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: role of chiefs in war; magical powers of Angs
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York56:5
text: The role of chiefs in war was ambiguous. Some chiefs participated personally in raiding parties, but there was some feeling that a man killing a ruling chief of great Ang rank incurred magical dangers. As a rule, a chief would not be killed in an unprovoked ambush or, indeed, in a fight at the beginning of hostilities, but once fighting had escalated, even a chief might be killed in battle. Some of my informants thought that the hesitation to kill the chief of a hostile village was due more to the fear of retaliation than to that of the possible magical ill-effects. Yet, the people of Wakching definitely believed that chiefs of great Ang class radiated dangerous magical powers. A special illness, of which severe headache and pain in the eyes were the symptoms, was attributed to contact with great Angs. The chiefs did not suffer from this illness themselves, but they caused it in others. Many Wakching people were therefore afraid to enter a great Ang's house, to look into his eyes, and, above all, to oppose him in any way. They believed that a person arousing an Ang's anger would automatically fall ill.