The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: Shankok's marital life
medium: diaries
person: Shankok
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 21.1.1937
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: When we passed Yonglong's house I noticed some fresh sago leaves and asked Shankok for which genna they had been stuck into the door, but unlike his usual habit he did not really respond to the question, and only said that probably a genna had been performed for an illness and he tried to get past the house as quickly as possible. A bit later he admitted that his current lover is living in that house and that he is bashful to stop outside during the day.
text: Together with this it gave me a deep insight into Shankok's marital life (200) which had never seemed particularly happy to me. Following his father's wish he had married a much older woman, Shongna, from the Mai-bang-hu of the Bala. She is the daughter of a good friend of his father but before she came to live with him she already had two children from another man, only one, a daughter, is alive. Shankok does not have the courage to get a divorce which would bring attention and cause expenses, and afterwards he would have to tear down his house and build a new one, but he lives as though he were not married. He never sleeps in his own house unless when ill, but always in a rice granary of the Bala or Balang, usually with Yonglong's daughter or, as he says, with other girls if he has a quarrel with her. This way he has already fathered two children but he always got out of the affair easily and let the girls go to their betrothed husbands who seemed to object as little to these strange children as he objects to the daughter of his wife.
text: (201) Apparently he rather enjoyed this life with no strings attached. He responded to my question whether it was not terribly cold in the rice granaries by saying that after all both bring their cloaks and body next to body kept them warm (probably warmer than I am on my hard bed in which I am constantly cold despite all my blankets. At the moment Shankok does not seem to over-exert himself for which he uses his stomach ailment as an excuse, but he says that there already is a lot do on the fields as they need to be cleared completely and already planting has started. One still sees the burning off of fields.