The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: the Siemi, a former civilization
caption: Chapter sixteen. The Lost Folk
caption: 'deo-moni' beads
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (122) The large stone had been tilted up by a tree which grew, a good yard thick, almost from under it. A man could crawl by now into the cavity below, and men had, if report were true, for legend said that from this hole the " Nagas of old " had fished out some of the old, dull-golden-yellow 'deo-moni' beads, which were to them of such immense value; beads of unknown origin, which looked like stone, and were, so unexpectedly, of primitive glass; beads which were in themselves a major mystery. Namkia and every Zemi of consequence wore a string of them. They were heirlooms, handed down from father to son, and a good string might, at a conservative estimate, cost Rs 200/-.
text: Zemi tradition connected the beads very closely indeed with the lost race, though with what accuracy one could not say. It might merely have been a case of two mysteries combined, for convenience' sake. At any rate, the Zemi believe that the Siemi made the beads, and that a bamboo container full of them - a fortune at present-day rates - had been buried as part of every Siemi's grave-furniture, each household of the settlement contributing a share to the hoard. For this reason, they hold, the Siemi concealed their graves. Being great magicians, they either split rocks, placed their dead inside, and then sealed them up again; or by means of incantation they caused great stones to fly from a distance and pile up over the grave, so that its exact position could not be found.