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. (2) - The Kukis
caption: early notices: hereditary chiefs; clans with elected chiefs; villages; houses; hammocks; war; adoption; thieving; polygamy; idea of life after death enjoyed by those who commit most murders; head-taking
medium: articles
person: McCrea/ Surgeon
date: 1799
person: Dalton/ E.T.
date: 1872
text: The first notice of this tribe appeared in the "Asiatic Researches," Volume 7, in a paper from the pen of Surgeon McCrea, dated 24th January 1799. They are described as a nation of hunters and warriors, ruled as a nation by their principal hereditary chiefs or rajahs, but divided into clans, each under its own chief, whose office was not hereditary but elective, with a preference for particular families. They are said to be traditionally of the same origin as the Mugs, to live in villages called Khuahs, having from 500 to 2,000 inhabitants, built on most inaccessible hills, and in houses with floors raised 6 feet, underneath which are kept the domestic animals. When engaged in hostile expeditions, they sleep at night in hammocks swung in trees, which gave rise to the fiction revived, if I mistake not, in a notice by Doctor McCosh, that they lived in trees. They were constantly at war with the Banjugis, a neighbouring tribe, and when successful in their attack, spared none except children, of whom they made captives and afterwards adopted.
text: (45) The accomplishment most esteemed amongst them was dexterity in thieving. The most contemptible person is a thief caught in the act.
text: Polygamy was not practised amongst them, but a man might have concubines in addition to his own wife.
text: They have an idea of a future state, and he who in this life commits most murders obtains the greatest happiness in the next. The term for the Supreme Being is " Khogem Putiang," (Asiatic Researches, Vol. 7. No doubt the modern Puthen.) and they also worship Shem Sank, represented by a wooden figure of human form, before whom the heads of the slain are presented.