The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Four. Above the Clouds
caption: money replacing barter; matches and umbrellas; the collection of artefacts
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: One of the men had a pretty box, carved in the shape of a human head, and Mills bought it for one rupee. The happy owner of such unexpected wealth looked with incredulous eyes at the silver coin that seemed to him quite out of proportion to the value of his little box. I decided to take advantage of this naivete, but hardly had I started a systematic collection than the people adjusted their mentality and began to ask boom-prices. The Konyaks learnt very quickly to understand the value of money and to think in terms of rupees instead of in terms of rice. Money was now gradually taking the place of barter, even in trade with the villages in the interior. Of the three articles that found their way most swiftly into Naga culture, taking their places as though they had always existed -- money, matches, and umbrellas -- the Konyaks had acquired only two -- money and matches. But no self-respecting Angami will ever leave his village in summer without an umbrella, and in a country with an annual rainfall of about 250 inches, you can hardly blame him.