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: belief in spirits
medium: notes
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: Whatever may be their belief in a god or a future state, it is certain that they believe in an infinity of evil spirits or demons. Each disease is supposed to be in the immediate keeping of some particular demon, who travels about dealing out sickness and death at his caprice, and to propitiate these many demons is their care. They seem to have no good or beneficent spirits. A custom arising from this belief in demons is analogous to the ceremony of striking the lintel and doorposts with blood observed by the Children of Israel. Passing through some villages which had never before been visited by Europeans (58) nor, indeed, by any but born Nagas, I noticed in the lintel of the door of each house a small bunch of withered leaves, and was told that they had been placed there as soon as the villagers had tidings of our approach, the object of these leaves being to prevent any demons of evil who might accompany the strangers from entering the doors so protected.