The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Nine. The Girls' Club of Punkhung
caption: arrival at Punkhung
caption: temporary hut built; curiosity of Punkhung people
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Punkhung
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: It was a pleasant surprise to find that the good people of Punkhung had built me a hut of bamboo and palm leaves on an open space near the chief's house. To pitch my tent on the sodden ground would have been most uncomfortable, but this excellent hut had a floor of plaited bamboo raised several inches, and I could rely on the roof of palm leaves.
text: The chief sent me a goat, two chickens, and some bananas as gifts of welcome, thus solving the food-problem for the moment. The Punkhung people were friendly, but full of curiosity, and half of the village congregated round my hut to see the unpacking, (85) watching every movement with burning interest. My electric torch caused gaping surprise, and every cigarette was received with enthusiasm. A lover of solitude would long for the peace of a big city after a few days in such a jungle village, for to be surrounded by spectators from morning to night gets on the nerves of the most phelgmatic of people. I could hardly throw the boys out of the hut they had built me, and apart from that, I felt that my curiosity must be even more infuriating to them than their curiosity was to me. What would we think if a foreign visitor were to take out his notebook after drinking a cup of tea and begin writing down the - names of our parents and the descent of our grandmothers, and finally inquire into our customary behaviour when our wives committed adultery? Sometimes I admired the Konyaks for their patience in answering all my questions, which must often have seemed quite senseless to them, and for the endless trouble they took in dictating texts in their complicated tonal language, which -- to their great amusement -- I never succeeded in pronouncing correctly.