The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: description of a funeral
caption: Chapter Three. Phases of Life
caption: cleaning and feeding the skull
medium: books
person: Chinyak
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York91:6
text: Six days after the funeral the head of the corpse was wrenched from the body, and old men and women of the deceased's family had the task of cleaning the skull and removing the remains of the putrefying brain. The skull was placed in an urn hollowed from a block of sandstone, which stood among similar urns on the edge of the village, close to one of the main paths. For three years after death, the skull was given shares of food and beer whenever the kinsmen of the deceased celebrated a feast. This feeding of the skull was done by those members of the dead man's family who lived in the house he had inhabited, that is, by the father or mother of a young man or by the children of an older person. Whoever performed this act of piety addressed the deceased, begging him to eat of the food and to bear no resentment to the living.