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: an informal council of old men and their legal powers
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Wanchu
location: Niaunyu (Niaunu)
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1962
text: Though within his domain a chief wielded great power, he was not an autocrat who administered justice entirely on his own. In a village such as Niaunu there was an informal council of old men, and if there occurred a breach of law the chief presided over this council and consulted with the other members. A first offender would be fined, but if a man continued in criminal conduct after having been warned and fined several times, the chief and council could sentence him to death by drowning. To kill a co-villager with weapons was taboo even in the case of a criminal and hence there arose the custom of killing offenders by drowning them in a river.