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: description of trial at Tanhai; fresh tattoo of head hunter
medium: books
person: Ahon/ of ShiongChingai/ of OtingMills/ J.P.
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Tanhai Hungphoi Sheangha
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The accused Hungphoi youths came in leisurely -- they were not led in by force; indeed, they had come quite voluntarily, and even Sheangha, lying outside the proper jurisdiction of the Deputy Commissioner, had sent representatives. The dobashi, Ahon of Shiong and Chingai of Oting, translated the evidence from the various tongues into Assamese -- inevitably adding their own opinion to every testimony. Of course two dobashi mean the possibility of two different opinions, and this is just what happened. The two dobashi disagreed on the most crucial point. There was a suspicion that the two heroes of Hungphoi were not so blameless as they made out; that they had not only conveyed the strange present to the Ang of Mon, but had had a hand -- perhaps more than a hand -- in the capture of the head. This was Ahon's opinion. He explained that the fresh tattoo, covering not only the face but extending in a lace-work pattern down the neck, was clear proof of their active participation in the deed.
text: Chingai, apparently trying to exonerate the Hungphoi men, pretended that the mere touching of a newly captured head entitled the wearer to this extensive tattoo.
text: The intricacies of the case seemed hopeless, for with the experts disagreeing there was no way of ascertaining the exact meaning of the disputed tattoo. In the end Mills, adopting Chingai's view, condemned the Hungphoi boys for the admitted transfer of a head-hunting trophy. Hungphoi was fined two mithans, for the village as a whole and not the individual has to pay such fines. Mills also fined Sheangha one mithan for involving British subjects in their own head-hunting raids.