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: fine of a mithan; role of mithan in Naga culture
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Tanhai
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The mithan or gayal which plays so important a role among the Nagas is a species of cattle, black-brown in colour with white stockings and sometimes a white mark on the forehead. In the Dafla and Abor country you find piebald and even entirely white mithan, but I have never seen such an animal in the Naga Hills. Like the Nagas' buffaloes, the mithan wander about the jungle in a half-wild condition, their owners feeding them only occasionally with salt. Neither mithan nor buffaloes were milked or in any way used for work, and however well-stocked a Naga village was with cattle, you could not get a drop of milk. Indeed when I brought a cow and her calf from the plains, the Konyaks expressed the greatest (44) horror at the idea of drinking an animal's milk.