The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database
caption: footnotes
text: 32. In 1946 Ramkailungba of Hegokuloa stayed the night in a house in Jalwa and drank more than was wise. On seeing his host's wife, then a woman of 45, he remarked to his host that she had been a delightful girl and that he had greatly enjoyed her seduction before her marriage, some thirty years previously. His host speared him on the spot and killed him. If a man detects his wife in an affair with another man, he considers it his right to attempt to kill both her and lover, although it is generally felt that the man is chiefly to blame, and even if the wronged husband spares his wife's life, he will if he possibly can try to be revenged on the lover. The community, while admitting the rightness of his cause, intervenes to prevent bloodshed and a consequent feud. It may be mentioned that these Nzemi ornaments, and the custom of recording liaisons by stone rows, is not a foolish and obscene form of boasting but a record of a man's achievements in life, in the same way that a headhunter's insignia, the geze, or hair-covered ceremonial shield, and the large Feast of Merit house, were records of achievement. A wife even feels pride in her husband's tally of liaisons, and supplies the cotton needed to complete the skeins. When a man assumes the heleomi-gu-kalang, the names of the girls who supplied it - unless he is as tactless as Ramkailungba, in which case he is unlikely to live to assume it - remain a secret. It is probably fear of tactless exposure, such as Ramkailungba's, and the consequent shame and embarrassment, which make girls refuse to part with their cotton unless their devotion to the man is exceptional.