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: polygyny among the Semas
medium: notes
person: KahutuHuttonZukeli/ of AotsakilimeKisheli/ of AotsakilimiLloyd Rees
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Aochagalimi (Aotsakilime)
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 2:3
text: Kahutu (senior) (Sema dobashi) is happily married to a handsome Sema girl. When she was studying at the Impor Mission M.E. School, three other Semas pursued her - a teacher, a pastor and another. Kahutu who was then a dobashi came late to the hunt. For a year there were angry quarrels and several cases. In the end he got her. They have now [] children [] girls and [] boys. Last year Kahutu found it impossible to run his household and fields with only one wife. His 3 girls were married. His wife could not look to the house and children and at the same time manage the fields. So in complete agreement they decided to take another wife. They chose her together and jointly approached her parents. Kahutu is a Christian and polygyny is forbidden. But formerly every Sema chief had many wives. There was no alternative so reverting to tribal practice he took a second wife. His first wife has a room of her own and he so arranges his sleeping that both are satisfied. The second wife is fond of the first and the first is fond of the second. The work is now divided and on the day I visited his house we met the second going to the fields while the first received us at the home. When the first wife understands the custom, Kahutu told me, all is well. There is no strife. They live in joy together. Kahutu said 'You are stupid to live alone. You should get a Naga girl and live with her till your wife comes. Then it will be better if she goes'.
text: Kahutu has been excommunicated and is in the odd midway position of having lost his status as a chapel member, without losing his religion as a Christian Sema. He drinks rice-beer though not much, and has not adopted the eschatology of his fathers. He is not a tribal Sema but neither is he a fully Christian one. His influence as a dobashi has been totally unaffected. Hutton kept a Sema girl at M'chung for years. She used to come and go when he went on tour, she went to her village - when he returned, she also came back. That was before he married. 'She did not have a child because their minds were different'. Zukeli of Aotsakilime.
text: Lloyd Rees also had a Sema girl - Kisheli of same village. She lived with him for 3 years. In Lloyd Rees' time there was much merry-making. Rice beer was brewed each day in the compound. Parties would come and sing and dance - Lloyd Rees fed them all.
text: Parties of girls would come in from the hills. They stayed three days. Lloyd Rees killed pigs. They danced. Then they went home.
text: When Lloyd Rees left for England he gave her 2 necklaces worth Rs. 400. Later she married a Sema. She had a boy but he died. Then she too died. Before Hutton Sahib there was [] he also kept a girl. When he left, the head dobashi married her. She was Kahuto's mother. [] and the head dobashi were great friends.