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: diseases and cures; sacrifice; priests - Thimpu
medium: articles
person: Steward
person: Dalton/ E.T.
date: 1872
text: As with nearly all the aboriginal tribes, diseases are attributed to the malevolence of some deity, and the only cure thought of is a sacrifice to propitiate him. Some diseases from their nature indicate the deity who gives them; a pain in the stomach for instance at once suggests " Hilo," but in other cases it is necessary to consult one of a class of priests called Thimpu, who take the place of Sokhas and Ojhas of other tribes. Steward says the office is not much coveted, and the rajas have found it necessary occasionally to coerce some of their people to become Thimpu, and so keep up the order; but the duties do not appear to be difficult or onerous.
text: The Thimpu, however, goes to work scientifically; he feels his patient's pulse, looks sapient, asks a few questions, and determines from the replies who has to be appeased, and how. If a fowl is deemed sufficient, the Thimpu kills, roasts, and eats it on the spot pointed out by the invalid as the place where he was first taken ill, throws what he cannot eat as an offering to the jungle, and goes home. If the animal selected is a pig or a dog as he cannot eat all himself, he invites some friends to assist him, and if it be a buffaloe, he gives a grand dinner party.