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: shamans and their knowledge
medium: books
person: Akhwan/ of Niaunu
ethnicgroup: Wanchu
location: Niaunyu (Niaunu)
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1962
text: The Wanchus' knowledge of the land of the dead is derived from the experience of shamans, men and women who in their dreams can enter Lumpu. Shamans are known as a-sepa, and one of these gave me a detailed account of the way in which he became a shaman. His name was Akhwan, and he told me that as a young boy he became a shaman without having had any intention of doing so. It started by his falling ill, and then he began having visions of a goddess and behaving like a mad man. The goddess instructed him to perform a rite with rice beer and the leaves of a special plant. Then the goddess gave him three small stones, one after the other, and afterwards some herbal medicine. Then he went to Lumpu, and at the entrance met Tsailopa, who let him in. The inhabitants of Lumpu were not quite like men, but appeared more like shadows. Yet, Akhwan recognized some of the people whom he knew in Niaunu before they had died. He did not enter any houses but talked to the people outside their dwellings. The houses in Lumpu are not as large as those on earth and not as solidly built. The goddess whom he first saw looks like a woman but has only one leg. At one time she was like a girl, but she had now become old.