The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary five

caption: ceremony in the fields; post-partum taboos and infant feeding
medium: diaries
person: DzemangShankok
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 27.4.1937
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: Wakching 27/4/1937
text: Surprisingly enough the weather is still good. This morning Dzemang and Shankok came to get me to go with them to the new fields. Today the Ga-wem-bu ceremony is performed for which a food offering to Ghawang is put onto the Wem-dzong in front of the field house. Along the way we meet a woman with a tiny baby only two weeks old who is going to the old fields. Shankok says that the women stay home for three days after giving birth, then on the fourth day they go to the spring to bathe and take up their usual work on the fifth. Furthermore Shankok claims that after giving birth (100) a woman will not have intercourse until the same month of the next year, that is for a full year. This however is in contradiction to what Medzou once told me when I once spoke to him about the same topic. (See Diary 19/2 p. 33). If a woman does not have any milk the child's father is called even if he is not the actual husband. He pounds some ginger and gives it to the woman to eat by handing it to her over her shoulder. Then the milk will start flowing. However this is magically dangerous for the man as he might easily become infertile later. If this ceremony were needed for Shikna, Shankok would be called. In the meantime another woman will nurse the child in these cases.