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: polygamy among the Sangtams
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Sangtam
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 6:4
text: Problem of polygamy in the Naga Hills.
text: Among the Sangtam Nagas, polygamy is practiced as an occasional necessity. If a Sangtam has no children he sometimes takes an extra wife in lieu of engaging a servant. The wife undertakes the field work, identifies herself with her husband's welfare and takes a keen and active interest in the household affairs. Moreover, she may subsequently bear him offspring and this adjusts the economic balance in his family. Its necessary that she should belong to the same clan as the first wife. If she comes from a different clan 'her husband will shortly die'. Provided a Sangtam possesses children, polygamy is regarded as a rare and dubious expedient. But if he has none, it is considered a sensible measure of economy. The second wife is in fact a field labourer rather than a concubine and it is for her labours that she is taken.