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: Angami beliefs of connection between stones and souls of the dead
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: There is a subtle connection between a man and a stone erected either by himself or after his death by his heirs. While he is still (20) alive the stone becomes the seat and vessel of the magical "virtue" which has lent him success and empowered him to accumulate wealth, and after his death this same virtue or soul-substance adheres to the menhir. I have heard Angamis, pointing to a pair of menhirs, say: "This is the dead man and this is his wife." Do they imagine that the soul of the deceased takes its seat in the stone? This would seem to conflict with their idea of the Departed travelling to some distant land or, according to another belief, of being ultimately transformed into butterflies. But it is not the spirit of the dead, but only a part of the soul-substance which is thought to remain attached to the stone, benefiting the entire community. The menhirs stand near the paths so that they may shed their virtue on the passing villagers and increase their wealth and the fertility of the crops.