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: chief's corpses placed in wooden coffins; treatment of skull
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York91:8
text: While the dead of commoner status were put on bamboo biers, those of chiefly class were placed in canoe-shaped wooden coffins the ends of which were decorated with life-sized carvings of hornbill heads. The platform which supported such a coffin was erected in the same place near the chief's house where the stones which marked the capture of heads stood. The chief's body was laid naked in the coffin and a fire was lit near the platform. An old woman, usually of commoner clan, was deputed to watch the body and chase away the flies. When the corpse had sufficiently putrefied, the head was wrenched off and cleaned by old men of chiefly clan. They filled the eye sockets with the white pith of a tree, painted the skull with a pattern similar to the deceased's own tattoo and, using resin, stuck some of his hair to the crown of the skull.