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: head-takers genna and erection of carved posts at Tesophenyu
medium: tours
keywords: zonuophi
person: Tekheni RengmaZalho Rengma
ethnicgroup: Rengma <Western
location: Tesophenyu
date: 26.1.1947
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 31.12.1946-14.2.1947
seealso: 'Rengma Nagas', Mills p. 193
text: (42) Tekheni Rengma, for example, took two heads when he went as a porter on the Mishmi and Abor expeditions. He brought back two ears and each was installed in the head-tree. He then purchased a blue cloak with a painted band but some time later a mithan ate it. Fourteen years ago he performed 'the supreme mithan sacrifice'. This is the last of the feasts and since he had already taken heads, it qualified him to erect a carved pillar. 'He accordingly put up a massive plank carved with 21 heads in rows of three, three warriors' tails, two hornbills and a large mithan's head. (Mills' statement that the mithan sacrifice qualifies for carving does not seem to be correct. p. 193) The mithan sacrifice also qualifies him to wear a cloth (zonuophi) with painted mithans on it and I was shown the actual cloth which he purchased after the festival. Besides the painting of mithan, it contained a tiny sketch of a tiger in combat with a man. In a second case Zalho Rengma had acted as a porter on the second expedition to Pangso [sic] and had secured a Kalyo Kengu head. He brought back one of the ears and after performing the mithan sacrifice, installed a large pillar carved with three mithan heads. In yet a third case the father of a Rengma whose house is now used as a girls' dormitory, had secured a head and after sacrificing a mithan had erected a pillar carved with warriors' tails. He had added some breasts and a mithan's horns to an outer panel of the porch.
text: In all cases the pillar is erected five or six feet inside the porch and is normally only visible from inside the house.
text: As at Tseminyu, there has been a change in Tesophenyu concerning head-hunters and their rights, but instead of the custom being relaxed, it has been slightly stiffened. Mills states 'An Eastern Rengma may only carry a decorated spear if he has taken a head or helped to burn a hostile village. Any Western Rengma who can afford one can carry one.' At Tesophenyu it appears that only a successful (43) head-hunter can carry the lesser of the two spears while the fully decorated one can be used only by warriors who have completed all the gennas, taking at least one head. In the house of Tekheni, both spears are placed in the front of the pillar