The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: lateness of Spring festival; ceremonial and secret words
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Oting
date: 1.3.1937
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: This year the Oyabu will be held late as due to the bad weather the jungle could not be burnt yet and once that has happened the fields have to be cleared first, field huts be built and planting has to be completed before the Spring Festival can begin. Three bamboo poles are set up in Oting in front of the Ang's house, two immediately at the house and one on the dancing platform. The Yemba, a man of the Wang-shu clan, then kills a small pig in front of the two poles and sprinkles the 'lai-mei' leaves which are fastened to them with its blood and with rice beer. At the same time he asks Hayang for well being and enemy heads. (Notebook 10 p. 36). The Yemba himself dictated the text to me.
text: I asked further (114) whether on one of the following evenings the Ang men say genna words at the post as is done in Longkhai. This is confirmed and ceremony takes place on the evening of the Oyayanu. The old men of the Ang clan stand immediately next to the pole, a bit further away are the old Ben men and the young men dance around the whole group. Again I try to find out what the Ang men are saying at this moment as I had already done in Longkhai and Wangla but Chingai and the Yemba as well declare that they do not know these words, only some very old men know them.
text: When I press to find one of these old men and ask him, Chingai immediately causes difficulties. It would be difficult to understand these words and to write them down. He himself did not know them and no one would want to tell me. I on the other hand said that it should be possible during the four days of my visit here to find out these words, but Chingai responded that I would not get them even if I stayed a month. But finally he says that the old gaonbura of the Dingdong should know them and might give them to me.
text: When I then meet this gaonbura in the Dingdong morung in the afternoon (115) I beg him to tell me the genna words concerned, but at first I encounter a flat refusal. Only after much persuasive talking he agrees to give me the words, yet not here and not today but tomorrow in my camp, so I hope for the best.