The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Village Organization Among the Central Nzemi Nagas', M.A. thesis by Ursula Betts

caption: Chapter three - the Ram or village community
caption: the individual's relations with the kienga
caption: assuming the ornaments of an elder; commemorating sexual prowess
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: At about the age of 50 or 55 a Central Nzemi man ceases to be a hangtingmi and becomes a katsingmi, an elder or old man. It is at this time of transition that he assumes the special ornaments recording his liaisons.
text: These ornaments are of two types. The one least common and most valued consists of two skeins of cotton thread (heleomi-gi- kalang: the girls' cotton) worn on gala occasions as baldrics passing over each shoulder and crossing on the chest. Before he can assume this ornament a man must have done one or more of the following:
text: a. Deflowered two or more virgins.
text: b. Had a simultaneous intrigue with two daughters of the same parents, without either knowing of the affair with her sister.
text: c. Had a simultaneous affair with mother and daughter, without either knowing of the other affair.
text: d. Enjoyed in one the favours of two girls sleeping one on either side of him in the leoseoki.
text: e. Had an undetected intrigue with another man's wife.
text: (73) To make up the ornament he must ask for and obtain a length of cotton thread from each women whose lover he becomes; he may not obtain it by subterfuge, and thread obtained under false pretences cannot be used in the ornament. Once the women understands what the cotton is for, she is almost certain to refuse to supply it, although she will remain strictly anonymous, all Central Nzemi liaisons being conducted with the utmost secrecy. [32 [Record T86792]