The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter four. Black Magic
caption: headman tries to make peace at Jessami
medium: books
location: Jessami
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: For the rest of the day the Tangkhuls continued in a state of alarm and I in a huffed seclusion. The headmen, I think, were holding emergency meetings in the village. The very large cat was, of course, now out of the bag. Jessami was a nest of wizards; it was this that the Tangkhuls had been afraid to tell me. I thought perhaps they might bolt in the night, but morning broke, and they were all still there. Abung regained his customary poise; and presently in came the headmen, laden with peace-offerings - fowls, eggs, beer, rice and pumpkins - and made it clear that the basket was in no way whatever an insult from Jessami as a whole. They were, in fact, so genuinely distressed about it that by general consent we dropped the matter. The headmen and I behaved as though the painful incident had never happened; dispensaries and entertainments went on as usual; and in a day or two not only did the Tangkhuls go into the village without me, where before they had moved as though gummed to my shadow, but drifted up at all hours, daylight or dark, to drink as much as they could of the Jessami rice-beer. Jessami themselves, however, did not let the matter drop. I heard later that, unable to find the culprit, they held a public cursing to cause his death - which, Nagas being what they are, it almost certainly did.