Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, Institut für » Völkerkundemuseum » Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch » Kaiser

Completed research project

Title / Titel Audiovisual Documentation of the Making and Installation of a Logdrum (Chang Naga, Northeast India)
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Audiovisuelle Dokumentation der Herstellung einer Einbaum-Trommel bei den Chang-Naga Nordostindiens
Summary / Zusammenfassung Preliminary remarks:
In spring of 2010 the elders of a remote Chang Naga village in Nagaland, Northeast India, approached our museum with the request to financially support their carving, pulling and ritually installing a new logdrum – a signal instrument of immense practical and spiritual significance for the Eastern and Northern Naga tribes – in their village; as a token of their gratitude, on the other hand, they offered to fully support any documentary work on their project from our side. Since this kind of event takes place but rarely nowadays and thanks to the financial aid of a private foundation, the museum was in a position to accept the proposal which was to start in the very beginning of 2012. With our team already on the spot and within days before the scheduled start of work a meeting of the villagers decided to put a halt to all planned construction work in the village and to start preparations for shifting the village altogether instead – downhill to a location with better climate, better water supply, better road connection and no quarrelsome neighbours nearby.

The project:
Instead of documenting the process of making a new logdrum in one village, we decided to document as many existing logdrums in as many villages of the Eastern Naga tribes and subtribes as possible. Within the scheduled time of six weeks we took photographs, measurement and all other available data of 145 logdrums in 48 villages belonging to the Makuri-, Chirr-, and Phelunger-Naga in Southeastern Nagaland, to the Tikhir-, Yimchungrü-, Chang- and Khiamniungan-Naga in the East, to the Sangtam- and Ao-Naga in the West and to the Phom- and Konyak-Naga in the North of Nagaland. The data we systematically collected included the personal name of each logdrum – these instruments are regarded as village protector deities, and usually they are given individual names – and furthermore factual informations on the present location of the instrument as well as the location from where its tree was taken, the species of trees used for the purpose etc.

During evenings we used to interview the knowledgeable elders of the respective village about the details of the intricate procedure of selecting a tree and preparing the logdrum which is burdened by restrictions, taboos, observance of omen etc. During these evening conversations our main intention was to encourage the old people to freely talk; our initial questions were aimed at the logdrum topic, but usually, at some point we allowed the conversations to drift to topics like the process of establishing and abandoning villages, migration of populations, the paths taken by the souls of the dead to their respective lands, relationship with neighbour villages and tribes, war and peace, etc. – all these in some way linked to the logdrum as the spiritual center of each village or village colony.

In this way, we not only collected information on logdrums, but also firsthand material (including legends, historical narratives and songs) on the history, mindscapes and oral traditions of the Eastern Naga about whom hardly any ethnographic work has been done so far (with the exception of the Ao and Konyak tribes).

In terms of figures the results of our research journey comprise of about 10.000 photographs, 73 video clips and 400 audio files which have been edited for digital archiving, transcribed and fed into the museum’s audio database. A lecture by the research team presenting the project’s results will take place in summer 2012 at the museum; a publication of the results is being prepared.
Publications / Publikationen Naga Identitäten/Naga Identities
(Hrsg.:) M. Oppitz, T. Kaiser, A. v. Stockhausen, M. Wettstein
2008, Snoeck Publishers, Gent

Oppitz, M (2008). Die Einbaum-Trommel. In: Oppitz, M; Kaiser, T; von Stockhausen, A; Wettstein, M. Naga Identitäten: Zeitenwende einer Lokalkultur im Nordosten Indiens. Gent, Belgium, 169-198.

Keywords / Suchbegriffe Naga, Northeast India, Logdrum, Oral History, Oral Traditions, Ethnomusicology, Migration,
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch
Thomas Kaiser (Project Leader)
Rebekka Sutter
Jan Seifert  
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Forschungskredit der Universität Zürich, Others
Georg und Bertha Schwyzer-Winiker-Stiftung, Zürich
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Village Council and Elders of Litem Village, Tuensang District, Nagaland India
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2011 to Dec 2013