The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf notebook sixteen

caption: ceremonies for sick people
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 4.6.1937
person: Furer-Haimendorf
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (5) Inf. Yongang.
text: When a ceremony for a sick man is made one of the Phong-yeam-ba (at Wakching, Metlou (GB.) and Dangba (Khoknok. Thepong) takes an omen with leaves, to find out who should perform the ceremony and where the sick man's soul was lost. Then one of the sick man's friends (not necessarily an old man) goes to the spot indicated and takes with him a chicken, one chunga with madhu and one with water. At the spot he digs (6) a bit till he finds a small stone. Then he says: "This (the stone) is the soul", [konyak], and puts the stone into the chunga with water. Then he spreads some "lai-mei" leaves on the ground and puts some white rice and ginger on them. Then he kills the chicken and sprinkles the blood on the leaves. The head, wings and legs of the chicken he impales on bamboo sticks and leaves them so near the leaves. Then he goes back to the village and shouts: [konyak] ie. "big trees and jungle leaves drive the soul home; ou-yeak (bulbul?) and butterflies come with me; soul of Yongang (sick man), kite (also soul) , come with me". He has sprinkled the (8) madhu on the leaves, but he takes the chunga with water home and pours it on the sick man and says: [konyak]. This ceremony is called "yaha bei-bu". The actual ceremony on the spot where the offerings are made is called "ya ha niek nie ta-bu". (9) This ceremony is made for an illness ascribed to the losing of one's soul through the fault of a Gashi. For illnesses ascribed to Ghawang another ceremony is performed, the Wang-pha-bu (sky give). It is performed by one of the Benbas, Api (Bala) or Dzinggeam (Angban). The Benba kills a cock, or a dog, or a goat, or a pig. In serious cases he even sacrifices two chickens, one pig, one dog, one goat (10) and five eggs. He kills them all at the main post of the house and says: [konyak]. All people present then approach the post holding wild banana leaves over their heads, putting their fingers in front of their noses and say three times: [konyak]. (11) There is another ceremony, Nok-wem-bu, for less serious diseases. The two oldest men of the morung tie a small pig to a stick and carry it all around the room and say: [konyak]. (12) There is a fourth ceremony for sick people, len-tak-bu, for people suffering from serious diarrhoea and dysentery. One of the two Benbas tie the legs and the mouth of a dog and cut its throat (within the house). Then he mixes a bit of the dog's blood and the juice of some banana leaves and gives it to the sick man and says: [konyak] "clean make, well make". Before the dog was killed the Benba strokes with its mouth the stomach of the sick man and says: [konyak] ie. my hand is cold like that of a shaman, because I know all the rites, be well. Apothia men of Chingtang etc. (let him go).