The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: tattooing of little boy
medium: diaries
person: ChinyangNangphaYophongLiniuYongem
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 14.2.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 12.2.1937-31.3.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (8) Wakching 14/2/1937
text: Yesterday already I had watched how Shankok's brother, Chinyang, was being tattooed. All the boys who have participated in the ceremonies for the heads I have brought now receive their chest tattoos. There now are two women in Wakching who understand the art of tattooing. Both are sisters of Dzemang, the morung Ang of the Balang, and therefore of the Ang clan. One called Liniu is married to Yophong, a Metahu man of the Balang. The other, Nangpha, is the wife of Yongem, a man of the Aukheang.
text: The tattooing is done on the platform of Yophong's house and both sisters share the work. As one approaches the house usually one can already hear the groaning of the unfortunate victim. When I stepped from the house onto the platform I saw a small group of men, women and boys squatting around a boy who was lying stretched out on his back
text: The boy has his face covered with a cloth into which he bites to suppress his groans when the thorns relentlessly hammer down onto the tissue above the shoulder bone or the ribs. No one takes his moaning too seriously and only when he is getting too restless the men remind him to keep still. It is most strange that the other boys who's turn it will be after him show just as little compassion and find his moaning funny rather that embarrassing. They must have strong nerves as to watch another person being tortured when one is going to face the same procedure is proof of admirable composure.
text: (10) After one side of the tattoo has been completed black dye is spread over the bleeding parts and the second side is taken on. In the meantime Nangpha is drawing with the same colour the design onto the chest of the next boy. Some of the boys are hardly older than eleven, others may be thirteen or fourteen