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: reciprocal exchanges, as wealth levelling device
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York88:3
text: This example demonstrates the wide ramifications of the economic obligations between affines, and similar networks of reciprocal obligations were centered on every member of the Wakching village community. Those families who had sought matrimonial relationships in neighboring villages extended such obligations beyond the limits of their own village. The regular exchange of ceremonial gifts tempered to some extent the distinctions between rich and poor. As every man gave according to his means, the poorer families received at the time of feasts a share of the surplus of the rich. The urge to increase personal prestige moved richer men to demonstrate their wealth and generosity, and social ambition became thus the spur to economic effort. Those who had gathered an abundant harvest or had been successful in trade were able to provide animals for slaughter and to give generous presents to their affines. The desire to be regarded as rich and of liberal disposition was an important factor in the distribution of such gifts. Thus, Shankok emphasized what an impression it had made on his neighbors when a whole column of clansmen had carried his gifts to the house of his sister's husband.