The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: eating hornet grubs
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: 'Nkuidipui' (Hornets)
text: The grub of a certain kind of jungle hornet is much prized as food. The hornet in question has an appallingly powerful sting, and a raid on the nest is attended with considerable danger. A fire is first lit at the mouth of the nest which is in the ground, and when the hornets have been stupified by smoke, a man who has recently had a death in his house is chosen to start digging. He first of all says: "I do not want to take you, but someone has died in my house, and therefore I want to take you for them to eat. Don't be angry with me". This is to appease the spirit which watches over the hornets. Digging is then begun, and if the smoking has been efficient the grubs can be taken without much trouble. If not, the party goes back again much quicker than it came.