The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: other stories of people lost in the jungle
medium: diaries
person: Mills
location: Kohima
date: 7.1.1937
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: The same dobashi told me of a man from Losami who was once enticed into the forest by two spirit girls. The two were supposedly "very beautiful" and they suggested to him that he should marry them, but when the people of his village came looking for him the calls scared the girls and they fled, so he was found the same night. These stories are in no way unique. Again and again one hears of people who lose their way in the jungle and reappear many days later in the best of health. They regularly tell of spririts who guided them and gave them to eat. The spirits are small and have fat bellies. They feed the abducted with soil, rubbed leaves and a matter which looks like wood but tastes like meat. When the relatives of the missing person come to look for them and when their calls become audible the spirits say "Be quiet, do not answer. We will feed you. You have it good among us. Why do you want to go away?" etc.
text: Mills knows one man in an Ao village who is not an Ao himself but no doubt (150) comes from a tea plantation and who according to his tales was guided through the jungle by spirits for weeks. One day he appeared in an Ao village without clothing or weapons far from the Assam plain. But he made not at all a starved impression although during his wanderings he had not come across any Ao village. He could not remember where he was from but could tell how the forest spirits had fed him, how they had led him to their houses and had taken care of him in any way. He stayed in the Ao village and slowly turned into an Ao himself. The astonishing aspect of all of these stories is that indeed people disappear in the jungle and reappear after many days or weeks without showing signs of having suffered deprivation, and that they regularly give the same account of their lives with the forest spirits. Everyone who is acquainted with the Naga Hills knows that there is little to be found in the forest that is edible.