The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes made by W.G. Archer between 1946 & 1948, and miscellaneous papers and letters

caption: grave effigies and the fate of the soul
medium: notes
person: Aokeang morungTepong morungPalang morungPala morung
location: Wakching
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 9:16
seealso: Haimendorf, Naked Nagas, 68
text: Wakching. Grave effigies.
text: Aokeang - morung
text: Tepong "
text: Palang only single effigies are put up
text: Pala
text: If an unmarried girl of the Pala morung dies, all the boys of the Tepong morung will set up a figure for her. If an unmarried girl of the Tepong morung dies, boys of the Pala morung will make and set up a wooden figure. Similarly, Aokeang and Palang give each other these services. The 2 wooden figures on the path to the village are for men of the Tepong morung. If a boy of morung age or over dies his own morung makes the figure and sets it up. The figures are not dressed up. Married women do not get figures. The morung boys give a figure for a girl with whom they played and worked 'because she was tied to them'. (ie. boys of a certain morung go with girls of another certain morung). The figure is put up 'to assuage the family's grief'. If not put up, 'their hearts will be bad'. 'Nothing will go right'. The figure is not put up by the corpse but by the side of the path so that 'as the old men and old women, the young men and the girls go to the fields, get wood or bring water, they will always remember him'. The figures usually stand for 3 months and then decay (not removed). If a man has taken heads a set of wooden heads corresponding to the number he has taken is suspended to the side of the figure. After death a man's soul goes via Chintang to Chinglong to Aopao to Shawa to the land of the dead. A dead man's skull is kept in an urn and fed by his family 'so that the dead man may not be angry or do them harm'. This is done from 'respect and love for the dead'. Also from fear (cf. Kilvert's diary). None of the dead man stays in the skull, the whole soul goes to the land of the dead. (Christoph wrong in saying 'one part of the soul adheres to the skull while the other part goes to the land of the dead'. Naked Nagas. p. 68)