The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: questions about gods
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wangla
date: 27.2.1937
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: Then I sit for some time in the morung and ask questions about the ceremony just held. I bring up Hayang, and Thanpong, the funny old man with the long hair, says that he is in the sky but that they do not know much about him. The divinity of the earth is Hashi. My question whether Hashi is male or female caused merriment: "Who could say that?" I then come to speak about the land of the dead and I find out that Thanpong is a pronounced agnostic: "Lumbu is the land of the dead but who knows what it is like there". Whereupon I commented that the Hibas and Hiniu travel to the land of the dead in their dreams and tell that there it is much like life on earth, but then Thanpong gets outraged: "Those are all lies what the Hibas and Hinius say. All they say there in Wakching is nothing but lies. The entire Lumbu is a cheat. Where the dead go, where should they be able to go as they turn into water. They simply disappear and all the tales about a lord in the other world are all lies, and Shopong from Tanhai is an arch- liar. If he has such good contact with the other world how is it then that all his wives and his children have died so young?"
text: When I ask him why then they gave grave goods to the dead he said that this was just an old custom, but eat they could no longer. Once dead all of this is finished and whatever people say about life after death is all a lie. Yes, some people believe that the dead go to Hagang but who could know? He doubted all these tales as one could see the corpses decompose and see their life fluids run out of the coffins.
text: (103) Thanpong was saying all of this with such emphasis and at the same time in such a funny way that the other men in the morung were laughing out loudly, and I myself had trouble staying serious. No doubt I am facing a Naga whose opinions are in open contrast to the traditions of his tribe and who questions all which is self evident truth to most Konyak.