The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary four

caption: origin myth of mankind - flood
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Namsang
date: 20.3.1937
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: The origin myth here has a variation which I have not encountered anywhere else among the Konyak. In brief outline it goes like this. "Once it was raining so long that the water could no longer drain away but rose higher and higher. All people and animals drowned as the water rose towards the sky and the highest mountains were flooded. Only one man and one woman stayed alive. They were sitting in a boat which was floating on the water. Finally when the water receeded and the boat ran on dry ground, the first plant to grow was a big pumpkin. The man in the boat heard a lot of noise from inside the pumpkin. That was because inside the pumpkin there were all the creatures which now inhabit the earth, people, tigers, elephants, pigs, birds, and everything that moves. (214) So the man said 'I want to cut this pumpkin and let out the people and animals. Where should I make the cut?' Wherever he placed his dao the creatures in that place shouted 'Do not cut here or you will kill us'. But finally he did have to cut somewhere and where his dao went in the animals were killed, but man and the other animals all ran out and spread throughout the land". No one knows what happened to the man and woman in the boat. People think that they were not humans but some kind of divinity.
text: Following my question they deny that they were brother and sister. It seems fairly obvious to me that a merging of two myths occurs here and that it still contains the idea of ancestral parents saved from the flood, which however is no longer correctly understood. (Compare p. 223). Furthermore there exists the concept of a huge mythical bird which sits near the hole through which the water drains off the earth, always keeping it open. If tree trunks are washed up and lie across the hole he removes them and this way he avoids a stopage and a new flood. (215) This bird is called Hantepouin. The myth about the origin from a pumpkin is parallel to that about the stone at Lungterok and it probably belongs to those clans which come from Yinyishang.