The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary five

caption: why souls are called after the falcon
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 6.6.1937
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: In the afternoon Metlou, Medzou and Hamlim performed a little dance for me as I wanted to take colour photographs. In the evening came Shankok and brought me two chickens as a farewell present. I asked him why the soul of a dead person is also called Ou-lan (falcon). He thought that the soul of the dead did not actually enter the bird's body but that it did have a close affinity to it. One often saw falcons circling over the house after someone had died in it and the living spread rice out for them which the birds of course do not eat. In Shankok's clan it is an especially bad omen if falcons circle over the village shortly after a funeral. They appeared after Shankok's father's and soon afterwards his brother was dead as well. The time when Wakching captured fifteen heads from Phem soon afterwards fifteen falcons came (212) and flew in low circles over Wakching. No one was in doubt that these were the souls of the killed men and the entire village was in fear. The concept about the nature of these birds is very unclear. Shankok laughed when I asked whether the soul of the dead enters the bird's body. This is not believed. Yaha and Oulan are two different aspects of the dead but his personality lives on in the Yaha.