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: exhorting the dead & carrying the corpse
medium: books
person: Chinyak/ of Wakching
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Time after time these same words were repeated; time after time the dead was enjoined to be of good courage and to remember whose son he was. Suddenly an old man, wearing Chinyak's ceremonial dress and armed with all his weapons, came out of the house. Behind him came four old men, all completely naked, (61) carrying the bier with the corpse. Funerals are not the time to depart from ancient customs, and so they had discarded their new-fashioned aprons. Hardly had the procession formed than it stopped again behind a house -- the cursed house of the dead, Chinyang whispered to me. Hoisting the bier to a platform, the old men covered the corpse with a cloth and a few palm leaves, and then they tied the bundles of food to the platform for the soul of the dead to feed on. It is usual for a chicken to be sacrificed before the platform, but Chinyak had offered so many chickens for his recovery that there were no more in the house, and since neither of his sisters, both married in Tanhai, had foreseen such a dilemma, they had not brought a chicken with them. The gods had to be content with what they had already, so ungraciously, received.