The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Account of the valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes' by Major W. McCulloch

caption: marriage; divorce; women sold by husbands; special court for judgements between man and wife; corruption
medium: articles
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: Although to become man and wife, it is not necessary that the marriage ceremony should be performed, still it is usually performed, but as often after, as before co-habitation. A man can put away his wife without any fault on her part, and if a person of influence he may do so without its being noticed. The rule, however, is, that if a man puts away his wife without any fault on her part, she takes possession of all his property except a drinking vessel and the cloth round his loins. A man and wife may separate by mutual consent, and a wife may quit her husband on giving the value of a slave. Women are really the slaves of their husbands; they are sold in satisfaction of their debts, and I have heard of men pawning their wives for money to purchase some office or even a pony. There is a separate Court for the judgment of matters between man and wife. It is called the Paja, and consists of a President "Paja Hulba", and twelve members, with various Officers attached. The members were formerly hereditary, but in these days hereditary " Fumtaus" do not suit the money-loving views of the authorities, and they are made arbitrarily for a consideration, and as arbitrarily dismissed when another candidate offers a large sum. The presidency of the Court appears to be the right of the family called Paja Hulbum, which is descended from the Royal family; that family however now only holds it when it suits the Raja's convenience. This Court is most corrupt, but that a Court seated by corruption should not be so, cannot be expected.