The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary five

caption: the Ouliengbu or spring festival
caption: a brilliant morning, putting on ornaments
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 25.4.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1.4.1937-26.6.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: detailed description of the dancing and drunken dancing
text: (89) Once they have danced enough in front of one morung the oldest men lead the train onto the next one. While they leave the dance space, the younger men, some half-grown boys and the little ones, form three groups each setting up a circle. Now while bending their knees the youth reach out their daos with the blade flat and about at stomach level so that they almost meet in the circle's centre. After some of these movements they join the other men. The Bala men now move to the Thepong morung and continue the dance there in the same manner. It is already quite hot now and some dancers are pouring with sweat. I am surprised to see that now suddenly several older women join the dancers and pull one after the other out of the circle
text: Early in the afternoon I return to the Thepong where the Oukheang people are dancing just then. Chinyang is wearing his grey-purple coat and furthermore he has opened up an umbrella as protection against the sun. The smith functions as lead singer wearing a red Ao cloth with fringes and supported by a spear which he has borrowed from me. Some of the dancers are already quite drunk. One young man in particular seems to be close to unconscious. His body glistens with sweat and every step he seems to push himself by force, yet he dances more passionately than anyone else, (91) pushes the dao high up into the air with every knee-bend, sometimes he holds onto the shoulder of the man ahead of him, then again he leaves the row and jumps up into the air, threatens others with his dao, then again almost embraces them.
text: In front of him is a middle-aged man whose sweat-covered features also shine as though in a drunken haze. Suddenly the two started off into a half-joking fight, pulled each other out of the circle and almost pushed each other down. The women around looked on laughing, but another young man poured a chunga of water over the drunken dancer's back which seemed to sober him up somewhat. The older man however now started to talk to the women and get quite excited about something, but when I photographed him while doing so he immediately put himself into position, laughing and even in his drunken state he knew a few words of Assamese
text: Finally I go to the Bala where just then the Thepong is dancing. Shankok too seems to have had a bit too much. Holding onto his spear he sways more than he is dancing. (92) He himself admits that he had drunk too much in the house of his brother in law, Shanglong, and that he is now quite tipsy. After some time the Thepong people move on to the Balang but there the Bala is still dancing so that they have to wait some time next to the dancing area. But finally the Bala moves on and Thepong takes their place. In the meantime I am sitting on the platform next to the morung and have some chants dictated to me. For this an old Balang man is called who is especially knowledgeable. Even when the Thepong has already moved on we are still sitting together for a while.