The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook nine

caption: bringing down heads of dead people
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 12.3.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 29.10.1936-24.3.1937
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (165) The heads of dead people are taken from the platform and cleaned on the sixth, ninth or twelfth day, never on the fifth or seventh which are lucky days (for rice sowing etc.). The old men of his clan bring the head to the house of the deceased. But before that they clean it roughly near the platform. In the house only the remaining flesh is removed. This is done by two old men and two old women. The day before the head is taken from the platform his sons or other relatives go in the evening to the platform and fasten (166) some food on sticks which they stick into the ground. They say: [konyak]. That evening a little rice is given to Limnia, who takes it to her house. Then she goes to sleep and in her sleep she sees the dead man and talks to him. On the same day on which the head is cleaned in the morning, it is taken to the skull place in the late afternoon, carried by the old men on a flat basket. (167) All the relations of the dead man and his whole clan accompany the procession. The head is put into the hollowed stone and in the case of a rich man money, ivory armlets etc. are put into the hole too. In the evening of that day two or more birds similar to kites fly over the house of the dead man. They are the dead man and his dead relatives who come back once more. The living relatives of the dead man throw rice into the air. These birds are called ya-ou.