The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Two. Feasts Of Merit
caption: attempted reconstruction of mind of Naga wishing to put up house horns on his house
medium: books
person: Netsoho
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Imperceptibly the first grey of dawn crept over the sleeping village as the pale, tired moon sank below the heights of the mountains. Peace lay on the houses, herded together on the crest of the ridge like frightened sheep. A door opened silently and the figure of a man separated itself from the shadow of one of the houses. Shivering, he threw the end of his large cloth over his shoulder and clutched it tightly until it completely enveloped his naked body. The light grew, and shapes of roof and posts began to stand out On one of the neighbouring houses boldly carved "house horns" rose against a dawn sky. Today Netsoho saw them without anger in his heart. The sight of them no longer wounded his pride, but only excited his impatience. A few days more and his own gable would carry these same treasured ornaments. How fervently he had longed for them! For his stately house with the rich carvings of buffalo heads and women's breasts seemed quite valueless to him if these -- the wooden house horns -- the highest symbol of glory and prestige, were still lacking.
text: But now everything was prepared for the sacrificial feast; and the dreams of last night supplied the necessary good omen. Two strangers, a man and a woman, had come to his house and drunk rice-beer. Should this not forbode good luck and wealth? The first pink rays of sun broke through the dawn as Netsoho stood at his house door, turning the events of the last few months over in his mind. An abundant rice harvest, filling his granaries, had encouraged him to plan a stone-dragging feast. For a long time he had sought for two suitable boulders, but now he had found them, and soon they would stand near the village path -- eternal monuments to his glory. During many days he had abstained from the required dishes and separated his bed from the bed of his wife. The women of his clan had brewed enormous quantities of rice-beer, and a fortune in animals stood ready for slaughter.