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: woman's relations with the kienga
caption: courtship and pre-marital sex; illegitimacy
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: Courting by the young men begins as a rule before a girl has reached the age of puberty. Girls vary greatly in the (81) number of their lovers and the extent of the liberties they allow. Daughters of well-to-do families are as a rule brought up to be more strict in their relations with the young men than are those of the less rich, for suspicion of promiscuity can damage a girl's marriage chances seriously. Girls known to be promiscuous or abnormal in their sexual appetites may remain unmarried for years because they are likely to make unfaithful wives. At any hint of scandal the girl concerned is taken home from the leoseoki and made to sleep on the same bed as her mother until the affair blows over or is otherwise settled. Illegitimate children are rare as a result of these liaisons, although no contraceptives are employed, at least by the men. Before the area was administered illegitimate children whose fathers could not be identified were killed at birth. If the father of a child born out of wedlock is known, he may either marry the girl and legitimize the child, or acknowledge paternity by paying the girl a 'milk-price' (in 1940 this was valued at about Rs. 10/-), the child being handed over to him as soon as weaned.