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Documenting traditional agricultural songs and stories of the Sumi Nagas


Language Sumi
Depositor Amos Teo
Affiliation Australian National University
Location India
Collection ID 0128
Grant ID SG0119
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

This is currently a progressive documentation of the agricultural cycle of the Sumi people of Nagaland, India. Further data from this project will be published in 2013. The completed deposit collection will include documentation of traditional Sumi songs (lejole) and stories associated with the different stages of the agricultural cycle. Most of these stories have not been transmitted to speakers under the age of 70, particularly with the advent of Christianity and rapid modernisation. The main outcome of the project will be a collection of high quality annotated audio and video recordings of these songs, along with an explanation of the significance of each song by the various performers.


Group represented

Sumi Naga


Language information

Sumi (ISO: nsm) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken in Nagaland, Northeast India (+25° 65’ 5.00”, +94° 12’ 9.00”) by an estimated 100,000 speakers. Its use is in a state of decline as a result of competing national and dominant languages.


Special characteristics

This is largely a video documentation of the practices of the Sumi people and the agricultural cycle.


Collection contents

This progressive collection currently holds video and audio files which show and describe the traditions of the Sumi people and their agricultural practices. This includes songs, dances, tools and techniques developed for sustainable agriculture. An explanation of the agricultural cycle starts with a forest clearing which is called luh. Videos demonstrate how the forest was cleared in the olden days and why the songs were sung at the time, and how farmers took precautions to guard against the erosion of soil. The agricultural cycle continues with the sowing of seeds the caring of crops, and ends with the harvest and post-harvest celebrations such as the ahuna post-harvest festival. These videos and audio files can be found under bundles titled “Explanation of Sumi Agricultural Cycle” pt.1-13. Data has been collected from the Zunheboto, Shoipu, Nunumi and Usutomi villages situated in Nagaland, India.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Teo, Amos. 2013. Documenting traditional agricultural songs and stories of the Sumi Nagas. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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