The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Four. Religious Beliefs and Practices
caption: great deal of ritual, little mysticism ; shamans, weretigers
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York102:2
text: Though Konyaks spent a comparatively large part of their time and resources on ritual activities, and took the performance of sacrifices and the observance of taboos seriously, they did not seem to be open to religious experiences of great emotional impact. There was little room for mysticism in the world view of the Konyaks, and even the seers who could bring about trancelike states appeared as down to earth persons in ordinary daily life. Some claimed that while their body slept, their soul could enter the body of a tiger, and that in the shape of weretigers they had experiences which they remembered in their waking state. According to Konyak belief, the bond between such a man and his tiger familiar was very close, and the death of the tiger was invariably followed by that of his human double. There were sceptics, however, even among Konyaks, and some of my informants ridiculed the pretensions of the men who claimed to be weretigers. Scepticism did not extend to the belief in Gawang and the host of earth-bound spirits, however, and all Konyaks considered their fate to be dependent on the will and actions of invisible beings of whose existence they entertained no doubt.