The Sema Naga Traditional Dwelling is an epitome of the vernacular architecture of the Nagaland’s native tribe – Sumis, inhibited in the central and southern region of Nagaland. This dwelling reflects the adoption of the climatic conditions and surroundings, environmental sustainability via use of indigenous material and labour with minimum waste age and grandeur of culture & tradition. These houses existed during the 1915 to the 1920’s and were first discovered by a British anthropologist. The exposure of tribal people to civilization resulted in the rapid disappearance of these traditional systems of construction. The following points detail the features, functions and use of the dwelling:

1) These dwellings are mainly located in the hilly regions with cold and cloudy climatic conditions.

2) These houses were built with light weight, locally available material - mainly bamboo, wooden planks, thatch. 

3) Dwelling openings were  minimum inorder  to retain as much heat within the house. 

4) The fireplace situated in the living quarters, helped in raising the comfort within these spaces.

5) The scale of the private spaces was also small, which meant that a smaller heat source was required to heat the room.

6) The sloped roofs worked beautifully in keeping the interiors dry. The steepness of the roof slope ensured that no water seepage occurred   through the gaps between the thatch.

7) The two bamboos forming the gable were prolonged beyond the roof to form horns called the tenhaku - ki (snail horns).

8) The Semas did not decorate their houses like other tribes - or at least not as much. They usually adorned their houses with the heads of game or Mithan heads which the owner slaughtered. Sometimes, in the chief’s house, human heads were also hung as trophies.

9 ) The interior of the Sema house was ordinarily divided into four parts –

·         The Akishekhoh (front room) - An apse like addition to the front of the house, semicircular in plan with the eaves brought down to within 3 or 4 feet from the ground. The rice pounding tables were kept in this room.  Animals were also kept here. The unmarried boys of the household sleep in here.

·         The Abidelabo - a narrow room between the Akishekhoh and the Amiphokiboh (hearth room) where the unmarried girls of the household sleep. Firewood for the fireplace (Amiphokiboh) was stored in this room.

·         The Akuzu-Abo – The head of the family - the father , in this case chief of the village and his wife or wives sleep here. Inside the Aküzü abo is the Amiphokiboh.

·         The Azhi-Bo – located at the back of the house, the liquor room where rice beer was stored in bamboo jugs. The backdoor in this room was usually leads to a small kitchen garden.

·         The Amiphokiboh - The fireplace consists of three stones on which a pot can be placed and the fire lit between the stones. At the four corners of the fireplace, four bamboo posts which support a bamboo shelf were present.  This serves the double purpose of preventing sparks to reach the roof and an excellent place to dry meat or keep utensils. Near the fireplace, a large window, almost the size of a door is made - the trash door for putting & collecting the garbage outside the house.

The openness of the people did not require such a high degree of privacy, as a result the overall design of the house was kept simple, yet completely functional.