The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: discussion concerning menstrual taboos
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: In the evening I am sitting in the Ang's house and at first am talking about gennas and the names of months. Then I mention the feast in Longkhai and the differences in ornaments and dress between the Ang and Ben girls. This initiates a conversation which allows me important insights into a topic about which I had found out little so far. When I mention that the Ang girls are wearing a red skirt and the Ben girls a darker one, Chingai says: "Yes, their skirts are different and the Ben girls may not wear red, yet the blood which comes out is the same for both". This comment is received with laughter but for me it serves as a welcome hint. I discover now that menstruation is called "ayilong" and a stronger bleeding (89) as in the case of a miscarriage is "nau-bau-bu". While menstruating the women carry out their usual chores and have to observe no gennas. Sometimes they put on a slightly larger skirt as during the last months of pregnancy, but still I had formerly seen a girl in Oting who was only wearing a tiny apron so that one could see the blood between her upper thighs. During menstruation the spouses avoid any marital relations for five days.