Godden Naga and other frontier tribes of northeast India

Naga and Other Frontier Tribes of North-East India
Author(s): Gertrude M. Godden
Source: The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 26
(1897), pp. 161-201
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
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G. M. GODDEN.-Ndgd and other Frontier Tribes,N.E. India. 161
view; probably from West Aiistralia.
view, showing contusions from blows.
8.-Back view of Fig. 7.
9.-Large oval shield f om Central Queensland. Front view, painted, and
with a central boss.
Fig. 10.-Back view of Fig. 9.
Fig. 11.-Smnall oval shield with pointed apices made of Banksia wood. Front
Fig. 12.-Side view of Fig. 11, exhibiting the method of leaving the handle in
Social Structure.
Kin G(routps. Village Government. Central Authority. Social
cRules and Penalties. Marriage. Birth Customs. Dekha
Chang or 2forang. Individual Property in Land and Inheritantce. Slavery. Oaths. Tattoo.
Chief Deity. Various Gods or Spirits. Iztercoutrsewith Gods
and Spirits. Sacrifice. Ceremonial Seclusion and Taboo.
Disease. Omerns. Festivals. Funeral Rites. After-world
THE wild hill tracts which till recent years formed the NorthEastern frontier of the Indian Empire are still to some extent
an almost unknown land. A dividing barrier between the
plains of Assam on the one hand, and of Upper Burma on the
other, these Naiga Hills were long known as the abode of fierce
and ilntractable tribes, livina in a state of incessanlt intertribal
warfare, anid asserting their presence on our border by savage
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Jour nal of the A4niGropological bnstitgte, F01. XXVI, Plate VIII.
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G. M. GODDEN.-Ndgd atndother
raids; but punitive expeditionis and official intercourse left us
with a very incomplete knowledge of the people. Fearless with
the courag,e of savage ignorance, they repeatedly resisted and
killed officers engaged in frontier work, and entrenched in a
remuotehill country they eluded detailed scientific observatioin.
A furtler difficulty lay in the muLltiplicityof languages spoken
among them. Later years have seen the Nadg tribes reduced to
peace and order, but as far as I am aware no adequate record,
either of the hostile tribes, ol of the more peacefiul members of
the race, has as yet been attenmpted. The following pages
therefcre make no claim to comnpleteness,but are rather nlotes of
the people, chiefly gathered from some Governmyient
records, and
from a few scattered scientific papers.
Before proceeding to deal in detail with Naga life we may
briefly notice some past conditions of the tribes, their position
in reaard to external irnfluences,their racial affinities, and their
We find a record of the hostility of the tribes as far back as
1832, when English officers at the head of some niative levies
fought their way througahthe Angaini and Kutclha NagAs. At
this time and for many subsequent years the Nagas made themselves kiiown-to us as barbarous savacges; the savage virtues of
blood-feud and relentless raiding, and savage ignorance of inany
of the first principles of the higher civilisation were everywhere
apparent. For the ten years following 1838, they raided our
border, engaaed in nmutuialextermination, and defied our efforts
to mainagethem, alike by official tours or punitive expeditions.
For the lnext ten years the Government withdrew from all
interferelnce with the tribes, but this experiment ended in raids
which enforced definite actioni. A strong central station was
established; conciliatory intercourse with the Nagais was
enjoined; and our knowledge of the tribes was greatly extended.
Further movements followed towards civilising the country,
carriedlon with much tribal opposition, and at the cost of one
valuable life, that of Captain Butler, Deputy Comumlissioner
the Hills; refereniceto Captain Butler's ethllological and other
researches will be found in a previous volume of this Journal.'
This was a tiine of vi(gorous exhibition of the Naga character; in
the two years, from 1874 to 1876, the raids of one tribe alone, that
of the Anigami Nagas, resuilted in the death of over 300 persoins.
of control were now decided upon, and hapFurther nmeasuires
pily for the tribes they fell at this critical period under the
managenent of Mr. G. H. Damant, an officer silngularly qualified
1 R. W. Woodthorpe, "Journal Anthropological Institute," vol. xi, 1882,
p. 57 seq; Col. Woodthorpe refers to a paper bv Captain Butler, on the
" Anganii Nagas," published in the " Asiatic Society of Bengal," part I, 1875.
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Frontier Tri,besof North-East India.
to promote their eivilisation. Mr. Damant brought to his post
not only administrative vigour, but also a scientific study
of the people; and the success of his brief eighteen months
of office may doubtless be attributed to this union of the
temper of the studenit with the indefatigable energy of the
active miagistrate. The task before hinm was to begin the
welding of "a mass of disconnected and barbarous tribes
into a, law-abiding eommuniity,"'Iand thouglhwe may iot concern ourselves here with his political sucess, his letters ancd
reports show us something of Naaagsavagery as it existed twenty
years ago. References to his anthropoloTgicaland philological
work will be. found in the followino pages. Hie wrote that the
people did not seem to have the slightest idea of the value of life,
and after he had effected the difficuilttask of removing his headquarters to the advanced post of Kohima, he anticipated having
to live in a stockade for two years, and found it hardly safe to
go out without a guard. At the reductioni of a rebellious
village, against which an expedition was necessary, the Nacgrcis
caine round the camp in full war dress, challenging the party to
come and fight thlem-l. Another village informiiedMr. Danant
that they intended to sew up his mouth anid eves if he went
there. Yet witlhin a few moniths of the advance to Kohima at
least a temporary improvement was apparent, an improvement
wisely received by Mr. Damant, with caution: " I fear," lhe
wvrites, " the love of figThting,is too deeply implanted in a
Na.gd'snatuire to be externminatedso quiickly."2 After twelve
months of administration, considerable advances towards civilisation could be reported. In encdeavouringto uniderstand the
Nauag tribes we may recall that Mr. Dainaut never doubted
their capacity for ultimate peace and order. This lhope is coilstantly repeated by him, and Ilis AdminiistratiolnReport concludes by sketchingca future advance, " step by step until we
have succeeded in eradicating the last vestiges of the muirder
and bloodshed whichl now prevails among,all tlhesetribes."'3 The
work whiclh Mr. Dmanalt foresaw so clearly, anid the success
which he anticipated, were to be achieved by other hands. A
few months after writing the above he was shot down at the
elntrance of a villagre near Kohliia.
In his untimely deatl
the frontier tribes lost a wise anid skilful administrator, anid a
scientific career full of promtiisewas cut slhort. The def'ence
of Kohimia against an overwhelming force of Nagags followed.
alnd the NdgaOwar of 1878-9, a war not concluded unlitil1880.
1 See the resolution by Sir Steuart Bayley on Mr. Damant's
"Report of
the Ad.ninistration of the Na,a Hills for the Year 1878-9."
2 " filicial Report."
G. H. Damant. 1879.
3 "cAdministration Report of the Nag'a Hills."
1878-9. G. H. Damant.
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G. M. GODDEN.-Ndg4 and other
From that date the tribes appear to have abanidoned the idea of
expellingyEnlglish rule, and in 1892 it was possible to record the
fulfilment of hopes expressed by Mr. l)amant twenty years
earlier. Since the close of 1881, Mr. Aitcheson writes, "the
history of the district shows the progyressiveestablishment of
peace anidgood order, anidthe quiet submission of the Naaas to
our rule."'
We need not dwell further on the warlike qualities of the
Naga' race; buit it should be noted that evein in the earlier years
the tribes were not exclusively hostile. For nearly ten years,
from 1876 to 1884, the Sibsagar Naga' tribes gave no direct
trouble, trade largely developed, and missionary work appeared
to have been efficacious. The Rengma Na'iagshave bad alnmost
with the Governmient.
uniformly peaceful dealingcrs
This long political intercouirse with the tribes has been
sipptlemenited to somle, extenlt by missionary labour. Thus in
1840 a miiissionarywas residing amiiongthe Sibsagar Nagas, and a
successful mlission school existed, to which mnanyof the chiefs
s lnttheir sons for inistruction. By 1878, the New Testameent
hacl been tranislated inlto Manripi'li; anidin the late census report
for 1891 we findlmenition of two Ngag' mission stations. Fturther
opportunities of receiving external influence were afforde(dto
tlhe Na4,s by their trading activitv. This activity broghbt them
as far as Calcutta; anid many of the Souitlhernalnd Nortlher-n
NTaigdstraded constantly w.ith the plains, and worked in the
w-inter molnthsin tlhe tea gardelnsat the foot of the hills. The
intercourse between the Naiga tribes bordering on Assanmand
the Assamese lhasbeen conistant,anida certain amnountof Hilndu,
Bu3ddlhist,alnd Mussulmanl influience may thuls have penetrated
into the hiills.
The Nagas have tlhus been lon(r exposed to foreign influence.
They have been in contact with Christianity, Hinduism, and to
some extelnt with Buddhliism; the more enterprising, of the.
tribesmen have traded in Assam, and even in Bengal; and the
border people have lhad the opportunity of passing oln into the
interior the external influences around them. But although it
is necessary to admit these facts, little seenmsto have resulted
fromi them. The tribes exhlibit primitive beliefs, and live in
communities regulated by primitive social rules, which have
hitlherto provoked no commenit of foreion origin from their
observers.2 How far indications occur of Hindu influence will
be considered when we pass to tlhe natule of these beliefs, and
to the struieture of the village groups wlicih hold them.
C. Aitcheson, "Treaties, Engaaements, and Sanad<." 1892, i, p. 283.
Po'sibly there may be an exception in three small tribes inhabiting the
Manipur valley.
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Fr ontier Tribes of North-East India.
Classified by language, the Naga's are miiembersof that great
race convenielntly called Tibeto Burman, which extends fromn
the source of the Indus to Siam. Of the early movements of
the Tibeto Burman anid Burmese races little appears to be
known. Views recently put forward' assume a general movemelnt from CelntralAsia southwards towards the Bay of Bengal
of the Mon and Karen races, the Burmese, and the Shans. The
Naga's may perhaps be affiliated to the Northern hill tribes of
Bulma, known as the Kakhyin; or to the tribes who inhabit
the hills to the wvestof Burma known to tlle Burmese under the
namle of Khyin or wild man, and tlheir neiglhbours,the Kukis.2
The identity of the Naad and neighbouring Kuki tribes is an
open question, though we nmaynote that Mr. Damant foulnd" as
a rule, a marked distinction in dress and manners between the
Kuki and Naga, even in cases wlhere their dialects closely
resemble each other"; he adds "there is only one tribe witl
which I am acquainted, the Cheroo, dwellers in the hills of
which in any way unite the charactelistic features of
the two . .
No final classifieation of the languages spoken by the hill
tribes of the North-Eastern frontier has yet been attempted.
Mr. Darnant wrote a careful account4 of many of the tribes andl
toingues of this frontier, includingo,those of the Nagas and
Kukis, but of some of the tribes little or nothilng was then
known, and his work claiined only to be provisional; and the
recent AssamnCensus report, while admitting a great advancee
in our knowledge of the local Tibeto-Burman languaaes,
observes that the affinities and differences between themiihave
hiithertobeen scarcely touched.
The wonderful imiultiplicity of their languages is a salielt
characteristic of the Naga race. Mr. Davis, Deputy Cominiissioner of the District, writes, "all the tribes in this district
speak languages which are at the presenit day . .
so different that a member of one tribe speakinig his own
1 " Report on the Census of India."
1891. J. Baines, p. 127 sqq.
Ibid., p. 129.
3 G. H. Damant, " Journal Royal Asiatic Society," n.s., vol. xii, p. 228.
Mr. Baines (" Indian Census, 1891, Report," p. 150) speals of the Mikirs a;s
included in the Naga group, but this classification is not given as final by Mr'.
Gait in the " Assam Report," 1891. Passages in Mr. Baines' Rep)ort (pp. 1"9
and 150) on the relation of the Nad2 to the Kakhbin people appear to contradict each other. It may be noticed that Mr. Dainai t states in a paper in the
' Calcutta Review," 1875, that, "The Nagas are the oldest settlers, if not the
aborigines, of North Cachar; we find that every other tribe lhas traditiens of
having lived in some other country."
4 " Notes on the Locality and Population of the Tribes dwelling between th.e
Pehamapl)utnnard Ningthi Rivers." G. H. Daniant. " Journial of the Royd
Asiatic SoCiety," a.s., I o1. xii, P- 2298seq.
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G. M. GODDFN.-NYdgd and other
language is quite unintelligible to a memiiberof the next tribe."'
We find the same conditions described by Mr. Damant in the
provisional paper already referred to. He placed the number of
iimutuallyuiintelligible Naga lanauages as niot less and probably
miorethan thirty. "In some instances," he adds, " perhaps a
few may be reduced to the rank of dialects, but in the majority
of cases they are essentially distinct languag,es
lilnguistic variation he found at its height amoongthe Easterni
Nagas. Amongst these, lhe wrote, "the greatest confusion
exists; there is such a multiplicity of hibes, each speaking a
different dialect, and they are so small in numbers, sometimes
consistina of only olnevillage, that withouit visiting each village
personally, it is almost imiipossibleto define the limits of each
tribe with anv approach to accuracy, or even to say precisely
lhow many tribes there are." The source of this immnense
number of dialects he found in the isolation of communities,
in constant warfare: " Every tribe, almost every village, is at
war with its neighbour, and ino Nadgaof these parts dare leave
the territory of his tribe without the probability, that hiis life
will be the penalty, . . ." In a further descriptioniof these
Eastern Nagas he speaks of the manly different tribes " all, or
nearly all, speaking languages unintelligible the one to the
other. Within twenty miles of country five or six ditTerent
dialects are often to be found."2
It is noticeable that in several eases dissimilarity of language
and dialect was not found to involve equal d'ssimilaritv in
custorns and manners. Thus the Mao, Alaram, and Kiyangkhang
Naga, though very similar in dress anid customs, spoke dialects
which differed considerably; the Lhota language differed very
materially from that of its neighbours, but in dress and customs
they resembled each other closely; the Aligami did not differ
materially from other memnbersof the Nagat faimiilyin manners
anid customs, but the lingauisticdivergence was so great " that it
is doubtful," Mr. Damant wrote, " whether they should niot be
classed as a distinct famnilyof themselves."3
Mr. Davis, the officer in charge of the Hill tracts, has reduee(d
the languiage of the main Na'a tribes oni the western slope of
the Indo-Burmaniwatershed to more or less gramiimaticalform.
He was said, in 1891, to be the best authority on the subject.4
We may refer to his section on the NadgAlanguages in the
" Assam Census Report, 1891," p. 163 seq.
We have as yet no knowledge of the number of Naga tribes
whlich exist in the border hills. Mr. Damiant gave a provisional
" AssamnCenqus Report," 1891, p. 163.
G. H. Damant, "Journal Royal Asiatic Society," n.s., vol. xii, r. 228 .seq.
3 Ibid.
4 ' General Report Census, India, 1891." J. A. Baines.
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Frontier Tribes of Yorth-East Indic.
enumeration of eighteen tribes. In the latest authority, the
" Assam Census Report for 1891," nine tribes are given, viz.: the
Angaimi,Ao, Kabui, Kacha, Kezhama, Lhota, Naked, Rengma,
and Sema. Other tribes are niamed by earlier writers. but
amongst all the various accounts of the hill people, extending
over a period of nearly fifty years, nonieoffers a satisfactory tribal
record. Rather thani attemipt out of this confusioni of many
writers and imperfect knowledge, any individual treatnmentof the
Na,ga tribes, the present sketch will airr at presenting as fully
as possible the customs, beliefs, and usages of the Naga' race,
care being taken to preserve all well established tribal refereinces. The onily tribe which will be described separately is
that of the Anganmi,of which a fairly full record is available.
NOTR.-The divisions of the Naga, named Miyangkhang and Maram,
by Mr. Damant, have been used as synonymous with the Meeyaingkbang,
Murram, and Muram of Dr. Brown anidMajor McCulloch; and the Mao
of the former for the Mow of the latter. Also the Maring of Mr. Damant
has been taken as equivalent to the Murriiig of Dr. Brown. References
given to Brown and MeCulloch mnusttherefore be read in the light of
tthisnomenclature. References to these two writers refer to the "Accounit
of the Valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes," by Major McCulloch
arndthe "Statistical Account of the Native State of Manip?iranidHill
Territory uiider its Rule," by Dr. Brown.
Xin-groups.-The unit of society in a large tribe of the Naga
race,' has beeni described as not the village but the khel, in
otlher words society was fouinded on thle tie of kinship rather
than of commionfealty, or coinmon land. Men felt thenselves
bound to obey the laws of the kin groups; no man might
marry within his own k/hel; curious funeral rites were performed over the dead by members of some other khel; and
Ahels, living side by side in the same village, would stand so
far apart in hostile feelinog that ino effort would be miade by
one to check the miassacre,within the village walls, of another.
We have unifortunately very scanlty evidence as to the
structure of the other Naoa tribes. The two tribes of the
Aos, the Chunali anid Mongsen, are divided into exoganious
sub-divisions, the names of all or some of which vary from
village to village. Although nio member of any of these subdivisions might marry withiin his group, any Mongsen could
marry any Chungli.
AInapparent survTivalof annual tribal marriage was recently
observed among this tribe in a yearly festival at whclih the
youth of one khel performed a mimic capture of the girls of
another khel.2
The Aingaai.
See infra, p .176.
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G. M. GODDEN.-Ndgd amdother
The SeniA NMa3as
are divided into mainyexogamous
sub-divisions, within which no marriage can take
place. One or perhaps two other tribes are noticed
as observing strict rules against the rmarriageof the same family.'
In the absence of information all that can be asserted is a strong
probability that the social structure of all the Nadgatribes
was not more advanceed than that of the poverful Angaiini;
that the tie of kinship anid not the tie of land prevailed; and
that thus the villages were nmerelyconvenielnt building places
for clans to gather in, and not anly organic part of the social
structure. At the present dav clhildrenbelong to the
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 239. father's khel in all Nadga tribes of the Nad,gaHills
Village Government.-The governmnentof a village community
such as this would naturally tend to be democratic; each
independent khel would demand a voice in anly common action;
and the system of blood-fend and head huniting would check
the growth of any one clan into a position of supremiie
We find accordingly that the village group is described as a
democratic comnmunity,each imianis said to be as good as his
neighbour, and the headmen possess little authority.
Hereditary Chiefs.-In older accounts tlhe presence is repeatedly noticed of hereditary chiefs who possessed a miierelynomuinal
power. In one tribe each village communilty had one or generally two such chiefs, and the eldest son took over the digniity
during his father's life-time, should the latter be very infirin;
the practical affairs of the tribe were settled by a council of
(Luhupas) aged chiefs and warriors.2 Another tribe possessed a
McCulloch, hereditary village clhief who had nio great influence,
F. 67.
but received a leg of everiy anial killed for a feast,
with the first of the wine ; and the assistance of the village in.
htis cultivation, if he asked it, on one day in the season;
another accoulnt of possibly the same tribe describes
Br own,
p. 39.
two hereditary village chiefs, the AXhulbu,the head,
aud the Khluldkpa,the iinferior. The Khulblt by virtue of his
office received the heads otf all the ganmekilled, and the first
brew of liquor made by each fanmilyill the village communify.
The KA-huldkpareceived inferior preseu-ts,and they were both
elititled to seats of honour at feasts auid other village meetiugs.Y
Assam Census Report,
1891, p. 247.
I Among the Lhotas "marriage within the circle or (sic) a mali's blood
relations is not permitted." " Assam Census Report, 1891," p. 248.
2 Angami. See infra.
3 See McCullocll, p. 66, for a different account of officers of the Tangkool
tribe, viz., the " Koollakpa " and the "Xoolpoo."
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Frontier Tqibesof North-East Ijidia.
The villages of another tribe are said to have each
a chief who is chief in nothing but name. The
chiefs of the Maram tribe seeni to have been regarded in the light of those semni-divine kings of
whose onerous life Mr. Frazer gives full evidence.'
The Marams were described in 11872as having two
chiefs, the great and the little chief. Neither had any fixed
revenue, but the village would build the house of the great chief,
and(gave him the hind leg of all game caught. "Formerly, no
one was allowed to plant his rice until the great chief
allowed it, or had finished his planting. This mark
of superiority is not at present allowed by the lesser ehief,
who plants without reference to his superior." There were
many prohibitions in regard to the food, aniimal and vegetable,
which the chief should eat, and the Marams said the chief's
post must be an uncornfortable onie, on accounit of these
restrictions. Other primitive kings endured burdens similar
to these of the Maram chief, as we may see in the accounlt
given by Diodorus Siculns of those kings of Egypt to whoin
onily two kinds of flesh and a limited quantity of wine were
p. 32.
p. 32.
Aniiong the more Eastern NAgias,the chiefs' houses were
much larger than those of the comlmnion
people, accordilg to
a well constructed
" Ethnology building of 2(50 to 300 feet in length, and occupied
of Bengal," "the centre and highest position in the village as
p. 39.
the manor house." Dalton addlsthat the great chiefs
had "chairs or rather stools of state on which they and their
sons sit; the rulei's stool being"the hilhest, that of the heir
apparent a step lower and the otlher members of the family
lower still."
CaptainiBrodie in 1841 found a (Chanigneye)chief to whom
all the Ndgdasbetweeni the Deko and Jeypore looked as their
head, " that is they pay tribute called chace consisting of some
grain cloth &c., but beyond his own Dwar [viz., pass] I do
not find that he has any real power or influence."3 Two otlher
instances of a chlieftaincy exertinlg limnited powers miiay be
quoted from a Report of 1854. Capt. Holroy(d gives a
cuiriously comiplex description of Nciga governnment:-Each
clani is ruled by its council, and no imlpoltant measure concerning the welfare of the clan [is] unidertaken without the
J. G. Frazer, " Golden Bough," i, chap. ii.
2 J. G0.Frazer, "Golden Bough," quoting Diodorus Siculus, "Bibl. Hist."
i, 70.
"'"India Office Records." MS. Report of Capt. Brodie, Sept. 15, 1841.
? 10.
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G. A. GODDEN.-Nagd,and other
conseiit of the elders. The president is called Khoubao, and
the deputies Suiidekee and Khonsaie; all constulMills, Report on the tations are held in the Morung or hall of justice,
Province of and no operation undertaken, till it has beenicarried
Assam, 1854, by the votes of the council. The title, and position
M, p. cxiii.
of Khoubao is hereditary, the eldest son invariably
succeeding to the authority. Tlhe Khoubao receives all
emlbassiesreplyinig thereto on his own aut;hority or after constultation with liS council, and in fact may be looked upon
as the mouth-piece of the people. Still the power of the
chief is paramount in all matters of life and death and the
punishment of offences committed by aniy of his clan.'
The other case of a limited chiefship menitioned by Capt.
Holroyd is that of a " Chaniguoe" chief who aspired to a general
control over all the tribes between what he spells as the " Boree
iDehing" and " Dekhioo" rivers; but it did not appear that the
offerings mnadebv tlhe other chic's were considered as a mark of
subjection, but simply a customiithat had prevailed fronmthe
fact of the other chiefs all being descended in some way or other
from the Changauoefamily. (Tliis looks like a later report of
the Changney cliiefship menitioned by Brodie in 1841.) Here
the position of the chief was apparently based simply on priority
of kindred.
Leaving these older records we find one tiibe recently
described as distinlguished from otlher tribes of the Naga
Hills district by the possessioni of hereditary village
chiefs. "These clhiefs."Mr. Davis writes in 1891,
"have many privileges, i.e., their subjects cut their jhgas
and cultivate them for them for nothing; they get a portion of
A. C. R.,
every animal killed in the chase, and generally are
1891, p. 246. in a position far superior to that of an ordinary
Ndga headman. These chiefs invariably have three or four
wives, and usuially large families. It is the custom for the
sons as they grow up to start new villages on their own
account." A nmarkeddifference bas been asserted to exist
between the social systemil of certain Westerni and Eastern
1 Capt. IHolroyd. Mills' Report, Appendix M, p. exiii. This accoiunt is
confirmed in a paper by Mr. S. E. Peal, written thirty years later, describing a
visit to the Naga Hills. " A Sowdongrand a Huiidekai both of whom I knew
well, were here waiting for our arrival. A 'Sowdong' is a sort of travelling
deputy to the Rajah (by 'RAjah' Mr. Peal seems to mean the chief of the
tribe); and a ' Hundekai' is a resideentdeputy, and is of a higlher grade. The
highest next to the Raijaband his family is a 'Khu'nsai,' and there is one to
eaclhvillage." When Mr. Peal's party were passing on to see the village of
Longhiong, the Khunsai of that place, who had met thenmoni the road, gave
theimihis formal permission to proceed, " this we had omitted to wait for, but
it seenis to be considered by them neeessarv." S. E. Peal, "Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal," vol. xli, p. .1.
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Frontier Tribes of North-East India.
Nagas,I powerful chiefs being ascribed to the latter, whereas in
the former district the chief's authority would be almost nil.
Captain Butler, Deputy Coimmissiolnerof the NagA Hills, did not
attach weight to this difference. In a paper of 18'73, he says,
"1I am myself, however, rather sceptical on this point, and aiyi
inclined to believe that the Naigadnowhere really accepts a chief
in our seniseof the term." He proceeds to describe as clhiefs
miiengiven poNer by popularity, " leaders of public opilnionl,"
nominally the heads of clans. "The Governmenitof every Nagdi
tribe with whom I have had intercourse is a purely deniocratieal one, anidwhenever anythiing of public importance has to
be undertakeln,all the Chiefs (both old aind y oung) ineet tog,ether
in solemn conclave, . . . as to aniy one single Chief
exercisiig absolute control over his people, the thing is
the Lulhupas, accordiig to Dr.
ulnheard Ofh"2
Brown, each village fornmeda republic of its ownl,
p. 39.
alnd there were nio principal chiefs. Oii the other
haiid hie describes the Mao tribe, witlh its twelve villages, as
uniderone clhief; frolmieach lhouisethe chief received
G. H.
one basket of rice. Mr. Ia)amantspeaks of a tribe,
" Jour. R.
to the north-east of Mailipu'r, wlho inhabited ten
As. Soc.,"
villages all under one chief.
I1.s.,Vol. xii.
That lnominal hereditary village chiefs existed
witlhin the Naga' village inclosure is evident; but of the nature
of their office we are left much in the dark. Surer grounid is
reached wheni we tujrnto the functiolns of the elected rulers.
Elected Julers.-Tbe elected heads of the Naa's are called by
Sir James Johnstone Puemahs; he says that they
" My Experi- often remain in ofMcefor years and are greatly reences in
specte(, thloughiliable at anly tilmieto be displacecl;
"they are in theory onilyprim-tus inter pares." Four
p, 28.
Mackenzie, or five middle-aged men wlhohad earned a repuitation
p. 401.
as warriors auidecl to some extent one of the eastern
claiis. The olnly constituted authoritv founidby Stewart amonig
the Nagas of North Kacliar was that of the council of elders
Aitcheson, Brodie, quoted by Butler, Sir A. Mackenzie, " Nortli-Ea-t
Frontier of Bengal," p. 86;. Dalton, 1872, pp. 39 and 42, speaks of the Nagas
east, of the Doyang river as " divided into great clans under hereditary clhiefs
who appear to exereise great influence over their peoplo." He infers f orn
St3wart that west of tlle D)oyang no ehiefs are acknowledged. The passage in
Daltoni on p. 39, as to diverging polity, religion, ainidcustoms reqaires a miiapin
the author's spelling to be intelligible. A passage in Mr. Aitcheson's " Treaties"
is somewhat at variance with the account of the Sem's in the " Assam Census
1891, and onmitsto notice the Angami nominal but hereditary chiefs. He says:
"Unlike the Angadmis,Semhs, anid Lhot as, wvho are intensely democratic in
their social eco0nomy,many of the eastern Nflgd
to acknowledge the
aiithority of Raijas alid minior chiefs among themselves." Aitelcson. 1892.
Vol. i, p. 2tO.
X Butler, quoted by Mackenzie, p. 86.
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G. M. GODDEN.-Nd6g and other
who settled petty disputes and property disacrreements,anid the
moderate authority of a "Gaon Butra"' or village
" Asiatic
spokesman, some elder appointed, not always for life,
Society of
a reputation for superior wisdom or by the
1855, xxiv, influence of wealth; but as he overlooked the existp. 609.
ence of the nominal Angadmichiefs his observation
may have been at fault elsewhere. In the Rengma tribe a
village counicil of elders settled all trivial offences, imposing
fines on the culprits. Among the Angaimis the vilMills,
p. cxxix.
lage councillors settled matters of war and revenge,
and admiiinisteredfines for petty crimne. The stateinent by Capt.
Holroyd that the Khooubaoor president of a clan council hel(d
office by hereditary right is noteworthy.
The democratic niatureof the Nagag society is emphasised in
the latest accounLtwe have. Mr. Davis, in the Census R]epprt
for 1891, says of the Ao tribe, " each village amongst the Aos
is a small republic, and each mian is as good as his neighbour,
indeed, it would be hard to find anywhere else more
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 243. thoroughly democratic comtmrunities. Headmen
(tcitdr) do exist, b;ut their authority is very small." The only
Naga tribe in which lie finds headmen with any real power is
that of the Sema, whose prominienithereditary villag,e chiefs
lhave already been noticedl.
On the whole it may be concluded that the Naiadgovernmiient
consists in the decisions of a council of chosen members of a
village, wlho confer on matters of public importaince,alndwho
admninister puniishment for crine; and in the persons of
hereditary chiefs who exercise some rights and show some signs
of primitive royalty, but who take little active part in the
political anld social administration. It inay be conijectured that
in former days the chliefs reiglned suprenle over each khel, by
primitive right divine, and as descenidants of the ancestors
whose niamethe khels bear, and that as the klhels gathered into
village enclosures the civil power of the chiefs declined before
the practical needs of selecting, the fittest advisers for the
cormmunity; and that out of this decline one or two of the
iiore potent survived with partial power. But till we have
mnoredetails, especially as to the iinter-khel rules of precedence
and as to the genealogies of the nominal clhiefs, this must be
merely surmise.
Central Authority.-No record is forthcoming of any general
authority, whether of an individual chief or of a leading village,
among the Naga tribes. The Report of 1854 describes the
Ndgadsfroin the Northern Kachar to the extreme eastern point
of Assam as having no comnmonbond of union; "each villag(e
I For GAon biuta, rcad bArha an old man. (Eindi.)
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Fr ontier Tribes of North-EcastIndia.
hlas a democratical government of its own, ancl each would
reign distinct over its own bill and adjacent culturable lainds,
but that alliances have been forced upon them by the power
and conquest of larger villages or been sought for to protect
the wealkervillages against the stronger. The onfederation (sic)
thus formed are however sm.lld, and are generally connected
with some Dowar or passage through the hills to Assam or
Ava, the mo-nopoly of the trade by which they endeavour
to secure for themselves."
Social Rules and Penalties.-The social rules and penalties by
which individual life in a Naiga village is regulated include,
prohibitions to marry within a man's owIn khel; amiong the
eastern tribes, accordinloto Dalton, a prohibitioin to marry until
a inan had won the right to have his face elaborately tattooed,
a right not granted till he had taken a huiian scalp or skull,
or shared in somie expedition in which scalps or skulls were
taken; a strilngent obligation to perform the duties of blood
feud, a murderer being liable to -punishmentat the hands of the
(Angami and sulrvivilng relatives many years after tlje deed; a
punishment of death to the mianfor infriingement of
the marriage law; and fines for theft (for which offeilce in one
tribe death might be inflicted if the thief were
" caiwyhtred-handed "), and for petty offences.
The m-leansfor the prevention of crime within the Naga'
comlmunities in the case of the Angadinitribe, and doubtless
in others also, fall into two divisions, those offeuices liable to
imimediatepunishmnentby the hand of the aggrieved persons;
anid those adjudged by a counieil of elders. Murder comes
witlhin the first category; "the relations of the
Mills, p. cxlii.
murdered person instantly, if possible, spear the
murderer without reference to the council of elders." In case
of infrinaement of the marriage law the injured husband
speared the offender " on tlle first opportunity," it may be
inferred without reference to any council. Thefts and other
petty offences on the other hand were disposed of by the elders,
who imposed a fine anid restoration of the property or its
equivalent. Unfortunately this distinction of offences liable to
individual justice, and those dealt with by the council, is only
mentioned in one Report; more knowledge on this poirnt is
much to be desired. The penalty for infringement of the
marriage law was death among the Mao, Maram,
and Luhupal tribes; among the latter the woman
I The fullest account we have of the Luli ups Naga takes the Luhupas to be but
a branclh of the "Tonkhul" tribe. rTld,i accoiiuit uas written in 1873, and
giving the preference to Mr. Damatnt's later classification, all descriptions of
Tonkbuls and Tangkools will be inserted here as applying to the Lullupa tribe;
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G. M. GODDEi\.-Nag4 and other
was never taken back by the iiijured huLsbandc.Na'aa'pullishments for theft included death, beating, and fines; on the other
hand in two tribes it was of ordinary occurrence
Mao and
and lnot colisidered disgraceful. Lieut. Stewart in
account of the Nfg'Asof North Kachar finds the
chief social restraint inl the system of blood feud, a
system which seems to have penetrated the whole social
structure. His account may be somewlhat exaggerated, and
may fail to take into considerationi the oblig,ationlsof savage
religion, but it is of valiie as showingr the impression made on
ani observer by the Nagaa communities fifty years ago; and
also for showing how thoroughly these communities were
actuated by the sense of kinship. After speaking of the Naga
inteinsefeeling for revenge, a revenge carried to extreme lengths
for even triflino offences, he says, "This feeling is
p. 609.
niot confined to individuals, buit taken up between
commrutnities,an-d often by parties in one and the same comininity. Is there a quarrel between two Naaas of differenit
villages, the dispute inevitably cauLsesbloodshed, and a feud
is established between the villag,es of the two disputants,
which nothing will assuage, and whliclh,in time as advantage
offers, will find issue in some dreadful mYassacre. The NMoras
are exceedingly treaclherous in ennmity,and brook no inisult.
Ani insult given, it is a point of honotur to have blood-and
blood shed by one party ealls for a like streamnon the part
of the otber. When any differenice occurs between two nmen
of the same villagTe,whliilh is rarely the case, each individual
has hiisparty wlho cling to him and take up his quiarrel, not
by any means froml a sense of justice, but from relationshipand a civil war enisues
The result
of this system
Stewart found to be a reluctance to enter into quarrels which
entailed conisequencesso disastrous, and hence a society " living
irn general peace and honesty." He compares the action of
the law of revenige as an efficient deterrent among, the clans
of the Scotch Highlands somile150 years before the date of
The restraiilt of life governed by inexorable blood feuds
these North Kachar Nagas by a quaint
was miitig,atedanmongO
custom. At stated times, oniee or twice a year, the wlhole
village adjourned to some conveniient place, and a general mele'e
took place, everyone fighting for his own band. No weapons
were used, buit severe bruises and scratches resulted, yet these
if further knowledge shows that the Tonkhu]s of Dr. Brown and the Tangkools
of Major McCulloch are not synonymous with the Tangkhol sihbclivisionof the
Lubupas of Mr. Damant, the error may perhaps be pardoned iin view of tribal
perplexities recorded in apparently phonetic spelling.
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Fiontier Tribes of North-East India.
never gave ground for a quarrel, " whereas at other
times the lifting of a hand would lead to a blood
feud." This excellent system afforded vent for private grudg,es.
Acfariage.-If the Naig rules providing for individual
punishments were stringent, the rules that regyulate a tribesman's marriage are no less distinct. The elaborate and lengthy
forms observed by the Angami at the present day will be found
fully described in the account of that tribe; a central feature is
the repeated eating together of bride and bridegroom,doubtless
the confirmino act of union between themii. Amoilg tlle,
Luhupas if the omens (taken by holding up a fowl and
observing how it crossed its legs) were favourable,
p. 40.
parents or friends proceeded to arrange the prelirninaries. On the miarriage day two dogs, two dao6s,and
liquor were presented by the parents of the bridegroom to those
of the bride; and the bride's father then killed a pig which was
eaten in the house of the bridegroom'sparents. After marriage
the bridegroom lived for a few days in the house of the bride's
parents, after which he was conveyed to his own house, and
another feast of dogs anid fowls ended the proceedings. A
bride-price was given for the wife. The Ltuhtupaswere said to
be conspicuous for the amount of free wili exercised (presumnablv
by tlhe younc couple) in their marriage arrangcrements. The
Nata marriages of Northern Kachar incluided a
p. 614.
present to the family of the bride, and a :feastto tlhe
whole village; the village in returni built a house for the newly
married couple.
In the Renrnmatribe the consent of the girl was obtained as
well as that of her parerlts, she having a right to
P. cxxviii.
refuse; the bridegroom according to his mneansgave
fowls, dogs, and spirits to the parents of the girl selected; on
the day of his marriage he gave a grand feast to the whole
village, they' in return being obliged to present the pair with a
new house in the village. Dalton describes the more Eastern
Nigas as muarrying comiparatively late in life, a
p. 41.
necessary coinsequenceof the tattoo condition already
noticed; there was also a bride-price2 which often involved
the youth in servitude, at the end of which he was provided for
and set up by his father-in-law. A cuirious marriage omen
occurs in the modern practice of the Mongsen branch of the
Ao tribe. If a man's proposals have been favourably received,
after thirty days the engaged couple go on a trading expedition
p. 610.
I The wording of the Report is vague, but presumably it is the village and
not the parents who supply the house.
2 The recent "Assam Census Report" mentions that a wifeA. C. R., 1891,
pp. 247, 248.
price is paid among the Lhota and Semi Naigais.
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G. M. GODDFN...-NtgL and other-
for twenty days; if a fair profit be m-adethe omen is good andl
the marriage arrancements are proceeded with, but if
the results are unfavourable the match is at once
broken off. About three months later. as soon as
the house is ready for her reception, the girl is escorted to her
husband's house by all her relations and friends. " A feast is
given on that day, both at her house and at the house of her
husband's people." For the first six nights after a womnangoes
to her husband's house, six men anid six womnensleep in the
houise with the newly married couple, the men, including the
bridegroom,sleepinigtogether, the womiensleeping with the bride.
It is of these Aos that we have a very recent account of what
appears to be a survival of primitive marriace usage. Mr. Davis,
Deputy Comnmissionerof the Naga Hills district, from whose
report the following description is quoted, was not aware of the
existence of similar customnsamong any other tribe in that district.
The customs take place at the second of the three cllief festivals of
the year, a festival held in August before the commencement of
the harvest, and they fall into two parts. "The first of these,"
Mr. Davis says, " is the custoin during the three days the
festival lasts of having ' tugs-of-war' between the
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 244. young men and unniarried girls of each khel. The
ropes used are thick jungle creepers of great lengyth. The object
of the girls is to pull the rope right outside the boundaries of
the khel. This they are seldoin allowed to do, the youcng
men generally pouncing down on the rope and dragging it
back before it has been taken clean out of their ground.
After dark the ropes are dropped, and the second portion of
the tamas7habegins. The girls form into circles, holding hands,
each khel on its own ground. They then begin a monotonous
chant, at the same time circling slowly round and round.
This dancing and singing go on for lhours,its monotony being
only interrupted by what may be called raids by the young
muenfrom a different khel. These come round with lighted
torches, and having picked out the girls they consider most
pleasing, proceed to carry them off by force. Such seizures,
however, lead to nothing worse than drinking, the girls so
carried off being obliged by custom to stand the young men free
Widows.-Widows are allowed to marry avain in the Lhota
and Ao tribes. In the latter if they marry before a
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 245 year has elapsed a fine is imlposed; the ruile with
regard to widowers is the same. Sema widows are
allowed to remnarry. The Report of 1854 says that NMiga'
lived in houses of their own, built for themaby the
p. cxxxii.
A. 0. R.)
1891, p. 245.
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Frontier Tribes of North-East cindiac.
Diirorce.-Divorce seems to liave been resorted to more or less
frequelitly by the N.agittribes; among the Angainii the compeiisation to lhusband or wife varies with the cauise of
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 239. divorce, aindan old report of this tribe states that in.
some cases a divorced woman mnightlive in a house,
by herself and marry again. Amonlg the Aos a
p. cxliv.
woman who has been divorced for infidelity imaynot
A. C. R.,
re-marry without paying a considerable fine to lher
1891, p. 245.
forimer husband. With the Luhupas divorce was
allowed, "but seldomiiresortecl to on account of its
p. 40.
great expenses." Tlle presenlt Lhota usage is of less
A. C. R.,
ilnterest as the tribe seems to be placing itselC under
1891, p. 248.
English adminiistration; marriages are described as
made early alnclas almost eintirely matters of arrangenment,andl
divorce cases are said to be very commoln in consequence;
ntumerous cases for the recovery of inarriage expenses fronm
ruuaway or divorced wives are brought before the divisional
officer at Woklia. Amono the Seilias, women who leave tbeh&r
husbanidsmerely because they do inot like them have
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 247. to repay their marriage price. Sliould they marry
acrain without doing so a claim would lie againist their new
lhusbands. A curious result of Naga' divorce is given by
Johnstone, Sir James Johnstone: " Divorce canl be easilyr
p. 33.
obtained when there is an equal division of goods.
Often a younngman takes advantage of tihis, and miiarriesa richl
old widow, and soon divorces lier, receivingylialf her property,
when he is in a position to nmarrya nice younn girl."
Polygamy and Polyandry.-NNa'a usaae as regards polygamy
BroA n,
seems to have varied. It was occasionally practised
p. 43.
among the Luhupa Ndgads,and in rare instances
wvives were kept. Under the heading o[
p. 41.
" The Nagas of Upper Assam," Dalton wrote, " The
A. C. R.,
Nagas confine themselves to one wife." At the
1891, pp.
239, 243 seq. present day the Aos anid,Angamis do not practise
polygamy; the Lhotas permit it, but it is only in use amonog
the rich; the Seinas allow it, btut do lnot as a rule practise it
except in the case of headmen.
The Na.;, triibes furnish some evidenlce on the relation of the
espective numbers of meni anld woinen to polyandry. In
discussing this sublject Mr. Gait, in the recent Assam Census
Report, says, " until very recenitly female infanlticide w,ias
practised amolngst several of the Ndagatribes, and there was in
consequlencea great deficiellcy of wolmiell,but polyandry niev-er
resulted fromiit."'
Gait: "Assam Census Report, 1891," p. 120.
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G. M. GODI)EN.--LV4gdand othur}
Child marriaqe.-The
proportioll of child miarriage is exceedl--
ingly low amon)g the Ao and Angdinaitribes; the
A. C. R.,
Luhupas and Nadagsof North Kachar were described
Brown aind as not permitting marriage tunderage, and the latter
not till the couple were able to set up house on their
A. C. R.,
ownl account; the Lhota girls are gen.erally married
1891, p. 248.
wlhen thirteein or fourteen -yearsold.
Among the hill tribes of the Naig,aHill district it is state(1
befbre marriage is usually
within the k-hyel,
that is betweeni persons wlho could not marry in
1891, p. 250. any case; the morality of- the tribes in this respect is
iiot described as high. Infriingem-ient of the marriage law was
Brown, pp. said to be ralre amiiongthe Luhupas and amloIng' the
40 and 35.
(Manipuri) Angami women.
Robinson speaks of the Naigaisas havilng onily one wife, " to
vhom they are stronglv attached and of whose chastity they
appear very jealous. The wormienl. . . are said to be distinguislhedfor the correctlnessof their behaviour.'' The position
of the wife amiiongthe more Eastern Naga's was good, according
to Thilton; she had to work hard, but was otherwise well treate(d
and shared with her husband in atl festivities anidsocial amusei-ments.
Birth customs.-We have not much record of birth customs.
Secluisionof the mtiotheris noticed amnongthe Anaamlitribes, alnd
Brown, pp. with the Luihupas a customli of placin,g rice in the
moutil of the liewly borii child recalls a Kuki usage.
With the Luhupas oni the birth of a clhild, whetlberboy or (irl,
fowls were sacrificed and the womenionly of the village treatedl
to liquor. The child immediately after birth lhad
pp. 39-40.
chewed rice placed in its moutlh, ail(l was iimiersed
in almost boilina water, a treatmienit" supposed to render the
-hlild hardy, and prevenit it in after-life from sufferingC,
pains about the back and loilns." T'hiemiother wvaswrapped in
hot, water blankets till failntness enisued; this was rEpeated two
or tlhreetinmes,and ointhe I3hirdday the wom-an was allowed to
go about as tusual.
With the Luhupas, the ea.r-borin-(of childreni was often done
collectively, on account of the (,reat expense in
p. 40.
feastinlg involved thea-in.
If twilis were bornlthe Naiais lheldit advisable to dlestroybotlh
" Assam Ad. infants, according to ani official report of 1878-9.
Ailmo the NdT,i cases tiied in the S;ibsaC,trdistrict
that year. " Th-eoinlycase of initerest,as exliibiting(
A. C. R.,
1 Robinson's ' Assam,' p. 389. 1Mr.Peal inidicates morality, ad modestv as
attributes of tlle "Naigainis," i.e., pl esumably \a'sa women. Peall, "Jour.
Asiatic Soc. Beilgal," vol. xfi, p. 19).
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Frontier 1'Thibes
of North-East India.
the tenacious persistence of savage custoins, was that of a Natga'
of the Youingia tribe named Na4gpha,who was tried for exposinig
anid abandoniing his infant children. This inan had lived for
twelve years in the plains. He had been conifinedin the Sibsaigar
Jail aS a political offen(ler, and after his release hald settled
down in tlhe district, working at Jorhat as a sweeper, and had
woman. His wife having given birth to twins,
married a NaMcgi
the parelntspromiptly threw away the newly-born inifants in the
jung,le, according to the usual practice of the NMgus,amongi
whom it is considered most unlucky to have two at a birth
the father was much surprised at his conduct being,
considered in any way reprehensible."'
This incident, aiid the custom reported to be practised by the
Nagas, is analogous to a Kafir custoUl of killing one of twinls,
donieaiong, the Kafirs in order to preserve the life of the parents,
especially of the father; tlhe Kafir belief being that the injuriotus
influence supposed to be exerted by twilns, both of whom are
allowed to live, may affect the father or miother,and if tle
iinfluence does niot kill either of the parents, the twins will hi'
each othlerby inducing mutual disease.2
Village young wten's hall and guard house.-Before leaving
the Namga
social customs one prominent feature of their village
society nmustbe noticed. This is the dekigachang,an inistitutioni
in sonle respects similar to the bachelors'hall of the Mlelanesialns,
which again is compared with the bazlai, and otlher puiblic halls,
of the Malay Archipelago. This buildinig,also called a Jiforang,
was used for the double purpose of a sleeping place for the
,young mlen,amidas a guard or watch house for the village.3
The customii of the young meni sleeping together is onie that is
constalitly nioticed in accounts of the Nac,ia tribes, and a like
customl prevailed in some, if niot in all cases for the
G. H.
girls. Mr. Dainant, in a paper oii North Kdcbar,
" Calcutta
says of the Naiaa's, "only very youil( cl)ildren live
Review," vol. enitirely witl their pareents"; the young lunmarried
lxi, r. 93.
boys anid girls of the Lubihua Naiias were descuil'e
as sleeping iii separate hotuses apart; amiiongthe SeminN;igMms
at the presenit day, bachelors usually sleep together
iii separate h1ou1sesbuLtthese are liSketh, on(linary
p. 39.
A. C. R.,
villagoelhouses,aind are only use(l by the youg' mnen
1891, p. 247. at ni0ht, and the unmiaariiedgoirls
sleeq, together bythrees and(lft-irs in the froint compartment of cert'ain lhonises.
\Il. Daniant in the paper inienitioeLedabove, says : " the wvolmen
I As'
Aqsain Administration
Rteport,"1878-9.. 1I B., p. 11.
Bishop Calflaway, " Journal of the Anthropological Society," July, 1S6(0,
p. cxxxvnt.
3A-ccordinft to Steriart dekhab = voulng imen (p. 613).
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G. M. GODDEN.-N4qdg and other
have also a house of their own called the dekhi
chan-g, wvherethe unlmarried girls are supposed to
" Calbutta
live"; in an official report of a tour in the North
lIi; and
Kacliar Hills in 1875, he notes of a large Nag
" Report, &c.,villae, in the hills, " I saw a Dekhi chanig here for'
on Tour in
the first time. All the unimiarriedgirls sleep there
at nig,ht; but it is deserted in the day. It is inot
nuch different from any ordilnaryhouse."
The youno men's hall is variously described and narmied. Anl
article in the " Journal of the Indiani Archipelago," 1848, says
that amongothe Na'gis the "bachelors' hall of the Dayak village
is found under the nanmeof Mooring. In this all the boys of
the age of nline or ten years upwards reside apart."' In a,
" are described as larrgebuildings
report of 1854, the " morungDs
generally situated at the principal entiainces, and varyMills)
p. cxiii.
ing in number accordingyto the size of the villahe;
"they are in fact the main gruard-house,and here all the young(r
unmarried miien sleep; in front of the morung is a raisedI
platform as a look-out, commandingtani extensive view of all
approaches, where a Naga' is always kept on dtity as a seltry;
in each Morungi;,
is a large scooped out tree wvitha longitudinal
openingt,at the top, extenldint nearly from end to enid and about
three ilnches wide, this is used for sounding the alarm aind collecting the warriors together, or on other grand occasions, it
is struck with a woodelIn mallet." . . . "In the Moruing.;
are kept tlhe skulls carried off in battle., these are suspended by
a string along the wall in one or more rows over each other.
Tinone of the Morulngsof the Cbanguzevillage, C(aptain Brodie
counted one hiuindredand thirty skulls, . . . besides these
there was a large basket full of brokeni pieces of Akulls."2
Captain Holroyd, from wh-iosememorandum the above is q4ioted,
speaks later of the iMorung,as the "hall of justice, " in which- thie
colnsultations of the clan council (already described) are held.
Thirty years ago, the loractnq, or bachelors' lhouise,of aln
See A. C. R., Ao village was described by Colonel Woodtliorpe,
1891, p. 242. in his " Report of the Survey Operations in the Nai',.i
Hills for 1874-5," as a large building, dividecl inlto two parts
by a low division ; one lialf, the young, miieni'ssleeping place,
vas floored and contailned a lhearth, tlim other lalf was
-unfloored. The principal uprihlits were carved with largGe
figures of m-len,elephants. tigers, lizards, &c., rouglhlypainitecl
witlh black, whvite, anid reddish brown. ArrangcedrotulCl tlle
walls were skulls of miielnalnd animilals, andctskilfuil imiitationis
of the formner capable of passima at a little distalnce for
I"Journal of thle Indinn Archipe'ago, 1848."
2 Mills' "Report,"
Cxiii; the punctuation
IT, p) 234.
is left as in tlhe original.
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Frontier Trdbbesof NorthB-EastIndia.
weal skulls. " Tlhe ridge of the morang projects a few feet in
front, and is orniamenitedwith small straw figures of men and
tufts of straw
Near the ZIorang would be an open
:hed in whiclh stood the big drum, formed of a lhollowed trunk,
and elaborately carved, generally to represent a buffailo's head,
painted in front ("after the manlner of a figutre-head of a
ship "), and furnished with a straight tail at the other end.
The drum rested on logs, anld was soulnded by the fall of a
heavy piece of woo(dand by beating with clubs.'
The moraqtns of aiiotber tribe, tlle " Naked " Naga,
1891, p. 216. lhave beelnrecently described as situated close to the
village gate, alnd conisist of a cenitral hal], and back and front
verancdahs. In the large front verandall are collected all the
trophies of war and the clhase, " from a man's skull down to a
moiikey's." Along both sides of the central lhallare the sleeping
berths of the YOUngYmen; the centre space, flooredwitlh muassive
planks, is left open and used by the braves for their dances.
From these accounts we see that tlle :Na'a lor9angwas used
tas a sleeping place for the young mleni, as a relic house for the
collection of skuills takeii in battle and of animal skulls takeln
in the chase, as a dancing-place for the " braves," as a council
hall in which the clan council met for consultation, and as a
Speakina of the Mao and Mluramntribes, Dr. Brown says,
-" the youing men inever sleep at home, but at their
clubs, where they keep their arms always in a state
of readiness." Tllis club aspect of the institution is well
sh1own in Mr. Damant's account of it as existing aiilogl the
Ndgds of North Kaiclhiar. At each -end of the
G. IT.
villaye,2 generally on the higlhest point of land,
stood a dekkiachang, aind if the village was lar,e
there was occasionally a third in the miiddle; the
vol. hxi.
building was a kind of guard-lhouise,where all3 the
young mene of the place kept watchI at night, anid spent the
greater palt of the day. It was built like the other houses, bulta
good deal lai crerand hiaher; in fronitwere raised seats where the
,greaterpart of the villagfe assemlbledin the cveiiing anld drauln
rice-beer,while the young meni practisedt runninig(and jumping
and putting the stolne, of wlich they were very fonid. Inside it
was fitted up witlh belnches in two sqtaares,alnd in the miiiddle
of eaclh a fire was constantly burning. Weaponis were rangred
P. 31.
I R. W. Woodthorpe, Survey Report, Naga Hills, 1874-5, quoted in A.
C. R.,
189)1,p. 2412.
2 'lTlerecent " Assam Census Report, 1891," says of thle Lhota Naags, "1the
Morangs or bache],rs' houses are conspicuous at each end of the village."
3 " All " is doubtless an error for the night guard set from amiongthe youno
men of the village.
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G. M. GODDEN.-Ndgdand other
round the walls, and fastened to the rafters were iinnumerable
skulls of buffaloes, metnas, and wild boars which had been
killed in the chase or sacrificed; from the rafters hung a
basket full of drinking cups and ladles. In the back-grounld
there were generally a few pigs, alnd two old womeni perpet,ually grinding rice flour for the mnanufacture of beer. The
deklia chang was al,so used as a guest houise for friendly
strangers. In this paper, perhaps referring onily to Nortlh
Kachar, Mr. Darnant speaks of the dekha chang as the great
institution of a Na'ga'village. Among tlle Alngami the custom
for the young men to sleep in a house or houses apart was
continued for one year after marriage; and among the Marams,
according to Dr. Browln, " the married lmlen even
p. 31.
sleei) at the resorts of the bachelors, a custom resuilting from their sense of insecurity from attack."
With the Aos at the present day the custom se.ems to be
becoming obsolete; sleeping hoiuses are provided for
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 243. bachelors, but are seldom used except by small
boys. Unmnarriedgirls sleep by twos and threes in hoouses
otherwise empty, or else tenanted by one old womal.
The analogy between the -Dekha Chang, or Ioforang,of the
Nagas and the men's hall of the Melanesians is too close to
be overlooked, aind in view of the significance of all evidenice
concerning the corporate life of early commuinities a description of the latter is here quoted. I am aware of no recorded
instance of the women's house, other than these Naga examples.
"In all the Melanesian groups it is the rule that
there is in every village a building of public character
" Melanesians,
where the men eat and spend their time, the youinb
p. 102.
men sleep, strangers are entertained; where as in
the Solomoln Islands the canoes are kept; where images are
seen, and from which women are generally excluded,.
and all these no doubt correspond to the balai and other public
halls of the Malay Archipelago."'
Individual Property in Land and Inheqitance.-Individual
property in land is recogyised among the Angdictniof the Nag-ci
Hills district, and a nmarriedwomian is allowed the
Infrca s.V.
AngLrmis. possession of property in lanid in her own right;
the Sonls receive their slhare of the father's landed property
at marriage; Llrunmarried
soins receive equal shares after tlle
father's death.2 A very different system was obser-vJed
the Luhupas. Oni the eldest son of a family marrying, the
parents were " obliged to leave their house with the remailnder
1 Codrington, " Melanesians," p. 1102.
A. C. R., 1891, pp. 240 and 250. The Report does riot make it quite clear
whether the equialshares refer to landed or othelrprmperty.
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Frontier nribes of North-East I,idia.
of their family, the son who had married taking, twothirds of the parents' property, not only of the houLselhold, but of his father's fields, &c." Occasionally
the parenitswere recalled and allowed to remiiainfor somnetiimie,
but evenitually they had to leave anidthe property was clainmed
and divided as above stated. When the parents were well off
they provided a house beforehand. The same process mighit
be iepeated again anld again as the sonis married, but according
to usual custom the parents might returni to the house of the
eldest son, after several repetitiolns.
MeCiilloch says of the " Tangkool " that, " on the
pp. 66 & 68. marriage of his son, the father becomes a person of
secondary imiiportancein the house, and is obliged to remove
to the front part of it." Of the Luhupas he says the parents
and family had to move from their house on the marriage of
both the eldest and second sons.
The following note given by Mr. Davis, in the
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 250. recent Assa In Census Report, concerning the presenit
state of property in lalnd in the NadgaHills district, deserves
quotation in full: " Private rights of property in land are the
rule amongst all the tribes in this district, except the Kukis,
Mikirs, and p)laills Relngma's,i.e., the migratory tribes. That
private rights of property in land are niot recognised amongst
these tribes is due to the fact that they are in no way pressed
for land, the villages being smnalland uncut jungles extensive.
When,, however, we come to tribes like the Alngamis, Lhota's,
and Aos, who live in perman-ent and large villages, and
amongst whoiimland is none too plenitifuil,we find that the
rights of individuals to property in lalnd are well known andl
well recognised, and the rules as to inherit-anceand partitioln of
such property settled by strict customary law. A-nmongstthe
Anoadmis land, specially permanent terraced cultivation, is
freely sold and bought, there being no more difficulty in
selling a terraced field than in selling a pig or a cow. Amongst
the otlher tribes the custom of letting out land is largely
nRs. 3 to Rs. 5 for a field (jhum)
practised, a relnt varying from
large enough for the support of a lhouselholdbeing the asual
aiyount charrgedfor the use of lanid for two years."'
p. 40.
G. IT.
extraordinary village rule is nmentioned by
Mr. Damanit, in speaking of the NAgAs of the Northerni
" Calcuttta Kachar Hills: "Each village has its own boundaries, and
they exact rent from any other Nagas who may veniture to
vol. lxi; and joonm[jhfim] within their lilmits, though they do not interfere
Report on
or Cacharies." In a Report of 1876,
with Kookies
tour in Nortb on a tour in [Kukis]
the North Kachar Hills, Mr. Damant says
Kachar Hills,
that among the N6gas each village onily jhfims within its own
1876, ? 7.
I "As am Census Report, 1891," p. 250.
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G. M.
Slavery.-We have but little information as to the existence
of slavery among the Nagas. Among the Aos it is said to
A. C. R.,
have been universal. Slaves were not infrequently
1891, p. 244. paid by one village to anotlher to make up a quarrel,
fand as a kind of compensation for heads taken by them.
"Slaves paid in this way were invariably slaughtered by the
village wvhichreceived them, as an offering to the spirits of the
milenoni their side who lbadbee,n killed." Female slaves were
iiot allowed to marry or lhave children, and are not tattooed.
Slavery was unknowni amiong one or more tribes according to
]3rown, pp. Dr. Brown. He describes the Luhllupasas violentlyv
30 and 42.
opposed to it.. An instance of their hatred of the
practice is given in the action of a father wlho being unable to
release his children who Lad been captured in resistaniceto the
State of Mlanipurand sold as slaves, camiiedown the hills, slew
them both, and carried away their heads.
Oatths.-The value of a Naga' oath is variously estimated.
The oath of the Sema'sof the present day is said to
A. C. R.,
1891. p. 247. be untrustworthy; this tribe are also accused of
having had a disregard for the law of hos'pitality amiounting to
the killing of a well received guest, when off his guard, without
compunctioni. On the other hand Mr. Dainant,
G. Hf.
Dan ant,
while on tour in 187?5-6, was much struck with the
extreme respect shown for an oath by some North
IKachar Naga's; the people of a certain village declining to
accept an offer made by another village of nmeetingtheir demands
in full, on condition of the claim being made on oath, by reason
of inability to state quite exactly the amount of damage done.'
alttoo.-The use of tattoo among the Nagas is another of the
many poilnts on wvhich we have just enough informnationto
make us wish for miiore. An incident mentioned by Mr. Peal,
writing in 1872, indicates that the tattoo was a means by which
neighbouring tribes, separated by the diversity of languages
which obtained among them, recognised one another: " Wheni
once with a number of Balnparas[Nagas] on the road, a large
party of Nagas passed, and as neither party spoke, I asked who
they were. I was pointed out their hill, anid on asking why
they did not speak, they said they would not understand one
another. This I thought a good opportunity to try them, and
told them to call them in Naga and asl who they were. On
being called to, they all turined round, and stopped, but said
nothing; I then made them call again; but to no purpose, the
other party sinmplyjabbered together in twos and threes, aldi on
calling them a third time as to where they were goina, tlley
G. H. Damnant," Official Diary of Toutrin North Kachar Hills," 1875-b'.
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Frontier Tiibes of North-East India.
shouted out a lot of N"igciwlhich my fellows could lnot nmake
out. Both parties passed on, unable to exchange a word, though
living within a few miles of each other. A few words did pass,
but they were Assainese. I asked how they knew the men,
and they said 'by their alk,'or tattoo marks."'' The old records
of 1842-4 say that most of the tribes in that north-eastern part
Mackenzie, of the Naiga country lying between the Bori Dihung
p. 86.
and Dikliu rivers had their faces tattooed with distinctive marks.
Among the Aos of the present day the men are
not tattooed. The wornen are tattooed on face. neck.
breasts, arms, and legs. The tattoo on the face is slight and
confined to four vertical lines on the chin; these are the same
for both the Chungli and Mongsen sub-divisions of the Aos.2
The other tattoo marks are different for either sub-division, the
difference in pattern on the arms and calves of the leg being
very noticeable.
Besides the use of tattoo as a mark of a man's tribe, it was,
a.s we have seen, the sign of a successful head-taking which
permitted a man to rnarry. Mr.. Damant says of
G. H.
the mnoreEastern Naga's that "most of the tribes
Jour. R.
Asiatic Soc., tattoo; the tattoo, ' ck,'as it is called, not being giveln
Vol. xii, n.s. except to men who have killed an enemy."
Referring to Naigai Hills usage Mr. Peal speaks of social
position as dependinigon tattooing, the tattoo being onilywon by
bringing in the head of an enemy; the man who brought in a
head was no longer called a booyor a woman, and could assist in
Peal, Jour. councils; it was said that he seldom went out again on
Asiati(, Soc., a raid. " The head he brings, is handed to the Rajah,
Bengal, vol. who confers the ' ak,' or right of decoration by tattoo,
xli, p. 20.
at which there is great feasting." All those who got
heads WOlI the aik on the face; those who got halnds and feet
had marks accordingly, for the former on the armis, for the
latter on the legs. Mr. Peal adds that no two tribes liad marks
alike, and somlleeven did not tattoo the face.
Tattoo thlus seems to have been the sig,nof full membership in
the tribe; not till a man had shown his efficiency as a fighter
ight he wear the tribal badge or take the positioni of a
married manl.
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 243.
S. E. Peal, " Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal," xli, p. 28.
Although the tattoo is partially alike it may be noticed that the dialects of
the Chunigli and Mongsen are so dissimilar as to be practically differenltlanguages. A. C. R., 1891, p. 241.
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G. M. GOI)DEN. l\ATdg4(
Sonie clear forms of primitive ritual aind belief emiiergefrom
the meagre accouLntswhich are at present our only record of the
religion of the Naicra'
i'lhat record is inicomplete at every tuLrn;only one observer
gives a named list of gods; yvearlyfestivals are passed by with
a hasty word; anidscarcely ani attempt has been miiadeto arrive
at the convictions which underlie the active ritual of a people
whose lives are conditioned by their supposed relations with
spiritual forces.
Chief Deity.-There is little evidence as to whether the Nagas
do or do not believe in any supreme deity.
A belief in a supreme creator called Terhopf(' or Kepenopf6
is ascribed, in the late Assam (Census Report, to the
A. C. R.)
1891, p. 241. Angahni of the presen)t day, and twelnty years ago a
partial if not general Angcmlnlbelief in a supremnebenevolent
deity, who dwelt onatie highest hills, was recorded. Amiiong)
this tribe Sir Janies olohnstonefound a " vague
Sir J.
inidefinite belief" in a beneficent supreme being, in
p. 32.
comiimonwitlh most of the bill tribes witlh which lhe
w-as acquainted. The Luhupas, according to Dr.
p. 41.
Brown, believed "il one supreme deity, who is of a
benevolent disposition, aindwlhoinhabits space." Robinson says
of the Naigas, " They seem to have a perception that there miiust
be sonie universal Cauiseto whomiall things are indebted for their
being. They appear also to acknowledge a Divinie Power to be
the Maker of the world, alnd the Disposer of all events: Hinm
they delloiniilate the Great Spirit. Their-ideas of him, lhowever,
are faint and confused; alnd of his attributes, they are entirely
ignor,ant."1 On the other handI Stewart found nonie aimong,the
various deities acknowledged by the North Kachar
p. 611.
IN ga's to whom creation was ascril)ed, " the universe
being pre-existent to their gods, and reimiaiining
Furtlher infornmationiwould probably slhow belief in a distant
first cause, remote from the affairs of living men.2
VaqriousGods or Spirits.-No uncertaiinty hanigs over the
Naig,,i beliefs in the power of the uinseen a(encies who cause
sickness, and give prosperity, to -whose favouir riches are due,
NNhosedwelling is in the unlCUtjungle, or rocks, or water, before
whose presence oIn a day of sacrifice all evil spirits must be
1 Robinson, Assani, p. 396.
;' Mr. W. Crooke considers that there may possibly be Vaishnava influence
in anv belief in a single suprem-nedeity among any of these Maga or Kuki
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Frontier Tribes of North-East India.
(Iriven froimthe village, and who are challenged for the death of
a tribesman with curses aindwar cries.
Many gods or spirits, eaclh with power to give
Mills, 1854,
P. cxlii.
prosperity and suiecess, or to iniflict sickness and
calamity, dwelt in the Angaamibfills; to these the people sacrificed cows, inithun (wild cow), dogs, cocks, anidliquor.
The Nagas of North Kachar were characterised by Mr. Damaint
as a very religious people, doing nlothing of imporG. H.
tance without sacrificiniga fowl or pig, or offerinlgup
" Calcutta
some eggs or beer. We are indebted to Lieutenalnt
Stewart for a niamedlist of the gods of this district.
vol. lxi.
"The first personiin their mythology is ' Semeo,' the
P. 611.
god of riches, to whom all those who seek wealtlh
make sacrifices." He was supposed to inflict suddeni reverses
of fortune alnd sicklness on those who havingo,wealtlh did not
sacrifice to hin; large aninals were reserved for him. "Kuchimpai" was the god of the liarvest, as well as olne possessing
general influence over humani affairs; to hiim sacrifices were
made of goats, fowls and eggs, and prayers were offered for the
prosperity of the crop. Amolngthe m-lalignantdeities " Pupiaba"
had the first place ; to his displeasure all the misfortunes that
may fall on men were ascribed; offerillns of dogs and pigs were
made to appease his wrath; in appearance he was supposed to be
fierce and ungainly, with one eye in the midst of his forehead.
Rupi6ba had anlassistant in a fierce blind god named " Kangniba";
he was worshipped at cross roads where passers-by piled up his
propitiatory offeriings,generallyconsisting of a few comlmonleaves.
Stewart says this is because he cannot distinguislh the value of
his offerings; "wbhenifowls are sacrificed to this god, a very
small fowl indeed is selected, anidplaced in a large basket at the
appropriate place. The blind god feeling the size of the basket,
takes it for granted that the contents are commensurately bulky,
aniddeals his favours accordingly !)"
The Luhupas believed in a deity of evil dispositioni
p. 41.
who resided betweeniheaven and earth, and in wlhose
hands was the power of death. Of the Rengmas, the old Report
of 1854 tells us, " Like other hill tribes, they acknowledge the
power of a plurality of gods, and sacrifices of cows,
p. cxxviii.
pigs and fowls are oflered on all occasions."
The Aos of the present day are described as having an
A. C. R.,
intense belief in the powers of certain spirits,' whiclh
1891, p. 244. reside usually in rocks, pools of water, and streamls.
" Two of the most well knowii stones in which reside Deos are
I Characterised in the Census Report as "
evil"; in what sense is not
stated. In connection with primitive ethics it may be interesting to note that
in several languages of this frontier (Manipuri, Kachari, Ao Nag'a, Lhota Naga,
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G. M.
the Lungpalung, close to Lungpa villaae, and the Changehanglungr,between the villages of Dibua and Woromong. Sacrifices
are regularly offered to these stolnes b_ythe villages niearthem."
The Angaimi have been recently described as
ITnfra, s.v.,
believing in " evil " spirits (see note 1 p. 187) residing
in rocks, trees, and pools of water.
Sanctity of Forests and Trees.-The salnctity attached to
forests appears in the, solemn rites enacted by the Naiga'sof
North Kachar, before burnin2 the newly felled wood. The
"Genna " mentioniedin the followina description is a
A. C. R.)
1891, p. 249. ritual cutstom, still common to Naigra and Kuki
tribes, of placing a rigorous taboo on villages, clans (kheis), or
individuals. " Before burninc newly felled patches
p. 612.
of juulc for cultivation, it is the invariable custom
to establish a Geinna. On this occasion, all the fires in the
villag,e are extinguislhed, and a cow or buffalo being slain, they
roast it with fire freshly kilndled by mneansof rubbirngtogether
two dry pieces of wood, make sacrifice and eat, after wlhich they
proceed in procession with torches lit from the -fresh fire to
ignite the felled jungle." 1
Localised forest-dwellinag deities were recognised by the
Nigas of this -district. "Certain parts of the
forest," Mr. Daniant wrote, " are supposed to be the
" Calc.itta
abode of deities, and no traveller passes without
plucking a branch off the nearest tree and putting
Vol. lxi.
it on a large hleap of former offerings, which is surG. If.
rounded by a number of egg-shells stuck on sticks,
and bones of animals that have been sacrificed." Nadgdt
Jour. B.
was niotonly a thingcof the forest. Every
Asiatic Soc., tree wN-orslhip
vol. xii. n.8. village of thbewar-like Lhota tribe was described ill
1879 as conitaining a sacred tree to which the skulls
Peal, Jouir. of victims were nailed. In describinig a visit to a
Asiatic Soc.
village of the easternl Naads, Mr. Peal says that the
fruit of village 'jack' trees wvassaid to be " religyiously
Vol. xli. p.
The jtiiacle .eemnsto have been regarded by the Angraini as a
ancd Tamlu), the word for bad is merely the word for good used with the
negative particle; i.e., not good = bad. Thus in Ao, ta-chung = good, and
ta ma c/ung = bad (ta adjectival prefix, nti = not) ; and in Lhota, sf/ho=
good, and 'mmho= bad ('n c not). The Ang'amiand Sema Nag'ashave separate
words for "bad," but the word for good with the negative particle is as
frequently used to express bad as the special words. See "Assam Census
Report, 1891," p. 167.
1 Stewaxt, 612. See Dalton, "Ethnology of Bengal," p. 43. On p. 40,
D.alton, speaking of the destruction of forests by the more eastemn Ngg says:
"They appear to hiave no superstitious dread of the sylvan deities like the
Abors to restrain them."
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Frontier TFribes
of North-East India.
dwelling place of the spirits which caused severe sickness, and
also sudden deaths of animals. In sickness, offering was made
of part of a fowl in the road, at evening, but if the sickness was
severe, the fowl was taken into the jungle and left alive " as an
offering to the living spirit" ; to olle spirit, the
P. cxliii.
offering would be killed and left in the jungyle. In
case of sudden death of cows, or pigs, an invocation was addressed to the spirit " at the spot on which the cow was killed,"'
in which it was reminided " this is not your residence, your
abode is in the woods."2
Intercoursewith Gods and Spirits.-Only the most iniadequate
evidence is available as to the relation's between the Nadogsand
their gods and spirits. Intercourse, we gather, is carried on by
means of sacrifice and onmens,and doubtless by invocation, as
in the case of the wood spirit nmentionedabove.
S fcrftJce.-Naag sacrifice is of that primiiitiveorder in whicli
the rite is an act of uniting the worshipped and the worshippers
by means of the great primitive bond of eating together; a fact
of the utmost significance in appreciatingcthe religious position
of these tribes. Spealkingof tribal beliefs, Mr. Gait says, summing up the main features " common to almost all the tribes"
of the Assam frontier, "on all necessary occasions goats, fowls,
and other animals are offered to the gods"; to these the blood
and entrails belona, the flesh beini,gdivided amiongstthe sacrificer
and his friends, aid thnepresiding "soothsayer" usually
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 1.3. gettinjg the chief share. This general statenment is
corroborated by Stewart, whio says, writing:,forty years ago of
the North Kaeliar Nga's, that to the gods little inore than the
entrails and offal were apportioned, the remainder of
p. 612.
the sacrifice being coiisumed by the petitioners. It
is unnecessary to quote examples of the worlcl-wide rite of
offering the blood, the velhicle of life to the primitive mind, to
the god, while the material flesh is eaten by the worshippers.
sacrifice, in which the god and his worshippers
The comnmelnsal
meet together in the partaking of a common offering, suggests a
certain niearnessof the supernlaturalpresence, and the samieidea
seenmscarried out in the curious village ritual of a " day of sacrifice " described by Mr. Dainant. InI an official diary of a tour in
the North Kachar Hills, in 1875, he writes, " I was in a measure
obliged to halt to-day, as the Nagas were holding a Kanang, or
Ganang-i.e., a day of sacrifice,-and refused to go to Mljudnii,
my next stagye, anid to h-ave compelled them wouild probably
lhavecreated a disturbance. They said last niightthat the village
1 In the Report the reference may be to dcath by a tiger.
2 See infra, s.v.
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G(.M. GODDENT.-XAty andi other
would be closed against everyone, including myself.
I objected
to this, and told them I should insist on goingainto the village
whenever I pleased, though I would prevent any of my people
,oing while the worship was going on. After some demur they
agreed to this. This miiorniing
their " Hojai," as they
G. H.
of the ponjee with
Diary "Tour two other iiien, one leading a dog and the other
in N. Kaelar scatteringograins of rice, the Hojai calling in a loud
'fills," 1875. voice, to all evil spirits to leave the place; the dog
was brought out alnd sacrificed by beating it to death with
clubs, and then taken away to be eaten. On these occasions
they neither leave the village themselves, nor suffer anyone to
enter it, and they will do no work." On passing another place
which was holding a Kanang, Mr. Daniant found a
fence built across the entrance to the village.
seclusionand taboo.-Tliis brings us to the custom
of Genna, or the ceremlonial closing of a village or house,
which seems to be enforced on occasions of special manifestation
of supernatural power, or of intercourse between the gods and
their worshippers. Tlhus a Gennia will be enforced during a
village festival; during an unusual occurrence, such as an earthquake, or eclipse, or the btrnring of a village withini
A. a. R.,
1891, p. 249. sight of the village oni that account ceremonially
closed;' according to Stewart, " Genna" was observed after
corisultatioll of omnens to discover the deity to be
1,. 612.
worshipped in anyr special case,-" the villae,a is
strictly closed for two days, the inhabitants abstaining from all
labor, anid neither aoing out themselves nor permitting anyone
to ernterduring that period," a prohibition doubtless intended
to prevent the possible returni of the evil spirits so carefully
expelled by the priest whom iMr. Damalntsaw at work; and
" Genina" was iinvariablyestablished as we have seen
at the makiiingof new-fire by the village, accomnpanied by a coinmensal village sacrifice, before the burning
of the newly fulled jungle. "During gennas affecting whole
villages or khels no work is done. The people
A. C. R.,
1391, p 249 remain in their villages; outsiders are, by strict
custom, not allowed into tlle villages, or, if allowed in, cannot
be enitertained. Nothinig is allowed to be taken out of the
village or brouglt ilnto it during the continluanceof a genna."
M Damnant,in his official diary or' his " Tour in the North Kachar Hills,"
1875, writes. " Weiit oni to Nenglo . . . The N
\gas did not give me a
dance as usual, because a tiger lhadkille(d a rIietna and a kanauigwas beingfheld :
it appears to mean a day devoted to poojahl-at any rate, they will do no work
except what is absolutely niecessary,and will not stir out of the village if they
can help it."
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-FrontierTr-ibesof North-East Indic.
The custom affects niot only villages, or khels, but also sinogle
lhouseholds. A household Genna occurs at the birth of a cllild,
or if any domestic ainimal, such as a cow or do,(, brin!s forth
youngy. "On such occasions nio outsider is allowed
Al. C. R.,
1891, p. 249. inlto the house, and food aind drink can be given to
ino one, even the most intimate frienid." The Deputy Coimmllissionier of the Naiag'Hills, Mr. Davis, was himself refused a
driink at a house because the house dog hadlhad puppies. MIr.
Davis attributes two meanings to thle word: (i) it may mean
practically a village holiday (as in the early reports, which
(lescribe the )eople as refusing to work duringrthe "Taboo"
period); (ii) Genna means anything forbiddeni.
The old accouniitsof funeral rites evidently refer to a deatlh
e,enna,when it is stated that, after the death of a mani of any
standiing,inone of the inhabitants of a village quitted
P. cxliii.
it for three days; anid that for three or four days
after a death tlie relatives do not leave the villaoe, neither dto
other villaoers resort to tlhe village ini whiclh a deatlh lhas
Oii the whole the
"Jour. nd. occurred during that period.
Arch." vol. ii, Naiadand Kuk-i Genna appears to be mtuclhthe salme
p. 34, 1894. as primitive religious taboo.' The distinction between
A. C. R.,
gennas affecting whole villages, khels onily, or sin(gle
1 391, p. 249. households, is iioteworthly.
A curious custom which now prevails amongrthe Llota an(d
Ao Natga'sseems to indicate a belief that any place or persons,
.1g,ainst whom supernatural displeasure hais been mianifested,
are dangerous or "taboo"; the spiritual infection extendino
even to the clothes of the household. Mr. Davis writes,
"Should anv member of a houselhold be killed by a tiger, by
drowning, by falling from a tree, or by being crushed by a
falling tree, the surviving members of the houisehold abandon
the lhouse,which is wrecked, alnd the wlhole of tlleir property,
downi to the very clothes tlley are wearirng, and leave tlle
village naked, being supplied outside the village with just
enough clothlinig to cover their niakedness by solme old man
amllong.sttheir relations. Thlenceforthifor a maonth they are
condemiined to wander in thle. jungle. At the
At.C. R.,
expiration of this period, the wrath of the deitybeiin, supposed to be appeased, they are allowed to returni to
the village. Neitlher they nor aniyone else can touch againi
ally of the abandoned property, nor can a fresh house be
what looks like a food taboo among tle N-ads
rule. "Milk, or any of its products, is
tvoided equially by all the tribes: milk seemiis to be considered uricleaii eind unfi(it
for food. This prejudice does not extend to the sucklimg of chllddenl, who are
not removed fromn the breaset inuuually eai ly."
(p. 19) mentions
cild utbAer Iiill riewn withiin Manipur
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G. Ml.GODDEN.-N1dAanid other
built on the site of the old one that has beeni abandoned.
The custom is, I believe, still carried out with the greatest
We seem to nave here the same order of thought which
enforces a ritual seclusion during times of sacrifice, or of unusual occurrences in a village, or in the presence of birth or
Disease.--The confusion of primitive thought between abstract and concrete, between spiritual agrencies and material
substance, is well shown in the Naigi attitude towards disease.
How tanoible a thing to them the power of sickness is, we see
in an incident noted by a former Political Officer of the Nahga
Hills. At the Government station of Samaguting a Kuki was
attacked by smallpox, anld kept by his friends in the scouts
lines. The destruction of the lines was necessary, and the
Ad. Report, Naga's learnitof the case.. " The two old Chiefs paid
hurried visits to announce that they were all oft,
leavinig their property to our care, and onily asking0
for a bottle of ruin to be taken as niedicine if they aot
ill in the jungle. Attempts to reason with thenii were not the
slightest use, ancl away they all wenit. The disease was treated
as a personal enieiny, and the village abandoned as would have
been dconebefore the coming, of ani iinvader too powerful to
resist. The mzenwere all fully armed, the women and children
were surrounded, and then all started fair at best pace; they
kept away a month, and then returned with the samiieprecautions as when leaving, approaclhingvery cautiously with shields
well to the front, and peeping round every corner before a
further advance, unitil gradually the whole village was occupied.
Wlhen they fairly satisfied themnselves that no one but the
Kookie had beeii ill, they were rather ashamed of running
away; but it was not until some time after when they saw himii
going about, very little the worse in appearance, that the idea
that lhe had been burnt alive was abandoned. Before, nothing
would per-suade them that this lhad nlot been done, it being
looked upon as merely a wise precautioilary nmeasurefor which
we deserved credit."''
A belief in a disease-giving spirit which can be guarded acgainst
by shields alnd arms, is in perfect consonaince witlh the Naigai
funeral rite of a war challenoe to the power which
p. 32.
hias treacherously slain the dead main. Sacrifices or
A. C. R.)
offerings are recorded to deities or spirits in case of
1831, 7p1. 25S. sickness; one imention is imadeof feastiing,the poor of
1 "Re or'- of Nagga'Hills Administration," 1876-7, by the Political OfTlcei
(P. T. Carnacg.),p. 11.
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Frontier Tribes of North-East India.
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 244.
the villages'; among the Aos pigs and fowls are
sacrificed in large numbers in order to appease the
particular spirit to whose malign influence the sickness is
supposed to be due, the offerings being consumed by the friends
of the giver of the sacrifice. The Angami made
Iifra, s.v.
offering of part of a fowl to the disease-causing
spirit in the evening, a seemingly chthonic act; parts of the
fowl were given to some other family, and the remainder was
eateln by relatives of the sick mian.
seeni to have played an imnportantpart in
the initercoursebetween gods and mien. In North Kachar they
were supposed, according to Stewart, to indicate the particular
deity that was to be worshipped in order to attain a
p. 612.
desired end, or to avert evil. That being ascertained
a strict Genna would be imposed on the village for two days.
Of the Angami it is said that all businiess or undertakings of
importance were decided by consnilting omens; the
I.nfra, s.v.
omen might be taken by a prescribed method, or
iiiglht conisistin the commonianimal omen of an " unlucky beast"
appearinig in the path. The followilng method of divination
noticed by Mr. Carnegy among the eastern (Sibsagar) Nagas, was
employed before going out on a head-hunlting expedition; if the
omnenwas bad the party would not start. "The mode which
they have showin me was a very simple one. The leader of the
intended war party simply cuts two thin chips of wood about
the size of the thumb-nail, and holding thenmlightly together
between his finger and thumb lets them fall on the ground
from the height of 18 inches or so ; if the chips fall
and lie close together on the ground, the omen is
Frontier of favourable and the party start. If the chips fall far
apart, then they put off the expedition to ailother
p. 403.
day. I believe they have other mnodesof divinationi
whiclh thev would not show as they were evidently averse to
talking on the subject, alnd very reluctantly explained their chip'
system."2 This reluctance to explain the forrn of divination
coincides with Stewart's statement that omens were employed
with express religious intention, a statement very significant for
the origin of practices common alike to the primitive savage
anidthe European peasant.
Festivals.-There is at present the scantiest evidence concerning the festivals of the Naga ritual year. The great Angami
tribe celebrate two chief villagefestivals, the Sekrengi held shortly
before the new year's work in the fields is begun, and the Terhengt
I Brown, p. 32; ? village, as it stands in McCulloch from which Brown takes
the above (McCulloch, p. 70).
2 P. T. Carnegy, Officia]paper quoted by Sir A. Mackenzie, Appendix 0, p. 403.
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gc and othcr
or Harvest Home. At the Seircngyidogs (a favourite Naiadfood)
are killed and eaten in large niuinbers. At the flerhenqiugreat
feasts are given by wealthy Naga's. The Angaamialso
have many minor festivals during the year, the chief
of these being that lield just before the paddy harvest begins.
Amonig the Aos, three chief yearly festivals are enumerated,
two of which occur in August, before the commelncement of the
hiarvest, and one at the close of the harvest; the
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 244. mithdan (presumably mithun, viz., wild cow),
slaini for these festivals were killed by hacking with daos (Nagzi
hatcllet-swords), the animnalfinally dying froin loss of blood.
At the secolnd Ao festival in August, which lasts three days,
the apparent survival of tribal marriage, already noticed, is
enacted. Amiiong the Lhota " the chief festivals,
A. C R.,
1891, p. 248. as amon,gstthe other tribes, are those after harvest;
of the new year's cultivation."
and before the conmmenlcemneint
Amoni the Sema of the present day, the principal
festivals are those that occur after the conclusion of
A. C. R,
1891, p. 247. the rice harvest, and before the comnmlencemn:ent
the niew cultivationl. Men who wish to obtain fane by feasting
their fellow villagers, usually do so at the harvest home festival
(as among;,the Angami). We have no details as to the rites
perforined at these festivals.'
With the Luhupas one mnonthis miiarkedby a ritual of the
dead. Olice every year in December each village
p. 42.
held a solemn festival in honour of those of their
iumber who had died during the preceding year. The village
priests conducted the ceremonies, which culminated on a night
-Nhen the moon was young. On this occasion, it was said, the
spirits of the dead appeared at a distance fromnthe village, ill
the faint moonlight, wending their way slowly over the hills,
and driving before them the victims slain. or the cattle stoleni
4luring,their lives; the procession disappeared over the distanit
hills, amidst the wailings of the villagers.2
Funeral rites.-The Na'gaafuneral rites are in full harmony
with the fierce and warlike nature of these tribes. To the Naga,
the obligations of blood feud extended, beyond the slayinlg of
visible enemies, to defiance of the unseen power :-" Tlhan thou
Spirit who destroyest our frienidsin our own presence we have
io greater enemy . . . Whither hast thou fled ?" A
1 Dr. Brown, p. 31, says that the Mao and Maram tribes had two festivals in the
year, "like the two principal ones" of the Kabuis; as he does not specify the
two Kabui festivals which have pre-eminence in his account of that tribe, we
are not much enlightened.
2 Dr. Brown adds, "Unless the village priests are well fed, it is said this
appearance will not take place." He says that this is the-only stated time for
holding a festival, among the Luhlupas.
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Frontier Tribes of North1-EastIndia.
funeral witnessed solle sixty years ago shows the elaborate
nature of this challenge, although elidlng in the sign of Hindu
influence, the cremation of the dead. The writer, a Baptist
Missionary, says, "This day was the completion of the sixtll
month after the death of a wife of one of the chiefs. Thleir
custom is to allow the corpse to remain six months in the
house; at the expiration of which time the ceremonies I hlave
this day witnessed must be performiied." fn the morning buffaloes, hogs, and fowls were killed.
About noon Naga's in war
equipument,and fancifully dressed, arrived fromn neiahbo-uring
villages. They mnarchedto the hotuse where the body lay.
and began to sinlg and dance, siniging in the Abor tongue.
Branson's interpreter told him all their songs were borrowed
from the Abors, with whom they hold daily intercourse. The
substance of the song was as follows: "What divinity has
taken away our friend? Who are you ? Where do you live ?
In heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth ? Who are
you? Show yourself. If we lhad knowni of your coming
we wotuld have speared you." This was first pronounceed
by the chorister. The whole company tlhen aniswered it by
exclaiiming " yes," at the same time waving tlleir hugoeglittering spears towards heaven in defiance of the evil spirit who
was supposed to have occasioned thle death. The chorister
continues: "We would have cut you in pieces and eateni yotur
flesh." " Yes," responded the warriors, brandishing their daos.1
5 If you had apprised us of your cominig and asked our permision we would have reverenced you; but you have secretly
taken one of us and now we will curse youi." Yes," responidecl
the warriors. The above was the substance of what tlley
sang, though varied and repeated niany times. The noise of
miusic and dancing was continlued nearly all night. During
the greater part of the following day the same ceremonies
were repeated. At the setting of the suni a large company
of young womnen canie round the corpse alnd completely
covered it with leaves and flowers, after which it was carrie(l
to a small hill near by amidbutirntamid the festivities of the
The following account puLblislhedteln years later adds sonic1
further details, and a few heightened touches to the vigour of
the challenige. The nionthly partaking by the dead miianot'
food at the hanids of the living is a striking example of priiiii1
In the accouLntdaws, obviously the same weapoln as dao.
Robinson, "Assam," 1841, p. 397, quotinig an account by tbe Rev. M.
Branison,published in a Baptist Missionary magazinieof 1839. Dalton, p. 40,
citing Robinson rather conftusedly, refers this account to some one of tlis
eastern border villages.
o 2
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G. M. GODDEN.-Nqgd,anbdother
tive coimmensal ritual; the seclusioni observed imnunediately
after death already referred to, and the strong taboo protecting
the bier are also noteworthy. For three or four days after a
death the relatives did not leave the village, neither did other
villagers resort to the village where a death had occurred
dnring that period. When a man died after a long illness a
platform was raised within his house, on which the body was
placed folded in clotlhes. By night and day the body was
watched with great care, and wheni decolmposition begani
qualtities of spirits were thrown over it; and whatever the
deceased was in the habit of eating and drinkilngin his lifetime
(such as rice, vegetables, anid spirit) was placed once a molnth
oln the ground before it.' The virtues of the dead werefrequently rehearsed; and the heirs and relatives miiadelamentation for many molnths after the death. At the expiratioln of
the period of mournilnga great feast of liquor, rice, and buffaloes
and cows' flesh was prepared, and aniimmense nuumberof arnmed
Naga in war dress assembled to partake of it. They commenced the festival by repeating the name of the deceased,
singing nmalnykinds of songs, dancing, and cursing the deity or
spirit who had slaini their comirade. " If to-day we could see
you, we woiild with these swords and spears kill you. Yes, we
would eat your flesh! yes, we would drink your blood! yes, we
would burn your bones in the fire! you have slainiour relatives.
Where have you fled to? why did you kill our frienid? show
yourself lnow, alnd we shall see what your strength is. Come
quickly,-to-day, alndwe shall see you with our eyes, and with
our swords cut you in pieces, and eat you raw. Let us see how
sharp youLrsword is, and with it we will kill you. Look at ourspears, see how sharp they are: with thiem we will spear you.
Whither now art thou fled ? than thou, spirit, who destroyest ouir
friends in our preselnce, we have no greater enemy. Where are
yoU now ?-whither hast thou fled? "2 With these anid simi-ilar
speeches and songs they clashed their weapons, and danicedanid
eat alnd drank throulghout the night. The niext day tlhe body
wvasfolded up in a cloth, alndplaced on a lnew platform four or
five feet high; ttnd all the weapons of tlhe dead, his rice dish,
anid bamilboofor water, everythinig used by him in hiis lifetime,
was ar anged rouuid the bier, which was held sacred; no onie
(lared to touch a silngyletlhing tlhus consecrated. After this
Dr. E. B. T.ylor, quotinig this account, says: " Na'ig tribes of Assam
celebrated their funeral feasts month by miionth,laying food and drilik on the
g,raves of the departed." (" Primitive Culture," vol. ii, p. 32.) I canniot find
any mtientioniof this practice on the graves, the above ulsage is befoce the final
futieral rites.
2 The oiiginal is quoted verbatim.
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Frontier Tribes o0 North-East India.
ceremony was concluded the people dispersed.' In a somewhat
similar accoulnt of Angaimi rites, the men in their
Infra, s.v.
war dress strike the earth with their weapons;
perhaps indicating the under-world nature of the death spirit.
The union of the living and the dead in a common feast seemlis
emphasised by the followiing Luhupa usage, since the sinigle
portion placed benaeaththe dead does not look like any comimiittalof cattle as wealth in the after-world:-on the death
of a Luhupa it was once the customiito make human
p. 41.
sacrifices; this was not permitted later, under
Manipur rule, and instead cattle were sacrificed before the
corpse could be buried. The cattle sacrificed were eateln,
witlh the exception of one leg, which was buried under the head
of the deceased. From the details of a miiodernAnga,mi funeral,
which will be fouiud in a later chapter, it would seeni that
various forrmisof eating together colnstitute the chief acts of the
lolg ceremonial. On the first day after death a
A. C. R.,
distribution of meat is made aimrongthe relations and
p. 240-1.
frieinds of the deceased. The next day, after the
burial, friends and relations, alndone malnof another khel, go to
the house of the dead, and eat parts of the meat which had beeln
reserved on the previous day, aindeach nmelamber
of the deceased's
khel, in perfect silence, throws a piece of liver out of the house
to a distanice of some eight paces, these pieces of liver haviing
been cooked by members of another khel who are present. On
the niext day, the second that is after the burial, sevelnteeni
portions of cooked rice are tied up in leaves, and these are
buried outside the house on the fourth day. Oni the fifth
day tlle platter and cup of the deceased are hung up in
the house, till thirty days have expired, when they are giveln
to a friend of their former owner. About the fortieth day
the deceased's family sacrificed a cock, of which the flesh
is eaten equally by all. The funeral ceremonies are theni
complete.2 Ample provision was made by the Nagas for the
iieeds of their dead. A portion of the fun-eral feast was
placed in the grave, as we have seein,by the Luhupas; they
also buried spears and daos with the body- The North Kachar
I " Journal of the Indian Archipelago," vol. ii, 1848, p. 234.
In a short paper on "The North Kachar Hills," Mr. Damant speaks as
though a funeral sacrifice was made to the dead, but I am aware of no other
G. H. Damant, explicit mention of such a custom :-" Occasionally a stake may
" Calcutta
be seen fixed in the street in front of a house, from which hangs
the skull of a freshly killed metna or buffalo; this is a sign that
Vol. lxi.
a death has taken place, and the beast has been sacrificed. To
a Tery rich man three or four buffaloes will be sacrificed, to a very poor man
only a pig, while in all cases as many of the nleighbours as possible are
feasted." Dalton, p. 40, mentions the large number of animals killed at the
funeral of a person of consideration.
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G. Ml.GODDEN.-.ATd,d anid other
Nagas liked, if they could, to get an Angadriidao to
be buried with thiem, alnd Mr. Damiiant saw several
kept for this purpose in different houses; doubtless
a weapon belonging to this powerful warrior tribe
was held to be peculiarly efficacious in the conflicts
salt and a large
of the after-world. These Naga's also buLriedsupply of provisions with the dead;' the warrior's spear and dao
were buried with him; and to them the custom is
attributed of placing in the grave aniy article to
p. G61.
which the dead were speciially attached. We have seen in
(anearly account that everytliing used by the dead man in hiis
lifetime was left upon the bier. Angainmiusage placed on a
wvoman'sgr/ave her clothes, ornamiientsand necklaces, weaving sh-uttle anid spinninig stick for cotton, cotton
Infra, s.v.
thread, dhani,grain, anidpestle and nmortarfor clearinUg
A curious customiiacconmpaniedthe deatlh of a Luhupa which
in formi is simnilarto the HlAdu rite of striking the head to
allow the spirit to escape. "On the death of a
p. 41.
warrior, his nearest miialerelation takes a spear and
Wounds the corpse by a blow witlh it on the head, so that on his
arrival in the next world he may be knowni and received with
The custom of strewing flowers over the dead and upon thle
arave strikes a note strangely at varialnce with savage rites
which seem so consonant with tlhe wild nature of these tribes.
On the death of an aged Khonbao (presumably some holder of
office), an elephant and three hundred buffaloes and pigs were
killed, and a great feast took place. " The usual custom of reviling the deity while singing, anid dancing was kept up with
uncommon fervour." The heads of the slaughtered animals
" Jour. Ind. were suspended roulnd the platformiiwithin a large
Arch.," ii,
enclosure; and the body was strewn over with an
p. 230.
abulndant supply of all kinds of forest flowers.
The wild funeral rites witnessed by Mr. Branson, which were
celebrated for the wife of a chief, concluded, as we have seen,
by the approach, at sunset, of a large company of youngIwomen who completely covered the body with leaves and flowers.
The late Cenisus Report notes that flowers are very
A. C. R.)
1891, p. 248. often put u-p over a Lhota's grave.
writilng of the North Kachar Nagas forty years ago, speaks of
the affection shown in tendinig newly-made graves; protecting
fences were at first invariablv raised, and flowers were often
}. ]E.
Report, &c.
on Tour in
N. Kachar
Hills, 1875.
1 G. H. Damant., OfflicialDiarv of Tour in North Kachar Hills, 1875.
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Frontier Tribes of ANorth-East India.
Great valiety seems to have obtained as to the manner of
disposing of the body. Interment, tree burial, exposure, and
(doubtless Hindu) crematioln are all recorded. The more
eastern Naga's nearly all exposed their dead upon
G. H.
bamboo platforms, leaving the body to decay; the
Jour. R.
Asiatic Soc., skull was preserved in the bone house to be found
Vol. xii, n.s. in nearly every village. Dalton describes a custom
of placing the bones of the dead in miniature houses
p. 40.
in the shade of groves carefuLllyplanted at the
approaches to the village; the bodies were first placed in
wooden coffins, like boats, and exposed suspended to trees
outside the village till completely dessicated, after which the
obsequies took place.'
The customiof the Aos of the present day is to leave the
body on a platform in the cemetery witlhout the village gate.
The body, placed in a coffin, is smllokedfor a period extendimyg
from ten days to two monlths; then the coffin, over
A. C. R.)
1891, p. 245. vhich is laid olne of the dead inan's cloths, is taken
out and placed oln a bamboo platformiiin the village cemetery.
" On the maclan., along with the coffin, are hung a m-an's
eating-plate and drinking cup, wllile in f'ront in a row are
arranged the heads he has taken anid close to these his shield
anidspear are placed." If the body is not snioked, it is placed
in the cenmeteryas soon after death as possible. The cemeteries
inivariably occupy one side of the main road leading to the
village gate. The Ao coffinl is a structure of bamboo alnd
thatch, shaped somewhat like a house.
The "nlaked Naatis" also do not bury the dead, but with
them tree burial is in use. After being smoked for ten or
twenty days the body is put in a wooden coffin,
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 246. aandplaced in the fork of a bi! tree just outside
the village gate. In the case of men of distinction, after the,
smoking process, the head is removed and placed in an earthen
pot; this pot is tlhen neatly thatched over with tokd,pat, and
deposited at the foot of the tree in which the coffin containing
the body is placed.
Passing to the burial customs, the Nagas of North Kachar
were described as burying their dead at the very doors of their
G. H.
houses, in a coffin miiadeof a hollow tree trunk; a
large stolne was rolled over the top of the grave, and
' Calcutta
most, if not all, of the village streets were fuLllof
vol. lxi; and these unhewn tombstones. Mr. Damant describes
some of the stones erecteedto the dead which strewed
he village road, as exactly resernbling an ancient British cromlech
1 Dalton, p. 40, speaks of the bones being preserved in these little houses,
or buried.
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G. M.
and other
on a small scale; they were supported by three or four smaller
stones placed as uprights. " The Nagas," he adds, " calculate
the greatness of their ancestors by the size of their tomnbstones.
OnieNaga in showing his grandfather's grave was most proud to
tell that it cost more to bring it to its place than any other
tombstone in the village."' The descendants of those to whom
the stones are erected sit there in the evenitig, and drink their
rice-beer. According to Stewart there was no selnse
p. 615.
of taboo over even a newly-made grave, the survivors delighting to sit oni the stones covering the bodies of their
friends. The Semas of the present day bury the
.. C.R.,
1891, p. 247. dead, as a rule, just outside the dead nman'shouse;
over the grave are put up his spear, and shield, and the skulls
of any cows that may have been killed for the funeral feast.
Children dying witllin ten days of birth are buried inside the
house. Women dying in child-birth are. buried without any
ceremony being observed.
The Luhupa dead were buried in deep graves; all who died of
disease were buried inside the villaae precincts, but
p. 41.
those who died in battle, or by wild animals, were
b-uriedin one place out of the village. The report of 1854 says
of the Rengmas, that they "inter their dead and place the
deceased's spear in the grave, and his shield, a few
p. cxxix.
sticks with some eggs and grain on the grave, and
the funeral ceremonies conclude with lamentations and feastinlg." The Lhotas of the present day bury the dead within a
A. 0. R.,
pace or two of the front door of the house; after the
1891, p. 248. burial a fire is often kept burning for several days
over a man's grave; the skulls of cattle killed for the funeral
feast are put, up over it.
According to an early account of Naga funeral ceremonies,
Qiildden death was held
to bte uinfortunate: if illntle
fatally after one or two months, the tine was still
too short to be " 1l1icky,"and the body was instantly
removed to a platform four or five feet high in the
junigles where it was left to decay.
After-world beliefs.-Of Naga beliefs concerning the afterworld little is known.2 Inferences may be drawn from some
of the funeral rites, such as the dead man's need of salt, provisions, and efficient arms, and the monthly food put for him
during the long interval before the last funeral rites.
The more eastern Nagas are described as believing
p. 41.
in a future state in which the present existence is
" Jour. Ind.
Arch.," ii,
1848, p. 234.
G. H. Damant, " Cacutta Review," vol. lxi.
Robinson, " Assam," asserts tbat the NMggshave some faint notions of the
iminortality of the soul, but gives no proofs.
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Frontier Tribes of North-East Itdia.
continued. The Luhupa idea of a future state was, that after
death they went to the west, where there was
p. 41.
another world; in this future state they lived and
died, the men six times and the women five. After this they
were turned into clouds, remaining in that condition. The
people killed by a Luhupa became his slaves in the next world.'
The nature of the life they lead in a future state they could lnot
explain. It is this tribe who, as we have seen, hold that on
one night in the year the dead may be seen passing over the
distant hills, driving before them slain men and stoleni cattle.
To the south-west from the whole of the Sema country
parallel and horizontal lines are very plainly to be seen, marking
the stratification of the rocks in the east side of the Wokha
hill. These rock lines are called Kitila, or dead man's road, and
are said to be the path leading to the village of the dead.
Where this village is no inail can say, but that it
A. C. R.,
1891, p. 247. exists all believe.
may be nioted that the late Sir J. Joblnstonefound no signs
of any prevalent snake worship among the NMg6s or Manipuri. He
says, under heading of the Ang6mi Nagas, " Naga is a niamegiven by the
inhabitants, of the plains, and in the Assamese 1an-auazemeans 'naked.'
As some of the Naga tribes are seen habitually in that state,
Sir J. John- the namnewas arbitrarily applied to them all. It is the
stone, " My greatest mistake to connect them with the snake
Experiences " Nag Bungsees " of India. Neither Nagas or Manipuris,
in Manipur,'
any tribes on the easterin frontier, are addicted to this wor33.
ship, or have any traditions connectedwith it, and any snake,
cobra (Nag) or otherwise, woul(d receive small mercy at their hands. The
slightest personal acquaintance with the Assamese and their language,
would have- dispelled this myth for ever." In a letter received shortly
before his death, he wrote to me " It may ilnterest you to hear that I
totally disbelieve in any trace of snake worship in Assam or Manipur
except in possibte cases of its being recently imported-I
never saw a
McCulloch, trace of it." McCulloch, writing in 1859, gives two instances
pp. 17 & 32. of a slnake god among the Manipuiri.
I regret that two papers oni the Nag6 tribes read before the Institute,
by Coloniel Woodthorpe in 1881, and published in the Journal of the
Institute, 1882; and a paper published by Captaini Butler under the title
of " Rough Notes on the Ang'ami Ndg6s," in the Jourlnal of the Asiatic
Society of Bengal, 1875, have come to my notice too late for the above
pages to have the benefit of information containedl in t'hem.
(To be continued.)
Robinson says that on the death of a Naga warrior all the scalps taken by
him during his lifetime were burnt witlh his remains. This would seem to refer
to villages that had come under Hindu influence ; the intention may have been
to let the dead man be accompanied by these other dead.
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