The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Three. Phases of Life
caption: easy and frequent adulterous liasons
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York79:3
text: The confusing network of love affairs and marriages reflected in Metlou's marital history was typical of the behavior of many of Wakching's young people, and formed, indeed, part of the marriage system. Married couples who had not been lovers before the wedding tended to delay consummation of the marriage, particularly if one of the spouses was very young at the time of the wedding. If a marriage had been arranged by the parents, and the spouses had little affection for each other at the time of the wedding, it often happened that husband and wife continued their old lives without paying much attention to each other. The young husband as well as his wife went their separate ways and found love and sexual enjoyment outside marriage. As long as a young wife did not live in her husband's house, no blame was attached to such escapades, nor was the husband expected to be faithful. A man, who resented his young wife's infidelity could, no doubt, forbid her to consort with other men, and if, subsequently, he caught her in the arms of a lover, he could beat them both, but this was his only redress. If he had complained to the girl's father, threatening divorce and claiming the return of the bride price, he would have encountered little sympathy and even risked being accused of wanting to be rid of his wife because he had found a girl he liked better. A young husband in this position usually preferred to remain silent and counter his wife's unfaithfulness with adventures of his own. Only if a wife's lover wanted to marry her had the husband the right to claim a refund of the bride price from him. The position of a wife was more favorable. Though she had no redress if faced with her husband's infidelities, nothing prevented her from dissolving a first marriage if she found another man who was prepared to marry her and compensate her husband.