The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: status of women
caption: inheritance
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: [page missing]
text: If a man finds himself without any but the most distant heirs and they perhaps undiscoverable, he may arrange to sell his ancestral land to his son-in-law or other suitable person in exchange for a mithan or pig sacrificed at his funeral ceremonies for his benefit in the next world. After his death the man chosen honours the agreement, makes the sacrifice and takes the land. In the ordinary way, for a man to sell clan land entails the dying-out of his whole line, but the consequences are naturally less serious for a man dying without male descendants. Such death-bed sales of clan land frequently cause disputes, however, if would- be heirs of the same clan appear.
text: It will be seen that it is possible for a man to inherit clan land which he has never seen in villages some distance from his own, and such cases occur; the man is entitled to the rents from the said land, but unless he knows the bounds personally and can visit the land he has no chance of collecting his dues and his right is one in name only. As long as he does not sell the land or give up his title to it there are no adverse effects on the clan, and the tradition of ownership is handed on with all the other clan land he may really or nominally own.
text: The second item, the jappas, with the luck-stones and other heir-looms, can be allowed to pass into the possession of another clan. Normally they pass to a man's male descendants, but if he has none, then his nearest male relatives must be found, however distant, and the jappas and their contents handed over. Even if the jappas are empty this had to be done, and a daughter can on no account inherit them.