The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: administration in the Naga Hills
caption: oath-taking
medium: articles
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: Another great help was the taking of oaths. The oaths are of various forms and Hutton devotes several pages to them. I always took with me a tiger's tooth on which the swearer bit in a common form of oath taking in the Angami country. The oath was taken on the life of the swearer and on the lives of as many relatives as were willing. In complicated cases where facts were alleged which might not be all true, the relatives might not be willing to pledge their lives. One had to avoid the facile but possibly erroneous conclusion that the man's case was demonstrably a bad one. In some cases both sides would take oath. A fixed period, usually a month, was passed to see whether misfortune such as death, sickness or ill luck would occur. If it did that side lost the case. If both sides had taken oath and no misfortune occurred and the property was divisible, the property in dispute was halved.