The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: destruction of property of a bad death
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Namsang Sumniching
date: 17.3.1937
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: In the village I then saw the house where the dead person had lived. It had been rebuilt only this year but now the front posts have been cut through and all household articles and the family possessions, layas, jewellery, weapons and cloth have been moved into the open ante-room where they partly are strewn about in total chaos on the floor, partly are tied up to posts and cross- beams. Among them are five large layas which were only recently given as bride-price for a daughter of the house. Furthermore valuable arm decorations covered with cowry shells, a dao with goat's hair and a dancing hat with hornbill bird feathers.
text: The unfortunate owner, the dead man's brother, (186) stands next to it without any ornaments in a new cloth obviously given by relatives. All his possessions have to decay here. He may not touch nor sell any of it. Even a man from another village who does not fear the curse of the bad death may not carry off these valuables. Wakching does not have this custom but this side of the Dikhu is Ao territory and therefore Ao customs apply here.