The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook three

caption: shamans and were-tigers
medium: notes
person: Limia/ of Wakching
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 26.8.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 8.1936-6.1937
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (175) Informant: Chinyang (gaonbura)
text: In Wakching is a hiniu (female hiba), her name is Limia of Thephong (Metahu), she is a widow. She is originally from Yongwang village, which was abandoned, she is of Ang clan. Now she lives with Ang-moi, a man from Chingtang. She is a were-tiger, and she sees things which happen in the distance. She also gets into trances, like the thibu of Tamlu, for two or three hours, and her soul goes to the land of the dead. They even send some food for (176) dead relatives by her.
text: If there are eg. three brothers, one of whom dies, then the two remaining send a thibu (or hiba) to the land of the dead with some food for the dead brother. The thibu meets the dead brother and gives him the food. Then the dead brother says: "I am so sorry to be far from my brothers, I want at least one to live with me", and he draws the soul of one of the brothers to the land of the dead. The thibu comes back with the news and the frightened brothers send him again (177) with food to the land of the dead to bring the captured soul back. So he goes and when he brings back the soul a chicken is given to him as reward. Yaha is the soul of the living man - and yimbu the spirit of the dead man.
_Yimbi_-_spirit________________yimbu_(cf._NB 6 p. 15)
text: (178) First the soul departs (dies) only afterwards the man dies. Some people from Tan-hai went to Tamlu and there speak still their language.
text: There was never a thibu in Tamlu.
text: When the death of a were-tiger is near he kills many domestic animals and at last the tiger is shot and the man dies. A were-tiger is like that from his birth, at first he is like a jungle cat, then he grows slowly into a tiger. (179) When a man becomes a real thibu he becomes seriously ill and his family, not knowing the course of the illness, make a lot of sacrifices. Some thibus also get mad for a time before becoming thibu.
text: Some thibu's are not were-tigers, but "were-snakes" or "were-birds". The other men can see the tiger, but they can't see the snake or the bird, but they just hear the thibu say: "I am a snake (or bird)". The snake is a small one the bird is the red vented bulbul o-yek (w.)
text: (180) Informant: Yongang.
text: Three years ago a tiger killed one man Yongna of Bala. Then Limia (the were-tiger woman) said, "I eat the man", then the man menaced her with guns to shoot her and destroy her house.
text: Limia makes a lot of money with seeing fortune for sick people. She first strews rice in her own house and then dreams. Then she tells the sick people if Ghawang is angry with them, or some (181) jungle spirit, - or the sick person's deceased parents are angry and must be appeased by sacrifices. She also sees Ghawang and the land of the dead. Then she herself kills the animals which are sacrificed.