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: personal names
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: The baby's name is given on the evening of the day following the birth. The name may be chosen by any relative, but if the baby cries constantly a new name is given and so on till one suitable is found. Names are sometimes freshly composed or may be those of ancestors, but those of people who came to violent ends or were otherwise unfortunate are not given. Of newly composed names, some refer to the deeds of distinguished forefathers and others are purely complimentary. Names in general are ambitious and high-falutin', as witness the following examples, all very freely translated:
text: Heorangduing: "My house is well provided with everything."
text: Namkiabuing: "He who will succeed over all the others."
text: Lungdiliang: "I have become very great, so that all people see."
text: Paodekumba: "My ancestors' land is very fertile".
text: and of girls:
text: Haiyakbuile: "Worth a hundred others" or more literally, "May be exchanged for a hundred others."
text: Hazeobuile: "All people can look at her" - because she is so pretty.
text: Namkumle: "Everyone comes to her house".
text: Ningtalakle: "Thinking of everything" - and forgetting nothing.