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: Mauwang's life history
medium: books
person: Mauwang/ of Longkhai
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Longkhai
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Mauwang's life history is unusual and shows that even a "sacred" chief may have to build up prestige by his own efforts. When Mauwang was still a boy his father violated the then newly promulgated law forbidding head-hunting and was sent for three years to the jail at Kohima. After his release he decided that life under the Pax Britannica would be a dull affair and emigrated across the border to Mon, where his powerful kinsman gave him shelter. His eldest son went with him, and only the boy Mauwang remained in Longkhai and was brought up by a relative. The long years of his growing up saw the great house of the old Ang fall gradually into ruins, and the prestige of the Ang family of Longkhai was at its lowest. Little attention was paid to the houseless boy Mauwang for he was unable to fulfil the duties of a chief. Since he could not entertain his subjects, they would not work on his fields or rebuild his house.
text: Mauwang's face had a strained, sad look as he told of those first hard years; they were full of shame for the son of a great Ang, those sad years before he found a way of winning back his father's throne. But his face lightened with one of those miraculous changes -- it was as though he had found anew the solution of his lost heritage. He told me how he has apprenticed himself to the blacksmith in the village, how he had learnt to forge knives, dao, spear-heads, and hoes; how then he began to make ceremonial spears for the Ang women, inventing little figures of iron to put between the points of the two pronged spears. And eventually, after working for a few years, he sold so many of his creations that (104) he was able to collect enough money to buy a buffalow and several baskets of rice. Triumphantly his eyes burned. At last he had been able to give the people a feast, and so they rebuilt his house for him. It was a noble house that he pointed to on the other side of the open place. There the building stood, more than 100 feet long, where he lived with his wife, daughter of the great Ang of Chui. He had wooed her with twenty dao, sixty spears, two big pigs, seven chickens, one goat, a great quantity of salt, and two baskets of pan leaves.