The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: adultery
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: While great freedom is allowed to the unmarried (provided they do not carry on a liaison with one of their own clan) absolute fidelity is expected of the married woman. A breach of the rule would be punished by instant expulsion from her husband's house, with probably a beating as well. If she refuses to go, he will call her brothers to drag her away. In the old days she would probably have been killed by him. Her lover is expelled from the village, with his family and children. The wronged husband will beat him if he can; and the expulsion is enforced as soon as possible, lest the husband lose his temper completely and spear the paramour. If he remained in the village he would be a constant temptation to murder to the husband, so he is banished at once, with immediate necessities, and his fellow-villagers, and some from the village in which he settles carry his heavier property to him later. After four or five years, or whatever is settled upon by the council, the man may return to his old village.
text: An attempt at murder of the lover by the husband would be - both now and in the old days - forcibly stopped by the bystanders, as would a modern beating. Killing a member of the village community seems to have been forbidden, as with the Angamis. (Hutton, Angami Nagas, p.150).
text: Children remain in husband's family.