The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Twenty-two. Love and Poetry
caption: courtship song between boys and girls
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Once the boys are in the dormitory and sit in the bamboo benches by a pleasant fire, their arms round the waists of their girl friends, the songs become more direct. Here they address themselves to the girls whom they court:
text: Girls of the other morung,
O, our friends,
In your mother's hand
Money and jewels;
In your husband's hand
Little or nothing. :
Once you have borne
Two or three children
Gone is the beauty of your body.
Love your friends,
Love the friends of your youth.
text: And a girl may answer:
text: When you are with me,
Your tears flow;
When you are with your wife,
You smile and laugh.
Why, leaving your wife,
Have you come to me?
Her you love more
Than the friends of your youth.
text: In the first of these songs the boys urge their girl friends to be faithful to the lovers of their youth. The "money and jewels in the mother's hand" signify the happy life under the parental roof and this is contrasted with the drudgery in the husband's house. Konyak girls are proud of their beautiful bodies, and the illusion to the fading of their beauty after the birth of two or three children is designed to make married life appear even less desirable. The evident fact that just the "love of their friends" is likely to bring on pregnancy and the dreaded parting from the youth's company is conveniently overlooked.