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: tour with Mills in Ao country
caption: Ao marriage
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Ao
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: One curious custom is mentioned in the book of Mills. The Ao unmarried girls have complete sexual license but a marriage usually ensues before a child is born. There is intense social pressure to disclose the name of the father. Sometimes from his denial or her silence this could not be discovered in which case she killed the child as soon as it was born. The belief was that if the father was not announced the woman would be childless in after life. All the Naga tribes are patrilinear. The people of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills where I was District Officer later are matrilinear. The child belongs to its mother's clan and cannot be a bastard though no father is available.