The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Six. Death in the Rain
caption: description of informant Chinyang; description of his tattoo
medium: books
person: Chinyang/ of Wakching
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: There were two men who, more than any others, helped me in my work -- the gaonbura Chinyang and Yongang. Chinyang had a bony, expressive face and a head of dishevelled grey hair, and in spite of his sixty years his extremely slim body showed hardly a trace of old age. When he climbed a hill in front of me, the muscles playing under the brown skin at every step might have been those of a young man, so beautiful was this well-trained body. His (57) chest was covered with a blue tattoo. Punctuated lines ran from the centre of the stomach over the shoulders and half way down the upper arms, while a necklace was tattooed over the collar bones. But Chinyang's special pride was the two small human figures between these lines. These "decorations" showed that he had cut off heads with his own hands. He hardly ever wore any ornaments, and only a small apron hung down from his belt.
text: Chinyang had a very happy and well-balanced temperament, and was always friendly and helpful. As one of the most influential men of the village, he considered it his vocation to initiate me into the customs and the beliefs of the Wakching people. Exactly as in any other society, knowledge concerning the laws and customs differs among the Nagas according to the individual. Chinyang was an expert on all questions of tradition, and often, when I talked to several people and could not get a point clear, he would cut into the discussion with "Ami kobo, I will say it . . ." and then would follow an intelligent explanation of the point.