The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary five

caption: soothsaying by Limnia the conjurer
medium: diaries
person: Limnia
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 20.5.1937
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: Our arrival causes no confusion. We sit down around the fire on small stools and Limnia and her husband and her numerous children also arrange themselves around the fire. Furthermore there are three girls apparently girl-friends of the two daughters, who are sitting on a bedstead. Limnia's smallest child screams and cries and finally she has to put it on a boy's back so that he can take it outside. Only now we can say something. Shankok says that I have heard of her fame and now have come to her so she can tell me my fortune. I want to know whether fate will allow me a peaceful and safe return to my country, whether I will find all well there and finally whether I will soon find a wife.
text: Limnia quietly listens without saying much and only declares (168) that it will cost her a lot of effort to reach my distant country in her dream and that therefore she expects an adequate payment. I gave her 1 rupee with the promise of another one after having been told the dream, then I began asking Limnia about her experiences during her dreams. I had expected to see a half mad old woman and was most astonished to find a middle-aged woman with an intelligent and pleasant face. Her answers to my questions about the world beyond were clever and concise and her way of speaking calmer and more self-confident than that of most other women. Each question she answered with certainty, not at all fantastic, in general in accordance with the general perception of the other world. Only Ghawang she does not interpret as a god of the sky but as a higher being living on this earth who also has a wife. She does not claim to see Ghawang in the sky. She also does not hesitate to tell me the formula with which she invokes Ghawang before entering a trance. (See Notebook 14 p. 77 following). Nothing indicates that Limnia is mentally disturbed and her children too look healthy and relatively clean. I went home quite satisfied after still making a few household lists. There is a storm threatening to come down.