The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook nine

caption: building the house of the Thepong Ang
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 24.3.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 29.10.1936-24.3.1937
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (184) Wakching 24/3/1937
text: Building the house of Ashang (Metahu), morung Ang of Thepong. The old house was broken up in the early morning. Now at 8am. nothing is left but part of the platform, the main post at the back of the house and a row of about 30 posts outlining the house. Five men, among them Ashang, and five boys are busy with pulling out those posts which are rotten and putting up new ones in their place. These posts are called "dze". A man digs a hole for the door post (ta-shep). (185) Between these posts is a chaos of old and new bigger posts and old and new bamboos. In the centre a fire is burning. Two other fires, on which the old palm leaves and other rubbish are burnt, are in front and at the back of the house site.
text: 8.30am. The situation is still much the same. At one side a post with a fork is put up to take a cross-beam. The pounding table stands on its old place in the house. Five men have now put up one of the two door posts. Two men are now tying short bamboo sticks to the other door post, which lies near the platform, in order to carry it up. About eight youngsters (at the age of (186) Chinyang, Shankok's brother), are sitting on some posts lying on the house-site, without doing anything.
text: 9am. Several men and boys carry now the post with great effort to the door and put it down at the hole that is to take it. Letting it glide into the hole, they put it up with much shouting. But when the post stands, it turns out; that side of it that is hollowed out in order to take the wall faces the centre of the house instead of being turned away from the entrance. They first try to turn it by hand, then they fasten a bamboo to it and turn it so. But apparently the hole has (187) not been dug deep enough. So they pull out the post again and begin digging. For digging they use modern iron poles.
text: 9.30am. At last the hole is deep enough and they put in the post. Now the smaller boys are busy with tying bamboos (shat) in such a way across the posts (dze), which form the wall, that a lattice work like a strong fence is formed. (dzi - ligatures - the bark of the "bag" shrub).
text: SKETCH P.187
text: (188) The horizontal bamboos (shat) which are bent in the curve near the entrance, are tied to the "dze" with ligatures (dzi) consisting of the bark of a shrub ("bag"). 10am. Now some men tie a bamboo to the main post in order to carry it into the house. The post is very heavy and a rough carving of a mithan head stands out of it. When the seven men try to lift the post it is too heavy for one who has taken the cross- bamboo on his shoulder. He falls and the post slips over his head and bruises it. The bruise is not very bad, however, another man rubs it a bit and then (189) they proceed to carry the post into the house. Again the hole is not deep enough and has to be dug out. At last the post is put up, with the help of two crossed bamboos.
text: SKETCH P.189
text: When it stands the hole is filled up with stone and earth which is stamped so it becomes firmer. Now leaves (lai-mei) are tied to the centre post, the main post at the back and the two door posts. The cow is brought and thrown down, its four feet are tied together and the head to the left door (190) post. The cow lies within the house. Now a man brings a brass bowl which is placed under the cow's neck. Then the oldest man of the [] cuts the throat of the cow with a dao. The blood is collected in the bowl. Then the old men smear some blood on all the leaves on the posts and on the posts themselves. The cow is carried away. 10.30am. There is less activity. Shankok and [] are splitting bamboos by an ingenious method. He splits the end into four parts and then draws the bamboo through a cross of two other bamboos
text: (191) Some older men are digging holes for the side wall posts (dze) which have been wrongly placed on one side. This whole bit of the wall is broken up again. 11am. Now the second centre post is brought from the place near the morung. About 15 men are necessary to put it up. In the meanwhile some other men have completed the second side wall ie. the fence round which it will be built. All the time some old men tie palm leaves together in rows. They do this in some distance from the house.
text: (192) 11.30am. To post sides of each of the two main posts a bamboo erected, across these bamboo two longer bamboos are laid. Thus a platform is constructed on which two men begin to work.
text: SKETCH P.192
text: They tie the bamboos with strong ligatures to the posts. When the platform is strong enough the main ridge pole is dragged up. This is done by fastening strong loops on it. By these loops the two men (193) drag it up, while the other men lift it from below, first with their hands, then with crossed bamboos. When the ridge pole rests on the incisions on posts SKETCH P.193