Sema Naga Tukhemmi

Naga Tukhemmi Axe Dao

Code IP24

This is a Tukhemmi ("Axe" or "Hatchet") from Assam c. 1900 - 1940, probably originating with the Sema, Ao, or Chang Naga tribes. Only these tribes used red hair for decoration (attached to pommel of the hilt). The Naga tribes were not skilled with metal smithing. Most of the weapons attributed to the Naga were indeed used by them, but not made by them. They were acquired by trade or raid. Weapons such as this Sema Naga Dao were made by the Kachin (Chin) tribes of Northwest Burma.

This dao, on the other hand, shows poor metalsmithing. It is an agricultural tool as much as it is a weapon. There is nothing refined about it. Only the distinctive hair ornamentation and rattan binding distinguish it as Naga.

The heavy downward curving blade resembles axes and hoes provided by missionaries to Nagaland. It is carbon steel and hand forged. There is a ferrule made of iron. 

The hilt is wood with a rattan binding that both holds the blade firm in the hilt and provides a sure grip for a sweaty hand. The hair at the end of the hilt, also bound with a rattan binding over cloth, is most likely goat. Half of the hair is dyed red. Traditionally, the hair, or some of it, would be from human scalps. The hilt has traces of red lacquer decoration remaining.  

This weapon was part of a collection in the UK, acquired by a collector from original sources in the region.

The overall length is 28 inches and the blade alone is 9 ¾ inches.