The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twenty-two. Love and Poetry
caption: sexual etiquette and strict morality despite freedom
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: We would of course, be quite wrong to assume that because the Konyaks set no value on virginity and are indifferent to the amorous adventures of childless married women, their society lacks restrictions in the sexual sphere. Far from being promiscuous, the (186) Konyak has his own etiquette in regard to matters of sex. I often noticed that within the domestic circle even the faintest allusion to sex causes a man embarrassment, and my most intimate friends shut up whenever I forget this prejudice and broach the tabooed subject in their houses. But alone or in other company they will without the slightest hesitation speak and joke about the most intimate matters. Soon I realized that a man avoids references to anything connected with sex only in front of women of his own exogamous unit, and particularly before his own mother or sisters. It is also considered tactless to talk to a man about the love affairs of girls of his own clan, but this taboo is less strict and when there is a scandal or a break of the rules of exogamy the elders may in the deliberations of the village tribunal have to discuss the misconduct of girls of their own group.