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: consulting the shamans in periods of illness
medium: books
person: Akhwan/ of Niaunu
ethnicgroup: Wanchu
location: Niaunyu (Niaunu)
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 1962
text: When someone fell ill, Akhwan was consulted and asked to discover the cause of the illness. In his dreams he would then speak to his tutelary goddess, and then set out to find the soul of the sick person. He might find it wandering about in the jungle or it may have strayed to Lumpu. He would then try to bring it back to the world of the living, but if a spirit had captured the soul, the shaman would negotiate with the spirit and offer him sacrifices to effect the soul's release. A shaman could see the spirits of Lumpu, and Akhwan told me that, though somewhat similar to men, they had certain distinctive features, such as much bigger eyes. He also talked of spirits, called ma-zang, who had a special association with men.
text: "As we keep pigs," he said, "and they consider us as their masters, so the ma-zang keep men, and we have to recognize them as our masters." There were good and evil spirits, and while the good spirits looked after men, the evil spirits claimed the right to afflict men with suffering and even to kill them.