The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twenty-one. Head-Hunting Rites
caption: further rituals of head-taking
medium: books
person: Thepong morung/ WakchingChinyang/ of Wakching
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Night has fallen, and the elders of the Thepong morung hang the head in the central hall of the newly built men's house. There can be no better inauguration of a morung than this, for although the head of an antelope took the place of a human head at the rebuilding ceremony, the Thepong men are overjoyed at being able to make up the much-regretted deficiency, and the boys dance endlessly in front of the captured head. Over the fires rice-beer is boiling in huge pots, and even the women stroll about in the morung which today are open to them, so that they too may join in the singing and dancing. The spirit of the feast takes hold of the whole village, and no one thinks of going to sleep. Who would miss such an event? Years have gone by, and small boys have grown to manhood, without a head being brought to Wakching, and now the drum-houses resound with the full force of the head-hunting rhythm and the good old days seem to have returned.
text: Wherever I go I am acclaimed the hero of the day, and even (170) the old women smile at me happily, for have I not brought a head to the village? But happiest of all is my old friend Chinyang; memories of his youth stir in him, and with tears brimming in his eyes he repeats again and again: "Today Wakching is as it was in my young days, and in the days of my fathers."
text: I would like to stay longer with my friends, for there is much to do at the feast, telling of my adventures, drinking rice-beer, and watching the dancing, but I am tired after the long march, and soon it is only dimly, and in my sleep, that I hear the distant beat of the drum.