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: presents and hospitality from wife of Ang of Longkhai
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Longkhai
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: In no other Naga house was I welcomed with more obvious pleasure on the part of my hosts. Yet the personal charm of this aristocratic couple and the happy atmosphere in Longkhai did not blind me to the fact that life in the village of a sacred Ang can have its serious drawbacks. Most of the great Angs in the still unadministered territory were at the best rather autocratic, and at the worst definitely tyrannical, commandeering the labour, property and -- last but not least -- many a pretty daughter of their subjects. Compared to conditions in villages such as Mon or Chui there is a good deal to be said for the social system of Wakching and Wanching where differences of rank are of little practical account. Indeed quite a number of voluntary exiles from the domains of sacred Angs lived in democratic villages. While they themselves were still recognizable by their different tattoo, their children became completely assimilated and grew up in the language and customs of their new home. But I never heard of a Konyak who had exchanged the free air of a community organized on the principle of general equality for the authoritarian regime in an Ang village. Thus history repeats itself and fundamental human impulses seem curiously similar in a society of head-hunters and in the mechanized civilizations of modern times.