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: 'Tsiuperai and Bangklawang' - myth
medium: notes
keywords: Kamadile
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Tsiuperai, the spirit of the hill Japvo, courted Kamadile, the beautiful daughter of Bangklawang, who was king over all things on earth; and he became her lover, and married her.
text: When he was building his new home he had not enough earth to make it high, so he took some from Bangklawang's, when Bangklawang was away. When Bangklawang saw the earth had gone he sent out north, south, east and west to know who had taken it. Tsiuperai sent a messenger to say: "I, Tsiuperai, have taken it, to make my home high enough." The messenger twisted the message and told Bangklawang: "Tsiuperai has taken it, and if you wish to fight over it, then he will fight."
text: Bangklawang said: "No, he is my daughter's husband; why should I fight him? I only sent out to know who had taken it; if it is Tsiuperai, then that is all right."
text: The messenger went back and said: "He is very angry, and will fight with you over it."
text: Tsiuperai was very distressed at this, and said: "Why should I fight with my wife's father? I took the earth because I had not enough; why should he be so angry with me?"
text: The messenger went back to Bangklawang and said: "On the fifth day from now he will fight you."
text: Bangklawang was also very distressed, but the messenger went back to Tsiuperai and said: "In five days he will fight you, so eat good food, he says, and be strong to meet him."
text: Tsiuperai wept, and said to his wife: "How can I fight him, the king over all things on earth?"
text: Now it was agreed between them that whoever won should be king of all things on earth, and whoever lost should go below the earth and be king there; and Tsiuperai, knowing that he could not overthrow Bangklawang, wept bitterly.
text: "I cannot overcome him," he said. "I shall have to go below the earth, and I am much afraid."
text: "No, you will never overthrow him by yourself," said Kamadile. "But if we can get hair from my mother's head, then you will be able to win. Wait here, and I will get it, but I shall be a long time."
text: Then she put on old, shabby clothes and changed herself into an ugly, dirty girl, and went a very long, roundabout way to her mother's house.
text: "Oh, apai," she said to her mother. "I am an orphan, with neither father, mother, brothers nor sisters, and I have to beg my way from place to place. Be kind and give me food; and let me, as a return, look in your hair for lice."
text: "Very well," said her mother. So Kamadile began to search in her head for lice, but first she made a slit in her thumb-nail, and with she twitched out eight hairs and hid them in her waist-belt.
text: "Oh, oh!" said the mother. "That hurts!"
text: "I am sorry," said Kamadile. "Look, my nail is split; that is why it hurt."
text: After her mother had given her food Kamadile said: "I must be going on," and she left, and went straight home to her husband.
text: Now all the spirits were called to see the contest, and at the appointed time Tsiuperai and Bangklawang met and wrestled. They fought so that the ground shook, trees fell, and the dust rose in clouds. Bangklawang caught Tsiuperai and lifted him from the ground, so that it seemed he must fall, and Kamadile lifted the hairs to throw them, but her heart warmed to her father, and she hesitated. The spirits all called out to her: "Throw, throw! Your husband is about to fall!" Then Kamadile threw the hairs, and they wound round her father's legs and feet, and he fell.
text: "O!" said Bangklawang. "So this is my daughter's doing! Very well, I will go and be king below the earth, as was agreed, but before I go I will make this order. Whatsoever children shall be born in the future will forget their parents and be loyal to their husbands and wives. "Then he went below the earth, and took with him all the best flowers and singing-birds and everything that was most pleasant, so that the earth seemed very silent and desolate, so much so that Kamadile wept, and left her husband's house to go and rejoin her father. Tsiuperai saw, and hurrying by another path, lay in wait ahead of her. When she came along, weeping and crying aloud, he called out in a deep voice: "Who goes there? You can't go on, there are nothing but maneaters here!" Kamadile was frightened, and run back home. Tsiuperai also hurried back by the other road and was there before her.
text: "Where have you been?" he asked her.
text: "Only out for a walk," she replied.
text: F.C.