The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: divorce and adultery
medium: diaries
person: MetlouYongang
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
seealso: notebook 9,p.138ff
text: This was clearly expressed later when we talked about how Metlou, the Bala gaonbura, sent his first wife back to her parents and had to pay them a large fee as a fine for the divorce. Yongang said that all gaonburas and all of Metlou's friends had advised him against the divorce and then were very angry with him when he expelled his wife. When I expressed the opinion that she probably had betrayed him, Yongang agreed but he added that all young women did so and that adultery is no reason for divorce. So apparently Ghawang often shuts both eyes as otherwise there would be no more men in Wakching. However the fact that the Ang of Longkhai does not have a male descendant with his main wife from the house of the Ang of Chi is attributed to the adultery committed by that woman with his own younger brother. At that time the Ang almost beat his brother to death, and as a fine he took away most of his jewellery, but Ghawang's punishments are not restricted to this life alone. A man who has acted against the above commandments has to suffer many complaints on the path into the land of the dead and again it is Ghawang who imposes this suffering, although the guardian of the land of the dead is another spirit called Doloba. The dead are bringing him the gifts which the living put on their graves.
text: Concerning the lack of fidelity among spouses, Yongang declared that the mere fact of having married is no obligation to remain faithful. The husband has to state categorically that he prohibits his wife all intercourse with other men. If he has done that he may beat up his wife and her lover if he discovers them (45) but as long as the young woman still lives with her parents, many men would not object if she sleeps with other boys. In the land of the dead however every woman lives with her first lawful husband no matter whether the marriage was consummated or not. In the case noted by me yesterday (notebook 9 p. 138 ff.) Shonio will live with Menling in the next world, not with Shouba.