The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twenty-six. Tribesmen Of Tirap
caption: conversation with Nyekpong, chief of Niaunu; handsome costume
medium: books
person: Nyekpong/ of Niaunu
ethnicgroup: Wanchu
location: Niaunyu (Niaunu)
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1962
text: Nyekpong, the chief of Niaunu, was a handsome, slender middle-aged man of great dignity and charm, who received us very courteously and was quite willing to spend hours telling us of the history of Niaunu and his family. He wore a cane hat richly decorated with boars' tusks and his ears were covered by large discs of gleaming white tridacna shell. Strings of valuable beads covered his chest, but together with these traditional ornaments he wore a waistcoat-like garment of black cotton cloth. He had married two wives of aristocratic birth and, in addition, he had acquired twenty-four wives of commoner status, twelve who were daughters of Niaunu men, and twelve from the tributary village of Niausa. But only seven of these commoner wives were alive, a fact which would suggest a surprisingly high female mortality rate. Nyekpong explained that twelve generations ago Niaunu was (217) founded by his ancestor Maipupa, a chief of the highest class. I learnt that in Niaunu this class was described as Wangham, and that it corresponded to the great Angs of my earlier experience. Maipupa had originally come from Tsangnu, and the names of eleven chiefs intervening between him and Nyekpong were still remembered. Whether this genealogy of the chiefly house is accurate or whether it represents a telescoped selection of the most notable names must remain doubtful, but the very existence of a long genealogical tradition emphasizes the importance attributed to succession within a line of hereditary chiefs.
text: The rulers of Niaunu had founded four other villages, all of which were still being ruled by scions of the same chiefly house. Being all kinsmen in the male line the chiefs of these villages could not intermarry and beyond this group of Niaunu colonies there were several other villages ruled by members of the same lineage. Hence their chiefs were excluded from marriage alliances with the house of the paramount chief of Niaunu. Members of the Niaunu dynasty had therefore to seek wives among the daughters of chiefs of other lineages of great Ang status.