The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: birth
caption: food taboos during pregnancy
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: A pregnant woman does not eat hornbill flesh, or she will suffer great pain when the child is born and cry out harshly, as the bird does; nor may its feathers or flesh be brought near her. Besides this, she may not eat the blood of any mithan killed, or there will be severe bleeding at the birth, nor the flesh of the jungle-cat called Hegui, or even touch one, or she will be so sleepy that she will not have the energy to expel the child. She may not eat hornet-grubs or honey, because hornet and bee-grubs are shut in by a lid, and so there may be difficulty in the birth; nor may she eat the water-snail Taloi-na, because it stays in its shell and never comes out and might have the same effect on the child. In all other respects she carried on as usual, doing field-work, carrying wood and water, and sleeping with her husband up to the time of labour.