The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: courtship and marriage
medium: diaries
person: Metlou
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 10.3.1937
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
seealso: notebook 9,p.150
text: After this Metlou began to describe to me how a love affair is started. A boy who has taken a liking to a girl will go at night to the house where she is sleeping and he will quietly knock with his fingernail against the wall where he expects the girl to be. If she hears the signal she will come sneaking out.
text: The boy will now make her a present of a bamboo comb as the men make it. If she takes it it is a good sign and usually she then gives the lover a rendezvous right away for the next night. (158) Question and answer both of which I took down seem to be rather stereotyped, but not always the boy is so lucky that right away the correct girl comes out. Often another one comes first and he then has to ask her to send out his chosen one or the girl refuses his approach, in which case she says "I have already taken a comb and do not accept the exchange". As here too an element of reciprocity is involved, for five or six of such combs the girl gives the boy an embroidered loin cloth. He then may give her a pair of small braided ear plugs.
text: Small gifts are exchanged as long as the relationship continues. If they continue to get on well the boy will ask the girl if she wants to marry him. This offer may be refused in which case she will use her parents different wishes as an excuse. The marriage itself is again taken as an opportunity for exchanging gifts and presents between the two families involved. (See notebook 9 p. 150).