The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: Chapter Two. The Social Structure and its Units
caption: chiefs, commoners and an intermediate class
medium: books
ethnicgroup: KonyakWanchu
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York40:4
text: Across the vertical division of Konyak society into villages, wards, clans, and households, ran a horizontal division into classes of unequal social status. Chiefs, commoners, and an intermediate class formed the elements of this hierarchic order, but the role and respective strength of these status groups differed in the Thenkoh villages and those of the Thendu group. In the former the people of the chiefly class enjoyed few privileges, whereas the powerful chiefs of many Thendu villages were autocratic rulers whose kinsmen dominated the social and political life of the community. In the language of Wakching the chiefs are described as Ang and the commoners as Ben, and here I shall use only these terms; in most Thendu dialects aristocrats are called Wang, and in the Wanchu dialect the respective terms are Wang and Peng. There is no general term for the class of intermediate status. Angs of pure chiefly blood are invariably described as "great" Angs, whereas the offspring from unions between "great" Angs and women of commoner status rank as "small" Angs, a status which was passed on to their children.
text: In the following discussion of villages, wards, and clans these terms will be used, although there is a detailed analysis of the position of chiefs in a later section of this chapter.