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 oath taking
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Ao
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: The Ao does not take oath taking as seriously as the Angami. In some cases both sides take an oath and wait for a month to see if sickness or misfortune affects the other side. If it does, he loses the case. If nothing happens and the property is divisible both sides get half. But to prevent the light hearted taking of oaths by both sides they have to deposit cash as a wager on both sides in the Court of the Tatars. There are many forms of oath. I used to carry a tiger's tooth in the Angami country and elsewhere but for instance among the Aos the tiger's tooth is little regarded and the oath on it is refused by the other side as unacceptable. Tigers were then scarce and the oath was that if it were false the swearer would be killed by the biting of a tiger. This danger had become so rare that it was no deterrent to a false oath. In a case about land a piece of earth might be swallowed. The thumb might be bitten. An oath on a human skull from the cemetery was much more serious.