The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook eight

caption: ritual on bringing in a head
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Longkhai
date: 21.2.1937
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: (168) Longkhai 21/2/1937
text: When the head, which I gave them, was brought to the entrance of the village, they put it down near the fence, just at the entrance. (The Benba of the village is Pho-ong (Lukyem clan, Lamun morung). Then the Ou-ba of the village, Ghei-nie (Lukyem clan, Ding-wun morung) threw one egg at the head. [konyak] "Your mother call, your father call". Then Pho-ong, the Benba, fed (169) the head with rice-beer and said: [konyak]. Then Yang-pho, the oldest man of the Ang clan, but not Angyongba but Angha-ba, carried the head into the village to the genna place with euphorbias and stones in front of the Ang's house. The Benba fastened it then to the wooden head carved by the (170) Ang some time before. This wooden head with the piece of real skull was then put by the Benba on a small board which was then put on the euphorbia, resting in the forks of two branches. Then all the men danced in front of the Ang's house. Before that the young men beat the drum. (In Longkhai the women never beat the drum). There is no feast in the morung that night, everybody goes to his own house.
text: (171) The next day a stone was erected at the genna place. It was decided that the Pangsha head should be considered as being taken by Wanko, the younger brother of the Ang (by the same mother) and Gham-wang, also of Wang-ha-mien clan. These two men went to the jungle to look for a suitable stone and having found it they carried it home fastened to a bamboo pole. When taking it up and carrying it they shouted: [konyak]. (172) The sense is a little obscure, perhaps the word "fields" means only "land" here and the idea is that they have taken a head on Pangsha land. Then the Benba dug a hole at the genna place beside the stones. He put a small piece of the piece of skull I had given them into that hole without saying any words and without putting it first into a small basket (as at Shiong). The correct thing is to cut off the ears and the tongue of the victim and put these into the hole. (173) Then the Benba put up the stone in that hole on top of the head. When the stone was standing upright he tied up some rice and madhu in leaves and put these upon the stone. He says the same words as before (cf. p. 170). Afterwards all the men, young and old, danced again. The Ang dances in the middle of the circle. (174) Words of a song sung during the dance: [konyak]. "The Chi men are like women, their courage has left them. From Pangsha across the frontier we have got a head and dance." Maiphei (= marry a woman) and take a head is (in songs) the same expression. (175) The first night after bringing in a head the men sleep in the morung and not with their wives. The next evening each man kills a chicken in his house and says: [konyak] (as on p. 71). After that he may sleep with his wife.