The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook one

caption: Thevo, or village priest, of the Eastern Angamis
caption: Thevo's duties and those of his wife
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Angami> Eastern
location: Chakhabama
date: 2.6.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
note: [konyak] means text omitted
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: Thewo (sic) (village priest) of the Eastern Angamis. A Thewo does not go to war, any heads taken are brought to his house. By this he gets the right to wear the ornaments of a head-hunter.
text: A Thewo does not need to have done the mithan sacrifice. He must know the calendar, though there is a special calendar-expert (2) in an Eastern Angami village who finds out which month it is at any time of the year. The gennas are then fixed automatically according to the lunar months.
text: The Thewo doesn't get any free labour, but he is given special help when he builds his house. The Thewo himself may never touch thatch, - because thatch is light and the food supply of the village would quickly disappear therefore.
text: The Thewo and his wife never use a basket for catching fish, - because of the holes (through which the food supply would disappear).
text: It is also believed that otherwise a plague of sand flies would come over the village.
text: (3) For 7 years after his election the Thewo and his wife must wear a white kilt and a white skirt, they also must put white thread into their ear-lobes instead of black thread.
text: Of all game killed the middle part of the stomach is divided up between the Thewo, the first reaper, the first sower and the Chekru (Genna-Bura - old man who helps at genna - oldest man in the village). The Thewo gets the biggest share.
text: When a Thewo or his wife come up to the village from his fields in the evening they never must enter it empty handed. But it is enough if they bring a small piece of fire-wood.
text: (4) The Thewo and his wife must not bring the firewood into the village carrying it in the ordinary way up the back - but in a bundle across the back.
text: At all big ceremonies (stone-dragging etc.) the Thewo is given food first and must come to the sacrificer's house where he must eat as the first person after the householder.
text: The Thewo must be married - if his wife dies he must remarry.
text: It is absolutely genna to steal from a Thewo's house, exile is the punishment for this crime.
text: As nothing can be taken out of (5) a Thewo's house he can't be taxed.
text: The Thewo had his special wooden seat in his house, which nobody else but his wife and his son may use. He may sit on any other seat too - but at ceremonies he used his special seat.
text: The Thewo and his wife must never sit on the ground, they always put leaves underneath.
text: Neither must they put their gourds on the ground, - except in their house. There is no objection to putting their baskets on the ground.
text: The Thewo had not a special seat anywhere in the village.
text: (6) The Thewo is under no special restriction concerning food except that he and his wife are forbidden to eat certain jungle leaves. - But everybody observes the following custom: food must never end in a pot. A little food of the evening meal is left in the cooking pot until the next morning. At breakfast it is taken out and put on the plates and immediately some new food is put into the pot.
text: When a Thewo dies the whole village is genna for one day (the day of the funeral). Then work is allowed for four days, - the 5th day is genna again, and so is the 10th, 20th and 30th day.
text: A peculiarity of the funeral (7) feast is that a little rice is cooked in the same pot with meat. Otherwise this is never done.