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: death; smoking of corpses
medium: articles
person: Stewart/ Lt.
ethnicgroup: KookieKhongjai
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: Their customs, on occurrence of a death, are much the same as amongst the Koupooees, but they are less careful about the preparation of the last receptacle of the dead. In their own hills, what Lt. Stewart states was usual, namely "that the bodies of wealthy men, or of Rajahs, are dried over a slow fire until the flesh gets smoked and hardened to the bone, they are then dressed and laid out, and kept in this way for a month or two before being finally deposited in the earth. During the whole of this time, the hospitality in the house of mourning is unbounded; methins, cows, buffaloes, horses, pigs, goats, and dogs, being slain in numbers to feast the guests, portions of the flesh being likewise sent to distant villages where any friends of the family may reside." The heads of all the animals slain, together with those of enemies are placed under the body, during the interval that elapses before it is buried, in the belief, that in another world, all those thus treated become the property of the deceased, hence the profusion of animals killed, and hence those sanguinary expeditions from which formerly so many suffered.