The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter One. The Naga Hills
caption: detailed description of Cheswezumi village
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Angami
location: Cheswezumi
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The slippery path led through a narrow rocky passage, (9) overgrown with bushes and prickly creepers. The defence of such a tunnel must be easy, for there is only enough room for men to pass in single file. Emerging, I found myself on a large open space. On two sides stood houses, with facades of broad, upright planks decorated with conventionalized carvings. I recognized the representations of cattle, pigs' heads, women's breasts, dance ornaments, and human heads, those symbols of successful head-hunting which for the Angami already belonged to the past. Crossed barge-boards rose from the gables of one of the houses, like the enormous antlers of some proud stag. Proud, too, must have been the owner of these wooden horns, for they showed that he had given several of those expensive Feasts of Merits whereby the Naga rises in social prestige and in the esteem of his neighbours.
text: An old man sat in front of one of the houses mending a basket; without stopping his work he gave me a friendly smile. Nor did my appearance upset an old woman, spreading out rice to dry. A dog began to bark, and she chased it away. I went on down the broad street between the houses. The village seemed rather deserted; apparently most of the inhabitants were out in the fields. Only a few small boys sat on a high stone platform in the middle of the village. No sooner had they noticed me than the village seemed to wake up. In a few minutes they collected in a little group and began to follow me at a respectful distance.