The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook ten

caption: taboos after childbirth
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Oting
date: 2.3.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 24.2.1937-11.4.1937
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (45) After the birth of a child the household is for six days genna. The father may not go to other villages during these six days. It is said that if the father is far from the village at the time, he will be far from the child when the latter dies, provided, of course, the child dies before the father. For all the six days the father and all the male inhabitants of the house, even small boys and old men, sleep and eat in the house of a relative, but they may enter the house as soon as the child is born. All the man's weapons and implements and hats are removed from the house (46) for this period. If the nets and the spears would remain he would be unlucky in fishing and hunting. The day after the child is born (or even the same day if it is born in the morning), the father goes fishing. He must fish in a clean place without stirring up the water and making it dirty. The fish he catches, however small it may be, is given to the mother of the child. If she eats the fish, which lives in the water, she will have plenty of milk. Would she eat an animal living on the dry ground she would have little milk. (47) After having a baby a woman is not allowed to eat chicken for ten months, for chicken give no milk. After four or five months she may eat pork again. All the time she can eat fish. Some women nurse their children for three or even four years. The men don't know if the women make any ceremony after the birth of a child. There are no ceremonies like at Shiong where three children bring rice to the genna place. But after three or four days, when the navel string falls off, the ear-lobes of the child are (48) pierced. On that day the small boys and girls of the man's and the woman's clan, and the old men and women of their clans are called to the house and entertained with rice and dried meat and fish. No animals are killed for this purpose. The after-birth is wrapped up in palm leaves and the old women fasten it on a tree outside the village, just as high that the pigs can't eat it. There are two kinds of trees used for this purpose, both are neither used as firewood nor as material for house building.