The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Ten. Paradise in the Jungle
caption: scant attire of Oting girls; ear-rings and their significance
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Oting
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: But the girls of Oting were an unembarrassed and gay crowd, and if you had tried to explain that it would be more decent if they permanently covered their brown bodies with a cloth, they would have laughed incredulously. Until their fifteenth or sixteenth year they go about as God has made them. Only later on do they adopt a small skirt, hardly a hand's-breadth wide, a symbol that they now belong to the adults. Naturalia non sunt turpia is the Konyak's motto and nobody minds if a little blood reddens a girl's thighs. This refreshing naturalness finds expression in a most useful custom, which no doubt saves many quarrels and hard words. I noticed that some girls wore leaden, and some brass rings in their ears. That, explained Chingai, shows whether the parents consider their daughter old enough to take a lover, for only then may she change the leaden rings of her childhood for brass. So the boys always know were they stand, and there is no playing at hide and seek -- no risk of the reproaches of infuriated parents. The provident father even builds a bamboo bed for his daughter in a separate room of his house, where from the day of changing of the earrings she may receive her lover.