The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes on the Zemi Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower

caption: head-taking
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1939-1946
refnum: Betts papers, ring binder 1
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
text: When the returning war-party came within earshot of the village they gave the following chanting cry, once repeated for each head taken:
text: Ho! Ho! hazam, hazam - Ao-ee!
text: The chant was repeated again at the entrance to the village, and again at the hazoa whither the party immediately proceeded.
text: No ceremonies were performed over the head or invocations made. It was buried at a convenient spot near the hazoa, where it could be dug up again if the next of kin wished to ransom it. It was not put in the ground in any particular way, it being quite immaterial whether the face was up or down.
text: The head-taker (Here-gi-lu-vo-peo, here-gi-yu-peo, hregipeo) then changed into white clothing with no black threads at all, and went to a temporary hut specially constructed for the purpose. Here an old man sacrificed a cock with the following invocation for future success in war:- [omitted].
text: After the sacrifice the head-taker ate the sacrificial cock and changed into ordinary clothing; his white clothes were not taken into circulation but were taken by the old men, who also broke down the temporary hut. The head-taker then went home, but until the end of the month he remained chaste and ate only food cooked by men.
text: Head-takers' ornaments: ear-tassels of human hair and hair- tufted shield.