The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga notebook seven

caption: funerals and feeding the dead
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Namsang Nachamkong (Namsang Machamkong)
date: 18.3.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 23.9.1936-21.3.1937
refnum: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (93) Nowadays the people of Namsang Machamkong all bury their dead and erect a small house on top of the grave to protect it from rain. The food given to the dead for Akongdedangba is fastened at a tree near the grave. But the head is excavated after some time, often already after 9 days, cleaned and put on a platform within the house of the relatives. Food and ornaments are placed on that platform. After a final sacrifice (of a cow or a pig) the head is disposed of in a pot. (94) While the head is on the small platform in the house every day food is given to it, even flowers as the people wear in the ear are laid down before it. The head may remain there till the relatives are able to buy the animals for the sacrifice. At the time of the "Bihu" small offerings are given to the dead, but my question whether the dead can come back and eat the offerings evokes laughter: "Who knows if they can come back? But such is the custom".