The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook eight

caption: funerals and grave figures
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Oting
date: 8.10.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 4.10.1936-23.2.1937
note: [konyak] means text omitted
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (54) Oting 8/10/1936
text: When a man dies his family and relatives make a great noise and shout: [konyak] "Come here, come here, don't go". The dead body is laid on the bed, which is of wood for Ang people. Then the deceased is bewailed by his wife and children. If a man dies in the morning he is buried on the same day. If he dies later or at night the funeral is the next day. On the day of the funeral the oldest woman of the clan puts some rice and some madhu and fish near the corpse. This (55) is cooked by the old woman in the dead man's house. She says: [konyak]. (Usually dried fish is used). Then the Ben-ba and the oldest man of the dead man's clan put the corpse into the coffin or on the bier and carry him to the corpse platform. Ang people are put into coffins, Ben people on bamboo biers. The coffin is made by any skilled men and painted partly red. (56) In front the young men of the morung go, then the men with the corpse follow, behind them go the relatives (wife, children etc.) and wail. The Benba who carried at the head end lifts the coffin thrice at the head end and thrice at the foot end and says thrice: "Gha-ha-o! You must go". This is done in the house before carrying the body out. Then the coffin is lifted on the platform. The relatives say: [konyak]. There is near the grave a small hut built for the wife or relatives to wail in. On that hut the girls of all clans and both morungs (57) fasten leaves. Before the funeral they have strewn leaves outside the village (near my camp). For men the next day two wooden figures are made by any skilful man and put into the hut. One of these figures represents the dead man, the other is his servant. The former is adorned with the ornaments of the deceased. But after a few months his family takes them back. Then Benba puts up these figures, but no words are said.
text: The wife of the deceased (58) spends a certain time - ten days, or one month, or two months, - just as she wishes, - in this hut bewailing her husband, only at night and for meals she goes to her house. To be able to stand the smell she lights a fire. The skull is taken from the platform at the next great genna, either at Ou-ya-bu or at Lau-long-bu,which is after rice harvest. The skull is fed for the next one to three years (according to who survived) at O-ya-bu, Dza-dza-man-bu and Lau-long-bu. (59) There is a village official - the Wang-shu-ba (cf. NB 2 p. 127, 128) of Wang-shu clan and Long-shai morung. At the O-ya-bu he erects the bamboo in front of the Ang's house and kills one pig and pours out some madhu near the bamboo. [konyak]. He eats the whole pig (it is a suckling pig), for other people it is genna to eat of the meat. The pig was caught in the village and the owner was not paid for.