Crafts of Nagaland

Wood Carving

The state of Nagaland is very popular for its wood carvings, which are exquisitely carved with a lot of intricate details. The tools generally deployed for carving the wood are Axe, Adze, Chisel and Dao. The predominant figures adorning the wood carvings are elephant, tiger, Mithun head, human figures, hornbills etc. These figures have symbolic significance. They are as follows:

  • Mithun Head- Wealth
  • Hornbill- Valour
  • Human- Success in head- Hunting
  • Elephant & Tiger- Physical prowess

The carvings, especially of the village gate of Morung, are the finest specimen of elaborate wood carvings in the country.

Carving with Khajuraho touch

Some of the wood carvings, found in the Konyak area of Nagaland, have much resemblance to the Khajuraho style of sculpture. One of the exotic motifs depicts a dancing couple embracing each other in an amorous posture. The xylophones and the log drums, hollowed out of tree trunks, are examples of great skill of the wood workers of Konyak. The suppression of head-hunting and the spread of Christianity in the area is one of the primary reasons for the downfall and near extinction of the art of wood carving.

Bamboo Work

In the forests of Nagaland, there is an abundance of Bamboo and Cane. Owing to this, almost all the Nagas are experts in making utility products from Bamboo and Cane and thus, there is no requirement for professional bamboo craftsmen in Nagaland. Baskets are the most used products made out of Bamboo and there are essentially two varieties of baskets i.e. one used for storage purpose and the other used for day to day requirement. While the basket of Ao tribe is conical in shape, that of the Angami is cylindrical. The Nagas are also experts in making mats and shields out of Bamboo. The Changs also make a special kind of drinking cup, known as Chungas. Other products made from Bamboo by the Nagas are leggings, armlets, necklaces, mats and shields.


In the state of Nagaland, the art of pottery is restricted to women and it is not as popular. It is practiced in a few villages, with a high degree of efficiency. Revolving wheels are not used for the purpose of pottery and instead they are made out of hands.


A relatively recent craft in Nagaland, Blacksmithy is steadily gaining popularity in Nagaland. There is superstition among the Lothas regarding Blacksmithy that, no blacksmith lives long after stopping their work. The Konyaks are the best blacksmiths of Nagaland and they are usually engaged in the production of jewellery, spears, knives, Dao, spears, butts and muzzle-loading guns as well.