The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: reasons for expulsion of Bala morung from Wakching
medium: diaries
person: Medzou
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 29.12.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 28.11.1936-11.2.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (124) It was easy to go from this topic onto the expulsion of the Bala morung for which I still am lacking a satisfactory account. What Medzou tells me is the most complete description I have heard so far. The Bala seems to have made itself unpopular over a long time as they always were bragging and were constantly seeking differences. One day an old man of the Bala was working on his fields which bordered on Chingtang territory. To cut bamboo for his field hut he went into the jungle and seems to have entered Chingtang territory. Anyway, he fell into a trap dug by Chingtang and impaled himself on the spikes put up at the bottom. He died of his injuries and the Bala people swore revenge on Chingtang. But the other morungs of Wakching did not want to know anything about a bloody revenge as the whole thing had been an accident, and Chingtang is considered a "son" of Wakching. They agreed that Chingtang should pay the Bala a fine of three burmese gongs and several layas and daos, and Chingtang was quite willing to pay this. But Bala was blood- thirsty.
text: (125) Two hot-headed braves who knew that people from Chingtang usually were going to Wanching at a certain time were lying in wait for them on the way. By coincidence, however, the first to come along were two men of Wanching. Without taking a closer look at the victims, the Bala youths rushed out of their ambush and only noticed their mistake when they held the two bloody heads in their hands. Now the other Wakching morungs lost patience and demanded that the Bala should hand over the two culprits to Wanching to avoid starting a feud with this big village on top of it all. But Bala avoided this embarrassing demand by suggesting to the two that they should leave the village and find refuge in allied villages for a while. One of the two went to Punkhung, and when it was demanded of Punkhung to give him up, they said that he had been received in their village, had slept in their houses, eaten rice from their bowls and they would not hand him over. But in order to pacify Wanching, Bala purchased a slave from the vicinity of Chongwe or Choha where slave trade was customary, (126) and gave him to Wanching who killed him and took his head as a compensation for the two murdered men of Wanching.
text: As a result of all this excitement the relationship between Bala and Thepong became so poor that it came to open warfare within the village. The immediate occasion was the fight for the right to a particular dance. Something like a 'copyright' fight. To resolve it a shield was set up on a bamboo pole between the morungs. Then all rushed towards it and whoever first grabbed the shield would be the owner of the dance. But even this way the fight was not brought to an end. Both morungs fought with bitterness and apart from the bamboo clubs they also now tossed stones which the women were bringing in in baskets. The struggle reached its high point when Bala, against all rules of a morung fight, attacked several Thepong men at their resting place outside the village, and inflicted numerous wounds with their daos.
text: Furious at such a breach of international law the Thepong now took revenge by thrusting a bamboo spear into the belly of a Bala man. (127) The Bala man died from his wounds and although now the other morungs tried to mediate and even gave Bala the right to the contentious dance, it was obvious that peace could not last. Then the four morungs decided to expel the trouble-makers once and for all, but they themselves could take no decisive action against their village companions as it is genna to kill people of one's own village and to expel them and destroy their houses. Therefore they approached the Ang of Chi for help. He agreed to free Wakching of the Bala people but it was difficult to find a way of compensating him for his efforts. The most obvious solution of tribute payments to Chi was not acceptable to the prestige of Wakching as a big village. Finally they agreed that the throne of Wakching would be passed over to an Ang of Chi, and the Wakching Ang, Pongyong, who had been so unsuccessful in keeping peace in the village, would be deposed.
text: People of Chi supported by men of the four morungs (128) but officially "in the name of the Ang of Chi", expelled the Bala people and burnt down the entire Bala khel, including the morung. But strangely enough a large number of Bala people were taken in by their clan companions of the Balang and thus stayed in the village anyway, though not as Bala members. Others fled to Wanching, Tamlu and Kongan. The new Ang received a considerable part of the Bala territory. The rest was divided and peace returned to Wakching. Only under the auspices of the Government, the Bala people returned to Wakching.