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: costume
caption: headdress of hornbill feathers denoting sexual conquests
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Tala-na
text: This headdress of hornbills' feathers may be worn by men of standing and of ability, chiefly in love. A large tail-feather stands in the middle and round it are grouped smaller feathers (such as are worn as ear-ornaments) from the wings. These smaller feathers are an exact tally of his liaisons; one wearer in Asalu had about twenty.
text: When he first puts it on, which he does at the genna at the end of the harvest (Hga-ngi) he makes a ceremonial exit from his dekachang, the bucks all ho-hoing. As he reaches the open he calls to heaven and earth to witness that his tally is correct and to punish him if it is not. This done he proceeds into the village, with much ho-hoing from the bucks.
text: Once he has worn it in this fashion (no-one can assume it like this until he is getting on in years and his courting days are over) he leaves it in his dekachang and it may be worn at pleasure with full dress by any of the young men,
text: 2 specimens collected.
text: Note: the headdress is assumed on the day Pwo-pa'-pu-mai, "the biggest feast-day" (Dakwalla).