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: collective responsibility in the clan; debts
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York49:2
text: The shares of meat presented by the descendants of younger brothers to the household of the seniormost line were symbolic of a corporateness which involved a high degree of joint responsibility of all members of a lineage with a great house recognized as the apex of the clan. The householder of the great house was ultimately responsible for the debts, fines, and other obligations of all the households which directly or indirectly had branched off from the ancestral house, and they, in turn, collectively stood security for obligations incurred by the great house. The obligations of collective responsibility of kinsmen ran along the same channels as the distribution of shares of meat. Every man was held responsible for the commitments of those households which had branched off from his line, but if he himself was unable to meet them, then the obligations devolved on the household from which his own lineage had sprung. The Konyaks thought of these units not as lines of descent, but as "houses" ( 'nok)' and the phrases for senior line and junior line were, indeed, "great house" and "small house." Generation after generation would build on the same house site, and such a site symbolized the position of a family in the system of lineages.