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: attitude towards tigers and leopards
medium: notes
person: ChubaHopongki
ethnicgroup: Sangtam
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 5:50
text: Tigers - leopards.
text: If a man kills a tiger or leopard, he is genna exactly as if he had killed a man ie. for 30 days. Anyone who touches the dead tiger is genna for 6 days (ie. avoid sex) and the whole village is genna for 6 days in the sense that field work must be stopped (but not in other senses).
text: 1. Gun - the man who shoots it.
text: 2. A poisoned arrow set in a bow near the kill - the man who sets it is genna for 30 days if it kills.
text: 3. no other methods (eg. they do not ring leopards). The first three (if three are involved) must camp out in the jungle for 3 days from the kill and must not enter the village. Their families take them food and rice beer, put it down near the camp and go back without meeting them. In 4 days return to the village and kill a pig. This is eaten by all the men of the village (not by any women). Each has 2 pieces of flesh and 1 of liver. Then they say to the leopard 'You have troubled us enough. You have soiled us with your presence. Be gone'. Then they throw away 3 little bits in the leopard's name and sprinkle a little rice beer. After that they eat. Then every house is cleaned - ashes taken out, pots cleaned. The 3 men are genna for 30 days - no food from strangers - celibacy. When a leopard is killed it is brought up to the edge of the village. There it is cut up and buried - the men go to see it but not the women.
text: Chuba says that up to the present no non-Christian Sangtam has ever shot a leopard or a tiger because they have no guns. The only Sangtams who have killed leopards are old men who set the poisoned arrow. If a young man should spear a leopard or tiger, he himself is not genna. His father is genna in his place, but no such cases are known among the Northern Sangtams. The only method practised is by the poisoned arrow trap (ie. Sangtams deficient in leopard and tiger warfare). The genna arises from a tribal Sangtam killing a leopard or tiger, not from the killing itself. Therefore when Hopongki shot the tigress, the Sangtams themselves were not involved. They had not killed it. If was as if the tiger had died a natural death - 'no crime committed' therefore the women could flock to see it. No genna therefore the carcase could be brought into the village, though only by the Christian Sangtams.
text: A place where a tiger is killed is apotia - it must not be mentioned for 2 years, and after that only by old men. No one may touch a tiger without becoming genna for 6 days. Since the killing genna is for 30 days, it is essential that only old men should have to observe it. 'A young man cannot keep away from a girl for 30 days'. If the genna is broken, the man will die or 'his blood will go bad in his knee, and hip joints and the small of his back'. For this reason, no young man may kill a tiger. 'A man's spirit can dwell in a leopard. To kill the leopard is to kill the man'.
text: 'Every leopard has a man in it'. 'If any leopard is killed, a man dies'.
text: Tigers proper are not inhabited or possessed by men. There are no were-tigers. It is leopards only who have a man's soul. Tigers are new to the Sangtams. Formerly they knew leopards, it is only since 1943 that tigers have been raiding cattle among the Northern Sangtams. 'They have come from Burma'. It was formerly leopards which they killed with arrow traps. (This explains why the carved pillar in a Sangtam house is a leopard and not a tiger).
text: 'nothun bagh' -
text: The same gennas attach to tigers as 'they are only bigger leopards'.