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: carving of grave effigies
medium: notes
keywords: funeraltattoo
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Longkhai Wakching
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 9:29.
text: Konyak. Longkhai. Grave figures. When a man (or boy of morung membership) dies, the house owner calls 3 men to carve the 2 figures - he offers a pig - the killer says to the dead man 'Take with you all your trouble, your bad luck, your disasters. Leave with us all your happiness and wealth. When we go for fishing, may we get a good catch. When we go to war, may we bring back many heads'. The figures are then carved. (Boys not of morung age do not get figures.) One figure is the dead man, the other is his servant. The dead man is in full warrior's dress. The servant not in full dress and carrying a basket. In villages which use the Konyak face tattoo round the eyes, 2 figures are carved. In villages which do not have this tattoo, only one. (eg. Wakching). Usually only the friends and relatives in the village can go to the funeral. Those in other villages come after the corpse has been taken to the cemetery. 'When a man dies, the figure is made in his own image to look like him - Then when his friends come to the village they will see him standing at his grave and will know that he is dead. Then their grief will know no bounds. If we did not carve his image, his friends would not know that he was dead'. You tell by the dress - rather than the carving which man it is. For 4 months, the family circle will go to the grave each day, light a little fire, mourn a while and come away - 'to keep him present in the mind'.
text: (No idea of keeping the dead in the village or of putting the soul into the post). No figures for women. (Great variation in village practices and also in village ideas eg. Longkhai view is very similar to the Bastar one).