The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga notebook four

caption: death of an Ang, funeral, treatment of corpse
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Chi
date: 1.4.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 14.8.1936-5.1937
refnum: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
note: [konyak] means text omitted
text: (154) Chi.
text: When a Great Ang or a woman of Great Ang clan dies, a shelter is built near the place where the stones for enemies' heads are put up. In this shelter the coffin of boat form is put on a platform. The body is put completely naked into the coffin, which is not covered. A hole is made into the coffin and the putrid juice led through bamboo tubes far away to a hole dug into the earth. Near the platform a fire is lit, an old woman mostly of the "slave" clan has to watch by the body and chase away flies. (155) This old woman has to stay there the whole time and eat and sleep there. For the villagers, only the day of the death is genna (the same genna is held for Ben people.)
text: When the corpse is sufficiently rotten, the head is taken off and cleaned by the old men of the great, or the small, - Ang clan. Then it is painted similar to the tattoo of living people with the white pith of a tree and old hair of the deceased is attached to his head with resin. Then the coffin is put on a platform outside the village and (156) till the next year ie. till a seasonal genna approximately a year after the death has occurred, this may be Oyabu, Laiphambu or Rhanrhambu, the old woman remains near the coffin which is now covered with palm leaves. The head is put into a stone cist near the path and the stone cist is covered with a Burma gong.
text: For the first year the head is put in in such a way that it looks towards the path. After a year it is turned away from the path.
text: Small Angs are also first put onto a platform near his own house.
text: (157) At the day of the first funeral men from all neighbouring villages, even from Wakching, come and dance in honour of the dead Ang.
text: While the corpse is within the village, the young men and girls of the neighbouring villages which are not too far, come in honour of the Ang, stay a while near his coffin, and give him some pan leaves. At the funeral all the girls of Chi strew leaves and make a leaf crown for the deceased. (158) Wooden coffins are only made for people of great Ang clan and for the "great man" of the Doalim clan, for the Doalim clan was formerly an Ang clan and functioned as Angs, but they found the work troublesome and called the other Angs, who do their work now. A coffin of bamboo is made for Anghaba and Ben people.