The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: warrior's dance at Hungphoi
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Hungphoi
date: 25.2.1937
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: (86) In the afternoon the men are dancing the warriors' dance for me but unfortunately the sky is cloudy and I cannot take photographs. Dancers and mass scenes get too flat in the shadow. On the whole the dance is the same as the one I had seen during my first visit to Hungphoi, but this time the men of the other morung, the Moi-long-bang, were dancing. Again the men were dancing in two groups, first the older and then the younger ones in the second group. This dance is completely different from the dances of Wakching and also distinct from the dances of Longkhai although it has some similarities with the latter, especially in the accompanying song. Characteristic is the absence of a closed circle.
text: Both groups started dancing at their morungs but they then moved immediately to the space in front of the Ang's house. They rush onto the place with wild screaming and run around in a circle in a dissolved group, and brandishing their weapons, before they again form the two groups. The ensuing dance consists in the men of both groups running forward in a peculiar swaying step, then turning towards each other when they form a compact bunch (87) but not a circle. Some older men lead the chorus and even some grey-haired warriors who themselves had still captured heads are dancing along.
text: The men's festive costume is splendid although it contains less hornbill bird feathers and fewer hats with red goat's hair than one finds, for example, in Wakching. But their stature is so much better than that of the Wakching men so a comparison still works to their advantage. Their hairdos with the white boards covered with dyed goat's hair only allows for small hats close to the parting of the hair which are then decorated with bear skin, all sorts of feathers, or maybe even a comb of goat's hair or pig bristle. A particularly colourful note is added to the picture by the red dyed rattan rings which cover the arms from the wrist to the elbow and which also may only be worn by people who have performed the head-hunter's genna. In any case, red is the predominant colour. These arm rings are red, red are the rattan spirals below the knee, red are most of the necklaces and finally the headbands of bamboo (88) which are worn with and without a headdress, are also red. Some men dance only wearing their belts and little aprons, others have put on cloaks. The cloths of two old men are heavily decorated with cowrie shells but this is not supposed to have a particular meaning.