The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Eleven. Sacred Chiefs
caption: drumming
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Oting
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: They were hardly human roars that rang through the night, and for the first time in the Naga Hills a cold hand gripped my spine. Would these young warriors from the unadministered territory remember the mockery of the fight, or, overcome by the enthusiasm of the dance, might they not seek a real victim? I was a stranger in a foreign land -- no doubt a most suitable victim!
text: But the warriors hardly noticed me sitting with Chingai on the porch. They streamed past me into the morung with the Oting men, and soon two fires flared up, and the great hall, so often empty, seethed with people. The guests lined up on either side of the great wooden body of the log drum, bringing the heavy wooden drum-sticks down thuddingly on the thick wood, taking the time from an expert drum-beater, and not, as I would have thought, from the Ang. The rhythm changed several times. At first it was not very marked, all the warriors hitting with their full force. The resultant booming was terrific, and almost hurt my ears. But soon the leader, a heavy drum-stick in either hand, while the rest of the players held sticks only in the right hand, began drumming two strong consecutive beats, the others following with quick little strokes. Then once again the rhythm changed. This time it was interspersed with short complete pauses followed by a small whoop of the leader and the crashing of all the sticks on the drum.