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: families (clans); wife purchase; cost of a wife; elopement
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Koupooee
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: The Koupooees are sub-divided into families, Koomul, Looang, Angom and Ningthauja. A member of any of these families may marry a member of any other, but intermarriage of members of the same family is strictly prohibited. Though not attended to with the same strictness, this prohibition, in regard to marriage, and this distinction of families under the same designations, exists amongst the Munniporees. (50) Although in the perfectly unrestricted intercourse of the sexes which I have shown they enjoy, attachments between individuals must spring up, still their alliances are formed usually with little reference to the liking of either of the parties for the other. This results from the custom of buying their wives. A man's son has reached an age when in his father's opinion, he ought to be wived. The father sets out in search of a daughter-in-law, and having found one to please himself he arranges for her marriage. The fixed price of a wife is seven buffaloes, two daos, two spears, two strings of beads made of conch-shell, two ear-ornaments, two black cloths, two eating vessels, two hoes and what is called meilon. Less than this can be given, and is usually, except with the rich, amongst whom the having paid a high price for a daughter-in-law is a subject of boasting. The meilon is given by the family of the bride, it may be an article of much value or of little, but without it, it is not thought that the bride has been fully given. It does not appear that the general disregard of the affections produces unhappy results; infidelity is rare. But sons and daughters do not all times permit their relatives to select their wives and husbands, and choosing for themselves run-away matches are occasionally made. These matches create for a time much indignation, but not usually of an unappeasable nature, and they are not considered to be such serious infractions of the general rules as to require the flight of the parties out of the village; they fly merely to the house of some friend, who affords them protection and intercedes for them.