The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: slavery and the killing of slaves
medium: diaries
date: 21.2.1937
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: Jakphang's attack of Mongnyu (see p. 27) gave me the idea of bringing up that region. It has always been infamous among the people of Wakching for its trade in slaves. The villages which according to Yongang buy and sell slaves are Chongwe, Choha, Sowa, Saoching, Mongnyu, Kamahu, Yungya, Aphang, Longha, Ukha and Jakphang. (41) Of course this list is not complete. Supposedly the people in these villages sold their own brothers and fellow clan members and not even to be kept as working slaves but in order to be decapitated and to be used instead of heads captured in war. The decapitation was always executed on the way, never in a village. No definite ceremony was performed with it. Yongang assured me that Pongwei's father too had bought him a slave when he was still a boy and Pongwei then had cut off his head and thus had gained the rank of a head-hunter as a boy already. Yongang was very disgusted about this custom and said that it had never existed in Wakching and all the other villages to the north-east of it. That is because Ghawang gets very angry about the selling and killing of slaves and punishes the culprits during their lifetime. Whoever sells a person into slavery and whoever kills a slave will not have a son born to him and will not reach an old age. (But this sanction together with other information indicates that in Wakching too the buying of slaves has occurred). This is not the first time that I have heard of a commandment of Ghawang but the sanction of his laws is rarely as clearly pronounced as it is here.