Rediscover your Roots: Five must-read folktale companions for this summer

As the summer vacation begins, are you in a mood to go back in time and delve into a world devoid of modern gadgets while ‘re-discovering’ your roots. The Morung Learning invites you into the world of oral narratives, where life was simple but filled with wonders and amazement. These books not only give glimpses into the world of our ancestors, but at the same time offer significant insight into the past as well as a guide for the future. This list of recommended books is fit for all levels or age.


1. Taboos, Myths and Legends – Edited by Visakhonü Hibo & R Chumbeno Ngullie
Nagaland Institute of Development Studies (2012); Rs. 500.


Before reading other books listed here, a good initiation into the subject matter wouldbe to read the collection of writing by Naga scholars in ‘Taboos, Myths and Legends.’ The different articles in the book not only give glimpses into Naga’s worldview but also draw light upon how they were intrinsically rooted with Naga ways of life. It also explains why custom and usages, sometimes dismissed as ‘trivial’ in mainstream rational discourse, have innate socio-cultural and religious connotation and significance for the Nagas. Even though scholarly collection of articles, the language used in the book is aimed at transmitting the knowledge to wider audience, therefore it is simple and filled with anecdotes and stories that will pique the interest of all age groups. As author Easterine Kire writes in the foreword of the book, the articles are “part of initiating process for putting Naga scholarship in print… [And] A rich collection of Naga Scholarship deserving its own space.”


2. Retelling Naga Narratives: More Than Thrice-Told Tales – John Coakley, Abraham Lotha & Richard Carbo.
Heritage Publishing House (2014); Available for Rs.200.00 @ 400


This book is a collection of 74 folktales about different Naga tribes retold in simple language by the writers. The book captures a legacy of Naga culture which has been passed down generations orally through the word of mouth. According to the writers, the title itself is an apt reminder that Naga culture has passed the test of changing times and realities and will continue to live throughout the generations.


3. ‘Sümi and the Dance of the Dark Spirits’ – Toinali Sema
Manipal University Press (MUP) 2017; Available for Rs. 199 @


In her debut novel, Toinali Sema, a teacher and a school administrator, looks into adventurous journey of three friends- a shy Moi, a spirited Sümi and brave Vikai- into unfamiliar territories where they encounter supernatural beings, get chased by spirits, befriend dragonflies, meet the wind family, and fight the dark spirits.
A folk-fantasy adventure, the author weaves a fantasy around a Sümi folktale, and gives the readers a story of “self-discovery, bravery, mystery, and above all loyalty and friendship” as they embark on their journey.” The trio – one boy and two girls – embarks on a journey to find a soul missing from a person’s body and the book relates their adventure through the course of their journey.


4. A Girl Swallowed By a Tree: Lotha Naga Tales Retold – Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton
Adivaani Publication (2017); Available on @Rs. 300


The first anthology of Lotha Naga folktales in English, this is a collection of Lotha folktales translated and compiled by Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton, who teaches English at Gargi College, University of Delhi.
According to the author, the anthology gives insights on the cultural practices of the Lotha tribe. Describing the book as a “personal imperative”, Patton identifies herself as a facilitator and not an author because she believes that the stories she had translated were of “common heritage to all of us from our forefathers.”
Retelling the folktales in English for wider audience, the stories in the book drive home the significance of oral narratives which in intimately rooted to Naga way of life. The author says producing more literature from North East India “is the only way to dispel misconceptions about the diverse people and cultures belonging to that region.”


5. Naga Folktales Retold – Easterine Kire
Barkweaver, (Revised Second Print 2016)
Available on @ Rs.550.00


‘Retold’ from the prism of noted Naga writer and storyteller Easterine Kire, Naga Folktales Retold is a praiseworthy attempt to retell “some major folktales unveiling the rich traditions of Nagaland which are slowly going to be lost in amnesia.” Divided into nine sections, the narratives in the book dwell on the world of spirits, animals and mysteries surrounding the lives of Nagas.
According the book description, “the tales have deep ecological significance explaining the importance of places, events and people” and “explore the consequence of pride and explain ways of happy living implying that the lives of tribes echo essential creation spirituality and they have strong affinity with the animals.”
Narrated in simple and lucid style with visual interpretations by Amenuo Miachieo, the book is a must read this summer.


This is not an exhaustive list. Readers are invited to send list/review of their favorite Naga folktales or books to

(Morung Express Feature)