The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: tattooing of girls; pregnancy and illegitimacy
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 17.2.1937
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: About ten days ago Shankok's younger sister was tattooed on her knees. As supposedly the wounds still hurt her a bit, she stays at home and doesn't go to the fields. The tattooing undertaken today has given me the chance to bring up the question of pregnancy among married and unmarried girls. It becomes increasingly clear to me that illegitimate children neither bring social disadvantages for the mother nor do the children themselves suffer from any kind of stigma. If a girl becomes pregnant without being either engaged or married (here being married is initially a stage of engagement) and if her lover has no inclination or possibility of marrying her, she gives birth to the child (24) in her parents' house and the man pays a laya to the girl's father. The child stays initially with the mother but after a few years goes to its father's house and is a full member of his clan. When I asked Yongang how it happened that some girls only had to sleep one night with a man and already became pregnant, while others have lovers year in year out without having children, he said without a moments hesitation that Ghawang just gave children to some people and not to others. That was the only explanation.