The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript tour diary of W.G. Archer, S.D.O. Mokokchung 1947

caption: visit to Tseminyu and Tesophenyu
caption: Rengma attitude to head-taking
medium: tours
person: Mills
ethnicgroup: Rengma <Western
date: 26.1.1947
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 31.12.1946-14.2.1947
seealso: 'Rengma Nagas', Mills p. 27
text: As stated in the 'Rengma Nagas' the object of head taking is clearly recognised by Western Rengmas. 'The Rengma' states Mills 'say bluntly and openly that enemies heads cause the crops to flourish and animals to increase. They therefore feel enemies heads to be a real need, and believe that they suffer if they lack them'. Although it is ten years since this (41) statement was made, Rengmas of Tseminyu still hold this view and they expressed it to me in identically the same words.
text: Since the 'Rengma Nagas' was written there have been some slight changes in the rules for head-hunters and ceremonial dresses. Mills states 'Among the western Rengmas the bears' hair wig used to be worn only by a man who had done the head-taking genna. Now however any man can wear it. Only a warrior, however, can add to it horn-bill feathers. These are always three in number and are held in place by little bamboo supports loosely inserted in the quill, so that the feathers turn in the wind'. (p. 27)
text: At the present time, in Tseminyu, horn-bill feathers are no longer the prerogative of head-takers and any village youth can acquire the right to wear them. A feast of pigs and madhu is given, a cock is sacrificed at the head-tree and after that an old warrior dances before the morung, instructs the youth how to wear the dress and invests him with the feathers.