The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: exogamy
medium: notes
person: Nriami clanNeomi clan
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Exogamous Groups
text: The Zemi have two main divisions, Nriami and Neomi, both of which call their fathers apeo and their mothers apui. Nriami is sub- divided into Nkuoami, Impami, Ndaimi, Ngami, Hsanmi and Impanmi. Neomi is said to have only one such, Nraomi, but there may be others.
text: Nriami and Neomi must originally have been strictly exogamous groups and among the Western Zemi still largely seem to be so. They are at the present day the only effective divisions, the kindred being of little importance. Among the Nriami and still more so the Neomi the bulk of the clan do not belong to one of the kindreds, but call themselves simply Nriami or Neomi, though when a man who does belong to a kindred is asked his clan he will always answer 'Nkuoami' or 'Impami', as the case may be.
text: It would seem that, at least in the Eastern Group, the old rules have been abandoned too rapidly for the kindred to become an exogamous unit on its own account, and nowadays marriages within the clan are a regular occurrence, and marriages within the kindred possible, though rare. The modern custom is condemned by the old men, who blame it for the degeneration they say is taking place, and there is still a feeling in favour of Nriami- Neomi marriages. In practice the only bar is actual relationship on the father's side; in this connection relationship on the mothers side does not seem to be recognised at all, and the son of a Nriami-Nriami marriage may marry the daughter of his mother's brother although she is of the same generation, clan and village, while to marry the daughter of his father's brother would be the blackest incest. The father having taken a wife from that family, it is considered perfectly permissible for the son to do the same. Even such limits as these are sometimes overstepped, as when Kapagaing (Neomi) of Asalu took as his second wife Posuizaile of the same clan and village, a woman known to be related to him and whom he called 'sister'. The couple went through with the marriage in the face of most bitter opposition.
text: Nriami are the larger and more powerful group. Nearly all the villages have been founded by men of that clan which therefore owns most of the land, and in most villages the gaonburas and influential men are Nriami. One exception is Nenglo, a colony from Hangrum, which was founded by a Neomi man and consists mostly of Neomi families. There used to be a Neomi settlement on a site near Asalu, but it was later absorbed into that village.