The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Descriptive Ethnography of Bengal' on Nagas by E.T. Dalton

caption: section 7. Lower Naga Group. (1) The Nagas west of the Doyang River
caption: gods: sacrifices; omens; genna; fire; cultivation
medium: articles
person: Dalton/ E.T.
date: 1872
text: These Nagas sacrifice to several spirits to whom different attributes are ascribed, but these are creatures, and they do not profess to have any knowledge of a Creator. They appear in their polity and psychology very much to resemble the Chulikata Mishmis, but they have names for the gods or spirits they adore. The first is "Semes," the god of riches, to whom large animals, buffaloes, mithuns, and cows, are offered, and "Kuchimpai," the god of harvests, who has to put up with goats, fowls, and eggs. (43) Among the malignant deities "Rapiaba" is first. He is appeased by sacrifices of dogs and pigs. His assistant is the spirit "Kangniba," very fierce but blind, and as he cannot distinguish between costly and trifling offerings, the poorest things are given to him.
text: When omens have to be consulted in behalf of the community, the village is placed in a condition of tabu, called Genna. No one is permitted to enter or to leave it, and all labor is suspended for two days. If the Genna is established in consequence of the villagers being about to cultivate new ground, all the fires in the village are extinguished, and fresh fire for the purpose having been obtained by the friction of sticks, a buffaloe is roasted, and after the offering and feast, they proceed with torches ignited from the fresh fire to burn the felled jungle. ( Compare this with the Mishmi custom. page 15.)