This articulation was a display of their weaving skills, sculpting and decorating gables with animal horns and thick grass. Headgears, shawls, necklaces, armlets, hats, baskets, mats in different colors and designs, shields and spears of animal heads, human heads, and bones are made out of bamboo, cane, and wood showcasing their skills and dependency on the forests.
Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency (NBDA) registered under the State’s bamboo policy in 2004, works towards preserving and conserving the rich culture of Naga and the bamboo plantations as the tribal culture is dependent on bamboo plantations. This agency aims at spreading awareness of this abundant resource available in the land and also helps in promoting the usage of bamboo in their constructions, artworks, and handicrafts. NBDA also facilitates bamboo-based industries and the tribes in the exploration and exploitation of mature bamboo. This agency has learned that bamboo is the fastest growing and highly renewable resource found in abundance in the forests. With this understanding, the agency is making bamboo as a substitute for timber and wood.
NBDA is approaching this mission by two methods which are the development of bamboo as a resource and as an enterprise. Under these different strategies for cultivation and management of bamboo resources along with the promotion of bamboo-based industry.
Nagaland Bamboo Mission was initiated by NBDA which helped the rural communities in creating a sustainable livelihood using bamboo in their day to day activities. NBDA’s vision of adoption-development-resource-enterprise is being run under Nagaland Bamboo Mission. Under this mission, outreach programs, educational trips, hornbill bamboo carnival, and India-Taiwan meet have been organized for the development of bamboo architecture in Nagaland. NBDA has been organizing social events on world bamboo day along with educational trips to Nagaland Bamboo Resource Centre. Through these trips, students are taught the fundamentals of Bamboo, its contribution to climate change, mitigation, and potentials. The agency organizes lectures, internships for college students, recreational activities, and educational activities in Nagaland Bamboo Research Centre which has become an educational hub for students.
NBDA played a vital role in initiating a collaboration with Taiwan’s International Cooperation and development fund, TAITRA, and National Chung Cheng university for building India-Taiwan Bamboo Technical Center in Dimapur which would provide technical support for research and development, skill developments, investments in the bamboo sector and marketing strategies. To establish relations between Taiwan and Nagaland cooperation to foster socio-economic and cultural relations.
NBDA organizes Hornbill Bamboo Carnival every year in December to encourage and showcase the traditional artwork of local artisans and craftsmen at Bamboo Resource Centre, Dimapur. This carnival helped NBDA to encourage and spread Nagaland Tourism and the bamboo culture of Nagaland.
Nagaland has recognized its diverse culture, tradition, history, geography, and resources it possesses, and understanding them has helped the state in evolving and has come in light for its development in bamboo with the help of NBDA. Also, Nagaland established it’s tradition, culture, history, and its roots in global markets. But has this reflected and reciprocated history played a vital role in establishing the economic growth and development of the state? Has the tourism industry helped in establishing Nagaland in global markets?