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Zeme Folktales

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Item Code: NAV922
Author: Pauning Haikam and Kedutso Kapfo
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: English
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 8173421633
Pages: 184
Other Details 9.00 X 7.00 inch
Weight 320 gm
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40 years ago when the Central Institute of Indian Languages was set up, one of its main objectives was to act as a nodal agency for language related research in India. The Study of folklore engaged the attention of the Institute right from its inception. The Folklore unit of the Institute became a leader in the study of folklore across the country. This must be recognized because prior to that the accounts of folklore were confined to report of British Administrators or the Missionaries and it was only Central Institute of Indian Languages which wanted to establish the study of folklore in the matrix of inquiry into the nature of human mind, culture and society. The Institute did commendable work in the area of tribal languages and many of the linguists collected several folk materials for textual analysis. Several international scholars were engaged in dialogue on the subject with experts from the Institute. However, a great deal still needs to be done for the Institute to revitalize folklore studies since they are of great importance.

"Folklore as currently understood goes beyond religious or supernatural beliefs and practices, and compasses the entire body of social tradition whose chief vehicle of transmission is oral or outside institutional channels." It is, often, a source of history for predominantly oral languages. Since Nagas are known to have a very rich component of folklore which is being passed down the generations through word of mouth, the documentation of folk materials is bound to be an important integral component of the development of the language and culture of the people.

There is also a concern in many circles that just as languages are viewed as endangered, the entire cultural fabric is also under threat because of rapid advancement in technology and social change. Modern societies are being de-linked from their ancient tradition and unless attempts are made now indigenous knowledge system links to the folklore will also be lost. It is, therefore, commendable that in this collection the authors have prepared a scholarly collection of Zeme folktales which combined legend, dance, ballad and ritual, carnival and So on in relation with social structure and biology and ecology that still thrive in oral literature among the Zeme Community. The tales reflect the dynamic. character of Naga folk culture as a whole and the Zeme community, in particular. The central theorem one could find from this combination of Zeme folktales is, they vividly portray the deep and passionate lives of the ancestors of the Zeme community and the way they treated animals as a part of human society in the ancient world.

We hope this collection will help not only preserve the folk literature of Zeme community, but also become a valuable contribution to the folklore studies in the country. I congratulate the authors.


The Nagas are spread over Nagaland, part of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Burma and Assam. It is therefore difficult to ascertain, even today, about their total number of population and the languages they speak. One of the uniqueness of the Nagas is that, wherever they may be, they passionately lived in folklorist’s lives. Every tribe or community of the Nagas has their own rich folk literature. There is however striking contrast between modern technology and folk tradition. The coming of modern education and technology has immensely benefited younger generation in their advancement of knowledge. At the same time, it also endangers the survival of their culture and tradition. The present day generation does not get much opportunity to listen to their folktales as much as their older generations did. Today, the tradition of folk gathering in the night-hours which play major role in transmission of folktales from generation to generation is almost extinct even in most of the villages. This may be due several reasons. Three major reasons may be speculated here.

The first is the spread of Christianity in the villages. The tradition of night-hour gatherings where the young adults got opportunity to listen to the folktales told by their elders had been replaced by church services where they only listen to the sermons of the preachers. The second is literacy which brings modern education, technology and urbanization that had penetrated in the village culture. Besides televisions, varieties of children’s stories, comics and so on are available in schools and 1n the markets.

The third is school syllabus. Lessons incorporated in language subjects are from outside source only. Even in mother tongue textbooks, most of the stories are translated from outside source. There is hardly any local origin. This had caused negative impact on the children. Directly or indirectly, children have taken their folktales as something sub-standard and not worthy of listening to.

Incorporating folk stories of native people in the school textbooks can play not only a mere source of information about their ancestors, but also can play an important role in mental building and _ personality development of children. With this objective, the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, in collaboration with the Textbook Section, Department of School Education, Govt. of Nagaland, had attempted to collect folktales from various tribes of Nagas so as to include them in mother tongue textbooks.

Compilation of the Zeme folktales is part of this objective. We wish to acknowledge our gratitude to the tellers of these folktales. This compilation was possible only because of their sincere contribution.

We also thank the Director, Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, for taking up responsibility for publication.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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