Remnants of the ‘Tehuba’ & its diminishing importance

Remnants of the ‘Tehuba’ & its diminishing importance

Ketholeno Neihu

A sit-out place/ stone look-out place, stone sitting ciecle (as described by JH Hutton, The Angami Nagas) of the Angami Nagas, also called “Tehuba”, “Tsiephe/Tsekhwe”, or “Daho” in the local dialect forms an indispensible part of traditional identity.

 

Typically, a stone sit-out place is an art of masonry wherein firmly built stone structures with mud fillings is arranged with tiers of stone seats in a circular manner, all built without the convenience of modern technology or mortars which were later used during retentions.

 

Perhaps a dozen feet high or higher, it is usually seen situated at a higher point of a village location. As for the Angamis, it formed a central figure of a “Khel” and therefore, till date, it is still found in every khel of the village although its importance and significance has lessened.

 

It serves multiple meeting needs and adult recreation. Usually on a day off from the fields, on days observing gennas or in the evening, villagers would come to the Daho/Kehuda/tsephe with local rice beer or the food to relish, converse or sing together. It also served as an important meeting place. It formed a coign of vantage for disputes settlement as against today, where important meeting or dispute settlement in villages are replaced by the Panchayat halls. Another significance of it being built high was to make announcement for meetings, gennas or prompt of any impending danger which was usually done by the “Vivo”, the eldest person in the khel. During the olden days, it served as a binocular or look-out from which the approach of possible enemies or raiders could be easily seen, more over it also served as a bird-eye view of the whole village, adjacent fields and far off distant villages.

 

The resilience of such multipurpose structures although has no recorded accounts as to when it began to be built and passed on but as a village elder in his eighties describes, “It has remained since time immemorial or might have been stretched to more than a century for in the formation of any khel, a tsekhwe/ daho/kehuda was erected in its name and in the preceding times, additional structures were added and clinging parts were repaired and retained from time to time.”

 

The long-standing stone structures are, in fact, the result of ingenious ancestors who were closely attached to nature while no manpower fell short as another elder puts, “Everyone on a day as collecting stones from river-beds or deep forests needed no second calling, an announcement and the word would be passed.”

 

Although the tsiephe/tsekhwe/daho are still seen in almost all the villages in the Angami region, it has remained not more than a sitting and relaxing place. Imminent meeting events that took place in stone-sit outs is now replaced by Panchayat halls or other meeting halls that came with the British administration. On a typical day in the village, one would see few men sitting coyly on the stone sits, some conversing or eating from their plates. Those are the only few activities that takes place the stone- sit out today. With its diminishing practice and utilization, there is need for reminiscing thoughtful drawing on the past and demonstrate a community’s symbolic honoring of the same which is commonplace for upholding identity through practice.