The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Fourteen. The Rescued Slaves
caption: rest in Chingmei ; absence of terror at war
medium: books
location: Chingmei
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Here in Chingmei, where we rested the porters a few days, I often wondered how the people of these villages can live, and even enjoy life, under the constant threat of war and destruction. You would think that the fear of raids would never allow them a quiet sleep, and that every step outside the village would be haunted by the thought of an ambush. But instead of fear, the people had only a certain caution that had become their second nature. They did not dream of going to a distant field alone, and no woman left the village to fetch water after dusk. The men went well-armed and in groups to the work on the fields, and sentries of young warriors saw that the women were not attacked by enemies. There was no room for a free-lance in the world of the head-hunters; only a community could provide the necessary security and protection. Once within the large and well-protected village, danger was comparatively small, and life not very different from life in more peaceful country. Only when a village was hard pressed and the people could no longer cultivate their fields properly, food became scarce. But this was exceptional, for even villages at war for many generations still led quite normal lives within a few miles of each other.