The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Notes on the Wild Tribes Inhabiting the So-Called Naga Hills, on our North-East Frontier of India', by Col. R.G. Woodthorpe, 1881

caption: graves; wooden effigies; conch-shell neck ornaments
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: Inside the villages, and also lining the approaches to them, are the graves of departed families- large platforms of earth and stones, the latter being used for retaining walls and squared with great accuracy. These tombs vary in size, and may be either square or round; above these are erected carved wooden effigies of the deceased. Sometimes these are executed with much skill; two we saw at Kohimah, having the wrists and elbow-joints indicated, with emerald beetle's wings as eyes, and a row of white seeds for teeth. They were clad in all the garments of the deceased with their shields fixed on the left side, two imitation bamboo spears standing on the right, as it is not safe to leave the real spears there. In some cases the image consists simply of a wooden post with a rudely carved bust of the deceased at the top, two or three rows of heads in slight relief beneath, proclaiming the number of foemen slaughtered in life. A curious circumstance connected with these figures is that, though in life the large conch shell is always worn on the back, in these effigies it is as invariably carved on the breast. No reason could be assigned by the Nagas for this.