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: attitudes to headtaking in Chintang
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Chingtang (Chintang) Totok Aopao Chinglong (Chinlang)
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 13:14
text: Chintang (Konyak)
text: 'For making an Ang's house, a morung or a drum, we need a head. If we do not offer it, sickness will overwhelm the village.'
text: 'Ka'shi dwells in the trees and bamboos of the forest. When we make a morung or a drum, Ka'she is disturbed. Its wrath is aroused. To ward it away we give it a head'.
text: Ka'shi Kha'wang
text: 'Formerly we did not take heads, we killed our enemies and left them on the spot. But our warriors always boasted they had killed more enemies than they had. No one knew whose word was right. Then Totok started taking heads and the other Konyaks followed. After that no warrior's word was believed unless he showed the head'.
text: [Possible idea that extra heads will placate Ka'she even more.]
text: 'When we offer extra heads Ka'wang & Ka'shi are satisfied'.
text: 'Since Govt. stopped us from taking heads we have had to offer a monkey or any other wild animal when we made a morung, drum or Ang's house. But it has done us no good. We are always having sickness. Not a single harvest has been good. We are not as well off now as we were then we could offer heads'.
text: 'These days we can go freely to the forest. We do not have to go with guards. When we took heads, no one dared go alone. But for the Govt. order even now Aopao and Chinlang would be at war with us. Because of this even though we suffer by not getting heads, the present way is perhaps a little better'.
text: 'When a man of the village had his head taken, an ofha(?) would meet him in a dream and ask "How was it that you lost your head?" And the soul would say "They have taken me to another village. It was my father's fault." Or the soul will say "It was no one's fault". The killer's soul is in a grass hopper. A case occured in which the dreamer cried out in his sleep "The killers are of Totok. Their souls have come. Come and catch them". The people in the house hurried to him, woke him and found 2 grasshoppers in his hand. Then men from Chintang went one day, they took one head from a Totok man and the next they got 2. They had their revenge'. But the Chintang soul stayed at Totok - 'When a man's head is taken his son must offer to him at every Bihu, for he does not know how long it will linger in the enemy village'.
text: 'If a village takes a head, it must make it a great feast. After that the skull is hung up. We do not know what happens to the second soul after that. Perhaps it goes at once to Yimpu. Perhaps it lingers in the skull'.