The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - Nzemi folk tales collected by Ursula Graham Bower, 1940-1944

caption: 'The Orphans' & 'Amang' - myth
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1940-1944
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
refnum: box II file 2
text: The Orphans
text: Once upon a time there was a boy called Amang, and his parents died when he & his sister were very young. Some people gave them a little, most people did not. When all the villagers went with daos to clear the new jhums, Amang went too, but he had no dao and had to pull down the bamboos and jungle with his hands, and in so doing blocked the path. Some of the villagers came along and found it blocked and were angry, and pushed it back again, but a few others were kindly disposes and cut a little here and there till his jhum was cleared. He asked a man for some rice to plant in his field, but the man gave him cooked rice, which was useless. In this way he had much trouble.
text: One day his sister was preparing thread & the boy sat by. A tamaopui (dove?) came and sat in a tree near the house and sat there cooing. The boy saw it, and said: "I want that. Give me some of your thread."
text: So she gave him some thread and he made a bow (tabaimpi) and shot the bird. He took it home & cut it up for food and in its crop he found rice/dhan. He plucked out the wing feathers and put them under the bed, and when he got up in the morning and looked, they had all turned into spears and daos and kodalis.
text: The he told his sister: "Don't tell anybody. Just fetch plenty of water. He sat down inside the house with water & a stone and began sharpening all the tools and weapons. There were so many that his sister was doing nothing but fetch water, & people asked her why.
text: "My brother has bad diarrhoea, and can't get up from his bed; so I am carrying water to make things clean."
text: Then people called out that the house smelt, but the girl went on carrying water.
text: Then Amang took his new tools and went and prepared a jhum and planted the dhan he got from the pigeon's crop; but no dhan came up, only big gourds (nraolu).
text: "What shall I do?" he said. "I planted dhan and got nothing but gourds. I will clear the weeds and see if the gourds are good for carrying water." So he cleared the plants & leaves with his dao, and accidentally cut open a big gourds, and inside it was dhan.
text: The he went and built a big granary, and people laughed at him and asked why he built a granary (nsaou) when his crop was only gourds.
text: "Oh," said Amang. "I shall put the gourds in it."
text: Then he carried the gourds back to his granary and cut them open, and so much dhan came out that he filled the whole granary.
text: Now it happened that the villagers' crops were all very bad, so that everyone came to him and asked for help, as they were starving. To those who had given to him he gave freely, but to those who had refused he gave only a very, very little.
text: One night his father came in his dreams and called him, and said: "Look up in the cane tray over the fire and you will find some of the rope we tied our mithan with; take it up to the pool above the village, cut it into little bits and throw it into the water, and come back after five days."
text: Next morning Amang looked in the cane tray and found a little of the rope. He went to the pool and chopped it into little bits and threw them into the water and went away. When he came back he found a lot of tiny mithan as big as beetles. Next day they were as big as rats; next day as goats; and then full grown mithan with huge horns, so he built a stone fence to stop them escaping and went back to the village. There he went to the tingkupeo (priest) and said: "To-morrow I shall drive all my mithan into the village, and they are very large and very many, so warn everybody to stay indoors, or somebody may get trampled on."
text: The tingkupeo went round the village calling out and warning everybody, but one old woman said: "What? What sort of mithan will he bring?" Next day everybody stayed indoors but the old woman and when Amang drove all his mithan in, one of them kicked her hard on the leg.