The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: illegitimacy and pre-marital sex
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: We then started off to meet Smith. As Dzemang and Metlou also came along I tried to continue to spin out the theme of illegitimate children with them. Dzemang who has married a Chingtang girl who is still living in her village apparently continues to carry on happily his love affairs with Wakching girls. But what will happen if his dear ones will become pregnant? Well, then he will pay a laya, that is after all worth it, as it is really very sweet (khub mitha) to sleep with girls, (25) and after all what is a laya? The child will only be taken on by the father if the mother is not married to another man who then would automatically be regarded as the father, although everyone knows who the actual father is.
text: One such case is the little daughter of Shankok's wife whose father is a Yanahu man of the Thepong, yet the child is growing up in Shankok's house and she belongs to his clan. On the other hand everyone knows that Shankok is having an affair with Shikna, Yophong's daughter, of the Balang although she is 'married' to a man of the Angban, however without living in his house. I was not quite successful in getting a clear idea of what happens if the father of an illegitimate child is uncertain of his paternity because the girl had relationships with several men. Apparently the responsibility lies with the man who was the first to sleep with her during the critical time in question.