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Chief of the Ayemi Chin in Seromi 





C.I.E., M.A. 
(Indian Civil Service) 






., F.S.A., F.R.G.S., 

M.A., F.S.A., F.R.G.S., F.R.A.I. 

Published by direction of the Assam Government 










The Sema tribe with which this monograph deals is one 
of the many Naga tribes inhabiting the hills between Assam 
and Burma. This area has been subjected to emigration 
from at least three directions — from the north-east, whence 
came the Tai races ; from the north-west, whence came the 
Singphos, Kacharis, and Garos, among others, and from 
the south, as the Angami Nagas at any rate came to their 
present country from that direction, while a migration from 
the south northwards on the part of the Thado Kukis and 
Lusheis has barely ceased even now. The Semas, Hke other 
Naga tribes, probably contain elements from all these migra- 
tions. The account of the Semas given in this book has 
been compiled at Mokokchung and at Kohima in the Naga 
Hills, during an eight years' acquaintance with them, during 
which I have learnt to speak the language fairly fluently 
and have been brought into contact with the Hfe of the 
individual, the family, and the community more or less 
continuously and from many angles. For there is hardly 
any point of tribal custom which is not sooner or later 
somehow drawn into one of the innumerable disputes which 
the local officer in the Naga Hills is called upon to settle, 
and it is my experiences in this way which constitute my 
credentials in writing this volume. 

There is no previous hterature to speak of deahng with 
the Sema tribe, or even with its language, which was not 
reduced to writing when I started to learn it. All my 
sources therefore are original, and all my information is 
derived directly from members of the tribe either in their 
own language or in that corrupt lingua franca of the hills 
which bears much the same relation to real Assamese as 
beche de mer Enghsh does to the King's. 


I have to thank a number of my friends for the assistance 
they have given me ; in particular Dr. Carter, Economic 
Botanist to the Government of India, for identifying by 
their scientific names many plants mentioned in Part II ; Mr. 
J. P. MiUs, now Assistant Commissioner at Mokokchung, for 
the scientific names of many birds referred to in Parts II 
and VI, as well as directing my attention to other points of 
interest ; IMr. H. C. Barnes, CLE., Commissioner of 
the Surma VaUey and HiU Districts, also for directing my 
attention to several points of Sema custom. Of the illustra- 
tions, I am indebted for three photographs to Mr. Butler, 
of the P.W.D., and for one to Captain Kingdon-Ward, while 
I have to thank Miss A. M. Grace, of Hove, for the original 
of the coloured plate. The rest of the illustrations are my 
own. Last, but far from least, I have to mention my Sema 
friends who have been the real means of my making what 
record I could of tribal customs — Vikhepu, Chief of the 
Ayemi Clan in Seromi, Inato, Chief of Lumitsami, Khupu 
of Lazemi, Nikiye of Nikiye-nagami, Hezekhu of Sheyepu, 
Mithihe of Vekohomi, Hoito of Sakhalu, Ivikhu of Lizmi, 
Inzhevi of Yepthomi, Hoito of Kiyeshe, and many others, 
but the first five or six in particular. The first four 
mentioned, as well as Hoito of Saldialu, are, alas ! dead ^ 
after years of the most loyal service to the Government — 
the others I hope have long to live, but my indebtedness 
for information to Vildiepu, four years my personal Sema 
interpreter at Mokokchung, was particularly great, and his 
death in the influenza epidemic of 1918 was a grave loss 
to the district. 

I might perhaps here mention that in 1917, when a Labour 
Corps was raised in the Naga Hills for service in Europe, 
half of the two thousand Nagas enrolled were Semas, from 
inside or across the frontier, and not a few of them died in 

J. H. hlt:ton. 

^ Nikiye was most treacherously murdered by a Kalyo-kengyu village 
across the frontier as this was going to press. Ivikhu has also died since 
this was written. 



Foreword xv 



Habitat and affinities — Origin and migrations — Appear- 
ance, dress, weapons and character 1 



The Sema village, site, name, approaches and general 
features — The home : construction, contents — Art ; 
manufacture ; currency — Agricultmre ; Uvestock — 
Hunting and fishing — Food, drink and medicine — 
Games — Daily life 31 



Organisation of society, laws and customs — Exogamy — 
The " manor " — The village — Property, adoption — 
Settlement of disputes, war — Women . . . .119 



Religion : general character of popular beHefs ; spirits and 
deities ; the soul and eschatology ; rehgion and magic ; 
hierarchy ; ceremonies of the agricultural year ; of 
social status, sickness, etc. ; ceremonies of birth, 
marriage, death, etc. ; miscellaneous beliefs, forces 
of Nature, etc. : calendar 189 








I. Bibliography. II. Sema Migrations and Affinities. 

III. Reciprocal Table of the Names of Relations. 

IV. Extract from a Letter on the Subject of the 
Relations between a Sema Chief and his Dependants. 

V. The Semas and Mr. Perry's " Megahthic-Culture 
of Indonesia." VI. Sema Vocabularies. VII. 
Glossary 371 

Index 447 


ViKHKPu, Chief of the Ayemi Clan m Serosh 

Coloured Frontispiece 

Facing page 

The Sema Country from Ktlomi Village ... 4 
Mt. TuKAHxr (Japvo) and the Barail Range as seen 

FROM Sema Country 4 

Man of Lazmi, Asime Clan, Dayang Valley ... 8 

Yezetha of AoCHAGALEVn 8 

Woman of Mishilimi Village, Asimi Clan, Dayang 

Valley 8 

Sema Ornaments 12 

The Aghaopucho 14 

Sema Cloths 14 

The Son of the Chief of Ghukwi of Ghuewi-nagajmi 

WEARING Cotton Wool Ear Ornaments . . 16 


Wife and Child of the Chief of Lit ami . ... 17 
Daughter of the Chief of Philimi wearing Fillet 

DENOTING Betrothal 17 

Sema Cloths showing Cowries, etc., sewn on . . 18 

Spear-heads 20 

Sema and other Naga Daos used by them ... 22 

Arrows and Crossbows 24 

RoTOMi Village 34 

KiLOMi Village showing Granaries to Left . . 34 
Wooden Sitting Platform in Front of Chief's House 

— Saebalu 37 

Genna Posts (Sakttalu) showing Carved Mithan 

Heads and Aghil-hu 37 

Miniature " Morung " built at the founding of the 

Village of Vedami 38 

" Morung " in Phelimi built on account of the Bad 

Harvest 1916 38 


Facing page 

Sema Houses showing House-hoens of Wood and 
OF Bamboo with Rattles of Gourds and 

Bamboos 40 

Sema IVIaeing Fire 42 

Amiphoki 48 

Chief's House in Vekohomi Showing Kxng-post . . 48 

Sema Woman Spinntng (Philimi Village) ... 50 

Sema Woman Weaving (Shitzimi Village) ... 50 

Automatic Kohkohpfo fob Scabing Birds, etc., from 

Crops 52 

Rough Sketches of Mechanism of Sebia Bellows . 52 

Making Pots foe Food 54 

Sema Interior (Ahishekhoh) showing Ahoshu ... 56 

Sema Baskets 56 

Wooden Liquor Vat 56 

Aghaghiibo at alapfume 64 

A Typical Sema 64 

Harvesting 64 

Carrying Home the Millet Harvest .... 64 


MiTHAN Bull with Cane for Leading it tied round 

Horns 69 

Sema Mithan (Avi) 69 

Sema Pipes 100 

Asii-pusiike 100 

AwoU-sheshe 108 

Boy with Apipi-zhto and " Ekra " Spear . . .108 

Kitike 110 

Sema Dances 110 

House of Inato, Chief of Lumitsami, with Y-shaped 
Genna Posts and the Chief's Widow Keening 

her dead Husband 116 

Woman Washing at the Village Spring. Bamboo 

" Chungas " FOR Carrying Water . . .116 


Facing page 

Aghu-kutsii-kogho-bo AT KinasHE CONTAINING THE Head 

OF A Man 176 

Aghiiza in Philimi Village 176 

Killing " Mithan " at a Kupulhukileke given by Inato, 

CmEF of Lumitsami 229 

A Thumomi of Alapfumi 232 

A Thumomi OF TsiyiKAPUTOMi 232 

Graves est Front of a House at Emilomi .... 245 

Atheghwo at Philimi Village 245 

Warrior's Grave at Satajvh 246 

Grave and Statue (est the Angami Style) of Phuishe 

OF Vekohomi 246 

Celts foutto at or near Seromi Village . , 254 

Anagha SHOWING ScARS iiADE by the Teeth of the Mice 
OR Rats with wthch it has fought to protect 

the Paddy 254 

Iron Blades at present in use and Celts found in 

Sema Country 254 

MAPS, etc. 

Map of Sema Country 3 

Chart of Sema Migrations 376 

Pedigrees followirvg 144 


The rapid changes which the culture of the ' unrisen ' 
races is undergoing renders urgent the work of the field 
anthropologist. It is of the utmost importance not only 
to the Science of Man, but also to responsible officialdom, 
since a just and enlightened administration of native 
affairs cannot be established and pursued without an 
intimate knowledge of and sympathetic interest in the 
natives themselves, their customs and their point of view. 
Lack of ethnographic knowledge has been responsible for 
many of the misunderstandings and fatal errors which have 
tarnished our well-meant endeavours to control wisely and 
equitably the affairs of those whose culture has been evolved 
under environments which differ widely from those of 
civilised peoples. 

Hence, we may extend a cordial welcome to a monograph 
such as is contained in this volume. It follows a number of 
similar monographs which form a valuable series dealing 
with various tribes controlled by the Government of 
Assam, under whose auspices these volumes have been 
issued. This enlightened policy on the Government's 
part deserves aU praise, and should bring well deserved 
kudos. Apart from their value to ethnologists, these 
volumes should undoubtedly prove of great service to those 
whose official duties bring them into contact with the native 
tribes, and should do much to promote a better understanding 
and greater trust between the natives and those who are 
called upon to administer and control their affairs. En- 
couragement of ethnographical and ethnological research is 
one of our most crying needs. The material is abundant, 
since we are responsible for the welfare and progress of 


peoples whose very varied culture-status ranges from that 
of the Stone-age savage to the highest civilisation. 

Mr. Button's present monograph is the outcome of 
devoted and intensive study of a primitive people among 
whom he has lived for several years, and whose difficult 
language he has been the first to master. His sympathy 
with the natives has won for him their confidence to an 
unusual extent, and his success in overcoming their prejudices 
and suspicion has been invaluable to him in his study of 
their habits and their thoughts. The book in which he 
sums up his researches will have a permanent value as a 
record of a tribe of Nagas having a special interest, inasmuch 
as they exhibit in many respects a more rudimentary culture 
than do the neighbouring Angamis, Aos and Lhotas. That 
their culture will undergo rapid changes for better or worse 
goes without saying, since contact with civilisation is 
already showing its effect. Some of the Semas have recently 
travelled far afield to ' do their bit ' in the labour-corps of 
our Army. In September, 1917, in Eastern France, I came 
across a gang of Nagas, many of them, no doubt, Mr. 
Button's own proteges, engaged in road-repairing in the 
war-zone, within sound of the guns. They appeared to be 
quite at home and unperturbed. Earlier in that year I 
just missed seeing them in Bizerta, but the French authori- 
ties there described to me their self-possession and absence 
of fear when they were landed after experiencing ship- 
wreck in the Mediterranean — a truly novel experience for 
these primitive inland hill -dwellers ! 

One wonders what impressions remain with them from 
their sudden contact with higher civilisations at war. 
Possibly, they are reflecting that, after what they have 
seen, the White Man's condemnation of the relatively 
innocuous head-hunting of the Nagas savours of hypocrisj'. 
Or does their sang-froid save them from being critical and 
endeavouring to analyse the seemingly inconsequent habits 
of the leading peoples of culturedom ? Now that they are 
back in their own hills, will they settle down to the in- 
digenous simple life and revert to the primitive conditions 
which were temporarily disturbed ? Will they be content 


to return to the innumerable genua prohibitions and re- 
strictions, which for centuries have mihtated against 
industrial progress ? 

Interesting though it will be to follow the effects of 
culture-contact with the more advanced European peoples, 
it is the indigenous culture of the Nagas which is best worth 
investigating, and it should be studied intensively and 
without delay, before the inevitable changes have wrought 
complete havoc with the material for research. 

The general status of and the distinctive features 
observable in the culture of each Naga tribe and community 
have an intrinsic interest for the ethnographer ; but the 
descriptive material, when collated, affords scope for a wider 
comparative study of the afl&nities and divergences to be 
noted in the habits, beliefs, arts and industries of the several 
groups of Nagas, enabling the regional ethnologist to investi- 
gate the inter-tribal relationships and communications, and 
to trace the local migrations of the various ethnic sections 
and sub-sections together with their cultures. And, further, 
the details recorded of particular tribes furnish data for the 
elucidation of the still wider problem of the position which 
the hill-tribes of Assam occupy in the great Indo-Chinese 
race, their relationship to the Indonesians and even to some 
of the natives of the South Pacific area. This important 
line of research, ranging as it does far afield, comes within 
the province of the general comparative ethnologist, who is 
expected to place the Nagas and their culture in true ethno- 
logical perspective. 

I must not dwell upon this point in detail. I merely wish 
to point out that to the ethnologist, as well as to the adminis- 
trator of native affairs, Mr. Hutton's careful and first-hand 
description of the Semas, as also his monograph upon the 
Angamis, will prove of great value. Such work is a worthy 
sequel to the earlier researches of Colonel R. G. Woodthorpe, 
Dr. Grierson, Mr. S. E. Peal, and other pioneers in the study 
of the ethnography of the Naga Hills. 

During his eight years of official contact with the hill- 
tribes Mr. Hutton made a very fine and valuable ethno- 
graphical collection, the greater part of which he has most 


generously presented to the Pitt Rivers Museum at 
Oxford ; a very important gift to his old University. It is 
regrettable that the high cost of publication has imposed 
a limit upon the number of illustrations in his book, the 
value of which would have been greatly enhanced by a 
full series of figures of the objects described, most of which 
are represented in Mr. Hutton's collection. 

One may congratulate the author upon the keen 
enthusiasm which has prompted him to make full use 
of his opportunities and to occupy the scanty leisure 
moments afforded by a busy official life in the scientific 
study of his human environment. The results of his 
researches form a record which will have a permanent 

Personally, I have much to thank Mr. Hutton for, and, 
inter alia, I thank him for having invited me to act as 
godfather to a book which will, I feel sure, command the 
appreciation and respect of ethnologists and very many 


Oxford, 1921. 







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In the former treatise made of the excellent Angamis, a Habitat 
division of the Naga tribes was suggested which grouped the 
Sema tribe with the Angamis, Rengmas, and Lhotas as 
Western Nagas. The Semas are located to the north-east 
of the Angami country and at present inhabit the valleys 
of three large rivers together with the mountain ranges 
and plateaus that separate their waters. The westernmost 
of these three rivers is the Dayang, which rises on Japvo 
in the Angami country, flows north to the Semas, who call 
it Tapu, and eventually, turning west and south, emerges 
from the hills through to Lhota country, after which it 
joins the Dhansiri, its waters eventually flowing into the 
Brahmaputra and so to the Ganges. The other two rivers, 
rising to the north or north-east of the Sema country, flow 
southward, mingle their waters in the Lania, and reach the 
sea by way of the Ti-H6, the Chindwin, and the Irawadi. 
The Semas thus occupy part of the watershed that divides 
Assam from Burma. Of the two latter rivers the western 
one, the Tuzii, generally spoken of as the Tizu, is the 
boundary of British territory, a gulf fixed between the 
Semas who live in enforced peace, and their perhaps more 
fortunate brothers, whose independence enables them to 
extend gradually eastward as the tribe increases, instead 
of living in an almost perpetual scarcity owing to the 

3 B 2 


population being far too large for the land which it occupies. 
The Tita, called by the Semas Tiitsa, has been given as 
their eastern boundary, but as in the case of Dayang there 
are a few villages on the far side, and these are steadily 
pushing east towards the Ti-Ho, so that there will no doubt 
in time be a large number of Trans -Tita Semas. 

The terms Ghdhomi ^ (Hot-place-men) and Azhomi (Cold- 
place -men) are sometimes used for the inhabitants of the 
western low and hot villages, and for those of the more 
eastern and colder villages respectively. 

The Semas are bordered by the Angamis on the south, 
Rengmas and Lhotas on the west, Aos and Lophomi 
Sangtams on the north, Yachumis and Tukomi Sangtams 
on the east, while in the north-east corner they touch the 
Changs and in the south-east the Naked Rengmas. 

Of all these tribes, excepting possibly the last, the Sema 
seems to be in many ways the most primitive. The majority 
of Semas still do not know how to weave, while the making 
of iron weapons is apparently of quite recent introduction. 
This is curious, as the nearest relatives of the Semas, if 
one can judge at all from the formation of their language, 
are the Angamis and in particular the Kezami division of 
that tribe, and the Angamis excel in making cloths, weapons, 
and utensils. But then, of course, so does the Sema when 
he has once learnt. Some of the best spears and daos 
made in the Naga Hills district used to be made by a self- 
taught Sema smith in Litsami. 
Affinities. While the Sema language is most closely related to that 
of the Kezami Angamis, ^ there is a close superficial relation 
between the Semas and Chekrama^ Angamis, as a number of 
villages now reckoned Chekrama are largely of Sema origin, 

1 For the pronunciation of Sema words see Part V. The accent is 
usually evenly distributed, stress where it occurs being shown thus '. 
The length of vowels is often doubtful, and is only shown here when the 
vowel in question is very definitely long or short. An English reader will 
generally obtain some approach to the Sema word by giving the vowels 
their Continental values and very slightly accenting the odd syllables — 
first, third, fifth, etc., starting afresh after a hyphen. 

^ See Appendix II on Sema Migrations and Connection with Khoirao 

' Or " Chakrima." 

The Skma Country fkom Kilomi Village. 

Mt. Tukahu (Japvo) and the Barail Range as seen from Sema Country. 

[To face p. i. 


the customs, dress, and language of the Chekrama Angamis 
having been adopted as a result of contact with and domina- 
tion by that tribe. These villages are bihngual and speak 
Sema or Chekrama Angami indifferently. The Semas of 
Lazemi, on the other hand, and some other villages in the 
Dayang Valley, seem to have a fairly strong mixture of 
Tengima Angami and, in some cases, of Rengma blood, which 
has influenced their language and customs so much as to 
make them noticeably different from the genuine Sema. 
There is a decided admixture of Sangtam and even of Ao 
blood in the northern Semas, and a very considerable mixture 
of Tukomi Sangtam to the east, while in the north-east 
corner a little Chang and Yachumi blood has been intro- 
duced. The result of contact with these tribes may also 
be seen to a certain extent in the customs observed by the 
Semas and in their songs and dances. Generally speaking, 
however, the Sema is predominant in mixed villages, and 
though in some ways very receptive, it is his language and 
pohty which usually prevail. It is only in the case of 
one or two villages on the Chekrama border that he has 
fallen under the influence of another tribe so far as to adopt 
its customs and language in place of his own. 

Like the other Western Naga tribes, the Semas point to Origin, 
the south as the direction from which they came. They 
relate the story of the Kezakenoma stone as well as many 
other folk-tales common to the Angami and Lhota, particu- 
larly the latter. They do not, however, trace their origin 
south of Mao, but point to Tukahu (Japvo) as the place 
from which they sprang. The ancestors of the Semas came 
from that mountain, and the Sema villages spread, according 
to one account, from Swema or Semi, a village near Keza- 
bama, which is to this day a Sema community retaining 
Sema as its domestic language, though it has adopted the 
Angami dress and is surrounded by Angami villages on all 
sides. Other versions, ignoring the Swema story, trace the 
wanderings of the Semas through different villages, some 
clans having come north through HebuHmi, Cheshahmi, 
and ChishiUmi, others through Mishilimi (" Terufima ") 
and Awohomi. The Semas of Lazemi tell of a great battle 


with the Angamis near Swema in which the Semas were 
defeated and retreated westwards until they reached the 
Zubza river ; afterwards they turned northward to settle 
finally at Lazemi, MishiUmi, and Natsimi (" Cherama ") 
in the Dayang Valley. The obvious generahsation is 
that the Sema tribe originally occupied the country 
now occupied by the Tengima, Chekrama, and Kezama 
Angamis and migrated north under the pressure of 
Angamis coming from the southern side of the Barail 
range. The connection with the Kezamas is particularly 
noticeable, as it is to the language of that tribe that 
the Sema tongue is most nearly related, but it is likely that 
the immediate sources of the tribe are to be found in the 
Khoiraos in Manipur.^ It is also worthy of note that all 
traditions agree in tracing the northward movement of the 
Semas up through the low hills of the Dayang Valley. A 
sojourn in that very hot and unhealthy locality may well 
account for the comparative darkness of the average Sema 
complexion when compared with that of the Angami, as well 
as his somewhat inferior stature, though in high and cold 
villages like Seromi fair Semas are far from infrequent, while 
some of the more easterly Sema villages produce men tall 
enough and of splendid physique. 

Whatever the origin of the Semas was, it is quite clear 
that the Dayang Valley was the route by which they first 
entered the present Sema country. Spreading out fanwise, 
they seem to have been checked on the west by the Rengmas 
and Lhotas, who were on their part trying to spread east, 
if the Pangti and Okotso traditions may be trusted. The 
Dayang river, however, not unnaturally became the barrier 
between the two, as for a considerable time of the year it 
is not fordable, and a small colony from either tribe across 
the river would be cut off from all help. The Semas, how- 
ever, who came into contact with the less warlike Rengmas 
can have had little difficulty in establishing themselves on 

^ See Appendix II. The Khoiraos, or part of them, claim a western 
origin, and I have myself no longer the least doubt but that the Semas 
are intimately connected with the Bodo race and can claim as kinsmen 
the Garos and Kacharis. 


the west bank of the river, and it appears that the Rengmas 
occupied a strip of country running as far east as the Tizu, 
from which they were ejected by the Semas/ who were thus 
responsible for the separation of the Naked Rengmas from 
the others, just as they have in quite recent times separated 
the Sangtam tribe into two parts by pushing a wedge out 
eastwards to meet the Yachumi. As far south as the 
Kileki stream the country was occupied by Aos, who were 
easily driven out by the invading 8emas, and the process 
of expelhng Ao villages went on right down to the annexa- 
tion of the country by Government, which alone saved the 
Ao from being driven north and west of Mokokchung. 
Nankam was found too hard a nut to crack by the Semas, 
owing to its great size combined with its strategical position ; 
but Longsa, which is very nearly if not quite as large, and 
was composed of refugees from Ao villages from the south who 
had been driven out by Semas, had actually driven in their 
cattle, packed up their property, and cleared a site for a new 
village away to the north, because they could no longer 
stand the perpetual raiding of Seromi Semas. Ungma, 
the biggest and oldest of all Ao villages, had already given 
up cultivation on the Sema side of the village, and Mokok- 
chung must have followed when Longsa had gone, but, 
unfortunately, on the eve of Longsa 's departure the first 
Military Police outpost arrived at Wokha, and the Aos, 
concluding that an end would be put to war, made up their 
minds to stay. The result of this has been that while most 
of the Ao villages, in which the population is stationary or 
decreasing, have more land than they can cultivate, the 
Sema villages with increasing populations Hve in a perpetual 
scarcity, which will, if the introduction of terraced cultiva- 
tion is not strenuously pressed, give rise in the next genera- 
tion to a very serious problem. 

The outlet to the north and west being entirely closed, 
the Semas had to turn to the east, and in the east the Sema 

^ Kivikhu and one or two other Sema villages near it were compara- 
tively recently known to Angamis as " Mezhamibagwe," i.e., "formerly 
Rengma," and are marked as such on older maps, though the name has 
now disappeared. 



migration still continues steadily. In the north-east it 
has been at the expense of the Sangtam and Yachumi 
tribes, while a little further south many Tukomi Sangtam 
villages are being absorbed or driven east by Sema colonies. 
Nor does there seem to be any particular likeUhood of this 
eastern migration ceasing until the Semas come into contact 
with some tribe more warlike than themselves. The Sema 
poUty is particularly suited to colonization, for it is customary 
for the eldest son of a Sema chief to take, when he is old 
enough to manage it, a colony from his father's village and 
found a new village at a convenient distance in which his 
authority is permanent. If the parent village is large 
enough, other sons wiU take other colonies in other direc- 
tions, leaving a younger brother to succeed their father in 
the original village. 
Appear- In appearance the average Sema is certainly inferior to 
the Angami. On the whole of shorter stature and darker 
complexion, he has a flatter nose, wider mouth, and his 
eyes more often have the Mongoloid slope. His Ups are 
thick and his ears, naturally rather prominent, are usually 
distended with wads of cotton. In the low-lying villages 
near the Dayang goitre is common and physique generally 
poor, but in the higher villages on each side of the Tizu the 
men are comparatively tall and often of very fine physique, 
particularly among the chiefs and their families. Many 
have quite fair skins, ^ and among the men good features 
are often to be met with, sometimes even handsome ones. 
Among the women, however, ugliness is the rule. A pretty 
Sema girl is hardly to be found, though the exceeding plain- 
ness of the majority of the sex makes the few who are less 
ill-favoured sometimes seem almost pretty by comparison. 
The women generally are very short, squat, and horny- 

Except in the southern Dayang VaUey villages grouped 
round Lazemi, where the hair is cut lower at the back, thus 

^ Complexion undoubtedly varies with altitude, and Semas from high 
villages like Aichisagami, who are fair-skinned, turn quite dark when settled 
near the plains, though I am aware that this fact assorts ill with the 
learned and elevating disquisition of Hakluyt's ingenious Master George 
Best on the origin of the colour of the Ethiopian's skin. 






^ <^'r 



1,-. ■ -J, 








Man of Lazmi, Asimi Clan, 
Dayang Valley. 

Yezetha of Aochagalimi. 
A notorious crook (Achumi clan). 

Woman of Mishilimi Village, Asimi Clan. Davang Valley. 

[To face p. 8. 


brealdng the circle, all Semas cut their hair in a clean line 
round the head about an inch or two above the ear, shaving 
below this Une and letting the hair grow long from the 
centre of the cranium as far as this hne. The upper lip 
is worn clean, the few hairs that grow being cut or torn out 
by hand, but it is tabu to cut or pull out the hair of the 
chin. Howbeit, it is very rarely indeed that a Sema succeeds 
in growing anything approaching a beard. The writer 
remembers to have met with one Sema, Hozeshe son of 
Gwovishe, who had a very scanty beard, and to have heard 
of two other bearded ones. In fact beards among men are 
about as rare as beauty is among women. The hair of the 
head is, generally speaking, straight, sometimes wavy, and, 
though usually black, is very often tinged reddish-brown 
in children, a colour which occasionally lasts till later in 
hfe,i and which, hke waviness, is considered ugly. The 
Sema dandies who frequent Kohima and Mokokchung some- 
times part their hair in the middle just in front, brushing it 
to make it stand up straight over the forehead ; a rather 
good-looking Sema boy who worked for the writer was found 
tying it back in a cloth at night and was much " ragged " 
by his companions in consequence. The hair of the other 
sex, never luxuriant, is shaved till they are about twelve 
or fourteen years old, when they are considered to approach 
marriageable age. The reason of this shaving of the head 
is not loiown, but it is possible that it is practised to distin- 
guish between the young girl, before whom conversation 
and speech as between men may be carried on without 
reserve, and the girl of marriageable age, before whom 
males of her own clan must refrain from mentioning im- 
proper subjects or making indecent remarks. It may, 
however, have the purely utihtarian object of preventing 
the accumulation of vermin. In a bride the hair is fastened 
back from the forehead by a circlet of orchid-stalk, a brilhant 
yellow when dried, or of this yellow orchid-stalk and red 

^ Mr. Noel Williamson recorded a case, which he met with inOurangkong 
of the Phoms, of a quite white child with red hair and brown eyes bom 
under circumstances which precluded the possibility of European 


cane work combined. After marriage it is tied up in a knot 
at the back of the neck, but unmarried girls also tie their 
hair behind their neck when long enough to do so, to keep 
it out of the way when at work. Baldness among Semas 
is rare, but occurs, though even the very old (and Semas 
sometimes live to a great age) may be seen with their hair 
merely grizzled, though really white hair also occurs in 
old men. Wigs are worn by bald or white-haired men. 
These are sometimes made from the skin of the hump of a 
black bull which fits naturally to the head, but are more 
often made of human hair bound on to a cane frame-work 
for which the head is measured and which imitates exactly 
the natural coiffure of the Sema, so much so that if well 
fitted the difference between it and a natural growth is diffi- 
cult to detect. Such wigs serve as a protection from the sun 
and from cold, as well as to disguise the wearer's baldness. 
As in the rest of the Western group of Nagas, neither sex 
is tattooed. 
Dress and ^^ j^j, ^^ dress gocs, the Sema, " bare-doupit Hielan'man " 
ments. that he is, is still (and he should thank God for it) 

" In the decent old days 
Before stockings and stays, 
Or breeches, top-boots and top-hats." 

Although using a rain-shield of bamboo leaves and cane 
work in the fields in wet weather, he does not otherwise 
affect any sort of hat. In their ears the men wear wads 
of cotton-wool (dkinsuphd), which in some villages, particu- 
larly southern villages inhabited by the Ziimomi clan, 
reach enormous dimensions. The chiefs of such villages 
as Sakhai and Lhoshepu may be seen wearing in their ears 
huge fans of cotton- wool, stiffened with slips of bamboo, 
which obscure the whole profile. This cotton-wool fashion 
in ear ornaments is elegant enough after its kind, as long 
as the cotton- wool is fresh and clean, but it is a filthy 
practice when old age and indifference to appearance lead 
the wearer to change his ear-wads only after weeks and even 
months of wear. The ear-wads cannot be discontinued, as 
the wind whistles in the empty aperture and interferes with 


warmth and hearing. As with the Lhotas, the inner part 
of the ear is bored in the case of males, not the outer edge 
like the Tengima Angamis. In the lobe of the ear, which 
is bored in both sexes, a small brass ring is sometimes worn, 
and in some of the eastern villages men sometimes wear the 
long brass hairpin-like earrings of the Tukomi Sangtams. 
The lobe of the ear is bored in infancy, but the inner part 
at about twelve years old ; it cannot be bored after 
marriage at all, unless on the occasion of the possessor's 
doing a genna for the taking of a head. 

Two sorts of necklets are worn by men. Those who 
have taken a head or killed a leopard may wear a collar of 
wild boar's tushes {amlnihu), either a pair or two pairs, 
the ends of the tushes being bound with cane and fastened 
together under a sort of huge button of conch shell with a 
red cornelian bead for its centre, while the points are joined 
by a loop from one side which catches a similar conch shell 
and cornelian button fastened to the tush on the other side 
by a string. In addition to this, a long necklace is worn of 
three or four strings of white conch shell or imitation beads 
falhng low down over the chest. This necklace (ashoghlla) 
is almost universally worn by Sema men. The genuine 
beads are made from the polished centres of conch shells 
bored lengthways and two or three inches long, while the 
imitation beads are simply opaque white tubular beads, 
which are sometimes preferred to the genuine article because 
they are a purer white in colour. The strings are crossed at 
intervals by bone spreaders, through holes in which the 
string passes, in order to keep the necklace neat and flat, 
and the point at the back where the strings are joined up 
is usually covered with a plain conch shell button, round or 
square. Before putting on a new bead necklace or collar 
of tushes the Sema first puts them on a dog, so that if there 
be any evil in the ornament it may affect the dog and not 
the wearer of the beads. If a man kill a boar with tushes 
he may not wear that particular pair, although entitled 
to do so. 

On his arms above his elbows the Soma wears slices of 
elephant tusk {aJcahdght) if he is rich enough, and, unhke 

12 ' THE SEMA NAGAS part 

the Angami, who rarely wears them unless he wears a pair, 
the Sema is content to wear an ivory armlet on one arm 
only. On his wrists he wears brass bracelets {dsdpu), 
rarely more than one on each wrist, and, if he has drawn 
blood, cowrie gauntlets (aouka-as'uka). These gauntlets 
are made of seven or eight rows of cowries, the sides of 
which have been filed fiat on a stone, sewn as closely as 
possible on to a cloth support having bamboo sUps run 
through each side, and fastened on to the wrist by a string, 
which starts from the middle of one side, passes through the 
other, and is wound round the ends of the slips. The front 
row of cowries is set the opposite way to the rest, and the 
whole is backed by a fringe of red hair (samogho), sometimes 
long but more often stiff and short Hke the bristles of a tooth- 

Round the waist either a plain belt (asilchikheki) is worn 
to support the wooden sHng in which the dao is carried just 
below the small of the back, or more often a belt {akiasa- 
kikheki) ornamented either with cowries in trefoils or with 
fringes of crimson goat's hair cut short and bound at the 
root with the dried stalk of an orchid which is bright canary 
yellow in colour. On the left side a number of cords hang 
down knotted at the end and ringed with brass just above 
the knot so that the ends jingle as the wearer moves. Small 
bells are nowadays sometimes substituted for the brass 
rings. This belt used also to be restricted to men who had 
drawn blood, hke the gauntlets and the lapucJioh apron, 
but is now worn by anyone. Another belt (ghdkdbd), 
of tubular make, is also sometimes worn for carrying 
coin. The " undress " Sema loin-cloth or apron {aminl) 
takes three forms, all very decidedly " undress." That 
usually regarded as the genuine and principal Sema garment 
(akecheka-'mini) consists of a double strip of cloth about 
three inches wide. This is rolled up tight to go round the 
waist, being bound with brass wire and furnished at one 
end with a conch shell or wooden button. The other end, 
having been attached to this button in front, is so manipu- 
lated that the unrolled end hangs straight down in a double 
flap about eight or nine inches long over the private parts, 

^ 1 



1 . Tukomi earring. 

2. Lapuchoh. 

3. Sema coiffure. 

4. Bead necklace, ashoghila. 

5. Gauntlet, aoukah asukah. 

6. Aghuhii. 

7. Wooden sling for dao, Asilki. 

8. AsapJiu. 

9. Avikisaphu. 

Sema Ornaments. 

[To /ace p. 12. 


in the case of warriors being ornamented with a few cowries 
here and there in trefoils or pairs. This garment is, of 
course, a covering in name only, but entirely satisfies the 
notions of decency entertained by most Semas, and indeed 
Sema opinion on this matter shows how entirely standards 
of decency rest upon conventions pure and simple. The 
Semas who went on the Chinglong expedition in 1913 then 
saw naked tribes for the first time ; the coolies, catching 
sight of a string of naked Konyaks coming towards them, 
put down their loads and burst into fits of uncontrollable 
laughter at this sight of men who, though hardly less naked 
than they were, wore no three -inch flap. Again at the 
Sema game of kick-fighting, in which you hop on one leg 
and use the other to defend yourself and attack your 
opponent, the women put a stop to each round as soon as 
decency is offended by the apron of either of the fighters 
getting shifted round to one side. As from the moment 
the contest starts the garment in question is flapping up 
in the air, it is difficult to see what difference it makes 
whether its point of attachment to the belt is precisely 
central or slightly lop-sided. The second form of apron 
(lapucJioh) consists of a strip of cloth about eighteen inches 
long doubled. It is supported at the top by a narrow waist- 
band over which the front half of the garment falls in a 
flap. This front is worked with scarlet dog's hair and 
ornamented with a circle of cowries from which a double 
line of cowries radiates to each corner. The back half of 
the lapucJioh is of plain blue cloth, the two bottom corners 
of which are fastened together and the edge between sewn 
up so as to make a sort of bag, from the corner of which 
there is usually, but not always, a string running between 
the legs and fastening on to the back of the waistband. 
The lapucJioh seems to have been borrowed from the Tukomi 
Sangtams, across the Tizu, and is worn very largely by 
Semas in the Tizu Valley and across it, but its use is 
restricted to persons who have drawn blood — spearing a 
corpse will do. In the villages near the Ao and Lhota 
country another type has come into fashion and is rapidly 
superseding the aJcecJieJca. This is an adaptation of the 


" lengta " worn by the Lhotas and Aos. It is not so large, 
being usually about eight inches long by six inches wide, 
but, like it, passes between the legs from behind, coming up 
in front under the girdle, and falls down over it in a flap. 
This variety is called asliola and is a recent concession to 
the prudery of Aos and Assamese, both of whom, though 
the former at any rate are far less moral than the Sema, 
consider themselves offended by the akecheka and will not 
do business with the wearers thereof. 

The Sema under ordinary circumstances wear no leg 
ornaments at all. 

The cloths worn by the western and central Semas are 
usually of Lhota patterns. Weaving is only practised in 
a few villages, and even here the patterns worn seem to be 
of Lhota origin, as the prevaihng Sema cloth, which may 
be seen in all the Sema villages from Lazemi to Litsammi, 
is the black cloth with three red stripes down each side 
used by the Ndreng Lhotas and called by them sinyeku. 
Of course it is possible that the Lhotas have adopted this 
pattern from the Semas, but in view of the fact that weaving 
seems a newly-acquired art in the Sema country, the reverse 
is more hkely. This black and red cloth is called by the 
Semas akhome, and is embroidered by warriors, of great 
renown only, with cowries forming circles and sometimes 
the outline of the human figure, indicating the warhke 
achievements of the wearer. Thus embroidered the cloth 
is called asilkeda-pi.^ The cloth called mi'i-pi is black or 
dark blue, with a white stripe down the centre Uke the Lhota 
pangrop. To this stripe patterns in black are added by 
head-takers (as in the Lhota rokessil), when the cloth is 
called ata-kivi-pi. The cloth called sitam by the Lhotas 
is also used — dark blue and white stripes, and called dubopi, 
as well as a dark blue cloth with a light blue stripe called 
abopi and resembhng the Lhota pangchang or sJiipang. 
Warriors of renown who have also completed all their 
social gennas may wear a blue cloth of mixed thread called 
chini-pi (" genna cloth "), but as very few women know how 
to weave this cloth, it is rarely seen. In Lazemi and 

^ Api = " cloth." 


i »■ 

The A"//Aort 


M it-pi 

Sema Cloths. 

N isii-pi. 

[To face p. 14. 


IMishilimi and other of the Dayang Valley villages a very 
handsome cloth of broad black and white stripes called 
nisilpi is worn. The eastern Semas commonly use Sangtam 
(Tukomi) and Yachungr (Yachumi) cloths. 

The Sema men put on their cloths by drawing the 
corner of one end over the left shoulder from back to front 
and then throwing the cloth round the body so that the 
opposite corner on the same side of the cloth at the other 
end falls again over the left shoulder from front to back. 
The cloth goes either under the right arm, or over it round 
the neck, as circumstances may dictate. The corner that 
covers the left shoulder from front to back is usually marked 
with a tassel of some sort, which hangs down the back of 
the wearer and often takes the form of a fringe of scarlet 
goat's hair about 4 inches broad by 6 inches or 8 inches 
long. The more eastern Semas have also an ingenious 
method of tying on their cloths as a coat, which they affect 
when on the march or the war-path. The top corner of 
one end is again drawn from behind over the left shoulder 
and the bottom corner of the same end brought under the 
right arm, and these two corners knotted on the chest. 
The falHng end of the cloth is doubled back again towards 
the tied ends and the two corners are tied round the waist, 
the corner opposite the one under the right arm coming 
round the left side, and the corner opposite the one which 
goes over the left shoulder coming round the right side of 
the waist. This covers most of the upper part of the body 
except the right shoulder and the left side towards the 
front. Behind, the cloth, besides covering the back, comes 
down over the buttocks into a point. The belt carrying 
the dao-shng is worn over the cloth, keeping it in its place. 
This method of wearing the cloth is called aghaopucho 
(="the bird garb," said to be so called because used 
when going into the jungle to snare birds). The European 
waistcoat, though of course of extraneous origin, has 
achieved so immediate and universal a popularity among 
Semas as to be in a fair way towards becoming an integral 
part of Sema costume. 

On ceremonial occasions the dress described above is 


supplemented by several striking and picturesque additions. 
On the head is worn a sort of circlet {dvdbo) made of the 
long hair from a bear's neck and shoulders plucked out 
by the roots and bound on to a cane so as to bristle out 
thickly in all directions except where the circlet fits on to 
the head. At the back the two ends of the cane are joined 
with string and the whole junction lapped with cotton wool. 
Springing up from the cane base of this circlet are three 
cane sUps, one in front and one to each side, on which the 
warrior wears hornbill feathers. Hanging across the 
shoulders, either in front or behind, an ornament called 
aghiihu^ is sometimes worn, though now out of fashion. 
It is made of a narrow strip of cane- work and cowries from 
which a broad red hair fringe depends. Across the breast 
is worn a beautiful baldric (amlakha) consisting of a strip 
of cloth from 3 to 3| inches wide, the entire surface of which 
is worked with scarlet wool or dog's hair and from which 
depends a fringe some 8 or 9 inches in length of scarlet 
goat's hair with three vertical Unes of white, all bound at 
the root with the bright yellow and glossy orchid stalk. 
Over the top of the " lengta " a big square of cloth covered 
with cowries is worn. This is called amini-keddh. It is 
about 18 inches long by 12 inches broad. The top 5 inches 
or so is taken up with cowries arranged on the black ground 
of the cloth in more or less geometrical figures, while the 
rest is covered with cowries laid as closely as they will go 
after having had the sides rubbed flat, a very narrow fine 
being left vacant in the middle to facilitate folding. From 
the small of the back, where it is suspended and kept in 
place by the tied ends of the sash or sashes (for one is some- 
times worn across each shoulder), is the " panji " basket 
ending in a tail. This tail sometimes merely consists of 
long human hair, originally that of female heads taken in 
war, fastened on to the basket itself and hanging straight 
down behind with a fringe of red hair over it at the top ; 
if so the ornament is called asaphu. Sometimes the basket 
ends in a cane projection which sticks out at right angles 

^ Aghuhu = ' enemies' teeth." This ornament may only be worn by 
warriors of tried prowess 

X 5^ 

\To face p. 16. 

[To face p. 17. 


to the body and from which the locks of hair hang down, 
varied occasionally by a little scarlet or white goat's hair, 
the back of the projection being ornamented with coloured 
cane-work and little hair buttons. This variety is called 
avikesaphu, meaning " mithan-horn tail," originally no 
doubt having been made of mithan's horns. East of the 
Dikhu " panjis " in war-time are still carried in buffalo - 
horns slung from the small of the back. On his legs the 
Sema in ceremonial dress wears, if he can get them, 
the red and yeUow cane leggings of the Angamis or of the 
" Tukhemmi " or Kalyo-Kengyu tribe away to the east. 
If not he either wraps his legs in white and scarlet cloths or 
wears them unadorned. 

The dress of the Sema woman consists principally of a 
short petticoat, which does not reach to the knees, wrapped 
round the waist and kept in place by a bead girdle. There 
are more than half a dozen patterns, differing in colour— 
the tsoga-mini, which has a white band at the top, the kati-'ni, 
black and white stripes, puraso-mini, white with black edges, 
tuJco-li-mini {= Tukomi girl's petticoat), with a blue band 
at the top, choe-li-mini (Lhota girl's petticoat), with a blue 
band in the middle, the lahupichiJca, which is black and red 
and worn only by chiefs' daughters, etc. The wives of 
chiefs and others who have performed a full series of social 
gennas sometimes adorn their petticoats with cowries sewn 
on here and there in patterns. Over the top of the petticoat 
is worn a string of cowries as a belt, and under it a broad 
girdle of yellow beads extending well below the hips, so 
broad as to suggest that this was originally the piece-de- 
resistance of the costume and that the petticoat underneath 
it is a more recent addition, particularly as weaving seems 
only to be a recently introduced art among Semas, and the 
beads alone without any petticoat are worn by httle girls. 
In their ears the unmarried girls wear a cowrie or often a 
white bead, and little tufts of red hair are worn both by 
married and unmarried women in some villages, but very 
often married women wear no ear ornament at all. Necklaces 
are worn of many strings of beads in which cornelians take 
the principal and central position. These necklaces are 



very like those worn by Chekrama Angami men, but the 
corneHans are oval instead of oblong. On their arms 
the Sema women wear heavy pewter-Uke armlets above the 
elbow, sometimes two on each arm, and as many plain brass 
bangles and bracelets on the wrist and forearms as the 
wearer can obtain and can conveniently wear. To snatch a 
person's beads from his or her neck is a serious ofience, 
and necessitates the sacrifice of a chicken, which must 
be provided by the culprit. It is strictly genua for 
men to put on or in any way use a woman's petticoat 
that has once been worn. To do so would destroy all 
chance of success in war or hunting. It is equally genua 
to beat a house with a petticoat, which has the same result 
on its inmates. One case the writer knew of in which a 
chief had a somewhat serious family quarrel because his 
wife in a passion took her petticoat and beat his gtm with 
it, and exposed her nakedness to the gun. He has never 
been able to hit anything with that gun since — a fact. 
Cloths other than the petticoat are not much worn by Sema 
women in general, though in some of the villages, hke 
Seromi at the edge of the Ao country, the women less seldom 
wear cloths. It is believed, however, by Semas that the 
wearing of too many clothes reduces fertility and causes 
small families. In MishiUmi and one or two other villages 
of the Dayang valley the wives of chiefs or persons who 
have done a full series of gennas may wear a cloth (akhome) 
which is sewn with cowries hke the asiikeda-pi, and some of 
the Tizu valley Semas allow cowries on the petticoats of a 
chief's daughter, but generally speaking Sema women may 
not wear cloths sewn with cowries Hke those of warriors. 
Probably the custom of MishiHmi is borrowed from the 
neighbouring Rengmas, whose women regularly wear 
cowrie cloths. 
Weapons. As in the other western Naga tribes, the principal offensive 
weapons of the Sema are the spear and the dao ; the cross- 
bow, originally perhaps borrowed from tribes further east, 
is also used. The only defensive weapon is the shield, 
unless we may include " panjis." No defensive armour is 
used by the Semas, not even a cane helmet. 

Cloth worn by wife of man who has acquired status in the JJayang Valley. 

Two asnkcda-pi of dilYiTriit |iMUcnis. 
Sema Cloths showing Cowries, etc., sewn on. 

[To face p. IS. 


The Sema spear is made in three pieces, the shaft being 
made in one piece either of the rind of the sago palm, or 
of the core of some other tree, a tree resembhng ash being 
frequently used. The head has a socket into which the 
shaft fits, the wood being merely pointed and rammed into 
the iron, though sometimes gum or a binding of twine is 
put on to the wood in case of an ill-fitting head. At the 
lower end of the shaft a spiked butt is fixed in the same 
way. The head is usually of one of two types, the Ao type, 
in which the shank spreads into a more or less lozenge-shaped 
blade with a shallow mid-rib, and a more common flat 
leaf-shaped type, apparently taken from the spears made 
by the Kalyo-Kengyu (called by the Semas Tukhemmi) or 
by some other tribe between Assam and Burma. The Ao 
type is plain, but the other is worked with zig-zags, crosses, 
V's,and dashes made by hammering the soft iron with some 
implement, leaving a little wedge-shaped mark. This 
head has two projections from each side hke those on the 
Angami spear, only at the bottom of the blade itself instead 
of on the shank, ^ and it is usually a good deal smaller and 
more useful than the Angami spear-head. The butt is 
usually plain, though Shehoshe of Litsami, the best of Sema 
smiths, used to embellish the butt too. It is used for sticking 
the spear into the ground when out of use (a spear is never 
leant against the wall, which impairs its straightness), or 
in hill-chmbing, when the spear is used as an alpenstock, or 
in throwing at a mark, when the butt end is thrown forward 
so as not to damage the blade. Angami and Rengma spears 
are also common enough in the villages in touch with those 
tribes. Chiefs and persons of importance have the shafts 
of their spears ornamented with scarlet hair bound on and 

^ These two projections perhaps serve the purpose of keeping the 
hand from slipping up on to the blade when the spear is used for climbing 
hills. Their origin, however, might date to a time when the spear-head 
was fastened to the shaft by a tang and some projection was needed to 
keep the blade of the spear from being driven back into its haft and cane 
binding by the impact of its blow on the target. This explanation was 
suggested to me by the shape of a Kayan spear with a tang instead of a 
socket in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford, but Mr. Balfour considers 
the projection to be derived from the points at the side of a lozenge- 
shaped blade which has since become leaf -shaped. 



cut short so as to stand out in stiff bristles like a brush, 
leaving a bare gap in the centre for the grip and having a 
fringe of long hair at the bottom. Sometimes, as in Ac 
spears, there is merely a foot or so of red bristles at the top 
of the shaft. 

Shehoshe, the smith mentioned above, made a few spears 
with a double or triple head in imitation of a Konyak type 
brought back from the Dibrugarh side by some Semas who 
went on one of the Abor or Mishmi expeditions, but this 
type is new to the Sema country, and the imitations are of 
much finer workmanship than the original. 

The Sema spear, though used also for thrusting, is 
primarily a throwing spear, with an effective range of 
16 to 20 paces. The length of the average spear is a Uttle 
over 6 feet, of which the head and butt occupy 2 feet. 

The Sema dao, hke the Chekrama and Kezami dao, has 
a longish handle and is carried slung in a wooden carrier 
on the right buttock or at the small of the back, with the 
edge inwards. It is drawn with the right hand from the 
right side, not over the shoulder hke a Chang dao. Several 
varieties of the dao may be found in the Sema country, but 
the prevaihng type has a straight back and straight top at 
right angles to it about 3| inches wide, from which the blade 
gradually narrows to the handle, usually of male bamboo, 
into which it is fastened by a tang, the end of the handle 
being bound with cane, iron, or wire to keep it from spUtting. 
The whole weapon is over 2 feet long and is often ornamented, 
the blade being roughly etched round the edge of the back 
and top and the handle being made bright with brass wire, 
or red and yeUow cane,^ and with a few tufts of long red 
hair let into the haft at the top. The Lhota type of dao, 
which has a curved back, and the Ao type, with a very 
broad blade, are common enough, and the iron-handled daos 
made by Changs and Tukhemmi are popular when obtain- 
able. These daos are of quite a different make, the handle 
in both cases being made of iron to lap round a wooden peg 
and merging into the blade, which in the case of the Chang 
variety is very long and narrow, the metal being sloped off 

^ By yellow cane, yellow orchid stalk is meant, and so passim. 


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towards the back edge, and with a more or less curved end, 
while the Tukhemmi dao is hatchet-shaped with a deep 
indenture at the top. The Semas who acquire these daos 
let the inevitable tuft of red hair into the wooden peg 
which forms the end of the haft. Double-bladed daos are 
also occasionally to be seen in the Sema country. They 
seem to be copies of a Tangkhul type, which may have been 
inspired by the shape of the imported iron hoes from which 
daos are made, and which usually have a pronounced 

The Sema daos can be wielded either in one hand or both, 
and are used for every sort of purpose as well as for fighting, 
even for most dehcate work, in spite of their apparent 
clumsiness. The blunt corner of the back of the dao is 
much used in cultivation for hoeing out stones and roots 
from the jhum fields, and is sometimes worn away almost 
as much as the cutting edge, and it is possibly this use of 
the dao which accounts for some of the curious shapes in 
vogue in different parts of the Naga Hills, the almost fish- 
tailed top of the Chekrama and Kezama dao, for instance, 
while the advantages of the Lhota dao for this purpose are 

The crossbow is made in many Sema villages, though the 
use of it has probably been derived from the tribes further 
to the east, as the Sema crossbow has superseded a simple 
bow of more primitive type, and is somewhat inferior in 
ingenuity to that of their eastern neighbours. The stock is 
made of a wood called alipa-sil and has a groove {aliwoki- 
bepfu) to carry the arrow, a hole in the fore end to take 
the stave, and a lock at the butt end for releasing the string. 
Bows imported from the Chang or Yachumi tribes have 
also a rectangular hole in the stock to take the fingers of the 
left hand when taking aim. The lock, which is made of 
bone or of sambhar horn, — the latter is preferred — is let 
into the wood of the stock to take the notch for the bow- 
string, as a mere wooden notch would be worn out almost 
at once. In the case of the Sema-made bow, the lock is 
merely let in to a square opening in the stock cut to fit it, 
and fastened by cane bindings to the wood of the stock 


through holes bored for the purpose. In crossbows imported 
from further east the lock is dovetailed into the wood and 
binding dispensed with. The trigger action for releasing 
the string also differs in Sema-made bows from that of the 
imported bows. In Sema bows the top of the trigger 
comes flush with the upper surface of the stock and in front 
of the string, towards which it is sloped away. It raises 
the string out of the notch like a lever ; the trigger used by 
the eastern tribes falls directly under the string and pushes 
it up from underneath. In both cases the trigger turns on 
a pin running through the lock from side to side. 

The stave, alika-shuhi, is made of a single piece of wood 
of the tree called tapusii, though the imported bows are 
of a different wood. Bamboo is also sometimes used. 
This stave is single, not composite, and the horns are merely 
notched to receive the bowstring. When unstrung it is 
not quite straight, as, if the bow went completely straight 
when unstrung, it would always send the bolt above the 
object aimed at. The wood from which it is made is 
accordingly kept tied bent for a week or so before being 
finally shaped and trimmed. The string is made from the 
fibre of the shoots of the tree called 'lika keghi or lilubo, or of 
kechokegJbi, nettle fibre, which is twisted into a stout cord. 
It is not knotted to the stave, but having been put over the 
notch the short end of the loop is frayed out and twisted 
up again with the cord for three or four inches, the loop 
and top of the twist being strengthened with a twist of 
cane. Three inches or so in the centre of the cord, where 
it comes into contact with the lock and the arrow, are also 
bound with cane. The bowstring is made waterproof by 
being greased with the leaves of a plant called musilinlyeh, 
which are rubbed down the string just as they come from 
the tree, leaving a sUmy deposit on the cord. The plant 
called " Old Woman's Cry " (thdpfughdbo) is also used 
occasionally for this purpose, but this is possibly merely 
to impart to the string the toughness of the plant. 

The length of the stave is about 5 feet, of the stock 
about 2 feet, and of the string, when the bow is strung but 
not bent, about 4 inches less than the length of the stave. 





[To face p. 22. 


The arrow is generally an inch or two over a foot long and 
should fit the groove on the stock with only the point pro- 
truding, but is sometimes shorter. The Yachumi have an 
ingenious way of fixing the arrow in position, a sharp pin 
being put at the head of the groove on to which the butt end 
of the arrow is pushed, the arrow being thus kept in place, 
but not so tightly fixed as to interfere with its propulsion. 
The Sema arrow is of plain wood cut to a sharp point and 
feathered at the butt end with a square piece of dried leaf 
let in lozenge-wise to a sHt in the shaft, which is bound 
behind, and sometimes also in front of, the " feather." 
The leaf used for this " feather " is made from the flat, 
rather fleshy leaf of a small palm-like tree which also provides 
the Semas, hke other Nagas, with their hair-brushes, the 
latter being made from the fruit. The arrows imported 
from trans-frontier tribes, are pointed with short broad 
barbed iron heads fastened to the shaft by lapping part of 
the iron from which the head is cut round the wooden 
point. The tribes who make these arrows use poison on 
them, but poisoned arrows are not used by the Semas. The 
wood used for the arrow is usually bamboo, but trans- 
frontier arrows are also made of sago -palm. 

The bow is ordinarily kept unstrung, that is to say, with 
the loop of one end of the string round the horn of the bow 
just on the inner side of the notch, the loop being too small 
to allow the string to slip down for more than an inch or 
two. In stringing the bow, one end is placed on the ground 
and one foot is placed against the belly of the bow low down ; 
the opposite horn is held in the left hand and the right wrist 
placed on the point of the horn. The loop is then worked 
up into the notch from the back of the bow with the tips 
of the fingers of the right hand, the bow being bent by the 
pressure of the foot and left hand. In bending the bow the 
stave is held down with one foot, the operator standing on 
the other. The butt is held in the left hand and the string 
pulled up to the notch with the right. If it cannot be drawn 
with one hand, both hands catch hold of the string on each 
side of the stock, leaving go of the butt entirely. Then 
the arrow is fitted to the groove. In taking aim, the left 


hand grasps the stock a little short of the stave, while the 
right hand holds the butt close up to the right eye so that 
the eye glances along the arrow to the object aimed at. 
Both eyes remain open, though only the right eye is used. 
The bow is released in this position by drawing the trigger 
with the right forefinger. The Sema bow with the simple 
wooden arrow, when made of green and therefore heavy 
wood, has a very effective and accurate range of 60 yards 
or more and a carry of over 200, though no accurate aim 
is possible at such a distance. There is at present an Ao 
of Longsa with only one eye, the other having been put out 
by a Seromi arrow in an attack on the village. An iron- 
headed arrow would probably have killed him. 

The simple bow, which has now gone out of use, was 
practically a lighter form of the stave of the crossbow 
without the stock, and though sometimes held vertical or 
oblique, is believed to have usually been discharged in a 
horizontal position. Toy bows are still used by children to 
play with. 

The defensive arms of the Sema amount to the shield 
and panjis, though the cane helmet used by the Yachumi 
and Sangtam tribes is sometimes used where it can be 
obtained. Panjis (ashu) are made of pieces of bamboo 
sharpened at the ends and varying in length from 8 inches 
to 3 or 4 feet, long ones being used for more or less permanent 
defensive works and for putting at the bottom of pitfalls. 
Short panjis are carried in a little basket, or in the receptacle 
at the top of the tail, when on the war-path, and are stuck 
into the path behind him by a retreating warrior to hinder 
pursuit. Well-seasoned panjis are exceedingly sharp and 
hard. The best of all are those made from the heart of a 
tree-fern which has rotted for two or three years, leaving a 
core of exceedingly hard wood. Panjis made of this break 
off in the flesh and cannot be extracted. 

The shield (azhto) is normally of basket-work, being made 
of interlaced bamboo slats and bound with cane, and with 
a horizontal cane handle on the inside, which is concave. 
One end is square and the other round, the square end being 
broader as a rule, and the whole is sometimes covered with 

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the skin of mithan, bear, or cow, sometimes merely painted 
with patterns in black, principally circles and wavy lines, 
the latter being a favourite pattern for ornamentation of 
all sorts. On the war-path the round end is carried upper- 
most ; in ceremonial use the square end is carried upper- 
most and garnished with a long and thick plume of red 
goats' hair bound to a cane and topped with white. Some- 
times three such plumes will be worn on one shield. A hide 
shield is also used, but this is imported from the Sangtams, 
Changs, and Yachumis. It is made of raw and poUshed 
buffalo -hide, like the basket shield about 2 feet wide or 
less, but forming two sides sloping to a vertical ridge ; it 
has a vertical handle inside. The shield is only about 
3 feet in height against the 4 or so feet of the basket shield, 
and is more easily manipulated than is the latter when it 
is covered with skin, though possibly the uncovered basket 
shield is hghter. For men fighting in parties, the leather 
shield, apart from its smaller protective area, has the dis- 
advantage of turning a spear so that it glances off to the 
right or left, when it may wound a neighbour. With the 
basket shield the spear pierces the bamboo work and sticks 
in it, when, if the point has not been turned, it may be 
pulled out and thrown back at the enemy. The hide shield 
is occasionally fomid lacquered, but the process is not known 
to the Semas. 

The character of the Sema has been sketched by Mr. Character 
Davis with some severity. He says of the Semas (Census 
of Assam, 1891, Part II, p. 247) that "in treachery and 
Ijdng they were and are quite unsurpassed, even among 
Nagas," and that " a Sema oath is worth less than the oath 
of any other Naga tribe," It is true that the Sema does 
regard aU fair in war, and cases of great treachery occur 
outside war as well. In 1912 Vikoto and Zalepu of Kumishe 
invited in some Sangtam warriors to cut up Pakavi, the 
Chief of Kumishe, and his relations in the night, merely 
because they had a quarrel with him, while cases of treachery 
to guests invited with treachery in view must have been 
fairly common. A few years ago Nikashe, Chief of 
Aichikuchumi, invited a Yachumi chief to come with him 


to Mokokchung to ask for a red cloth. On the way he fell 
on his companion and smote him that he died. Howbeit 
similar acts of treachery could be shown from any Naga 
tribe, and the Sema is probably no worse in that respect 
than, at any rate, the majority of his neighbours. Even if 
he regards all as fair in war, he has a very clear sense of 
fair play outside it, and definite moral standards of right and 
wrong, which he recognises even while transgressing them. 
As far as his untruthfulness is concerned, it must be 
admitted that the Sema readily takes a false oath. The 
oath on a tiger's tooth is lightly regarded, more particularly 
so since the clearing of the country has made tigers scarce 
and death at their hands almost unknown of recent years. 
Moreover, it is not easy to find an oath that will bind an 
ordinary Sema when he is in difficulties, though oaths of 
some weight do exist. The oath of a chief, however, is of 
more value, at any rate if the chief is a man of standing 
and reputation, for the Sema chief is usually particular as 
to his good name. The charge of thievishness that is 
frequently brought against the Sema is Ukewise well founded. 
The common Sema (the Sema chief, though he may rob on 
occasions, does not steal) finds it difficult to keep his hands 
from picking and steahng when a good opportunity presents 
itself. It is doubtful, however, if he is as bad as the Ao, 
who is at least as big a thief and a bigger liar. The Sema 
is more of a " picker up of unconsidered trifles " than 
a persistent thief, as the Ao so often is.^ 

So much for the Sema's bad characteristics. In his good 
characteristics he is to some extent the Irishman of the 
Naga tribes, generous, hospitable, and frequently im- 
provident (in which he differs markedly from the canny 
Lhota). He is very impulsive and very cheery, and if easily 
depressed, it is never for long. In most unpleasant condi- 
tions he is easily moved to laughter and merriment. And 
under all is a very strong vein of fatalism. 

^ This was written in 1915. Recent experiences with Semas of the 
best families have led me to modify my opinion in the direction of Mr. 
Davis's. The Sema tribe comes near to equalling the Ao and Tangkhul 
as an abiding justification for the words of King David in his wrath. 


Tribal as opposed to merely village sentiment is perhaps 
stronger among Semas than among most Naga tribes, while 
customary obedience to his chief makes the average Sema 
more ready to accept discipUne and orders generally than 
Nagas usually are. He is perhaps a shade less litigious than 
most of his neighbours, and usually quite ready to accept 
a compromise in his disputes. He is sensitive, particularly 
to ridicule, and is easily influenced physically by notions 
that may be quite erroneous. Most Nagas are like this ; 
they get an idea into their head that they have been perma- 
nently injured by some accident or illness, often most trivial, 
but are affected as though it had really been a serious one. 
On the other hand, they respond very easily indeed to 
medical treatment, partly perhaps because of their behef 
in the efficacy of medicine given them by a European, and 
partly because of their extraordinary vitality. They seem 
able to recover from appalHng wounds, with no treatment 
except bandaging with a filthy cloth and the application of 
chewed tobacco or crushed leaves, not without dirt, to the 

The Sema's powers of physical endurance are great. He 
can carry heavy loads long distances, carrying them, like 
most Nagas, on a forehead band, and can march over the 
roughest country for long distances, 25 miles being regarded 
as a reasonable day's march, and double that being covered 
in case of urgency ; this, too, over Naga paths which make 
no account of gradients. The writer has laiown Inaho of 
Melahomi leave his village at dawn, reach Mokokchung (a 
good thirty-five miles with some very stiff climbing) by 
midday, and get back to his own village by dusk that night, 
and that on a matter of no very particular urgency or 
importance. The Sema, moreover, if thin-skinned meta- 
phorically, is very thick-skinned otherwise, and inured to 
cold and exposure. Though unused to and unable to bear 
snow and severe frost, Semas seem able to bear a great deal 
of cold with equanimity and to lie down and sleep anywhere 
with no covering but the universal cotton cloth. 

In warfare and hunting the Sema is plucky and daring, 
at any rate by Naga standards, though as regards warfare 


these are not high, prudence being prominent in all plans, 
and risks rarely being undertaken except with the prospect 
of a large return in heads. It is hardly necessary to observe 
that the Sema is very savage when killing is to hand, and 
he is also addicted to lycanthropy, another savage trait. 
At the same time he often displays a horror almost amounting 
to fear of frogs, snakes, worms, and various sorts of creepy- 
crawly animals. The writer has seen several grown warriors 
go out of their way to avoid a large death's-head moth 
caterpillar, though knowing perfectly well that it was abso- 
lutely harmless, and uninfluenced by any special reason, 
while an old and tried Sema interpreter ^ at Kohima nearly 
has a fit if confronted with a snake, and has an almost equal 
aversion for frogs, though these form a common article of 
food in the Sema country. 

The Sema women, though usually stumpy and plain to 
ugliness, have a cheerful disposition and make their menfolk 
faithful wives and dutiful daughters. They are generally 
chaste and are good mothers and good housewives, the 
management of their husband's house being left to his head 
wife and rarely interfered with, and although polygamy is 
common, the wives usually get on with one another with very 
little of the bickering and quarrelling so common in Lhota 
households. The relation between the sexes among the 
Semas is less sentimental than among the Angamis and 
Aos. Marriages are usually arranged on a basis of con- 
venience, and though a girl is never married to a man 
against her will, most of the arranging is done for her by 
her parents, and a wife is chosen primarily for what she can 
do rather than for her looks. In her husband's household 
the wife takes a high place. Children are kindly treated, 
but are more often chastised, when naughty, than among the 
Angamis, and probably a great deal more often than they 
are by the people of the plains of Assam. One way of 
chastising naughty boys is with nettles, though, as far as 
could be ascertained, this is rather because it gives pain 
without doing permanent injury than from any other 
motive (see " Golden Bough," vol. IX, p. 263). Step- 

^ Khupu, since dead. 


mothers have a proverbially bad reputation and sometimes 
certainly deserve it, but with equal certainty by no means 
always or even as a rule. 

Family affections generally are strong, though not strong 
enough to prevent incessant quarrels between two brothers 
who succeed their father jointly in their father's village. 
For romance, however, the Sema has little time to spare. 
His life is one perpetual struggle for an existence in which 
one year's crop is rarely enough to last him in even com- 
parative comfort till the next harvest. Before he has 
reaped the whole of that harvest he is already at work 
clearing the new jhums for the following year. If he leaves 
his fields alone at all it is only to raid, to hunt, to observe 
a genna, or to go away to work for just long enough to earn 
the two rupees which he must pay to Government as house - 
tax. The women help in the cultivation like the men, and 
do the housework as well. Romance and sentiment in a 
life of this sort find little room to grow and flourish, though 
that is not to say that they do not exist. Shoghopu, 
Chief of Litami, and Inato, Chief of Lumitsami, were 
intimate friends and agreed to die at the same time. Inato 
died in 1915 still a young man. This preyed on Shoghopu's 
mind, and though himself also young and healthy he 
managed to die in 1919 dwelling on the fact that he did 
so because Inato was waiting for him. The writer once 
saw an old and, one would have thought, very hardened 
Sema interpreter — Khupu of Lazemi — burst into genuine 
tears on hearing a phonograph reproduce a song about his 
deceased friend Inato ; the Sema is not at all the stony- 
hearted savage that one might suppose him to be. 







The Sema village is usually built either on the summit Sema 
of a hill or on the shoulder of a spur. Down near the valley ^' ^^^' 
of the Dayang, where the chmate is hot, a summit is usually 
chosen, but in the higher and colder regions a shoulder 
below the ridge of a range of hills is a commoner site for a 
village. In naming the village, the practice which is most 
prevalent is to call it after the name of the chief. Thus we 
have Sakhalu-nagami, " Sakhalu's village men," or Sakhai- 
nagami, " Saldiai's village men," and though the name of a 
village often changes when the old chief is followed by his 
son, it quite as often becomes fixed, retaining the name of 
its founder, even among the independent villages where 
there has been no administration to perpetuate the original 
names. In other cases, however, local features have given 
their names to the village, as in the case of Seromi, called, 
from the susurrus of the local rivulet, " the Men of the 
Whispering," or Alapfumi, " the Separated Village Men," 
so called because of an eminence separating them from 
Lumitsami, their parent village, or Aichi-Sagami, Sagami of 
the aichi bamboos, known in jest as Aousa Sagami — " Light- 
fingered " Sagami. A colony which came across the Tizu 
from Satami in 1916 and settled on the steep slope opposite 
was nicknamed Vedami, suggesting dung thrown against 

3J J) 


a wall, so as to stick, which the name has done also. A third 
form of nomenclatm'e is that adopted from conquered or 
expelled enemies whose villages the Semas occupy. Thus 
Litami is the Sema version of Lungtang, the Lhota name of 
the original village the inhabitants of which the Semas 
drove out. Sometimes also a village is named from some 
historical connection, as Phuyemi, "the old village," from 
which many colonies went out and to which some returned 
after many days. Most Naga tribes seem to have their 
" old village." Another village takes its name from the 
result of an epidemic which killed off all the pigs, so that 
porcine sanitary operations round about the village were 
temporarily suspended. Hence its name of Abakughomhomi 
(better known in the abbreviated form Bohomhomi or 
Baimho), the men of Mouldy-Dung. ^ 

The defences of a Sema village can show little to compare 
with the elaborate precautions of Angami communities. 
For one thing, Sema villages being as a rule very much 
smaller, — a village of 100 houses is quite large for a Sema 
village 2 — the cultivated lands are nearer to the village and 
the fighting men more easily assembled in case of a raid. 
At the most, the defences of a Sema village consist of a 
double fence with a ditch between crossed by a single plank, 
both the ditch and the outer sides of the fences being panjied. 
Many villages, Seromi, for instance, relied or rely for security 
from hostile raids solely on the vigilance of their watchmen 
and their reputation for valour. In cases, however, where 
the village used to be defended by a ditch and fence and 

^ Another explanation, which I believe is quite recent and entirely 
fictitious, gives a derivation from one Nainiho, which is not a Sema name, 
but has been since ingeniously elaborated into a derivation from 
anakughomho7ni or " mouldy-rice-men," which for the last two years the 
men of Baimho have insisted is the real derivation when laughed at 
because of the name of their village. This derivation was not known in 
1915, and has been thoiight of since then. 

- Angami villages frequently run to 400 houses or more, Kohima 
village heading the list with more than 700. It is recorded to have had 
900 houses formerly. Ao villages also run to large numbers. Ungma 
has more than 700, Longsa and Nankam about 650 or more apiece. 
Seromi, probably the biggest Sema village, except Lazemi, contains fewer 
than 300 houses. 



KiLOMi Village Showinu (jkanakies to Left. 

[To face p. 34. 


these defences have been allowed to disappear under the 
peaceable conditions of the British Administration, the 
village from time to time, say once in three to five years, 
does a genna for fear that the wrath of some spirit might 
afflict them by reason of their having given up a former 
custom. They therefore turn up a little earth by way of 
digging a ditch, just scratching up the mould in two or 
three places, and put in a few harmless panjis of roughly- 
pointed bamboo and a few sticks to represent the fence. A 
pig is slaughtered and divided, and a share given to every 
male in the village. The first panjis are put in by a warrior 
who has taken a head, and the first earth turned by a man 
without blemish on his body. The writer saw this done at 
Litami in 1917. 

The approach to a Sema village is always over land con- 
sisting largely of open jhum, and in part of very thick low 
jungle, in which the movement of an enemy would be most 
difficult. The precipitous approaches and the narrow lanes 
leading to Angami villages do not seem to be sought after, 
and though Angami influences may be clearly seen in some 
of the southern villages, notably Lazemi, these are excep- 
tions to the general rule. 

The paths and communications between Sema villages, 
while generally much more open than those in the Angami 
country, are far less elaborate. The broad graded paths 
of the Angamis to their fields do not exist, for the Sema 
has no permanent cultivation like the Angami terraces, 
and his field-paths vary yearly with his jhums. Bridges, 
too, are far less elaborate ; a simple log or two, perhaps 
squared on the top, with sometimes a bamboo hand-rail, 
usually serves his purpose, or, in case of a river too broad 
for a bridge of that sort, the usual Naga type of cane 
suspension bridge consisting of a bamboo foot-way slung in 
a V-shaped cradle on long cane ropes attached to trees on 
either bank. In the case of absence of trees, forked poles 
are put up, and the cane ropes suspending the bridges are 
run over these and pegged into the ground behind to get the 
necessary leverage. 

When building a bridge it is " genna " to eat rice inside 

D 2 


the village on the morning of the day when the bridge is 
to be put up. 

The writer saw a bridge put up over the Tizu when in 
flood. The river was unfordable and the erection was 
delayed for a day for want of someone to swim across. When 
such a man was found, however, he took across a light cord 
and pulled over a cane rope, making it fast to a tree. On 
this rope men hauled themselves across hand over hand, 
their bodies straightened out by the current, and materials, 
tied to the slack of the rope, which was pulled backwards 
and forwards, were sent across, and six cane ropes slung 
up to trees on either bank, two for the foot-way and two 
on each side as hand-rails. On this tight-rope affair men 
went with looped slivers of pliant bamboo, and, monkey- 
like, passed them under the foot-way with their toes, and so 
tied the hand-rails to the foot -way all the way along. Here 
and there bamboo joints with a V-shaped ending were lashed 
from hand-rail to foot-way to stiffen the whole, and then 
split bamboos were interlaced all along the sides, giving a 
very fair stabiUty. Finally, two or three bamboos were put 
down whole to make a foot-way. 

The arrangement of the houses in a Sema village is looser 
and more open than in an Angami village, and the scattering 
of the houses is conducive to greater cleanUness and de- 
creased danger from fire. There are several noticeable 
features of the Sema village not found in Angami villages.^ 
One is the separate collection of granaries, little huts in 
rows raised from the ground and usually placed at a short 
distance from the inhabited houses to secure them against 
fire. Another is the bamboo plantations which surround 
the village with clumps of a great bamboo, the long feathery 
heads of which, suggestive of the ostrich feathers of the 
Prince of Wales, are most picturesque at a distance. In 
place of the stone monoliths of the Angami village the Sema 
villagers erect trees and tall bamboos covered with leaves 

* Swemi and one or two villages on the Chakrima Angami side have 
been so thoroughly Angamicized that no account can be taken of them in 
dealing with Sema villages in general. They must be ranked as virtually 
Angami, not Sema. 

Wooden Sitting Platform in Front of Chief's House — Sakhalu. 

(jK.NNA rosrs (Sakhai>i ) Showing L'ak\ki> Mithan JIkaiis and .Uijiv'-iiu. 

. . ., \To face p. 37. 


to celebrate their gennas, while the houses of chiefs and rich 
men are surrounded with massive carved forked posts to 
which mithan have been tied when slaughtered at festivals. 
The sitting places of a Sema village consist of simple plat- 
forms, generally of bamboo, and in front of the houses of 
important persons. 

The graves of the dead may often be seen in front of 
the houses they inhabited during hfe, a slight mound 
surrounded, in the case of men, but not of women, 
by a low fence with a httle thatched roof above it, and the 
deceased's ornaments hung up on it with the heads of cattle 
slaughtered at his funeral. Little fenced-in patches of 
garden, where vegetables are grown, are scattered here and 
there among the houses. 

The " morung," or young men's house, is practically non- 
existent among the Semas. It is occasionally found in a 
miniature form not unlike a model of a Lhota morung with 
a carved pole in front and a projecting piece of roof above. 
Such a model is often built in times of scarcity, the under- 
lying idea apparently being that the scarcity may be due 
to the village having neglected to conform to a custom which 
has been abandoned. Apitomi, in 1916, built quite a large 
one,! but the usual pattern is so small that a man on his 
hands and knees might enter if he wished, but the morung 
could not in any sense be called an inhabitable house. A 
miniature morung of this sort is always built when a new 
village is made. As a general rule, the chief's house serves 
all the purposes of a morung, ^ both as a centre for gennas 
and as a bachelor's sleeping-place, the young men of his 
village sleeping in his outer room on the dhan-pounding 

A Sema village is on the whole much cleaner than an 
Angami village, partly because there is much more room, 
but largely because the Sema has not the filthy Angami 

^ It was made somewhat on the Ao model and elicited a good many 
scathing remarks from men of other villages about the adoption of new 
customs and imitation of the Aos. In almost all Naga tribes the morung 
or Bachelors' Hall is a principal feature and plays a great part in village 
life, but the Sema tribe is an exception to the general rule. 

2 Cf. Stack, The Mikirs, p. 11. 



habit of keeping his cattle in his house. Cattle are kept 
outside the village, which remains comparatively clean. 

Water is obtained from a spring or springs in the side of 
the hill on which the village is built, and care is usually 
taken to prevent the fouling of the water by animals. 
The The house of a Sema is on the average smaller than an 

Angami house and much less substantial in construction. 
Where the Angami uses wooden planks the Sema employs 
bamboos, so that his house never has the solidity typical 
of an Angami house. The house of the ordinary Sema 
villager is about 12 to 15 paces long by 5 to 6 wide, but the 
houses of chiefs are considerably larger and sometimes very 
large indeed. The posts supporting the house are set in 
hues of three, a small house needing three such hnes, a 
large house four, and a very large house still more. The 
eaves are brought down to within 3 or 4 feet of the ground, 
and an apse-like addition is often made to the front or back 
of the house, or both, the roof of it being low and semicircular. 
The two bamboos forming the front of the gable are pro- 
longed beyond the roof to form horns, called tenhahu-hi 
(i.e., " snail-horns "), sometimes embeUished with imitation 
birds of wood fastened on to them, and with ornaments of 
gourds and bamboo tassels hung to the ends to rattle in 
the wind. Occasionally barge-boards, pierced at the ends 
in imitation of the Angami house-horns, may be seen 
replacing the ordinary bamboo tenhaku-hi, but these are 
rare. In any case, horns may only be added to the front 
gable by persons who have performed the requisite social 
gennas. Thatch is the only sort of roofing employed by 
Semas. In building a house, or any building, it is genua to 
plant a post with the upper end downwards, as this would 
cause suffering to the tree. On the other hand, should a 
post once planted take root and sprout, it must be cut down ; 
otherwise, having overcome the man who cut it, it will 
" look upon his death." 

The interior of the Sema house is ordinarily divided into 
four rooms : the akisheJcJioh, or front room, in which the 
great paddy-pounding tables {aboshu) are kept ^ ; the abideki, 

^ See illustration p. 50. 

Miniature " Morung " built at the founding of the Village of 
Vedami. The Man is Chekiye, Son of Gwovishe, and a were-tiger. 

"Morung" in Philimi built on account of the Bad Harvest 1916. 

1 To face p. 38. 


a narrow room, in which the unmarried girls of the household 
sleep, between the abishekhoh and the amiphoklboh ( =" hearth 
room "),the main room, in which the hearth is, and where the 
owner of the house sleeps ; and the azhiboh, the " liquor 
room," a narrow room at the back of the main room, where 
the hquor vats are kept.i The hearth^ consists of three 
stones on which a pot can be placed, the fire being put 
between the stones. Extra stones are often added in big 
houses, so that two or three pots can be kept on the fire 
together. At the fom- corners of the square, of which the 
hearth forms the centre, are posts supporting a bamboo 
shelf, which serves the double purpose of preventing sparks 
flying up to the roof and of affording an excellent place for 
drying meat or keeping cooking utensils. Beds are made 
from single slabs of wood hewn out of the tree and raised 
2 feet or so from the ground, either on wooden props or on 
legs hewn out of the wood in the same piece as the slab 
itself. The great bed of a Sema chief is often an enormous 
table about 6 inches thick, with great legs at each corner, 
2 feet or more long, hewn out of the tree all in one piece, 
and is perhaps more than 5 feet long by about 4 feet wide. 
It is usually higher at the head than at the foot, and some- 
times has a ledge at the bottom, against which the feet may 
rest, and a wooden pillow for the head raised sHghtly from 
the level of the rest of the bed. There is always a door at 
the side near the hearth, and in large houses usually a door 
at the back as well as at the front. 

There is very Uttle decoration about the Sema house. The 
centre post of the front gable is often carved with mithan 
heads, and the outside wall of the front gable and the wall 
of the front room facing the front door are hung with the 
heads of game killed and mithan slaughtered by the owner 
of the house. The bamboos of the front wall are also adorned 
with fines in parallel waves ; the dummy birds and other 
decorations added to the " snail-horns " have been already 

Though there is no lack of fleas and kindred vermin in 
the Sema house, it is far cleaner than that of the Angami. 

* Other terms for the various rooms are also used. - Illustrated p. 48. 




Pigs, dogs, and chickens are kept there, but they have not 
the freedom of the house, being more or less confined to the 
front room, while the house is frequently swept out, an 
event that never seems to happen to an Angami house at all. 
Plans of the houses of two Sema chiefs follow. They are 
a good deal bigger than the average Sema house, though 
not than those ordinarily built by chiefs of position. The 
first was measured by the writer in paces, the second by a 
Naga sub-overseer with a tape. 





Rough Plan of the House of Sakhalu, Chief of 

Length, 26 paces ; breadth, 12 paces. 

Akishekhoh I. Abi/iela II. Amiphokibo III. Azhibo TV. 

Beds of the Chief and his wives — B. 

Beds of unmarried girls of the household — b. 

Hearth, with bamboos at each corner to support the screen over 
the fire — H. 

Shelves— S. 

Pounding tables — -T. 

Liquor vats— v. 

Carved posts — P (the one to the side being the old centre post of a 
former house). 

Plain posts — p. 

Doors external — D. 

Doors internal — d. 

N.B. — The front is to the right. 

The utensils and general properties to be found in a 
Sema house differ little on the whole from those in an 
Angami one, though paddy and rice are not kept in the 
house, but in granaries outside the village. The cooking 
pots, baskets, strainers, and wooden vats for Uquor are 
all of similar type to those used by an Angami, as also are 
the long dhan-pounding tables. Spoons are less elaborate than 


S O 7 ^ 

M +i 

[To /arc ;*. 40. 






Elevatioa of front end (from side) 
A io B = ;6 feet 
C to D = 3 feet 

Plan of Inato's house at Lumitsami. Drawn rougrhly to scale 

Scale uf Feet 

?.., ,? IE '? 

QtoV =72' WfoZ =30' 

XtoY=23' Z toy ==63' 
Exterior and Interior walls slieivn by double lines 
D = Doorwarj that can be closed by door 
h = Subsidiary hearth 

Other lettering as in plan of Sahlialu's house 

1- Akishekhoh 11== Apasiibo 111 = Abidelabo 

lV==AliuzU-a-bo V=Azhi-bo 

Elevation of back end (from side) 

A to B = 12'/, feet 
N.B. The front of the house is to the left 

those of the Angami, as " modhu " spoons are not used. 
A large flat ladle shaped Uke an oar is used for mixing liquor. 
Numbers of forked sticks depend from the roof to serve as 
hooks for hanging things up, and water is invariably carried 
in great sections of the giant bamboo with the joints pierced. 
Sema cups are made of the same bamboo shaved down thin 
at the rim, pared away to match at the bottom, and furnished 
with a cane-work handle. Dishes are made of wood in 
various sizes, but almost all of the same pattern, roughly 
circular at the top, hollowed out to a flat bottom, the depth 
being about a third of the diameter and the sides sloped 
outwards from the bottom, the whole standing on a pedestal 
somewhat higher than the depth of the dish itself and 
widening from a narrow top to a circular stand about half 
the diameter of the dish. This stand is hollowed and the 
sides are pierced with four triangular spaces. The dish and 
its pedestal are made in a single piece, usually from the 
" simul " tree ^ or some similarlv soft wood. 

Bombyx iiialabarictun. 


Fire. Another utensil invariably found in Sema houses, although 

matches are gradually coming into common use, is the fire- 
stick. The fire on the hearth may not be lighted with 
matches, and if it should go out in the night is sometimes Ut 
with a fire -stick. At other times a brand is fetched from a 
neighbouring house. The fire-stick is thus less often used 
for lighting fires (for the fire on the hearth is not ordinarily 
allowed to go out) than for taking omens, and most houses 
have an old stick that has long been used for this purpose 
and is covered everywhere with the notches burnt by the 
thong. Not that this particular stick has any virtue as 
distinct from that of any random fire-stick, but that 
occasions needing new fire, as at sowing time, or the taking 
of omens, occur mostly before one leaves one's house or 
village, so that the natural thing to do is to take out the 
old fire-stick that is handy in the thatch and take the omens 
before one goes about one's business. For fires made or 
omens taken away from home any dry stick that can be 
found is split and made into a fire-stick, which merely 
consists of a split stick with a bit of stone wedged in the 
fork to keep it open and a notch or two cut in the under 
side to keep the thong running in one place. The thong 
consists of a 2 -foot shver of pUant bamboo peeled and 
shaved, the shavings being used as tinder. The modus 
operandi is to squat on one heel, with the other foot on the 
butt end of the fire-stick ; the tinder is placed under the 
fork, and sometimes also in the fork as well, and the thong 
run under the fork and over the tinder and pulled sharply 
backwards and forwards by the stooping operator until 
the thong breaks or the tinder smoulders, when it is blown 
into flame. Omens, however, are not usually taken from 
the spark, but from the manner in which broken strands of 
fibre project from the break in the burnt thong. ^ 

For carrying fire when going to the fields, etc., a sort of 
torch (amisii) is used which is made from the heads of millet 
from which the seeds have been threshed out ; these are 
bound tightly round into a sohd mass with strips of pliant 

^ See H. Balfour, '• Fi-ictional Fire-making with a Flexible Thong," 
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. xliv. (1914), 

1. Tinder. 

2. Thongs. 

3. " Hearths." 

Sema Making Fire. 
A. First Position. B. Second Position. 

[To face p. 42. 


bamboo. The whole forms a sort of elongated cone, the 
broad end of which, when once lighted, will continue 
smouldering without bursting into flame. A torch of this 
sort about 18 inches long will go on burning for days. A 
fire-stick is almost always kept in the field-house, but an 
amisil is very useful for hghting one's pipe, and may be 
worn in a bamboo cage, or with the thin end just tucked 
under the belt, while at work, to keep away midges and other 
biting insects. 

The Semas have a tradition of a time when fire was not 
known, and believe that at that date men had long hair like 
apes to keep out the cold, but the writer has never yet met 
one who could say how fire was discovered. The Changs 
attribute the discovery to two women who noticed a tiger ^ 
making it by pulling a thong under his claw. Until then men 
had been dependent for their fire on the tiger's benevolence. 

It is genua to put out another man's fire deliberately. 
Such an act is believed to result in death in the household, 
in the owner's becoming poor, or dying, or even in the 
ultimate extinction of the entire family. If a man's fire is 
thus put out dehberately in the owner's absence, he cannot 
]-e -enter his house until he has sacrificed a fowl, or a pig and a 
fowl, which is eaten by himself and his family and the awou 
or other village elder (Chochomi) who has been called in to 
make new fire, which is done with a fire-stick. The offence, 
however, is not necessarily very seriously regarded, as in 
March, 1917, Kukihe and Kumtsa of Emilomi compromised 
with their chief, Vikihe, who had put out their fires, at 
Rs. 2/- each. 

Fire is occasionally almost personified. The village of 
Seromi was at one time repeatedly burnt down. At last 
an old man got burnt. It was at once said that now that 
a victim had been obtained the village would not be burnt 
for a very long time. This was many years ago, but no 
serious conflagration has taken place since. 

Sticks which are curiously twisted, knotted, swelled, or 
otherwise deformed are not used for fuel, as their use is 

^ One tribe, I think the Angamis, attribute the discovery to a monkey 
which a woman detected in the act. 


believed to cause a swelling of the throat. (The Changs 
attribute deformed joints to this cause.) 

On the building of a new house or the renewing of an old 
one certain prohibitions and formahties are observed. The 
extent of these varies according to whether the house built 
is part of an entirely new village, is a new house in an old 
village, or is merely an old house being renewed. It also 
depends, in the latter case, on whether the house is that of 
a chief or of an ordinary villager. 

In building a house for the first time in an absolutely 
new village, in which case the house is never more than a 
very temporary affair to serve until the new village is 
properly established and a more permanent house is built, 
there is no particular ceremonial. There is, of course, a 
ceremonial for the inauguration of the new village as a 
whole, but all that has to be done by the builder of a separate 
house is to prevent any person from any other village from 
crossing or passing close to the thatch, posts, and materials 
generally which have been collected for the building of his 

In ordinary cases of building a new house, genna is 
observed by the builder for three days, during which he may 
not speak to or feed any person at all who comes into the 
village (after having slept outside it) during that period. 
On entering into occupation of a new house built for a newly- 
married couple, the bridegroom, in some Sema villages, 
kills a chicken and hangs it to the roof. 

In renewing or repairing the house, a three days' genna 
is observed by the renewer as in the case of building, but 
in the case of the renewal of the house of a chief there are 
particular rites to be observed. When the hole for the 
erection of the carved centre front post is dug, a chicken is 
killed in the hole and the post is erected on its body. If the 
hearth is moved from its old site even a Uttle, a chicken 
must be killed and cooked on the new hearth and eaten by 
the owner and his family. In the evening of the first day 
of building, on which the centre front post has been stepped, 
any two old men, called for the occasion awupishekuchu, 
pick out the best red cock obtainable and kill it by knocking 


its head on the post with the words " Akhupushu, Alho- 
pushu ; atsil alashi ; awo alapeghe ; amishi alapeghe ; 
timikokhu alapeghe ; akini alashi ; sil chini, ni chini," 
which is to say, " May you {i.e., the post) have a long life ; 
let dogs increase ; let pigs be multiplied ; let cattle be 
multiphed ; let the seed of man be multiplied ; let riches 
increase ; let illness and decUne be forbidden." 

On this first day of building a pig is killed and pieces 
given to all who take part. The laying of the thatch is 
started first of all in the front of the roof by the most noted 
warrior in the village. He gets the off hind-leg of the pig. 
He is followed in laying thatch by another warrior, who gets 
part of the near hind-leg. A third warrior then starts to 
lay thatch further down the roof and gets a forequarter 
of the pig. The rest share alike. On this and the next two 
days the genna as regards persons entering the village must 
be observed as already described. 

It may be noticed that almost precisely similar rites are 
observed by the Lhotas when building or rebuilding a 

The building of houses must be done either between the 
harvest and the sowing, or, again, between the sowing and 
the Anyi or Ann genna performed at the third cleaning of 
the fields. 

When leaving a house to migrate to a new village, a hole 
is made in the thatch to allow the spirit of the house 
{akiaghau) to escape. Somewhat similarly, Semas building 
temporary shelters in the jungle or elsewhere usually burn 
or otherwise destroy them when leaving, for fear their souls 
(aghongu) should forsake them to go back and dwell in these 
temporary abodes. 

The household inhabiting the house of a poor man would The 

. house- 

consist normally of the man and his wife and two or three i^q]± 

younger children, to whom may be added unmarried sons 

who would eat with the family but sleep in the akishekhoh 

of the chief's house. The Sema as a general rule has 

decidedly a larger number of children than the average 

member of any of the neighbouring tribes. In the case of 

a chief or rich man there would be from three to five, or 


even occasionally seven wives, and often large families of 
a dozen or so children, a number, however, wliich would 
include the married sons and daughters not living in the 
house. At the same time, in the western villages, famiUes 
are not nearly so large, one of the reasons for which is 
beheved to be that more clothes are worn by the women. 
The large famihes are mostly found on each side of the Tizu 
and further east, where happy is the man who has his quiver 
full of them, in particular when he meets with his enemies 
at liis gate. Indeed a large number of children is a great 
source of strength to a trans-Tizu chief. His daughters 
bring him profit in marriage prices as well as alliances, and 
many sons are even as " the arrows in the hand of the giant," 
for they go out from his village founding buffer colonies in 
all directions and facilitating the taking of revenue from 
weaker neighbours, securing the parent village and one 
another from attack, and often creating a small league of 
villages, something after the manner of an ancient Greek 
city state and her colonies. In the case of a chief, if he had 
few or no unmarried daughters, he would be sure to have in 
his house daughters of his dependants doing house-work 
and field-work for him and sleeping in the abidela. These 
would ordinarily be daughters of men for whom he had 
provided wives and in whose marriage price he would have 
an interest. By living in his house, well looked after by 
his wives, such girls are less Hkely to go strajdng after strange 
young men and damaging their value in the marriage market. 
An odd boy or two, hkewise living under the chief's protec- 
tion, would probably be found in the households of most 
chiefs, frequently an orphan whom the chief intended to 
provide with a wife and make into a recognised dependant 
cultivating his land and repaying him by work. A boy 
dependant of this sort would, with the chief's unmarried 
sons, sleep in the akishekhoh. 

Besides the family, pigs, dogs, and fowls after their kind, 

and creeping things innumerable after theirs, also inhabit the 

house, but the former are usually confined to the akisheklioh. 

Art. Art, in the sense of decorative art, is almost limited 

among Semas to the decoration of their dress, their weapons, 


and their genna posts. To these we may perhaps add 
bamboos employed in building houses or for carrying water, 
which are decorated with wavy lines roughly parallel scraped 
on the outside, and basketry into which patterns are intro- 
duced in the weaving. In the case of dress, the decoration 
is effected by weaving lines of colour into the cloth when 
making it, by embroidering in coloured thread on the cloth, 
or by ornamenting it with patterns of cowries. In the first 
instance, that of decoration achieved in the process of 
weaving, the broad straight line of a colour different to 
the groundwork of the cloth is the commonest design, but 
designs of narrow lines, crosses, lozenges, and herring-bone 
pattern are to be found in dao belts and sometimes in loin- 
cloths. Designs embroidered on the cloth are usually 
executed in red cotton or wool (red, as among all Nagas, 
seems to be the most universally admired colour), and take 
the form of squares or rectangles composed of straight lines, 
lozenges, or crosses. They are usually of small size and 
applied very sparsely to the groundwork. Cowries sewn 
to the cloth usually take the form of straight or zigzag Unes, 
and circles or semicircles, and trefoils, quatrefoils, or crosses 
of three and four cowries each. The human figure may 
occasionally be seen rudely appUed in cowries to a chief's 
cloth ; when found, it is of the crudest description and 
consists mostly of straight lines and angles. 

Weapons are more often bought than made by Semas, 
but there are smiths here and there, and Shehoshe of 
Litsami went further than the smiths of, at any rate, 
any adjacent Naga tribe in the adornment of his spears 
and daos. The usual engraving on a dao is a herring- 
bone pattern round the margin of the blunt side and top 
of the blade, on one side only, with sometimes a rude scroll 
in the corner or centre of the top. The ornamentation on 
spears is made by narrow wedge-shaped punch-marks, as 
a rule in the form of hatching, or a series of little saltires or 
chevrons on the spear-head from the socket up the shank to 
the blade. Shehoshe was accustomed to ornament spear- 
butts with two double rings of chevrons, but the writer has 
never seen any other Naga spear-butts at all bearing any 


sort of decoration, except a few Ao or Konyak butts, in 
which the iron is twisted spirally. 

Genna posts, whether the front centre post of the house 
or the forked posts set up outside it, are carved both in high 
rehef and with incisions, the latter taking the form of 
horizontal lines, crosses, circles, or arcs, and used to fill 
in space not devoted to the serious carving, which generally 
consists of mithan heads more or less conventionalised, and 
highly conventionaUsed representations of the article of 
ceremonial dress known as " enemies' teeth " (aghiihu). 
This article of dress used to be worn at the gennas involving 
the erection of posts, but has gone out of fashion and is 
rarely seen now. Its representation in carving could not 
conceivably be recognised unless one was told what was 
represented ; even then it requires a considerable exercise 
of the imagination to see any resemblance. ^ The only 
living thing other than mithan which seems to be repre- 
sented in Sema art is the bird, which is carved out of a 
piece of wood and fixed to a crossbar between the " snail- 
horns " of the house. This dummy represents the bird 
called cheung,^ which is said to be chosen for representation 
because long ago a pair of them came and nested in a hole 
in a beam in the house of one Kumtsii, a forebear of the 
Zumomi clan. The imitation cheung, however, are not 
confined to this clan, and it is said that formerly this bird 
was frequently domesticated by Semas, the father of 
Khowakhu, one of the present chiefs of Shevekhe-nagami, 
being mentioned as one who kept tame cheung. Tame 
cheung are still to be seen in some Chakrima Angami 
villages, Zogazumi, for instance. The sun and moon are 
also represented, usually as plain circles or concave discs, 
also breasts, singly, not in pairs, significant of success in 
love, and wooden dao slings. 
Manu- What little the Semas manufacture is, as far as it goes, 

We*a\'^rne ^^ *^® Same hne as Angami manufacture. In spinning, 
the process is just the same, the cotton being spun on to a 

^ The aghiihu as carved forcibly recalls the carving on the round Kachari 
megaliths at Dimapur, and I have seen forked posts, like the forked 
stones, carved with the sun and moon. 

2 The cheung is the Great Himalayan Barbet, Megdlaema Marshallorum. 





5 5 § 
s g 8 

T5 ■" >^ 

- H 2 

^ ^ to 

[To face p. 48. 


spindle (azung) weighted by a flat stone spindlewhorl 
{azung-tiy and spun by rubbing against the thigh ; but the 
Semas do not use the machine which the Angamis often 
do for seeding cotton, as they follow the more primitive 
method of a flat stone and a rolling pin. In weaving, the 
simple tension loom and its appliances are of precisely the 
same pattern as those of the Angamis. Like the Angamis, 
the Semas, in weaving cloths, use woof of one colour only, 
and introduce different colours into the cloth by laying 
them out in lines in the warp. A woof of different colours, 
however, is used in the weaving of the narrow loin-cloth, 
and diagonal patterns are also introduced into loin-cloths 
and girdles. Embroidered ornament is also used, usually 
in narrow lines of crosses and lozenges, which is sometimes, 
when fine Burmese thread from Manipur is used, worked 
on to the finished cloth with a needle made of umbrella- 
wire and a pick consisting of a porcupine's quill, but is 
usually worked into the cloth in the process of weaving by 
first putting in a stitch of embroidery and then beating up 
the pick, as Naga thread is too coarse to allow of embroidery 
after it is woven. Cotton is the only material used for 
weaving. Fibres are not used by the Semas, although, of 
their immediate neighbours, the Angami and Yachumi use 
them, if not the rest. "^As the weaving of fibres, which need 
no spinning, seems to have preceded that of cotton^ among 
Nagas (some Konyak villages still weave in fibre only and 
do not weave, spin, or grow cotton),^ it may perhaps be 
fairly argued that weaving of any sort is, among the Semas, 
a recent industry introduced since cotton supplanted fibres' 
for ordinary use among the neighbouring tribes from whom 

^ Azung-ti = " spindle-fruit." 

* Fibre cloth undoubtedly preceded cotton cloth, and among the Changs 
too there are villages where cotton cloths are not known, while those 
that have taken to cotton are eschewing fibre. They have a tradition 
that a few generations ago even fibre cloths were unknown, and women 
wearing plantain leaves for petticoats carried their children in net bags 
on their backs, having no other cloths for their children. This tradition 
no doubt indicates the develoi^ment of cloth from nets. The fibre used 
by Changs for both nets and fibre cloths is that of the nettle, called by them 





they have learnt the art, probably the Lhotas mostly, and 
in some cases the Angamis and Aos. 

The method of weaving is better illustrated by a diagram 
than by lengthy explanations. 

Tho shed (J 

b b ^ n e c 

Shuttle with woof, 
"Sv/ord"for beating up the pick in form of a spool 

Sema Loom (aghe) 
a. Beam — akupa-sii { — "opposition stick"). 
bb. Breast-rods — apfolo-kupfusii ( = " belly-borne sticks "). 

c. Lease-rod — agheihu { =" loom boundary "), alternate threads, 
only, go round the lease-rod and under the shed-stick, the others 
passing under the lease -rod and over the shed-stick. 

d. Heddle — agheni ("loom exchanger"), carrying a continuous 
leash, the tops of which fall over each side of the heddle alternately 
as above. ^ 

e. Shed-stick — aghepfu ("loom-bearer"). 
/. Sword — agheka ( = "loom-striker"). 

F. Sword in position, spreading the shed to facilitate throwing 
of shuttle. It is then turned fiat for beating up the pick and taken 
out before counter-shedding. 

g. Back strap (attached to forward breast -rod) — aghaphi 
( = " loom regulator "). It passes under the rear breast-rod. 

k. Shuttle (with woof) — achepfu-sii or agheche-sii ("roll bearing 
stick," " loom roll stick "). 

The warp {aghe-keghi,— "loom-string") is wound continviously 
between the beam and one of the breast -rods, and the second breast - 
rod is used as a lever to increase the tension. As the fabric pro- 
gresses the warp is shifted round. 

The stick on which the beam rests is called aghewochu ( = " loom- 
post "). 

^ I have seen in Shitzimi a loom in which there was a separate heddle- 
leash for each thread of the warjj, but this type is less common. 

S|;m A \\(iM AN Si'INMNK (I'HII.IMI '\'l LLAU lO ). (Til H SPI N DLE 

Sema Wd.MAN \\|':a\im: (Siinvmi \'':). Siii': is msout to shoot 



\Tn face p. 50. 


Weaving, which i,s done by women, and that only in a 
few villages, is subject to the prohibition that no weaving 
may be done while the weaver's husband has gone to fight, 
hunt, or trade. If this prohibition is not observed, the 
husband will get his legs caught in a tangle of creepers when 
going through the jungle, and thus meet with an accident.^ 
Some Semas say that it is genua for their women-folk to 
weave at all, but the truth appears to be that this statement 
is only a way of getting out of the admission that they do 
not know how to weave. ^ Wives who can weave are often 
sought after, but, when taken to a village where the other 
women do not weave, usually abandon the practice them- 
selves, despite their husbands. The villages in the Dayang 
valley and west of the upper M-aters of the Kileki and Dikhu 
rivers are the ones in wliich weaving is regularly practised. 

Black or dark blue (from the plant Strobilanthes flaccidi- Dyeing. 
folius) very hke indigo, yellow, madder, and scarlet are all 
known, but only black, blue, and scarlet are ordinarily used 
by the Semas. The yellow and pale madder dyes used 
alone by the Angamis are only used in conjunction by the 
Semas. The method of dyeing is the same, the cloth or 
hair being boiled in a pot together with the raw dyestuff. 
The scarlet effect is produced by first dyeing the material 
with a yellow dye from a plant called lukuthoiye ^ and then 
re-dyeing it with the madder dye {Rubia sikkimensis), the 
result being a brilliant scarlet or crimson. There seems to 
be something dangerous to males in the process of dyeing, 
for should a man light his pipe at a fire on which a woman 
is dyeing thread, he becomes a weakling and turns black in 

There are not many smiths in the Sema country, and Metal 
vShehoshe died in 1916, but those there are follow almost 

^ Lhota women may not go themselves into the jimgle, or even leave 
the immediate precincts of the village, before any cloth they have begun 
to weave is completely finished, but they could not tell me the reason. 

* It really is genna to weave in some South Sangtam villages such aa 
Photsimi, and all their cloths are imported from neighbouring tribes. 

* Perhaps an antidesma. 

*■ Possibly the idea is that he loses strength, like the boiled dyestuff, 
and acquires colour, like the material dyed. 

E 2 


precisely the same methods as the Angamis. They are 
fonder, however, of ornamenting their weapons with very 
simple engraving and punch-marks. In tempering daos, 
moreover, bamboo pickles are not used, as they are by 
the Angamis, tempering being done in the same manner, 
but with brine only. The brine used for this is made with 
salt of Naga manufacture. In tempering spear-heads, 
chilli, and even nettle juice, is used, as well as salt, in order 
that the wound caused may be the more severe, the smarting 
and stinging propensities of these ingredients being doubt- 
less acquired by the blade tempered, and the abstention 
from the use of chillies and nettles in tempering daos is 
said to be due to the great liability of a man to cut himself 
with his own dao, which is used for every sort of agri- 
cultural work. Daos are tempered at night, and the 
following morning the temperer, before defecating (or the 
dao will be brittle), goes and cuts with the newly-tempered 
dao a leaf of the *' ekra " (that the dao may be sharp as 
this leaf, which often cuts like a razor) and bough of the 
wild fruit tree called thumsil.^ Wild greenstuff may not 
be eaten by him that day or the dao will be blunt. Black- 
smiths' work would seem to date almost entirely from the 
last generation among the Semas. The names used by them 
for the various implements of the smithy are, however, not 
adopted from their neighbours, though these are generally 
like the Angami implements in form. The bellows, however, 
though similarly consisting of a pair of vertical tubes, are 
more often of bamboo than of wood, while the pump that 
fits into them sometimes consists merely of a cane frame 
covered with bits of old cloth kept in place by more cane- 
work over the top of them, though it is more often made of 
chicken feathers. As among the Angami, the charcoal fire is 
laid against a flat stone back, to a hole in which bamboo air 
tubes connect the bases of the hollow bamboos which serve 
as bellows. The names used for the various implements 
are : Anvil stone — athuwothu (? = " stone-go-stone "). 
Hammer (of stone with wooden haft) — ayikehethu {= "iron 
hammerer stone ").2 It is made of a heavy stone, rounded 

' It bears a sour berry. ^ Illustrated p. 66. 

Automatic Kohkobpfo for Scaring Birds, etc., from Crops. 

a. pump handle. 

b. bamboo bellows tube. 

c. hole connecting by bamboo 

with hearth. 

d. pump of feathers to fit the 


e. earth and clay piled round 

connecting tubes and be- 
tween bellows and fire- 
back to prevent air 

Scale, yVthnat. size (approx.). 

View of Sema smith's bellows from behind. 

bh. bellow tubes. 

cc. connecting pipes carrying 
air to fire. 

ff. flat stone fireback made 
of sandstone with hole g 
to admit nozzles of con- 
necting tubes. 

The space between ff 
and 66 is filled in with 
clay. The fire is made 
in front of ff. 

Distorted view of connection between bellows and fireplace. 

Rough Sketches of Mechanism of Sema Bellows. 

[To face p. 52. 


by the action of water, in which a groove is made enabling 
it to be bound with cane to the haft.^ Pincers (made of a 
split bamboo) — ayiketsapfu (= " iron-bite-lifter "). Bellows 
(of two upright bamboos) — amikufupu or amiju (= " fire- 
blower "). Spears, daos, knives, and hoes are made of iron 
usually obtained by re -working imported hoes. The only 
other form of metal-work done by the Semas is the making 
of brass bracelets and earrings, which are merely made of 
brass bought in lengths and cut up and bent and sometimes 
hammered, and of wire bindings for dao handles. The brass 
used for bracelets is obtained in lengths the thickness of 
one's finger, while earrings are made of brass wire. The 
wire-work of brass or steel wire, which is done on the handles 
of daos to keep the wood from sphtting round the tang of 
the blade, sometimes consists of a mere wire binding and 
is sometimes an intricate fabric woven on the wood and 
fitting as tightly to the wood as binding, and woven on the 
same principle as plaited cane -work. 

The Sema pottery is coarse and rough, and is generally Pottery. 
Hmited to the plain round cooking pot with a flattened 
out-turned rim. It is made by hand alone, the clay being 
dug usually in the bank of some stream, carried up to the 
village, and then allowed to dry and season for a year or so. 
At the end of this time it is broken up and mixed in the 
proportion of 2 to 1, or 3 to 2, with the remains of old pots 
and shards w'hich have been pounded to fine dust. This 
mixture is moistened and kneaded into a very stiff dough, 
which is ready for use when it shows no interior cavities 
when broken across. This dough is then rolled into round 
lumps about the size of a polo ball, or a httle bigger or smaller 
according to the size of the pot to be made. Such a lump 
is then flattened out into a circular form on the piece of 
planking which is used for all these operations, and which 
is covered before this part of the process with a layer of 
fine ash. The beating is done with a wooden slat bound 
with string. Another lump is flattened out in oblong shape 
and hfted from the board and applied vertically to the first 
piece of clay, the ends of this second piece being joined down 

^ The same type is found in the Philippine Island?. 


one side. The clay is moistened with a sHp of water poured 
in small quantities from a gourd ladle, and the whole 
moulded by the hand into a more rounded form with a lip 
round the top, the outside of the pot being beaten over with 
the wooden slat already described, the other hand being 
placed inside to offer the necessary resistance. The joins 
are scraped over with a bit of broken gourd to render them 
invisible, and a final beating is given with a lighter slat of 
wood not bound with string but carefully smoothed and 
cleaned, care being taken that no grit gets into the clay. 
This slat is also used in moulding the Up. The pot is then 
placed upon the upper of the two screen-shelves that inter- 
vene between the hearth and the roof, and left there for 
several days. 

Up to this point the whole process is performed by women, 
men not being allowed to touch the pots or even to approach 
too closely during their preparation, as this would cause 
them to break in the firing. The women of the household are 
genna on the day of pot-making, speaking to no one outside 
the household, and their own menfolk even may not be 
spoken to by them, or come close to them, after once having 
left the house in the morning, until the raw pots have been 
placed on the shelf over the fire. Here the pots remain for 
about a week, until a day has been fixed for firing them. 
This is done by both sexes together as a rule, the household 
being genna again to strangers. The raw pots have to be 
carried into the jungle, where they are " burnt " on a wood 
fire. The basis of this fire is made of fuel piled up to about 
18 inches from the ground to form a sort of platform. On 
this a layer of pots is placed, covered by a layer of sticks, on 
which again are pots and sticks in alternate layers. The top 
is covered with thatch, dry leaves, and similar fight fuel, and 
the whole fired. On the day of firing, until this has taken 
place it is genna for anyone participating to defecate, and 
if it is found necessary to do so the load of pots which such 
a person is taking to the jungle for firing must be deposited 
by the way and not touched again by him, and he must go 
back home and take no further part in the proceedings. 
The actual process of firing lasts about an hour, after which 

{a), {b) Sema Woman Making Pots. 

(c) The Pot in the First Stage and the Implements Used. 

(d) The Finished Article. 

(() Double Pot from Tokikehimi for Cooking Rice and Other Food. 
(/) Ceremonial Pot for use in Gennas. 

[To face p. 54. 


the persons engaged return to their house and put one of the 
pots on the shelf over the fire. This completed, the genna 
is finished and the pot-makers can speak to whom they 
please and do what they like. The pot which has been 
placed over the fire is ordinarily a miniature pot made with 
the others on purpose ; two or three such are usually made, 
but an ordinary pot will do. The pot thus set apart is not 
ordinarily used, except for ceremonial purposes, but there 
does not seem to be any definite prohibition against using 
it for ordinary cooking. IVIiniature pots are also made with 
handles, though ordinary cooking pots are never so made. 
These little pots with handles are exclusively used for 
ceremonial purposes. The handles are of the same material 
as the rest of the pot and are put on when making the pot. 
In Tokikehimi village a sort of double cooking pot is made 
with a partition in the middle for cooking rice and meat at 
the same time. Pots may only be made between the final 
reaping of the harvest and the sowing of millet in the 
following spring.^ 

Basketry is, of course, an important Sema industry, as it Basketry. 
is employed for so many indispensable utensils, but there is 
no particular difference between the basketry of the Semas 
and that of the Angamis. Baskets and mats are woven 
by men and are of various patterns, principally variations 
of the twill pattern, and generally like the Angami baskets, 
but on the whole simpler. A favourite basis for a basket 
is a length of bamboo, say 4 feet long, ending in a joint at 
the lower end. The piece of bamboo is split down to this 
joint into a number of fine slats, which are held together 
by the joint at the bottom. In the simplest form, which is 
that of a very rough basket for carrying bulky articles on a 
journey or for a short distance, and intended to be thrown 
away when its work has been finished, these vertical slats 
are splayed out by three or four horizontal hoops of bamboo 
at considerable intervals and increasing in circumference 

' It is possible that the object of this prohibition is to ensure proper 
attention being paid to agriculture, but there are other similar prohibi- 
tions, which cannot easily be so explained, and it is possible that pot- 
making may, like flute-playing, have some effect on natural forces which 
would be deleterious to the crops. 


towards the top. In more elaborate forms for permanent 
use the upright slats are fewer in number and the intervals 
are filled in with regular basket-work. The open-work 
basket used for carrying firewood, called amuthu, has a 
square instead of a pointed bottom. 

The patterns of cane-work most commonly used are plain 
chequer, laiown even to women, and called tokhaiye (implying 
that it quickly wears out) ; the simple twill, or vulaiye 
(because it is known to everyone) ; a variation of vulaiye 
called kuthuye because three strands are taken together 
instead of two ; avishepuye (= " bison's forehead "), another 
variation of the simple twill, extra strands being worked in 
to give a diamond pattern ; veli and veliabu, simplified forms 
of avishepuye ; chomsiye (" the crab's breast "), in which 
the groundwork of kuthuye is variated by squares in 
which eight or ten strands are taken together instead of 
three, and interlaced so as to quarter the square ; and 
yeghoki, a very fine and intricate pattern used for rice- 
carrying baskets and also based on the simple twill. A 
wicker pattern is used in making doors of spHt bamboo. 
Cane -work is also used to make the fillets worn by brides, 
which are woven of thin strips of cane dyed red, and of 
yellow orcliid-stems pressed and dried. 

Ivory, bone, and shell are not much worked by the Semas, 
who usually buy what they want ready-made. Round white 
shell buttons, however, are made from fragments of shell 
purchased from the Angamis and used as fastenings for 
akecheka-'mini, " loin-cloth-belt," and for boar-tush collars. 
Bone spreaders for shell necklaces are also made, and buttons 
are made of segments of small bones cut and rubbed smooth 
and tied in the middle. The holes in bone necklace spreaders 
are usually made with rough drills of umbrella wire. Round 
shiny white buttons of a small size obtained from the plains 
are very popular, and used for the decoration of garments. 

The only genuine musical instruments used by the Semas 
are the flute (fuluhi) and the Jew's harp (ahewo). These are 
made and played in exactly the same way as those already 
described as being made by the Angamis. The use of the 
flute is forbidden to women, for fear, it is said, that they 


^rw 1 


■Bpx_J._ ■ 




;= ^ cs 

^■^ 02 

[To face p. 56. 


might by skilful playing seduce the young men and become 
depraved. Anyone, however, may play the Jew's harp, 
and at any time, though even males may not play the fululu 
between the sowing and the reaping of paddy and Job's 
tears for fear of causing wind to damage the crop. 

The flute consists of a simple length of bamboo, closed at 
one end by the joint, open at the other. Two circular holes, 
one near each end, are burnt in it. The player holds the 
open end against the flat palm of his left hand and blows 
into the hole near that end. The closed end is held in the 
right hand between the thumb and the first and third fingers, 
and the hole stopped with the second. Frequently the 
player squats so that this end of the flute can be rested on 
his knee or on the ground if the instrument is long enough. 
The Jew's harp is a flattish fragment of bamboo cut out so 
as to leave a tongue in the middle which vibrates. There 
is a notch at each end, to one of which a cord is fastened. 
The whole is placed between the Ups, held at one end by one 
hand, and string jerked by the other to make it vibrate. 
The string is attached to the notch at the root of the vibrating 

The wooden drum, 5/ieA;w, made out of a huge tree hollowed, 
and beaten for deaths, war, and various gennas, is not a 
genuine Sema instrument, and is only found in villages of 
the Chophimi clan, such as Yehimi and Kiyetha, and others 
which, like Satami, contain an appreciable admixture of 
Sangtam blood. 

There are, besides the fululu and the ahewo, a bamboo 
whistle which is blown as a key is blown and used for scaring 
bears, pigs, and deer from crops, as well as other devices for 
making a noise, which can scarcely be described as 
" musical " instruments. All these latter seem to be known 
by the name of kohkohpfo, a term which is appHed to cow- 
bells, clappers worked by hand to scare birds, and automatic 
sounding instruments for the same purpose. Cow-bells 
are made of a shell which consists of a section of bamboo 
used horizontally and having an opening cut along its whole 
length, in which the clappers are hung. These are made from 
bits of an old spear-shaft and are therefore very hard. 


They are hung round the necks of cattle, particularly of 
mithan. The clappers are of the simplest description. A 
piece of thick bamboo consisting of two joints is split from 
the top to the bottom knot, which serves as a hinge. The 
lower joint is then cut away so that one half may be held 
in one hand and the other in the other, the two halves are 
separated and smacked together, and the concussion of the 
opposite edges on both sides of the top joint — which also 
acts as its own sounding board — makes a very loud noise. 
The automatic clapper is more elaborate. In this case three 
joints of bamboo are taken, and the top and bottom joints 
are each cut away to a single narrow strip at the back, while 
a slot is cut in the front of the middle joint. The whole 
affair is hung on a long string, which is tied tightly to the 
bent and notched ends of the projecting strips, giving the 
instrument the form of a bent bow. To the middle of what 
may be called the bow-string a wooden clapper is tied by its 
waist, and as the whole swings in the wind, this clapper 
strikes first on one side and then on another of the slotted 
middle joint of the bamboo, and when there is any breeze 
keeps up an incessant clattering. 
Currency. Salt, never made by the Semas themselves apparently, ^ 
used to be obtained from theAo, Tukomi,Sangtam,and other 
neighbouring tribes. The salt from the Tukomi country 
was used, in small flat cakes, to serve the purpose of currency 
to some extent, as it still does in the Yachumi country, 
while the same purpose was also served by the narrow 
blades of worn-out daos, one of which was reckoned to be 
the value of a cock, i.e., about 8 annas. Strings of broken 
conch shell beads and bits of bamboo, such as are still 
used in Tukomi villages, are said to have been also current 
in the Sema country ; where they are now current they 
represent the value of about 4 annas. The " chabiU " 
current in the Ao country were also known in the Sema 
country, but it is not known what value they had. Among 
the Aos one " chabih " represented a day's work, or 4 annas. 
The Sema equivalent was a brass bead, and a string about a 

* Probably the Semas, like the Changs, boiled their rice in brackish 
water from salt-licks, when they could not get made salt. 


foot long of such beads is still occasionally given. A great 
part, perhaps the greater part, of the trade done by the 
Semas is still carried on by barter. 

Like other Nagas, the Sema is above all things dependent Agri- 
on his fields for his existence, and it is perhaps owing to the ^" "'°' 
very primitive and therefore laborious nature of his agri- 
culture that everything in his life almost is made sub- 
ordinate to the agricultural year ; for although terraced 
and irrigated cultivation has been adopted by a few Sema 
villages on the edge of the Eastern Angami country, and 
an attempt is being made with gradually increasing success 
to introduce it among the other Sema villages further north, 
it cannot yet be regarded as more than an occasional and 
exotic form of cultivation, and the villages that have adopted 
it from the Eastern Angamis have generally either taken to 
Angami custom and dress entirely, hke Swemi, or are in the 
process of taking to them, like Hebulimi. Villages Uke 
Chipoketami and Mesetsii were probably at one time purely 
Sema villages, but are now usually reckoned Eastern 
Angami, though the element of Angami origin is probably 
small. The genuine Sema method of cultivation is jhuming 
pure and simple. The land is cleared and cultivated for 
two successive seasons, after which it is allowed to go back 
to jungle again for a cycle of years which varies according 
to the amount of land available. When there is enough 
land, seven years is usually reckoned the shortest time in 
which the land can become fit for recultivation, and ten or 
twelve years is usually regarded as the normal period for 
it to lie fallow, while fifteen to twenty is regarded as the 
most desirable time to leave it untouched, though land near 
a village, being more convenient for cultivation, is rarely 
if ever left so long as that. In the Tizu valley, however, 
and in parts of Kileki valley where the population has much 
outgrown the supply of suitable jhuming land, jhums may 
often be found cleared after only five years' rest, and in 
some villages even after three, while loads of earth have 
to be sometimes actually carried and dumped down in the 
rocky parts of the field to make sowing possible at all. Of 
course, under these conditions, the crops are very poor, 


and the villages live in permanent scarcity'. The general 
introduction of irrigated terraces is a very pressing need, 
and unless largely carried out in the present generation, it 
is hard to see how the next can be saved from starvation. 
The reason why j hum -land has to be left fallow so long is 
no doubt partly due to the fact that it becomes exhausted 
if deprived of the natm*al manure in the form of falling and 
rotting vegetation, and very largely to the fact that when 
the larger trees and heavier growth of vegetation are cleared 
away, weeds and low vegetation quickly spring up and 
increase at such a rate that by the third year it becomes 
almost impossible to keep the sown crop clean enough of 
weeds to give a yield even remotely proportionate to the 
labour expended. When the jungle is allowed to grow up 
high so as to deprive the low growths of air and light, they 
are temporarily exterminated and cannot reassert themselves 
at once. The same result, of course, follows annual inunda- 
tion in terraced fields, though these must be regularly 
manured if they are to maintain their standard of crop. 

In jhuming the Semas do not, as some tribes do, first burn 
and then clear, but they clear the land, cutting down many 
of the trees, and then burn, afterwards cutting down the 
burnt trunks of the remaining trees, and then clearing up 
the fields and digging the ashes into the soil. Neither do 
they all imitate, at any rate to the same extent, the excellent 
Lhota practice of stripping the trees of all their branches 
and leaving a bunch of green leaf at the top so that the tree 
does not die, but branches out again when the two years' 
cultivation is finished. On the contrary, many of them cut 
the trees down and burn them entirely. The staple crops 
consist of rice, Job's tears, and millet, but a large number 
of subsidiary crops are grown in among the first two in 
small quantities, and Job's tears themselves are often treated 
as just such a subsidiary crop to rice. The following list 
includes practically all the crops grown by most Sema 
villages. The names given are used in Seromi village : — 

aghi, paddy (of various kinds). 

akiti, Job's tears {Coix lachryma). 

kolakiti, maize {kolakiti = " Foreigners' akiti "). 


asiih, Italian millet {Sefaria italica, L.). 

amu, a cereal similar to Italian millet, but with larger 
grains and several heads to a stalk. 

atsiindkhi, the Great Millet (" juar ") {Sorghum vulgare, 

a'i, " kachu " {Colocasia Antiquorum and other varieties). 

atsiina, a kind of onion (Allium). 

gwomishe, chillies (which also go by a number of other 

ayiku, pulse. 

akhekhi \ 

kuwuti V varieties of climbing bean. 

ketsiiti j 

atsii, black sesame (Sesamum indicum). 

akini, a white oil seed {Perilla ocimoides, L.). 

aghwo (or aghil), the seed of which is used for making the 
yeast called aghiikhu, and also occasionally as a food 
{Chenopodium murale). It is known in India as a form of 
" BetJma sag." 

aka-khu-ni, the leaf of which is used for making the yeast 
called akakhu. A form of wild brinjal {Solanum indicum, L.). 

ahengu, pumpkin, 

akukha, cucumber. 

apokhi, gourd. 

aghani, mustard (" lai patta "), the leaf being eaten, not 
the seed. 

yekhiye,^ a plant with a yellow flower somewhat resembling 
that of cotton ; the sepals and young leaves are eaten for 
their acid taste. 

Naghu-kuphu (cock's comb, Celosia plumosa) is often sown 
among crops, not as an edible, but simply for show, though 
when sown at the edge of cultivation it is believed to frighten 
away the wild pig. 

The agricultural year begins normally about November, 
when the women begin to clean the previous year's new 
jhums for sowing again as old jhums and the men begin to 
clear fresh land for the new jhums. About two months 

^ Or yechuye. After abstaining from vegetables during genna, this 
vegetable must be eaten before any other. 


later the fields are burnt, the old fields being burnt by 
collecting and firing the stubble of the last crop, while 
in the new fields the felled and cut jungle is burnt. The 
fields are then cleaned and raked, the unburnt rubbish 
being collected and burnt and again raked over, and finally 
sown. The old fields are usually sown with miUet alone 
about February or March, and the new fields are ready and 
sown with paddy about April, but of course the season 
varies very much according to the locahty, being more 
advanced in low and hot places. The sowing ^ of paddy is 
generally reckoned to begin when the constellation of Orion 
(Phogwosiilesipfemi) is in the zenith or when the voice of 
the Kdsupdpo is heard in tlie land. The Kasupapo is a 
species of cuckoo,^ which no doubt derives its name from its 
call, and of which it is told that the father of a man named 
Kasu, having died, appeared to his son in a dream and told 
him not to sow until he should come and call to him. Every- 
one else in the village sowed his seed and the seed sprouted 
and still Kasu heard nothing from his father, and the blades 
of corn grew up and still he heard nothing, and at last, 
when the rest of the crops were grown quite high, Kasu 
said, " My father has forgotten. If I do not sow now it 
will be too late," so he got ready his seed and started for 
his field. And as he went down the hill he heard on a 
sudden his father calhng loud and clear " Kasu pa po ! 
Kasu pa po ! " ( = " Kasu, his father "), and then he knew 
that the time had indeed come, and sowed his seed gladly. 
And of all that village he was the only one that year who 
reaped a harvest, for the paddy of the others died in the 
ear, having been sown too soon. From that time forth the 
Semas have waited to sow paddy until they hear the Kasu- 
papo. ChilKes are sown first, then " kachu," maize, gourds, 
pumpkins, and cucumbers, and finally grain — in the colder 

^ Sowing is performed in the last quarter of the moon so as to get the 
benefit of the rain that always falls " to wash the face of the new moon.'' 
There is at least as much in this as in the superstition of one of the ladies 
of the local missionary society, who believed as firmly in sowing at the 
new moon as she did in the observance of genna on Sunday, " because 
seeds sown at other times don't grow so well." Cf. p. 220. 

* The Indian cuckoo — Cuculus micropterus. 



places Job's tears alone and in the better land paddy with 
lines of Job's tears amorg it. 

From now the cleaning of the old jhunis goes on until the 
millet has got high and the fields can safely be left. By this 
time the new jhums have begun to claim attention, and 
they must be cleaned regularly until early in July, when 
the millet in the old jhums is reaped. Then the new jhums 
are cleaned again and again almost until the grain begins 
to ripen in September, though some of those who have time 
to spare from the new jhums start as early as August to 
clear the land which is to furnish the new jhums of the 
following year. The harvest is reaped in September or 
October, or even November in cold places. Many of the 
Eastern villages are unable to grow rice at all, and Job's 
tears is their staple crop, as it will thrive in the most in- 
hospitable locaUties. 

The sowing is done, not by scattering the seed broadcast, 
but by sprinlding it carefully into little hollows made 
usually by the men with a blow of the small digging hoe 
{akupu) and scraped over by the women following with the 
horseshoe-like scraping hoe of bamboo or bamboo and 
iron {akuivo). The grain in reaping is stripped from the 
stalk by hand straight into the pointed basket in which it 
is carried to the field-house, a small shed which every man 
builds in the field to keep implements, for a shelter from 
the rain, and for a temporary store-house if necessary. 
The process of stripping the grain by hand is painful and 
causes much bleeding. Some say that this method of 
stripping by hand is followed because long ago, when the 
Semas reaped with daos, a man slashed open his stomach 
and so died, but this story is only known in certain villages. ^ 
In stripping the grain by hand the heads of corn nearest 

1 I was told this in Kiyeshe (Sakhai), but most villages deny all know- 
ledge of this legend. A possible reason is that the Semas till recently 
could neither make nor obtain reaping-hooks. The practice can scarcely 
be caused by a fear of taking iron into the harvest field, as spears and daos 
are taken there as a matter of course. The Changs used to follow the 
same practice, but most of them do not grow rice at all, and Job's tears 
are cut down stalk and all with a dao, and in the case of millet the whole 
head is torn off by hand. The Mano and southern Bro (Karen tribes) 


the reaper's basket are gathered into a bunch and twisted 
round as in wringing out a cloth. This makes the grain 
fall from the stalk, and the bunch, before being released, is 
given a bang against the side of the basket to knock out 
any remaining grains. The process is quite effective and 
obviates thresliing. The baskets of grain are taken as they 
are filled and deposited on mats in front of the field-house, 
where they are winnowed with a basket-work tray to remove 
bits of stalk, grass, and other foreign matter. The winnowed 
grain that cannot be carried away at once is piled up in the 
field-house to await transportation to the village. 

About a stook of corn close to the field-house is left 
unreaped, and tied together at the top so as to leave a 
little shrine-Hke hollow underneath with some heads of 
grain clearly hanging over above. Inside this hollow the 
ground is cleared and eatables and a " lao " of " madhu " 
are placed. These are taken away when the workers leave, 
and the liquor, at any rate, is liable to consumption while 
they remain ; but the ears of corn which form the head of 
this shrine may not be touched until the whole crop has 
been harvested, after which they are themselves garnered. 
This procedure is followed to attract the ancestral famihar 
spirit (agJiau) which will secure the fertihty of the owner's 
crops and his prosperity in general. The shrines are called 
aghaghubo (Ut. " wild paddy tree "),i and sometimes 
several are made near the field-house, but eatables and 
drink are not placed in more than one or two of them. 

In the village, grain is stored in granaries which are 
built like miniature houses in rows, but raised from the 
ground and lined with bamboo mats, usually far enough 
from the village to give security from fire, but nowadays 
sometimes closer to give security from theft, a compromise 

follow the same practice as the Semas {Gazette of Upper Burma and 
Shan States, Part I, vol. i, p. 535), and indeed the Mano seem by their 
vocabulary to have some linguistic connection — more, that is, than other 
Karens. The Garos also reap in the same way (Playfair, The Garos, 
p. 34) and the Lynngam and Bhois of the Khasia Hills (Gui-don, The 
Khasis, p. 40), these Assam tribes having, as the Sema certainly has, 
pronounced Bodo affinities {of. Gurdon, op. cit., p. 198). 

^ So it was translated to me, but I fancy it is really the " aghau''s rice 
plant." CJ. p. 348 n. 

AuJlAaninu AT AlaPI-'L'MI, in the I'OKEGROUXD 

A Tvi'iCAL Sema. 


Carrying Home the Millet 

[To face p. 04. 


between these two being dijSicult, since theft is no longer 
punishable by death, and the respect for property is not 
what it used to be when the boys never went away to service 
in Kohima, and the scarcity of land, and therefore of food, 
was Uttle felt. It is, by the way, genna to take matches to 
the field in harvest-time in those parts of the Sema country 
where matches have come into use, the fire-stick only being 
used. A few say that the reason is because matches are 
made of tiger-flesh, and more, with greater probability, 
because when struck they are so quickly used up,^ The 
Lhotas also have a prejudice against taking matches to 
the harvest fields, though it is now waning. Many things 
are forbidden to the Sema at harvest ; beef may not be 
eaten because it smells and the spirit of harvest would flee 
at the smell of it ; onion leaves are forbidden for the same 
reason ; honey and the honeycomb, wild fowls, and the 
abandoned kills of tiger or leopard may not even be touched, 
nor, for that matter, any cattle, goats, or dogs. In fact 
the only things that may be eaten during the reaping of the 
crops are pork, fish, and crabs, and, by women, fowls, though 
women who have eaten of them may not approach the place 
before the field-house where the grain is piled up. Cattle, 
both mithan and kine, and goats are not allowed to pass 
through the village during harvest, nor, above all, any 
fragment of a tiger or leopard or a human corpse. Nor may 
men at harvest-time go to the river by night to catch frogs, 
since, wading along with an " ekra " torch, their legs become 
very clean in the water and change colour, and the frogs 
jump and jump, which would make the grain harvested be 
quickly consumed. Thread may not be dyed, and whosoever 
is caught dyeing it, the man who sees her may take up the 
boiHng pot and break it on her head. Black thread may 
not even be exposed to dry, because of the smeU that there 
is fiom it. The Asimi clan may not eat in the house of a 
man of another clan for about two months before the 

For the protection of crops, besides the wind-clappers 
already mentioned (p. 58), sticks spht so as to show the white 

^ The Changs give the latter reason for the same practice. 


inside, split bamboos, and whitish leaves are used to scare 
animals, and the erection of these is usually accompanied 
by a genna, the cultivator refraining from speech to strangers 
on the day of erection, and his whole household observing 
the genna until the man himself has gone to his fields, while 
no article may be removed from the house before then. 
The haK-hoops of spht bamboo placed round fields to keep 
off wild pig are beheved to frighten the pig because of a 
tradition that once upon a time one end of one of these 
hoops, being released by a boar, and springing suddenly 
out of the ground, carried away the boar's testicles. To 
circumvent squirrels, which do considerable damage to 
newly-sown Job's tears, and the " bloodsucker " hzard 
(ataJcheh), which is credited with a similar destructiveness, 
a genna is observed as above, and a number of bitter things, 
leaves and seeds, etc., are sown in small quantities in each 
hollow scraped to receive the grain. This, together with 
the erection of white rods, etc., is beheved to protect the 
crops. Possibly it does. 

The implements used in agriculture are as follows : — 

Amoghu, an axe consisting of a haft of bamboo root with 
a long, narrow, flat, celt-hke blade wedged into a hole at 
the top. This blade is about 1 foot long or less and from 
2 to 3 inches broad at the cutting end, but much narrower 
at the other. The amoghu is used in agriculture for clearing 
virgin forest or other jungle where very large trees have to 
be felled. The blade of the amoghu may also be used as an 
adze {akaghu), for which purpose it is lashed to the wooden 
handle of a hoe. 

Azhta, the " dao," is used for all ordinary jungle clearing 
as well as every other conceivable purpose. It is used 
frequently as a hoe, the unsharpened corner being often 
worn down almost as much as the blade. 

Akujpu, the digging hoe with a crooked handle made from 
a forked bough, is of two sizes — pushyekwpu, the larger, 
used for digging up new land, and hangokupu, the smaller, 
used only for sowing. (An akupu must always be given 
by the bridegroom to the mother of a girl when she 
is first married.) A variety imported from the Yachumi 




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[To face p. 66. 


country is called tafuchi. It has a broad blade vnth 

Akuwo, the " horse-shoe " or " necktie " hoe, is made of 
a sliver of peeled bamboo bent round in the shape of a 
hor-e.shoe -with the ends prolonged to cross and afford a 
hold for the hand. It is made of pliant bamboo, tied 
into shape, and hung up near the fire, where it is kept 
for six months or a year or more. As many as seven or eight 
are used by one worker in a day. Occa.sionally hoes of 
similar pattern, but with a curved iron blade, to each end 
of which the bamboo is fastened to complet-e the " neck- 
tie," are imported from the Lhota or Ao country, where they 
have generally superseded the bamboo form. The Semas, 
however, prefer the bamboo one as lighter and handier, 
enabhng more work to be done in a given length of time 
than the iron-bladed form, and as not injuring the shoots 
of young com when clearing the growng crop, which the 
iron-bladed form is very liable to do.^ 

AJcuvja or acIooJca, the rake, is made of a stick spht up at 
one end, with the split parts bent at right angles, dried and 
hardened so as to make four or five fingers of more or less 
equal length sticking out from the end of the stick, and tied 
with cane to keep them at right angles to the handle. 

Apegfoe, or ajjogliu, the winnowing fan, is simply a sort of 
handleless shovel-shaped tray of bamboo matting. 

Akvjoh, the grain basket, is a very finely woven bamboo or 
cane basket pointed at the bottom and built up on the basis 
of a split bamboo. 

Akvjozhe, a sieve, made of finely-split bamboo and used 
for cleaning millet, etc. 

At?i,ehe-su, a club of wood or bamboo root for breaking up 
clods of earth. 

Unhke the Angamis, the Semas, generally speaking, do Natural 
not preserve firewood in plantations. Property in individual ^^'^P^- 
trees is, however, everywhere recognised, and in the im- 
mediate vicinity of any village most Xaga oak or alder trees 
belong to some particular individual, who has marked the 

^ Cf. Man, July 1917, "Some Tj-pes of Native Hoes, Naga Hilla " 

F 2 


tree as his own when it was small, in just the same way as 
a schoolboy establishes a prior claim to, say, the corner 
seat in a railway carriage by some such expression as 
" Bags I." In fact, the attitude of mind which governs 
relations between the individuals and the community of 
any Naga village, the views as to meum and tuum, and what 
must, may, and may not be done, together with the absence 
of private Ufe, is most vividly reminiscent of that which 
obtains among Enghsh schoolboys and regulates their 
unwritten codes, and which seems to be so quickly forgotten 
by those who have grown and become masters, the schoolboy 
code having been contaminated in them by a different 
view of morals altogether. As a sign of property, by the 
way, a stick or a growing saphng, cut off at about 4 feet 
from the ground, is used, the top being covered with a bunch 
of greenstuff doubled over and tied round. This probably 
represents a man, signifying that some man has taken 

Besides Naga oak and alder trees, which are particularly 
valued as firewood, other trees, such as " tez patta "^ for 
curry, and timber trees for planks, are also reserved by 
individuals, while thatching grass together with the land 
on which it grows is the subject of private property, though 
a person not requiring his thatch in any particular year 
gives leave to a neighbour in need of thatch to cut it without 
asking for any payment. It may not, however, be so cut 
without leave. Bamboos, like trees, are private property, 
belonging, as a rule, to the man who planted them and to 
his heirs, irrespective of the ownership of the land on which 
they are planted. It is quite common for a man to plant 
bamboos on someone else's land, and, if near the village, the 
owner of the land is not entitled to uproot even newly-planted 
bamboos if he did not forbid the planting before it took 
place, and must clear a fire Hne round them when jhuming 
his land. If, however, bamboos are sown at a distance from 
the village, the owner of the land on which someone else has 
sown bamboos may uproot them and cast them out. Cane 
is reserved, hke trees, where found, a sign being placed by 

* Laurus cassia. 

MiTHAN Bull with cane for leading it tied i!Ound Horns 

Sema Mithan (-4i/). 

[To face p. 69. 


it consisting of a post, the top of which is made into a very 
conventional likeness of a man's head by notching the post 
to represent the neck. Further notches are often cut when 
the place is visited as evidence of continued reservation. 

The cattle (amishi) kept by Semas consists of the domestic Live- 
variety of gaur or " mithan " {Bos frontalis) called avi, ^^°'^^- 
black humped cattle (achuJca), common cattle (kolaghu), 
and the hybrids, aselhu, by mithan out of achuka, and avyega 
(or kivegJm), by mithan out of kolaghu.''- These hybrids seem 
to be fertile. They are kept for the sake of their flesh (mithan 
beef is excellent) and are not milked, except in rare cases 
where they are kept by men who have been servants to 
Gurkhali graziers near Kohima, though the milk of the 
mithan is very rich and Semas have no objection to drinking 
it when they can get it. Buffaloes (aeli) are not kept by 
Semas, except by one or two men of Lazemi who have got 
them from graziers. Goats (anye), pigs (awo), fowls (awu), 
dogs {atsil), and cats (akwossd) complete the number of 
domestic animals, of which the latter only are not eaten, 
for though hunting dogs are never eaten by their owners, 
they may be sold for food when of no further use for hunting. 
Domestic cats, as usual among Nagas, are the subject of 
various superstitions, which have probably arisen owing to 
the extreme value of the cat as an exterminator of mice and 
rats, the depredations of which are very serious when corn 
is scarce and granaries only made of thatch and bamboo. 
Cats have been introduced only recently and are still 
unknown in the remoter Sema villages. It is believed that 
if a man asks the price of a cat, and refuses to give the price 
named, his paddy rots after being sown and his voice 
becomes husky like the purring of a cat. The purchaser of 
a cat performs a ceremony with it inside his house to prevent 
its running away to the jungle, which cats are apt to do. 
Two plantain-leaf platters are laid out just inside the door- 
way of the house, the left-hand one containing a little rice 
and the right-hand one six scraps of fresh liver, and in 
between them another bit of plantain-leaf bearing ashes from 

* For animals of various markings and for other crosses between different 
breeds there are a number of special names, e.g., tiisuba for a pied mithan. 


the hearth. The cat is then held with its face over the ashes 
and is made to take oath that if it crosses its owner's 
threshold it will be struck by Ughtning, its face being dipped 
three or four times to the ashes and its purchaser repeating 
the oath for it as follows : — 

" nono akikala vecheaye amsil-no o-chakkiipeni ; 

" you threshold if cross lightning shall strike you ; 

tighenguno tushokii-peke." 

for this reason oath is administered to you." 

After this the unfortunate cat is held to the meat, which it 
must eat, and then to the rice. Should it prove refractory, 
a small portion, first of the liver, then of the rice, is forced 
into its mouth. Hunting dogs {shi-ha-tsii),^ as has been 
mentioned, are never eaten by their masters and are usually 
treated with more kindness than the common cur which is 
no use for hunting {atsilzil = " dog-water "[?]). If a good 
hunting dog dies it is often buried with a bit of an old cloth 
as a mark of respect for it as the companion of man ; in 
its lifetime it is looked after and treated with affection. 
The genuine Sema dog has a short close coat and the long- 
haired woolly dogs (atuma-tsu) are importations from the 
south or east. Black or black and white, the former pre- 
dominating, is the usual colour of Sema dogs ; the ahen 
woolly kind, however, are often red. Names for dogs are 
various, and foreign names are often now given. Of the 
genuine Sema names for dogs Hakiye, Havili, and Shiku 
are the three principal ones. Hakiye means " ahead in 
hunting " and is applied to dogs ; Havili, applied to 
bitches, means " good at hunting," while Shiku is the 
name of an old man in a story, blind in one eye, who was 
set to watch drying paddy to scare away the chickens from 
it. He neglected to do so, but the owner's dog kept rushing 
out and scaring off the chickens, so the owner abused the 

^ = '* Meat-chase-dog." The intelligence of the Sema dog may be 
gauged from that of one which I had which succeeded in losing its collar. 
After a time I provided it with a new and, I suppose, less comfortable 
collar which it could not get rid of. At last it went away and came back 
later in the day from the jungle with its old collar, which it carried round 
until it found someone to take off the new collar and put back the old one. 


old man, telling him that he had not the heart of a dog, and 
called his dog " Shiku " as being more fit for the name, since 
when it has been appUed to dogs. The writer has known of 
a case in which one chief, Hoishe of Yehimi, called his 
dog Sakhalu after a neighbour of some renown, which was 
taken as a serious insult and ended in court, while another 
acquaintance, Hekshe of Seromi, named a pair of dogs after 
the chief of a Yachumi village and his wife. A name used 
for the wooUy dogs is Tuma, taken from the name of the 
breed. The Semas dock the tails only of bitches, and crop 
the ears as well as dock the tails of dogs. 

A favourite dog is usually killed when its owner dies. 
It is killed just as its body is lowered into the grave that its 
soul may accompany his. In the case of a man who has 
killed a tiger, leopard, or bear, such action is necessary, and 
if he possesses no dog at the time of his death, a dog is 
bought for the purpose in order that its soul may go with 
that of the dead man and guard him on his way to the village 
of the dead from the attacks of the beasts he has killed and 
whose souls are lying in wait for his. The flesh of a dog 
killed in this way is eaten by the Burier (amusJiou), except 
in the case of the Chophimi clan, who (perhaps following 
some Ao custom) divide it among those present Uke the 
flesh of the other animals kiUed at the funeral, and the 
southern Zumomi, who divide it among guests who do not 
belong to the dead man's clan. 

In the case of pigs all males are castrated not later than 
the age of three months, or earlier if they are forward in 
growth. They must be able to propagate their species 
before that time, for no boars are kept for breeding purposes. 
At the time of castration both the pig's ears and tail are 
cut and then bored, which is beheved to make them grow 
large quickly.^ Sows are not docked or ear-cropped. The 
ears of cattle are cut or sUt as a mark of ownership, but not 
in the way that the ears of pigs and dogs are cut. The 
reason given for docking the tails of dogs is to prevent 

^ Semas do not eat castrated piglets till after the ligature has been 
removed. If they ate them while the cotton Ugature was still in the cut 
they would catch their feet in creepers in the jungle and be tripped up 
and entangled. 


their putting them between their legs in fear, the notion 
being that it is this practice which makes them afraid, and 
that if this action is prevented by docking the tail the dog 
will always be courageous. The reason for docking the tails 
and boring the ears of pigs is said to be to distinguish easily 
the sex of the pig, and this is perhaps borne out by the 
fact that when the pigs are quite small it is quite common to 
cut a small piece of one ear to distinguish the sex, the opera- 
tion being completed at the time of castration, the point 
being that Uttle pigs (or dogs) wanted for eating are chased 
and killed with a stick. The cutting of the ear prevents 
the accidental Idlling of the females, which, owing to their 
breeding value, are kept. The breed of chickens kept is a 
small and poor one, in appearance closely related to the 
wild jungle fowl {Gallus ferrugineus), with which it un- 
doubtedly interbreeds at times, while a cross between the 
domestic fowl and the " kahj " ■^he&.sojnt {Genyioeus horsfieldi) 
has been found in Kilomi. It is a curious point that the 
Sema names of the wild fowl (laliu) and wild pig {amini) 
should differ so entirely from the corresponding domesti- 
cated species (awu and awo respectively) wliich they so 
closely resemble. Perhaps, Uke the words " beef " and 
"mutton" in EngUsh,it indicates a fusion of races or cultures. 
Bees are not kept by Semas, though private property in 
wild rock bees is recognised, the first finder acquiring 
property in the nest which is taken yearly for the sake of 
the honey and the grubs. If any of the persons who help 
to take the nest die during the year, it is put down to the 
bees, and the nest is not disturbed again, and sometimes 
a failure of crops is ascribed to the same circumstances 
and is followed by the same abstention by orders of the 
chief. Chastity must be observed the night before taking 
a bees' nest, as, if not, the bees sting the taker, who is also 
liable to be killed by enemies, and before the bee -takers 
leave their houses early in the morning to secure the nest, 
nothing whatever must be taken out of the house. Should 
a domestic animal give birth to young, or a fowl hatch 
chickens within three days of going to take bees, the owner 
cannot go. 


This prohibition, by the way, attaches to the birth of all 
domestic animals. In the case of mithan, which are kept 
in a semi-feral state, and visited from time to time, three 
days' genna is observed from the probable date of birth, 
so that if the calf appears more than three days old no 
genna is observed ; the owner, though not allowed to go to 
his own fields during such a genna, may go to other people's 
to work. When a number of mithan cows have calved in 
one year, each calf has three beans of the great sword bean 
(alau) tied to its neck, and a little pig^ is sacrificed to make 
them still more fruitful. The Uver is cooked, and five 
scraps are set apart for each cow and heifer calf and six 
scraps for each bull calf. These scraps are rubbed on the 
mouth of the animal to which they are allotted, and aU are 
then collected, tied up in a plantain-leaf, and thrust into 
the thatch of the owner's house from the inside. If on this 
occasion a kite should carry off a chicken or a piglet, all 
those mithan become ketseshe (" apodia ") and will probably 
fall into a hole or be taken by a tiger or meet some similar 
death by mischance. 

In the case of cows, as for mithan, three days' genna for a 
birth is observed. The birth of a fitter of pigs gives rise 
to a three days' genna, during which no Naga beans 
{akhekJii or ahyekhii) may be eaten. ^ In the case of dogs 
white oil seed (akini) is not eaten. There is no genna for 
chickens, except on the day on which they are taken out 
from the nest (usually hung up on the waU inside the house), 
or on the following day if they are not taken out tiU night. 
One who accidentally touches the basket containing the 
chickens before they are taken out may not go to the fields 
on that day. The shells of the hatched eggs are kept on a 
string in the house till they fall to pieces of themselves, as 
it is thought that this promotes the prosperity of the 
chickens, for all the world as an Irish peasant places the 
shells of his hatched eggs on the top of his hen-coop. 

The observation of akiplkehi (? = " don't address the 

^ By some a chicken. 

^ Some abstain also from pork, wild vegetables, the beans called khuithi, 
sesame, and oil seeds {akini) as well. 


house ! "), as this three days' genna is called, entails the 
abstention from speech with strangers and from the eating 
of crabs. The genna for the birth of dogs, though not 
called akipikehi, is treated as though it were. 

It may here be noted that it is a common practice among 
Semas to hold shares in a beast. Thus one man may own 
half a mithan, the other two quarters of which (all spoken 
of as " legs ") are held by two more men, all three belonging 
to different villages. ^ This practice is also occasionally 
extended to pigs, while a man who keeps any female 
domestic animal for another man is usually entitled to 
share the offspring. As regards injury committed by 
animals, a Sema can claim that a dog that has bitten a man 
shall be promptly killed, after which it would ordinarily 
be cooked and eaten by its owner. Cattle that are dangerous 
must be at once sold out of the village or else slaughtered, 
while a beast that has injured a human being must be killed, 
though even in this case, as also in that of a dog that has 
bitten anyone, immediate sale away from the village would 
probably be usually sufficient. Sema custom recognises no 
damages for cattle trespass, but in the case of animals that 
damage crops consistently, the owner must be fairly warned, 
after which the man whose crops have been repeatedly 
damaged may, if he finds it in his field, spear the offending 
animal ; but it is his duty to notify the owner that he has 
done so, so that the owner can remove the flesh. ^ In the 
case of animals fighting and one being killed or injured, no 
compensation can be claimed (except, of course, if one of 
them was urged on), but a man with a pugnacious beast 
may be warned to remove it, and a claim will stand against 
him if he fails to do so. 

A man keeping cattle owned, or partly owned, by another 
has to notify this owner at once in case of loss or injury, or 

^ The obviotis disadvantages of this are balanced by the advantage of 
distributing one's ownership in different places when the recurring epidemics 
of cattle disease occur. 

* The custom of claiming damages for cattle trespass is gradually being 
extended in the Kohima sub-division as a result of orders in court based 
on Angami usage. There are also indications in Mokokchung villages that 
the pajTnent of damage for cattle trespass will before long be insisted on. 


he becomes himself responsible for it. The usual terms on 
which the care of pigs, dogs, goats, and chickens is under- 
taken are equal division of offspring, but in the case of 
cattle the owner pays the keeper yearly a cloth and one 
rupee, or, if distant, five rupees. 

Guns being scarce in the Sema country, hunting is still Hunting, 
carried on regularly on the old plan. Parties of men go 
out with hunting dogs, and while some follow up the game 
in the jungle, cheering on the dogs, others wait with spears 
in the place where the game is expected to emerge into more 
open ground, the course taken by it being indicated by the 
persistent barking of the pursuing dogs. This method of 
hunting has already been fully described in the Angami 
monograph. Sometimes whole villages turn out to hunt 
in this way ; but in the case of deer, serow, bear, and pig 
the hunting is mostly done by small parties, the whole 
village only turning out for the pursuit of tiger or leopard. 

In dividing the game taken in hunting certain very clear 
and definite rules are observed. To those who own or 
work the dogs is given " the dogs' share," atsilsa, consisting 
of the two hind-quarters,^ the actual dogs getting each a 
small portion of the ear, of the tongue, of the liver, and of 
the stomach. The first spear gets the head and neck, the 
liver and the heart ; the second the loin, giving shares to 
any others that may have put spears into the animal before 
its death. One fore-quarter is given to the chief of the 
village, and the rest is divided among aU who took part 
in the hunt, the dogs again coming in for shares on this 
ground. Should the animal be killed on the land of a 
friendly village, something is given to the chief — often one 
of the legs of the " dogs' share," if the proper recipients agree 
to this, or a fore-quarter or part of the ribs. 

Should game be killed, before pursuit by the original 
pursuers has ceased, by a different hunting party or a 
cultivating party in the fields of another village, as often 
happens, the " dogs' share " must be given to the huntsmen 
whose dogs put up the game to start with. This is a point 
of etiquette most strictly enforced. It should be added that 

* The head is regarded as the " dogs' share " by the Lhotas. 


in hunting dangerous game, such as pig or bear, the dogs' 
share consists only of the lower half of one hind-quarter, 
in view of the personal risk run by the men who compose the 
hunting party, which is regarded as entitUng them to a 
larger share of the meat. In the case of tiger or leopard, 
dogs are not employed, and the division of the spoils is much 
the same as in the case of the killing of a human enemy, 
tiger and leopard being reckoned for many purposes as 
practically equivalent to men. 

There are a certain number of gennas regularly observed 
in connection with hunting, some of which approximate very 
closely to those observed in the case of war or head-taking. 
At the opening meet of the season,^ if the expression be 
permitted, until the owner or worker of hunting dogs has 
left the village for the hunt nothing must be taken out of 
his house. On all occasions of hunting a halt is made after 
leaving the village and the omens taken by making fire with 
the fire-stick, the smoking tinder being passed six times 
round the best of the hunting dogs. The favourability 
or otherwise of the omen is determined by the nature of 
the break in the bamboo thong used for making fire. An 
unfavourable omen does not entail the postponement of the 
hunt. These omens are usually taken by one or more of 
those who bring dogs to the hunt, but can be taken by 
almost anyone, particularly by persons who have a reputa- 
tion for obtaining correct prognostications ; but it is abso- 
lutely necessary that the taker of the omens should have 
remained chaste the preceding night, and should this 
condition be unfulfilled in the case of anyone asked to take 
omens, he refuses to take them and requests someone else 
to do so. It is held that should the omens be taken by 
one who has not been chaste the previous night the dogs 
will turn stupid and perverse, over-run the scent, and 
generally behave in an untoward way. One is tempted to 
infer from all this that the form of taking the omens was 
originally intended rather to control the action of the game 

^ The Sema observes no close seasons for game (except when made to 
do so), but hunting with dogs on an extensive scale usually stops towards 
the end of May, becaiise it is apt after that to damage the young corn. 
Hunting is in full swing again after the harvest is in. 


than to obtain foreknowledge of the result of the hunt. 
Chastity is also regarded in the Ught of a measure of personal 
precaution, and as such is frequently observed by persons 
intending to hunt dangerous game on the following day. 
Hunting parties usually go out on days when it is genna 
to work in the field, so that plans for hunting are made at 
any rate the day before, and are rarely the result of a sudden 
impulse. The hunter who takes the head of the game killed 
must remain chaste that night, in addition to which he may 
eat no rice until the following day. Whoever kills a tiger 
must remain chaste for six days. He may eat no rice the 
first day, and for the whole six days may not eat any 
vegetables except chilUes, nor any meat except pork, and he 
must sleep away from home, or at least away from his 
women-folk, on a bed of spUt bamboo to prevent sound 
sleep, during which the soul of the slain beast might attack 
and devour his own. This genna is said to have originally 
been observed for thirty days (the Changs keep a very 
strict thirty days' genna for the kilHng of a tiger), but 
among the Zumomi clan, at any rate, the genna is beheved 
to have been reduced to six days at Nunomi, whence the 
custom spread to Sukomi, and so to all the villages of the 
Zumomi clan. Finally, no huntsman may eat game which 
he has killed himself. The Sema makes no compromise in 
this matter hke the Angami, who may eat game that he 
has killed himself after he has killed 150 head in all, and he 
keeping his own score. The reason of this prohibition is 
perhaps a feeUng that to eat the body of the game he has 
himself killed is to afiord a handle to the posthumous 
influence of the animal killed, which will of necessity be 
maHgnantly disposed towards him. 

In hunting tiger and leopard the Semas do not, hke the 
Lhotas and Aos, build a paUsade, but merely surround the 
animal with spears and shields. The dead body is treated 
much as that of an enemy, at any rate in many parts of 
the Sema country, the head being taken back to the village 
and hung up outside it where the heads of enemies are hung. 
The tail too is usually cut off and taken away, the body 
being left to rot. A fashion, however, of putting up the 


body on a platform by the nearest village path and leaving 
it there for passers by to see (and to admire the prowess 
of the slayers) seems to prevail in the Northern Sema 
villages. Probably it is a recent imitation of the Ao custom 
of exposing the body of the tiger or leopard killed on a 
platform just outside the village. Boars' tushes, by the 
way, may not be worn by the killer of the boar that grew 
them, though he may wear the tushes of any boar which 
he has not killed himself. 

Of traps and snares the Semas use the pitfall (aJchwo) 
like the Angamis, digging a pit, putting long " panjis " at 
the bottom, and covering the top with hght brushwood, 
thin sticks of reeds, etc., sprinkled with earth and thickly 
covered with dead leaves. They also place panjis, three or 
five as a rule, but not four, as this would be unsuccessful 
(" there is luck in odd numbers "), in a path used by deer, 
where the deer has to jump over a fallen tree which hides 
the panjis, on to which the deer jumps and is impaled. The 
same method is used in the rice fields, a high fence being 
built, with here and there a gap, where the fence is cut down 
to half its height, the panjis being placed inside the gap to 
impale the deer or pig jumping through it. The fall trap 
(zheka) is used in the fields for monkeys and baited with a 
cucumber. When the monkey pulls at this a bamboo 
shelf loaded with stones falls down and flattens him. 
Snares, akesii (the Angami kesheh) and avafu, on the same 
pattern as those depicted in the Angami monograph, are 
used as well as three other varieties, a'itJio, used for deer ; 
ashepu, another of the same type ; and silgotsa, used for 
snaring pheasant, partridge, and other birds. 

The snare called a'itho is made by attaching a long rope 
of the fibres of the sago palm (aithobo) to the end of a bent 
bough. This rope ends in a running noose behind which 
is a peg. A hooped stick is stuck down into the ground in 
a hollowed place in a track used by deer and the top of the 
peg caught up underneath it. The rope is taken over the 
hoop and the noose spread. The peg is held in place by a 
short stick resting horizontally across the hoop against two 
vertical sticks. On the horizontal stick other sticks are 




rested at right angles to it and passing under the noose and 
raised from the earth at the other end by a bit of wood. 
The whole is covered with dead leaves. If the deer steps 

Diagram to show 
how A'lV/io is set 

in the circle formed by the noose he depresses the sticks 
which rest on the horizontal stick which holds the peg in 
place. Tliis re- 
leases the peg and 
the bough springs 
back into posi- 
tion, suspending 
the deer by the 
noose, which has 
run tight about 
its leg. 

The ashepu is 
set on the same 
principle as the 
a'itho, but on a 
very much 
smaller scale, and 

a, cord attached to spring (as in attho) ; b, hoop 
(as in aitho) ; c, peg (as in aitho) ; d, bait in 
centre of bamboo loop in which the point of 
the peg is caught ; e, stick by which the 
bamboo loop is kept in place ;/,/, spreaders 
on which the noose rests. 

with a bait which necessitates a shghtly different method 
of release. The peg, instead of being caught on a 




horizontal stick, is caught in the end of a Uttle bamboo 
loop, the other end of which is caught on a stick stuck 
into the ground. The bait is fixed in the middle of 
the bamboo loop and the noose spread round it on twigs 
stuck into the ground. The pheasant pecks at the 
bait, for which a bright red and black seed is used, 
and depressing the loop releases the peg, so that the noose 
is snatched up, suspending the bird by its neck. For the 
spring of a trap of this sort a bent stick will serve. 

The snare called siigotsa, again, is made on the same 
principle as the a'itho, but the noose hangs vertically from 
the bar, light slivers being propped against the latter to 

keep the noose spread, 
and a miniature fence 
made on each side of it 
in the run in which it is 
placed, so as to make the 
bird enter the noose. The 
hoop is made of a stick 
bent twice so as to give 
it a horizontal top and 
vertical sides, against 
which the horizontal stick, 
which retains the peg, is 

The bird in passing 
through displaces the 
horizontal stick and is caught up in the released noose. 

Although hunting rights are limited by the boundaries 
of the village land, beyond which game already started may 
be pursued, but outside which fresh game may not be hunted 
or sought for, snaring rights are not so limited. It is well 
recognised that snares may be set on the land of another 
village, and where the respective villages are not at enmity 
they will be allowed to remain. The ownership of the game 
caught in snares is not always respected, and it is not 
regarded as a punishable theft to take birds from another 
man's snare, though it is looked on as a low thing to do. 
In the case of deer snared it is absolutely genna to abstract 


a, cord ; b, b, hoop ; c, peg ; d, d, d, 
horizontal to keep peg in place ; 
/» /» /> spreaders for noose. 


the meat from another man's snare, and such a theft is 
beheved to be inevitably followed by paralysis of the limbs 
and spine of the thief. One Ikashe of Sheyepu stole a deer 
from the aitJio of one Povilho, of the same village, still 
alive at the time of writing, and, when met carrying the 
animal, said he had speared it, which was in a sense true, 
as the deer was alive when he found it, and he had dispatched 
it with a spear. Having fallen ill of rheumatic fever, or 
sometliing of the sort, he sent for Povilho and confessed his 
misdeed and asked him to make peace with him in the 
formal manner. This would have entailed Povilho's bringing 
a leaf of water to Ikashe, who would on his part have brought 
a leaf of liquor in his right hand and a piece of meat in his 
left. First of all Ikashe would have burnt his piece of 
meat in his fire. Then Povilho would have taken the leaf 
of liquor, dipped his chin in it and thrown it away, and 
Ikashe would then have done the same with Povilho's 
water, and the offence would have been purged. Povilho, 
however, refused. Ikashe had not even given him the head 
of the deer, and had spoilt his snaring, so that he had never 
been able to catch anything since. Accordingly Ikashe 
became paralysed, and died in agony crying out " a'itho, 
a'itho." Fact. 

Of taking fish the Semas have some seven methods, some 
of which are practised in varying ways, and all of which 
are not practised by all villages. 

The names for these methods differ, and there are possibly Fishing, 
other ways which are not recorded here. The methods 
here given are, however, all in vogue in the Tizu valley in 
one village or another, many of them practising all the 
seven methods mentioned. There are (1) fishing by weirs 
(akhu), in which the fish are caught in baskets facing 
upstream and inserted in holes in a weir built across the 
river of stones, sticks, bamboos, and mud. This method is 
probably practised by all Semas within reach of any large 
river, though so far as is known to the writer they do not 
ever put their basket traps facing downstream hke the 
Changs. (2) Fishing with the rod. This method is uni- 
versal and consists in attaching a fine fine of twisted fibre 


to the tapering end of a light bamboo, and an iron hook 
(usually of umbrella wire) to the end of the hne. The bait 
usually consists of a cricket, grasshopper, or worm, and is 
flicked out on to the water in hkely places, allowed to rest 
a moment or two, and withdrawn. The rod is called ashuli, 
the hne akheghi-kipeli, the hook akha-kemusse-i, and the 
bait ashi.'^ (3) Fishing with a fish-noose (aikegJii), which 
consists of a running noose, attached to the end of a stick, 
which is held in front of a fish swimming in the water and 
jerked tight as it passes through. It can, of course, only 
be used from a rock or bank from which it is possible to look 
over and see the fish as they move in the water, which must 
be fairly clear. It is only practised in some villages, notablj'' 
Yezami. (4) Fishing with a net. There are three sorts of 
nets, the large drag-net (shithi), the smaU drag-net (akhame), 
and the landing-net {akhasho). The shithi needs a dozen 
men to drag it, while akJiame can be worked by four men. 
The two are often used in conjunction, the fish being driven 
up into the corner of a pool with the shithi and surrounded 
and hauled out with the akhame, though if very big fish 
are taken they have to be extracted with the shithi itself. 
These nets are worked by being dragged by men wading in 
the river or on the bank at each end of the net, which is in 
both cases a long and heavy arrangement made of fibre, 
and, in the case of shithi, with a large mesh which serves 
more to frighten the fish than to entangle them. The net 
is weighted with stones tied to the lower edge or with lumps 
of some heavy gum or rubber wrapped round the cord that 
forms the lower edge. The material used in making it is, 
as usual, twisted fibre, of which there are many kinds known, 
two of the principal being species of jute and of nettle, 
the skin of which is used. The hand -net, akhasho, is used 
generally in conjunction with some other method of 
fishing, but in muddy water, when a flood is subsiding and 
the fish are rising and feeding freely, it is sometimes used 
by itself, being simply thrust under the rising fish, which 

' The bait, whatever it is, must be spoken of as " ashi,^^ or the fish will not 
take it : ashi = flesh, meat. So, too, the Changs when baiting with a worm 
must never call it a worm (khinkin), but hau-yang (" earth -insect") or 
ydk-pit (" bead string "), as if called a worm the fish will not touch it. 


is probably in a semi-stupid condition as a result of the 
flood. The spear is also used occasionally to take fish in 
the same circumstances, the speared fish (they do not stick 
to the spear, since the ordinary unbarbed weapon is used) 
being either retrieved by swimmers or picked up stranded 
at the nearest shallows or weir. The drag-net is a method 
that can only be used rarely and in a few places, as the 
current and rocks of the hill rivers usually forbid its use. 
(5) Fish are caught by hand in three ways at least. They 
may be taken by simply holding a cloth or a basket at the 
mouth of a small stream where it runs into the river, ^ and 
keeping it there for fry and small fish to fall into, which at 
the right time of year they sometimes do in large numbers, 
together with spawn deposited by fish that have come up 
the river in the rains and spawned in the Httle tributaries 
temporarily swollen to an abnormal size. This method 
is called akJiaUio. Catching fish in shallow water by 
hand is called apeli. Usually the water is diverted from 
one side of the river-bed to the other side by means of 
a low dam of stones and earth, and the fish taken out of 
the puddles and hollows left in the bed of the stream. This 
is a universal method of taking fish when the water in the 
river is low, but fish are also sometimes taken by hand in 
deep water {akhakhu is the word used), when they are more 
or less bhnded by mud or numbed by cold. It is not a 
method in extensive practice, because the majority of Semas 
cannot swim, but is done sometimes even by those who 
cannot swim, a long bamboo being thrust down to the bottom 
of the river and held by men on the bank, while a man cUmbs 
down the bamboo with a stone in his waist-belt, as a sinker, 
and gropes in holes under the bank for any fish that may 
be there. A fish caught is immediately grasped with the 
teeth to prevent its wriggling away. 

(6) One of the best-known ways of fishing is by " poison " 
(aichi),^ a creeper being beaten into the water till the juice of 

^ I have seen a casual passer-by use an umbrella for a similar purpose 
to great effect, but in the plains, not in the Naga Hills. 

* Acacia Intsia. Another creeper called suichi (probably a Milletia) 
is also used. The aichi leaves are used for killing vermin on the hiunan 

G 2 


it intoxicates and stupefies the fish, which are then caught 
with the hand-net, or killed with a dao and taken by hand. 
They are also caught stranded in shallows and weirs and 
sometimes taken in deep water on the bottom of the river by 
divers who use a stone to sink with, and grope for fish in the 
river bottom. Diving, however, is a rare accomphshment in 
the Sema country. When all the inhabitants of a Sema 
village, or, as occasionally, several villages, turn out to 
*' poison " (the misnomer " poison " is used because it is an 
expression in common use for this ; the Sema word a'ichi does 
not mean " poison," which is thughu) for fish in a river of 
some size like the Dayang or the Tizu, the take is sometimes a 
large one. More often, however, it is totally out of proportion 
to the labour entailed. At least a whole day is occupied, 
before the fishing takes place, in searching for the roots and 
stems of the creeper used, carrjdng them back to the village, 
and giving them a preliminary pounding. On the actual 
day of operations the village proceeds to the river, each 
man carrying his bundle of creeper-fibre already frayed out 
and partly crushed and slung on a cudgel over his shoulder. 
If there is more than one village taking part they signal one 
another's departure for the appointed spot by smoke signals, 
and arrive at the chosen place at approximately the same 
time. As the men of each village come down to the water, 
they close up into an irregular column and move slowly 
towards it with drawn daos and much " Ho-ho "-ing, this 
being a sort of challenge to the river to do its worst against 
them. A " poisoning " of this sort is always regarded as 
in some sense an act of war upon the river and its denizens. 
Arrived at the river, the men deposit their bundles and set 
to work to fell large trees the trunks of which will stretch 
across the shallows where the water is to be impregnated. 
The place chosen for operation is always a shallow rapid 
above a deep or comparatively deep pool, where there are 
beheved to be fish in some numbers. Dams, or rather 
benches of tree-trunks, and boulders, are made across the 
stream, and each man lays his bundle on one of these and 
stations himself before it with the cudgel in his hand. Long 
rows are thus formed stretching across the stream of bundles 


of creepers on rough benches, as it were, each bench between 
two rows of men facing one another, stout short sticks 
in their hands. In the middle, perched on a boulder, is a 
chief or the son of a chief, who controls operations. He too 
has a stick, but not for beating creepers. The women and 
children of the village have by this time arrived and are 
crowded on the bank to look on. The Sema does not (hke 
the Lhota) tabu the presence of his women-folk on these 

When aU is ready the beating of the creepers begins at a 
signal from the chief in the middle. The beating is done by 
the opposite rows alternately and in strict time, not 
haphazard, as by the Lhotas and Aos. One Hne bring their 
cudgels down while their vis-a-vis raise theirs over their 
heads. After a few minutes of steady rhythmical beating 
the directing chief gives the signal to stop, when the cudgels 
are laid down, and the bundles of creeper dipped into the 
water. The beating is then continued again for a few more 
minutes, when the creepers are again dipped, and so on 
until the juice has been entirely beaten out of the creepers 
and is swirhng down the river in white suds and discoloured 
eddies. When the chief gives the order to stop altogether, 
the beaters throw down their cudgels and rush to the lower 
end of the pool above which they have been working. Mean- 
while the women and children and elder men have assembled 
on the banks with baskets and landing nets and, with the 
chiefs and other persons too important to take a hand in 
the actual beating, are waiting to take their share in the 
proceedings. No one is allowed to go downstream tiU the 
beating is over, after which everyone does what he likes to 
secure fish. These latter are apparently intoxicated by the 
juice of the creeper and swim feebly about on the surface 
of the river, displaying a strong tendency to come to the 
edge. Some are fished out with nets, some kiUed by cutting 
them with a dao, and some are taken by swimmers and divers, 
for though the majority of the Semas cannot swim, in most 
villages near rivers a few are to be found who can, and these 
take a stone, sink to the bottom, and grope there for drunken 
fish. The women and children pick up the smaller fish in 


the shallows. When the catch is a large one, the capture 
of fish may go on till nightfall, and for half a mile or a mile 
or more downstream, for though the effects of the dichi 
rarely extend for more than 50 yards, the helpless fish 
are washed down until they happen to get stranded, 
where they stay till picked up, being usually too sick 
to swim away. Of course many of the fish in the rivers 
are only slightly affected, and the unavaiUng struggles 
of one or two swimmers to take or kill with a dao 
a large and lively fish which is far enough gone to 
keep coming to the surface, but still very far from 
being helpless, are often quite amusing. The effect of 
the juice of this creeper is very different on various species 
of fish. A species of carp {Labeo) with an overhanging upper 
lip, a bottom feeder which makes the broad lines on stones 
so familiar in these Naga Hills rivers, is very susceptible to 
the " poison," which, if fresh and plentiful, often kills a 
fair number. On the various varieties of mahseer, however, 
the creeper juice has a very much milder effect, and generally 
does nothing more than intoxicate the smaller ones, even a 
very large quantity seeming to have but small effect on fish 
of 6 or 7 lb. and upwards, while mahseer of as much as 10 lb. 
are rarely if ever taken in this manner. To the destructive 
fresh- water shark, on the other hand, the " guriya mah " of 
the Assamese, probably Bagarnis yarrellii, the intoxicant is 
most deadly, and a very small dose of it kills. This fact, 
taken in conjunction with the rarity with which " poison- 
ing " operations are attended by a large destruction of fish, 
gives some ground for supposing that the use of this creeper 
as practised in the Sema country might be even perhaps more 
beneficial to the river as a whole than otherwise ; for it is 
the writer's experience, after seeing a number of " poison- 
ings " on a large scale, that the bag of fish is usually small, 
out of all proportion to the labour involved, and though a 
number of fish is yearly killed in this manner, the kill is 
probably not greater than the river can bear, while the 
predatory fish are so effectually prevented from increasing 
that they probably do not breed in the river at all, but 
consist solely in the few individuals that find their way up 


from the plains in the rainy season. ^ Apparently the 
aichi juice sinks to the bottom of the river, so that the 
mahseer and even minnows swimming nearer the top escape 
from the full effect of it. It should be added that when 
Nagas speak of fish " dying " as a result of operations such 
as have been described, they are frequently only alluding to 
the intoxication of the fish, from which it recovers as the 
pure water comes down stream, which in the rapid hiU 
rivers it does very quickly. More harm is possibly done by 
the small parties that go out from time to time to catch 
fish in this manner in the smaller streams where the mahseer 
spawn, but these operations are on a very small scale indeed. 
It is only once or twice in the year that any village conducts 
a fishing of this sort on a large scale, and when it does the 
operation is usually a comparative failure. A very much 
more deadly poison for fish is said to be still sometimes used 
by the villages on the banks of the Dayang, though not 
known further east. This is the poison known to the 
Assamese as " deo-bih," and it is used in a different manner, 
being sometimes, if not always, sunk in the river overnight, 
but its use has recently been forbidden in British territory. 
It causes the death of fish for a considerable distance down 
the river, and persons drinking of impregnated water suffer 
from a considerable sweUing of their whole bodies and a 
good deal of pain. It is, however, decidedly untrustworthy, 
and it seems not infrequently to fail entirely to have any 
effect whatever, though sometimes exceedingly destructive. 
The Aos use walnut leaves and a sort of fruit with a hard 
kernel. The latter, at any rate, is much stronger than 

Another method of using a'icJii which the writer has seen 
employed is to take a small quantity and stuff it into the 
holes, under the banks of the river, in which there are known 
to be fish. The presence of the fish is quickly recognised 
when the aichi is apphed, as it causes the fish to exude or 
expectorate a small quantity of shmy substance like sahva 

1 After writing the above I discovered that Mr. Soppitt, writing in 
1885 {Historical and Descriptive Account of Kachari Tribes in North Cachar 
Hills — reprinted Shillong, 1901), came to the same conclusion (p. 52). 


(it is called akhamthi, " fish-spittle "), which is detected in 
the water at the mouth of the hole. If this substance is 
found the a'icM is replaced until the fish are reduced to a 
condition in which they can be taken by hand. In the 
employment of a'ichi in this manner three or four men or so 
go out together with long bamboos, which are thrust down 
to the bed of the river in pairs and held there sHghtly apart. 
A man with a stone in his belt then descends — he need not 
be able to swim at all — by the two bamboos and puts the 
a'ichi into the holes where the fish are, and comes up again. 
When the fish are to be taken out the fishermen descend 
in turns, staying under until they have got hold of two or 
three fish, which they bring up in their mouth and one 
hand, usually holding on to one of the bamboos with the 

But of all the Sema methods of fishing that (7) called 
akhaki ( = " fish house ") is perhaps most characteristic of 
the Sema as opposed to other tribes. ^ In the cold waters 
of the Tizu river a spot is selected near a deep pool known 
to be frequented by fish, and a long tunnel about 20 to 
30 feet in length is built of loose stones, leading away from 
the pool in fairly shallow water. The end is likewise blocked 
by stones. The fish in the cold weather congregate some- 
times in numbers in this dark impasse and are removed by 
hand some morning when they are numbed with cold. 

Grcnnas connected with fishing appear to be few. Should 
a member of the village suffer a birth in his house, whether 
of a human or a domestic animal, on the morning of a 
" poisoning," he and his household are not allowed to attend, 
and the bundle of " poison " prepared by him is taken from 
the general pile and cast away. It may not be taken to the 
river. When a man is going fishing with rod and fine he 
speaks to no one at aU that day until he has finished angling, 
lest the fish should hear him — a very sound precaution this 
when on the bank of the river, but it is perhaps carrying it 
further than absolutely necessary to credit the fish in the 

^ I have seen Hill Kacharis practise a very similar method, though in 
their case the " fish house " is surrounded by a net when the fish are to 
be removed. 


river in the valley with being able to hear him speak in his 
village on the top of the hill. 

The food of the Semas consists primarily of a monotonous Food, 
diet either of rice or, in those villages which are in such high 
and exposed situations that rice will not grow, of Job's 
tears — an uncompromising cereal which Nagas unused to 
it are unable to digest and strongly resent being asked to 
eat. Occasionally as a last resort millet is eaten as a 
substitute for cither of these, but it is normally used only 
for brewing and is most unappetising boiled, and boiling 
is the only method known to the Naga of cooking rice or 
its substitutes. With the rice, however, something is 
always eaten, meat, fish, vegetables, or, if nothing else at 
all is to be had, chillies alone. The Sema, Uke other Nagas, 
is a great eater of chilUes, and can and does fill liis mouth 
with chiUies and nothing else and eat them as though they 
were chocolates. He is, however, generally speaking a 
great meat-eater, and except in cases of unusual poverty 
or scarcity eats a quantity of some sort of meat or fish at 
every meal, not very much, perhaps, but enough to make 
deprivation of it a serious hardship. Like the Angami, he 
takes three meals in the day, eating rice from one dish, and 
meat and vegetables from another, while a dish is usually 
shared between two or more persons. BoiUng is the only 
method of cooking practised except toasting, which is 
sometimes resorted to. As with the Angami, no part of an 
animal's body is wasted. The skin is eaten after the hair 
has been singed. So are the intestines. Like Sir John 
MandeviUe's " Tartarians," the Semas " eat all the beasts 
without and within, without casting away of anything save 
only the filth." Bones, horns, and hoofs are aU that are 
not eaten, while small birds, frogs, and similar soft-boned 
creatures are eaten bones and aU. Meat is regularly smoke- 
dried over a fire until quite hard, in which condition it keeps 
indefinitely. When required, pieces are cut off and boiled 
till soft. 

While not exactly discriminating in the matter of what 
flesh he eats, the Sema is distinctly less omnivorous than 
the Angami or the Chang. The flesh from which he abstains 

90 - THE SEMA NAGAS part 

is avoided for reasons which, though no doubt overlapping, 
divide it into two distinct classes, that of the animals the 
flesh of which is not eaten because of some habit of the 
animal which inspires disgust for its flesh, and those the 
flesh of which is not eaten for fear of the consequences 
entailed by eating it. The former class is barely discernible 
among the food prohibitions of the other two tribes men- 
tioned. In regard to the latter class of food gennas among 
the Semas, it is to be noticed that the ill consequences 
which are held to follow the use of certain animals and birds 
as food more often attend the offspring of the eaters than 
the eaters themselves, and these foods can therefore be 
eaten by old or childless men, who have no prospect of 
bringing more children into the world. ^ These will also 
often eat food the consequences of which merely affect their 
persons in some particular for which they have passed the 
stage of caring, but they do not eat food that falls in the 
former class. The lists that follow, though probably far 
from complete, are fairly typical of the flesh gennas observed 
by Semas in general. There are also special gennas observed 
at special times, by special persons, or by individual clans, 
which are dealt with in their own places. The gennas in 
the hsts given are more or less universally observed by the 
Sema tribe. 

Of domestic animals {tikishi, = " house flesh ") the 
cat alone is not eaten. This has been already dealt 

Of wild animals (teghashi, — " STpirit flesh" or "jungle 
flesh ") the following are eschewed, (a) on account of natural 
repugnance to the idea of eating them : — 

The tiger, leopard, and larger cats. The tiger and 
leopard are regarded as closely akin to man and to eat 
them would be almost cannibaHsm. The larger cats 
are also usually classed generically as " tigers " (angshu) 
and fall into the same category. The test is roughly 
whether or not the cat in question is called angshu or 

^ So, too, Semas whose wives are pregnant may not kill snakes, which 
would cause the child to be born with a tongue quivering in and out Uke 
a snake. So, too, the Tangkbiuls (Census of Assam, 1911, I., p. 76). 


not. Thus the little leopard cat, anyengu (Felis bengalensis), 
is eaten, while the cat called angshu-akinu (? Felis aurata) 
is not. 

Rats and mice generally (azhi), except the bamboo-rat 
called acheghi, a member of the Rhizomys family which lives 
among the roots of " ekra." To this medicinal properties 
are attributed and it is universally eaten. The water-rat, 
azhukhu, is not ordinarily eaten, but is sometimes resorted 
to as a cure for dysentery. A rat called azJmyeh (or azhichu, 
" edible rat ") is eaten by many, and by all if they have 

Bats (ashuka). The reason given for abstention is that 
they are like mice. 

(6) Those abstained from because of the fear of the 
acquisition of their qualities by consumption are : — 

The fl3dng squirrels {attolo,^ asiiki), because they are 
" idiot," and the eaters would therefore be Hable to beget 
idiot children. They are probably regarded as idiot because 
they sleep in the day and come out at night, just as the 
Cheshire cat was mad because she did the opposite of the 
dog which was admittedly not so. 

The huluk ape ^ (akuhu) is abstained from by some 
though not all Semas on the ground that its consump- 
tion would render the eater liable to beget children 
who kept crying " hualu, hualu, hualu," Uke the ape. 
It may, Uke the flying squirrels, always be eaten by 
old men. 

The otter, 3 achegeh, is eaten, but it is beUeved that 
this causes the hair of the head to become hard and dry 
and difficult to shave, because it dries as fast as it is 

The musk-rat (keghu) is not eaten, but its singed hair 
is used sometimes as a remedy for a long illness, being mixed 
with water in which the sick man washes in the forlorn hope 

^ Some Semas regard it as genna even to touch it. They say that it 
turns into a cat of the species called angshu-yeghuli (? Felis macrocelis). 
Attolo = Petaurista yunnanensis ; asiiki = Pteromys aboniger. 

* Hylobates hooluck. 

^ Lutra leptonyx and probably nair also. 


that the sickness may be frightened from his body by the 
horrible smell of the musk-rat. 

The Hst of birds not eaten is a larger one. 
(a) Not eaten for reason of natural repugnance : — 
The crow {agha) {Corvus macrorhynchus) is banned 
because it eats human corpses. The bird called kutsiikheke 
(? = " head-nester "), a very diminutive bird indeed, is 
not eaten because it is popularly believed to build in the 
empty eye-sockets of the skulls of enemies taken in war 
and hung up outside the village. It is regarded as most 
abusive to ask a man whether he cannot see because a 
kutsiikheke has built a nest in his eye, or to express a wish 
that the bird may do so. It is also believed that if this 
bird wishes to be successful in producing any offspring it 
must lay in a nest of human hair. Kutsiikheke probably 
= " head-poker." This bird is also called anhyeti-nyetsii- 
kheke = " eye-piercer." It is the Green-backed Tit — Parus 
monticolor . The mynah (toeshi) {Sturnopastor contra^ is not 
eaten because it is reputed to have once been a man, who 
was turned into a bird by picking to pieces a black cloth 
with yellow stripes. (This is the bird well known as a 

(6) Not eaten because of the properties so acquired : — 
The great hornbill (aghacho) {Dichoceros bicornis), because 
it has " sores " on its feet, and if a man eats its flesh he too 
gets sores. When its feathers are worn, as in dancing, wild 
vegetables are avoided, as, if eaten, this would give the 
same result as the flesh of the bird. 

The owl (akhakoh) {Glaucidia cuculoides, radiata, and 
brodiei), because it is " idiot," and the eater's offspring are 
liable to be idiot hkewise. The nightjar (akaku) (to prefer 
the darkness to light is obviously sheer lunacy), and the 
ailu, a pure white bird that drops to earth suddenly from 
flight, are both avoided for the same reason. The ailu is 
particularly shunned and by many is not even touched, but 
both the akhakoh and akaku may be eaten by old men. 
The same appUes to the " brain-fever bird " (pipilhu) 
{Hierococcyx sparverioides), which is not eaten for fear the 

^ And probably other varieties. 


eater should beget offspring with a similar incessantly 
reiterated outcry, while the aoiiya, a small bird of excessively 
restless habit, and the akacho, a night bird which chatters 
incessantly (perhaps Cacomantis passerinus), are avoided by 
all, as these qualities of restlessness and loquacity affect 
the eater as well as his children. The green parrot {achoki) 
{Palaeornis fasciatus and others) is not eaten, partly because 
of its screaming habits, and partly on account of an alleged 
malformation of its hinder parts. The titsuba {Hemicurus 
guttatus and also MicrocicJila scouleri, both fork-tails), a 
wader that defecates as it flies away when disturbed, is 
avoided as inducing a timid and fearful disposition. The 
tsuketi (UroloncJia acuticauda) and tuthu {Uroloncha punc- 
tulata), two Uttle munias that raid the millet fields, are 
avoided because the sides of their beaks are always dirty 
(with husks, etc.), and the eaters will Hkewise have dirty 
mouths, and also because the birds' crops are not in the 
centre, but at one side. Old men will eat these. The 
aioutsa, a species of hornbill {Aceros nepalensis, the rufous- 
necked hornbiU), is not eaten by most Semas because it is 
beheved that the eater wiU die choking and coughing Hke 
the bird, the cry of which is a hoarse, choke-like croak. 
The abagha (Ut.= "dung-crow") is not eaten because it 
is thought to make the hair turn white, as its feathers, 
though black towards the tips, making the bird black to 
look at, are white underneath. The crow-pheasant {toghoko) 
{Centropus bengalensis) is not eaten because of a story that 
when the birds were made the crow-pheasant was forgotten, 
and nothing was left to make it of but little scraps of meat 
that were left embedded in cuts on the board on which the 
meat that went to make the others had been chopped up. 
Old men wiU eat the flesh of this bird nowadays, at any rate 
in administered villages where there is no fear of hostihties, 
for the flesh is reputed tender and tasty, but men who do so 
are hable to get cut up by their enemies, and young men 
wiU not eat it. These last seven birds are, it may be noticed, 
banned in the behef that their consumption entails effects 
directly to the eater rather than to his children. It is genna 
to eat the house-martin {akallu) or the swallow (yemichekallu) 


or (as a general rule) the swift {ni7iiti).'^ The first two are 
beheved to cause dysentery if eaten, but of the swift it is 
sometimes said that a man who kills a hawk should eat 
one, as the swift fights with the hawk, and when the ghost 
of the hawk after the killer's death comes to peck out the 
eyes of his soul, the swift's ghost will be there to fight with it. 

Of fish two only seem to be avoided. One is the akhaki, 
a fish like a large " miller's thumb," which is in most villages 
eschewed by the younger men because of a story which 
ascribes its origin to a part of the anatomy of a man which 
he accidentally knocked off with a stone after a successful 
love affair. The other is the azho, a species of eel-hke fish 
with a serrated back, which is beheved to cause, if eaten, 
great difficulty in dying, for when cut up the sections of 
this fish display muscular movement for some time. It is 
said that women going to be married to a distant village 
used sometimes to be given, unknown to themselves, a bit 
of the flesh of this fish, that when iii extremis they might not 
die until their parents should get the news and come and see 

Of reptiles, snakes, lizards, and toads are not eaten, nor 
is the nichoiti, which is described as a small frog with a very 
large stomach, so that this hmits edible reptiles in the Sema 
country to the tortoises and various remaining species of 
frog. Insects, likewise, are not generally reckoned edible, 
but all kinds of grasshoppers and locusts and some crickets 
are eaten, and the grubs with the comb and the honey of 
all sorts of bees and wasps (except a species of bumble-bee, 
which is probably regarded as " idiot "), as well as an 
odoriferous beetle-like insect called mcheka found by rivers 
and streams, and some large larvae and their pupae. One 
variety of spider is also eaten, a large grey and yellow insect 
which spins a thick and sticky web. It is, however, credited, 
probably on account of the stickiness of its web, long strands 
of which are apt to catch the face when going through jungle, 
with causing dimness of eyesight in the eater. 

^ This might be because of its inability to rise from the groimd when 
once it has alighted, but the bird is really the Grey Drongo, Dicrurus 
cineraceus, and not a swift proper. 


In addition to the foods prohibited to men there are 
further special prohibitions which hmit the food that may 
be eaten by women. The main feature of these prohibi- 
tions is the fear that the housewife may become extravagant 
with the paddy. This behef is a very strong one, and 
apparently the majority of wild animals and birds are 
regarded as Hablc to produce this unthrift in women, and 
are therefore proliibited, though some of the prohibitions 
are no doubt due to the fear of other consequences. In 
general it is easier to enumerate the foods that women may 
eat than those which they may not. 

With regard to reptiles, fish, and insects, women seem to 
observe the same prohibitions as men. With regard to birds, 
the women are under the additional prohibition of abstaining 
from the flesh of kites and hawks. Sometimes the reason 
given is that it causes unthrift, sometimes that it makes 
the woman who eats it too free with her nails, making her 
unpleasantly addicted to biting and scratching. The flesh 
of kites and hawks is also said to have been formerly, and 
to be stiU sometimes, avoided by men, though others hold 
that it is highly desirable as strengthening the eyes and 
giving clear sight. 

In the case of wild animals women seem to be generally 
restricted to the meat of the serow,i deer, pig, porcupine, 
bear, and the bamboo-rat, while of domestic animals besides 
the cat, women may not eat of the goat, for fear of becoming 
libidinous, nor of chickens that lay here and there in different 
places, lest they should become unfaithful and light-o'-love. 
They may not eat either of any animal that dies in giving 
birth (no doubt for fear that they should do likewise), or of 
the flesh of any animal killed by a wild beast. 

Besides prohibited flesh, food ordinarily good may 
become prohibited for some special reason. Thus if the 
spoon breaks with which the cooked rice is being taken 
from the pot, males may not eat of that rice (except the 
very old and practically bed-ridden). If this prohibition 
were not observed and the eater were at any time to run, 
he would get a stitch of violent and appaUing severity, as 

^ Capricornis (or Nemorhocdus) sumatrensis rubidus. 


though a piece of broken bamboo spoon were piercing his 
vitals, while if he were so naughty as to hck a chilh pestle 
he would be haunted on the march by a noise just behind 
him, as of a pestle thumping on the mortar. Again he may 
not eat of a chicken that impales itself on a spear when 
flying down from its roost in the house, for this would 
render him Hable to slip and fall on his own spear, but his 
women-folk, who carry no spears, can eat it with impunity. 
Women, however, may not eat of the rice in a pot that 
breaks while in use, for this would, as usual, make them 
extravagant Avith their paddy. 

Members of the vegetable world do not seem to have the 
sinister effects upon human beings that some birds and 
animals have, and though certain vegetables are forbidden 
to certain clans and individuals at certain times (some 
instances have already been given), there is no general index 
expurgatorius of vegetables and plants. Of these, those 
ah'eady enumerated as cultivated are eaten, as well as 
multitudinous wild ones, fungoids, ferns, berries, and all 
sorts of jungle plants. Perhaps the nearest approach to a 
general genua on an otherwise commonly edible plant is the 
prohibition that rests on any person who has kiUed a tiger 
or a leopard from eating the plants called chiiye, ashebaghiye, 
tsughukutsiye, or aghiye,^ though the only reason assigned 
for this is their connection with the tiger the cub of which 
was kiUed with thorns by one Khwonhyetsii, as told in the 
story of " Woodpecker's Corner " (in Part VI of this 

The Semas have no traditions of ever having been 
cannibals themselves, but, like the other Naga tribes, have 
stories of a village of cannibals, caUed by them Murromi, 
and located somewhere further east than they themselves 
are able to go to trade — somewhere, that is, to the east of 
the Tukomi Sangtam or Yachumi tribes, a location also 
ascribed to the village of Amazons. ^ The inhabitants of 
this cannibal viUage, Murromi, are also believed to be without 

^ Hydrococtyle javanica. 

* Actual villages inhabited by women only have been recorded in 
Burma and reported from the Himalayas (see The Angatni Nagas). Sang- 
tamla, the extinct village on the former site of which the S.D.O.'s bungalow 


exception lycanthropists, and lycanthropy is a vice far from 
unknown to Semas, if we may trust their own accounts of 
themselves ; but of lycanthropy more hereafter. 

The cooking pots and dishes used by the Sema for his 
food are washed with cold water before use, not after, as 
a rule. Food and drink are ordinarily supphed to a guest 
first, at any rate if he is a man of position, and in eating 
from a common dish the head of the household, or the man 
of highest position, or the oldest, starts to eat first, and it 
is breach of etiquette to start to eat at a common meal before 
another of higher position, or before the senior member of 
the family, or the head of the household. 

As among other Nagas, the staple drink, almost the only Drink, 
drink, of Semas is rice-beer in one form or another, for tea 
is rarely used, while no one dreams of drinking water except 
in the last resort. Tea, when used, is made by boiling the 
leaves in the water. The shrub itself is not cultivated by 
Nagas, though varieties are found here and there. 

Rice-beer is, generally speaking, one of three kinds, the 
genuine fermented hquor, or " rohi," called by Semas 
akupufsii, the infused beer, or " saka modhu," called akezd, 
and the very mildly fermented " pitha modhu," called 
azhichoh, the latter being brewed in two different ways. 
The most important of these is akuputsii, and it is brewed 
on this wise. The cereal to be used is first dried, then husked 
by pounding. Water is boiled and the cereal, or mixture 
of cereals, put in and left until cooked. The water that 
is not absorbed into the cooked cereal is then poured off, 
and the latter left to cool. When somewhat cooled down, 
it is put out on a mat for half an hour or so further to cool 
it. Then in hot weather when quite cold, in cold weather 
when nearly so, the yeast is added, having been pounded 
fine, being sprinkled over and mixed in with the wet mass. 
The whole is then wrapped in plantain leaves and left for 
three days in a basket, and afterwards put into an earthen- 
ware jar or wooden vat which is tilted on one side, and the 

at Mokokchung is built, is said to have been a woman's village, and there 
is still a woman elder (tdtar) at the neighbouring Ao village of Khabza^ 
though the fact is secreted. It is probably not so long since the Semas 
themselves had a matrilineal system. 



fermented liquor allowed to drain off. This is ahuputsii. 
The sohd part from which the liquor has been drained is 
used for making infused beer, boiHng water being poured 
on to it, the whole mixed round and strained through a 
pointed basket, the result being akezd. The solid remnant 
of this second brew is sometimes eaten, but perhaps more 
often fed to the pigs. 

For these two drinks rice, ItaUan millet. Job's tears, 
the Great Millet (sorghum), or maize may be used, though 
the last is rarely used alone. More often a mixture is made 
of any two or more of the five, millet and Job's tears being 
the principal ingredients. 

Yeast is made by pounding rice into a fine flour, pounding 
the leaf called akakhu-7ii till fine, then mixing the two 
together with water and pounding until a stiff dough results. 
This is flattened out and left to dry hke a cake for a week 
or so, when it can be used. The plant called akahhu^ is 
a wild variety of egg-plant (brinjal) and bears small 
berries, which turn red, and is of two varieties, one 
with thorny leaves and stem, the other thomless. Yeast 
may not properly be manufactured in a new village 
until human flesh (from a slain enemy) has been brought 
into it. 

Azhichoh is usually brewed as follows. The rice or other 
cereal, after it has been well dried and husked, is pounded 
into a fairly fine flour. It is then moistened and again 
pounded into a paste. This is put into a mixing basket 
of boiling water, and when well mixed poured off into an 
earthenware jar or wooden vat, where it is well diluted with 
cold water. The yeast called aghukhu is then added and 
the whole left to stand for some days according to the 
temperature, fermentation being naturally much quicker in 
hot weather. The yeast in this case is made by pounding 
the seeds of the plant called aghii^ until they are husked, 
moistening and again pounding them until the whole works 
into a very stiff dough, which is put cold into the vat con- 
taining the liquor. Azhichoh would seem to mean " real 
liquor," in which case we may perhaps assume that this 

^ Solatium Indicurn, L. ^ Chenopodium murale. 


form of brewing preceded the brewing of akuputsii and 

Before drinking, a Sema always pours a few drops on the 
ground or touches a drop to his forehead for the benefit 
of aghau or teghami, and usually he blows upon the surface 
of his drink, to blow away the spirits, a custom also recorded 
of the Russians in the sixteenth century by one of Hakluyt's 
Voyagers. 2 

The only narcotic or drug ordinarily taken by Semas is Narcotics, 
tobacco. This they grow themselves and prepare as follows. 
When brought in from the fields it is spread out to " wither " 
as in preparing tea ; when the leaf has wilted and can be 
crushed without breaking, it is " rolled " just like the leaf 
of tea, except that the feet are employed instead of the 
hands (the operator usually cleans his feet first). The 
crushed leaf is then spread out to dry, and, if it is intended 
for sale, nothing further is done to it as a rule, except to 
pack it up in a basket. If, however, the grower intends it 
for his own consumption, he moistens it and again " rolls " 
it with his feet, reducing it to a much more compressed 
condition. Then it is spread out to dry again, and when 
dry is packed in a basket and is ready for use. The drying 
is done in the sun if possible, but if this is not practicable, 
it is done on the shelf over the hearth, though tobacco dried 
in this way smokes very " hot." Some Semas mix the 
leaf of the plant called YacMi-khupi-bo (Yachumi-tobacco) 
with their tobacco, partly for its aroma, partly to make the 
tobacco go further, and when they are very short of tobacco 
they sometimes use the leaves of the plants called pilshi or 
apilipi 3 {Maoutia puya) and tsughu-kutsiye (the plantain 

^ Azhi = " liquor," kuchoh = " true," " genuine," >azhi-choh perhaps. 
Conxpare the Angami expression Teiigi-zu for the same beverage, meaning 
" Angami liquor " par excellence as opposed to the other sorts of liquor, 
which, however, are likewise brewed by the Angamis. 

* Master Anthonie Jenkinson, in his " first voyage . . . toward the land 
of Russia ... in the yeere 1557." The context, too, is by no means in- 
applicable to the Semas — " They . . . delight in eating of grosse meates, 
and stinking fishe. Before they drinke they use to blowe in the cup : 
their greatest friendship is in drinking : they are great talkers and 
iyers. . . . The women be there very obedient to their husbands. . . ." 

• It is believed that elephants feeding on apilipi produce fine tusks. 

H 2 

100 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

weed — Plantago major) instead of tobacco leaf, usually 
mixing them with what tobacco they can procure. The 
latter plant is also used by Semas as a vegetable, while it 
is used by the opium-eating Konyak tribes to mix with 
opium. A leaf called sat {Zehneria umbellata) is also used 
for tobacco and as a vegetable. 

The pipes (akhihu) in which the Semas smoke their tobacco 
are of two kinds, the plain pipe with a straight stem made 
of one or two pieces of bamboo and called tolupa, and the 
tsunhilba, in wliich there is a water-chamber below the 
bowl, through which the smoke is drawn. In the case of 
tolupa made of two pieces there is a string fastened taut 
from the middle of the stem to the bottom of the bowl to 
strengthen the combination. In the tsunkilba the bowl is 
usually made of pipe-stone shaped by hand and the water- 
chamber is made from a narrow bamboo ; between these 
two is a section of bamboo joint, the mouthpiece being made 
from one of the young shoots from the joint, and a bamboo 
tube passing through the middle to connect the bowl with 
the water-chamber. The water in the chamber is reckoned 
fit to use after 25 or 30 pipes have been smoked, and the 
foul liquid then taken is put into a bamboo tube, in the cap 
of wliich is a small hole to let the noisome brew out drop by 
drop into the mouth of the user. This Uquid, however, is 
not usually consumed. It is merely retained in the mouth 
and spat out again. It is said that no one can use pipe 
juice in this way until he has smoked a pipe for at least a 
year. Ash is sometimes put into the water in the pipe 
chamber, as this is believed to make the water become 
more quickly ready for use. 
Medicines. The Sema treatment of illness, magical and reUgious 
proceedings apart, involves the use of many curious factors, 
and wliile the use of some of these treatments, e.g., that for 
wounds caused by " ekra," are based on an obviously 
erroneous process of reasoning, the use of others is probably 
beneficial (the berry given as an emetic in cases of poisoning 
will serve as an instance), while some treatments, like that 
for snake-bite, are undoubtedly sound in many respects. 
In any case the herbs used generally by the Semas are 







w, 1 


3 ■.^-, 


Sema Pipes. (Scale !,th nat. size.) 
I. Tsuiikilha. 2. Timnhilha (tak ii down). 

3. Tohipa. 


\ To face />. 100. 


probably quite as beneficial as the melodiously named herbs 
sung by the poet, that " eased the pain of our fathers of 
old," and even if it is true that, like theirs, half of the Sema 
remedies " cure you dead," the other half at least are plants 
which are regularly used as vegetables and only specially 
given in cases of certain illness. The Semas, however, do 
not connect their herbs with the planets or stars. 

Without professing to give the whole theory and science 
of Sema medicine, the following list of treatments may be 
taken as representative : — 

For wounds a man's own hair is taken, together with 
scrapings of the bark of the wild fig tree called chuchobo^ 
(this bark is used for making string and cord), and put in 
the wound, which is bound up with bark or creeper bindings. 
Another treatment is to take the refuse of rice from which 
liquor has been brewed, and steep it in hot water. The 
water is squeezed out and the pulp applied still hot to the 

For wounds inflicted by a bear the prickly pear {kiikhopi) 
is regarded as a medicine. 

For any small wound tobacco is chewed and applied. 
Chickens' gall is also used. 

For a dog-bite the world-wide remedy is used. One of 
the dog's whiskers, some Semas insist on a black one, is 
burnt and applied to the bite. 

A snake-bite is treated by binding the bitten limb both 
above and below the bite and then sucking out the blood 
from the punctures, which are, if necessary, slightly cut to 
enlarge them.^ The leaves of the plants yepuwi or yeshuye 
{Polygonum alatum) and ayeshu (another Polygonum) (the 
latter is the most short-lived of plants, used for taking 
oaths, and having a very pungent juice) are heated and 
applied to the bite. Death from snake-bite is practically 
unknown, but though there are many poisonous snakes in 
the Sema country, there are probably very few the bite of 
which could ordinarily be regarded as deadly. 

* Perhaps Ficus prostrata. 

* Another method is to hold the part over a smoke fire till blistered by 
the heat. The poison exudes with the humour from the blistered hand. 

T02 THE SEMA NAGAS ' part 

A broken skull is treated by beating up the whites and 
yolks of raw eggs and placing them in the abrasion and 
covering the whole with the skin of a freshly-killed chicken, 
the inner side of the skin being applied to the split skull. 
This appears to be an efficacious method, and is said to be 
sometimes successful even when the brain can be seen 
through the break in the bone. One Tukhepu of Sheyepu 
village, who got his skull split open with a stone in a riot 
with Sakhalu, was treated in this way and recovered. 

To a wound caused by " ekra," the stump ^^ of which are 
often like panjis, the plant called " Old Woman's Cry " 
(tJiopfu-gha-bo) ^ is applied. The reason for this is that, as 
" Old Woman's Cry " and " ekra " never grow together, 
they must be inimical, and the one will heal the hurt of the 

When a bit of poisoned stick has gone into the flesh and 
cannot be extracted, crabs (achuivo) are eaten to accelerate 
suppuration, when the foreign matter comes out. For 
thorns that cannot be extracted a poultice is applied at 
night composed of chickens' dung, goats' dung, the leaf of 
a ground plant called asukumsu-bo, and yeast. A hidden 

^ This plant (Sida rhumbifolia, L.) is used for dressing bow-strings, being 
rubbed up and down them till they are slimy as though waxed. The 
plant is small, but is very tough and hard, and the object is perhaps to 
impart its toughness to the string. It gets its name from having figured 
in a story as the means of saving the life of an old woman who cried out 
for help. An old woman was eating something or other and a second 
came up and said, " What are you eating ? " The first old woman 
replied, " Mishi-hive " (cow's intestine), and on being asked how she ob- 
tained it said, " I wait till a cow lifts its tail to defecate and then I thrust 
my arm in at its fundament and take it. In this way I get as much as I 
want every day." The second old woman credulously went and did like- 
wise, but could not withdraw her hand, and the cow galloped off, dragging 
her by the arm. Just as she was about to be dragged over a precipice 
she cried out and grabbed with her free arm a bit of thopfughabo, which 
grows in rocky ground. The plant, being very tough, held, and she was 
thus enabled to pull out her other arm and save her life. The Changs 
have the same story, adding that it was part of the intestines of a deer 
killed by a tiger that the first old woman was really eating, and the second, 
to protect her arm, borrowed all her relations' brass bracelets, which she 
left perforce in the interior of the cow. They call the plant " Cousin 
Hard One " {Anyang -sangkang), as the old woman called out " Cousin ! " 
{anyang) ai she grabbed hold of it, The Lhotas also have the story. 


abscess, particularly in the foot, where they are very 
common, is treated by Semas, as by Lhotas, by making a 
small bee sting the surface of the skin, so that the resulting 
inflammation draws the matter to the outside. 

To burns, cold iron or steel is applied in the first instance, 
later fresh cow dung. 

For a swollen gland in the groin, fire is applied to the 
big toe-nail of the foot on the same side as the swelling until 
pain is caused by the burn. This relieves that caused by 
the swollen gland. This remedy may not, however, be 
resorted to during harvest, as the burning of a fmger-nail 
or toe-nail is believed to cause the reaping of a scanty crop. 

For spleen a lime called khunnthi is cooked with chillies 
and Naga salt, pounded to a pulp, and mixed with boihng 
water, and eaten like soup. 

For bad eyes there are several nostrums. Salt of Naga 
manufacture mixed with water and applied in very small 
quantities is one. Human milk is another. A third is to 
hold under the eye a steaming decoction of onion leaves, or 
a leaf of urine which is still warm, so that the eye gets the 
benefit of its vapour. The latter remedy, be it noted, is 
still utilized in parts of Ireland. A fourth is to feed the 
patient on the heart of a plantain stump that contains in 
large numbers brittle worms or larvae of a sort that feeds 
on plantain, the plantain and the worms being cooked 
together and given to the patient without his knowing what 
he is eating, that he may not from disgust refuse to take it. 

A rash of any sort is washed with the slime from fish, and 
fresh plantain leaves are appUed, while for scabies soot is 

By way of an emetic, resorted to in cases where poison 
is believed to have been taken, the berry of a creeper (called 
ashepukhwo-ti = " deer's crab-apple ") is given. The sour 
lees of rice from which liquor has been brewed are also used 
for this purpose, so is pigs' fat and almost any sort of dirt 
calculated to nauseate the eater. 

Headache {akutsil-su) is treated by administering cooked 
the plant pulakhu internally, and binding up the head with 
creepers. Pulakhu {Mosla dianthera), which somewhat 

104 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

resembles mint, is also eaten in weakness arising from any 
cause. For diarrhoea {tsizilkuba) the shrub called " stomach- 
ache leaf," tusiiye, is taken ; for dysentery (azhikuba), the 
insect parasite of a plant called akhame-kulho ; for a cough 
or cold in the head (mukhugha), the very bitter red flower 
of the creeper called aghiinakha-ye ;^ for stomach-ache 
(apvokusii), an evil-smelUng plant called " Yachumi-leaf " 
{Yachu-ye), or else the roots of thatching grass (aghi) ; 
for " heartache " {amlokusil — usually = cohc) ^ the flesh of 
the black squirrel {attiki) ^ is eaten, while for dehrium, or for 
any temporary mental derangement including lycanthropic 
fits, ginger (aku'u) and salt are given. 

For goitre a caterpillar or maggot called akuleko-nupfu- 
lapu (" goitre-appHcation-worm ") is appUed externally and 
acts as a blister. 

For fever an insect of the grasshopper variety called 
aghakimiki-thuka { = " fever insect ") is toasted and eaten, 
and tsiingosho, the pupa of some water insect, is eaten for 
dysentery. As a tonic generally dogs' flesh is held in great 
esteem. Some other medicines have already been men- 
tioned when dealing with flesh used for food. 

The only sort of disinfectant used by the Semas is fumiga- 
tion, which is resorted to in case of bad epidemics.* A 
collection of dung is made (any and all animal dung is used) 
and burnt inside the house, though not on the regular hearth. 
The smoke of such a fire is regarded as keeping away the 
spirit of the sickness. 

In common with other Nagas, the notion of isolation in 
cases of epidemic diseases is famihar to the Semas. A 
village in which an epidemic is raging is " put out of bounds," 
and a man visiting it is severely dealt with by his fellow 
villagers. Similarly in cases of cattle disease the flesh of 

^ A Crawfurdia, probably Campantilacea. The plant called " deer's 
aghiinakha leaf," ashe-ghimakha-ye, is used, but is less efficacious. The 
latter is Canscora andrographioides, both belonging to the Gentian 

* I have known a gastric ulcer also spoken of as mnlokusii. 

* Ratufa gigantea. 

* Scented herbs like wormwood are, however, credited with the power 
of keeping off the spirits of disease and used practically as disinfectants 
sprays or leaves being carried on the person. 


animals that have died of the disease in one village may not 
be brought to another, even if the owners live there, in 
which there is no disease. It should be mentioned, perhaps, 
that the flesh of cattle that die of disease is ordinarily eaten 
by the owners. Venereal diseases are comparatively rare 
in the Sema country, and in the main restricted to the 
villages bordering upon the Ao and Lhota tribes, and in 
some villages, Seromi for instance, any person known to 
be suffering from such an illness is isolated and neither spoken 
to nor touched by anyone, and has to fetch and use separate 
water and feed from separate dishes. 

Making mud pies is probably the oldest game in the world. Games. 
In any case it seems to be the first game that Sema children 
learn to play. Earth is mixed with urine in some broken 
pot or gourd, and imitation spoons are fashioned, and a 
pretence of eating made, touching the spoonfuls to the chin, 
and portentous are the squabbles that arise over each player's 
share of the " food," which from becoming a bone of conten- 
tion often ends by serving as a weapon of offence. One 
curious custom is usually observed in playing at mud pies, 
and that is that each player must personally contribute his 
quota of the necessary liquid before he is allowed to join 
in the game. Another game, which perhaps dates back to 
the troglodite age, is that known as " YemoH's House " 
{Yemoli'ki), in which tunnels are dug from opposite sides 
in any convenient bank of earth so as to meet in the middle, 
from which branch tunnels are taken to make two more 

Among toys, tops of various sorts are favourites. The 
most rudimentary perhaps is that called azung, which 
consists of a pointed stick which revolves in a hole in a 
gourd, being spun by rubbing the stick smartly between the 
palms of the two hands moving in opposite directions. The 
top called zilazungti is spun in the same way, but consists 
of a stout stem of thatching grass, the lower end of which is 
weighted with a kernel of the nut of a certain creeper, in 
which a hole has been bored. The result is a top which 
spins on the principle of the primitive spindle, but has a 
shorter stem. The peg-top, aketsil, is spun by a string wound 

io6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

round it and having a loop at one end, through which a 
finger is passed, when the top is thrown, and spins on the 
ground, where it is made to " fight " with other tops. This 
top is made of a block of hard wood in the shape of two 
cones base to base, round the upper of which the string is 
wound, and its use is not confined to children, but it is 
popular with lads and young men as well. 

There is a peculiarity attaching to the aketsil which 
distinguishes it from the spinning of other tops, and (with 
one or two exceptions) from the playing of other games. 
This peculiarity is the same as that which attaches to the 
use of the flute (fululu), and consists in a prohibition of its 
use entirely except between the final reaping of the harvest 
and the first sowing of the ensuing year. The reason given 
for this prohibition in the case of the fululu is that playing 
on it is liable to cause winds which will damage the crops, 
and it is possible that this is the notion which causes peg-top 
spinning to be prohibited, ^ but if so it is not clear why other 
tops should be allowed, though the reason for this may 
perhaps be found in their inferior spinning qualities. It is 
to be noticed that the Kayans of Borneo, a part of the world 
which offers several instances of curiously close parallels to 
Naga customs, also prohibit the spinning of tops except 
during the sowing festival ("The Golden Bough," 3rd edition, 
vol. vii, pp. 95, 97, and 187), while they have a masquerade 
on very similar lines to that held by the Chang tribe of 
Nagas at the festival which ushers in the cold weather, and 
at which also tops are spun. Another Sema game which 
is prohibited except between the harvest and the sowing is 
that called alau, which is played with the great reddish seeds 
of the sword-bean. Three of these seeds are set up on the 
ground in turn and other seeds thrown at them from a 
distance of some paces. The first seed set up is called 
Thumoli (" the Witch-Girl "),2 and whoever knocks it over 
says " ThumoU is dead." The next is called Hohe (" the 

^ Perhaps the spin of a peg-top is so hke the moving swirls and eddies 
of wind that accompany cyclonic disturbances that there is a danger of 
its causing them. 

2 Or perhaps " the generation of witches." The meaning of the particle 
li is discussed in Part III, under " Exogamy." 


Orator "), and when this is knocked over " Hohe is dead." 
The third is Aina (" the Community "), and when this 
whole community " is dead " the game is over. To the 
real meaning and the origin of the game and to the reason 
for its prohibition while the crops are in the ground the 
writer has so far failed to find any clue. It may, moreover, 
be noticed that Dalton (" Ethnology of Bengal "), quoting 
McCulloch, mentions an " indoor " game of the Manipuris 
called Kangsmiaba, in which " young women and girls 
with a sprinkling of men on both sides " throw " with an 
ivory disc at the seed of a creeper called Kong stuck up in 
the floor of the house." He does not, however, say any- 
thing about the restriction of this game to any particular 
season of the year, and the result of the writer's inquiries 
points to its being played only during the rains when the 
rice is growing, but they were very cursory. 

Common toys made by Sema children are " Dead men's 
Pestles " {Kitiinihoshu) and " Dead men's Liquor-strainers " 
(Kitimi Hsuko), the first of which are made out of folded 
grasses, two blades being folded up together so that when 
the folded grass is pulled out again lengthwise it assumes 
the form of a crinkled chainHke but flimsy rod. The second 
is made by taking two strips of plantain leaf, doubhng them 
and placing them together, and splitting the doubled ends 
alternately in such a manner as to make a funnel-shaped 
vessel of interlaced strands which are not detached from the 
leaf at either end. Both these are in the nature of puzzles, 
and the second, though simple enough when demonstrated, 
is ingeniously contrived and at first quite baffling. The 
latter is made also by Changs, who give it a name with the 
same meaning. 

Toy bows, shekhe-lika, and arrows are naturally beloved 
of Sema boys, but the bows are made on the pattern of the 
simple bow, and not on that of the cross-bow, which has 
entirely superseded the simple form for warfare. Sad to 
relate, however, Sema parents nowadays rigorously repress 
the attempts of their children to play with bows and arrows, 
as they are dangerous toys, and although the traditional 
compensation payable by a parent to someone hit by his 

io8 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

son's arrow in the eye or other tender place was a chicken 
or a pig, there is a fear that they may be made to pay some- 
what heavier compensation in the case of serious damage. 
In any case the play of Sema children has been much cur- 
tailed in the administered villages, for in the old days 
children were never taken to the fields for fear of a raid, 
so that they spent all day in mischief and monkey-tricks ; 
nowadays they have to go with their parents from a very 
tender age and give what help they can. They do, however, 
still find time now and then to indulge in the mimic warfare 
(kuluke) which used to occupy most of their days. Armed 
with imitation shields (apipi-ztho) quite ornately got up, 
imitation daos of bamboo (asii-ztha), thro wing-spears of 
" ekra " or of wormwood (ang-cholipa), and lumps of cow- 
dung as missiles collected in large quantities beforehand, 
two parties will fight with and sometimes damage one 
another, while in the old days, when this was the principal 
occupation of the younger boys and clan feeling ran higher 
than it now does, opposing parties used to inflict very con- 
siderable damage on each other, and in the unadministered 
villages they probably still do so. 

Another popular amusement is to take dry chillies (stolen, 
as likely as not) and pound them up fine. These are taken 
to a house, where other young people, boys or girls, are 
known to be sleeping, in the smallest hours of the early 
morning. A smouldering fire is started outside the wall 
with millet-husks and the pounded chillies are put on the 
fire. The pungent smoke is then easily driven through the 
wattle with fans and the interior of that part of the house 
made temporarily uninhabitable. The inmates pretend not 
to notice anything if they can, but usually end by emerging 
red-eyed and wrathful just in time to hear someone escaping 
round the corner. 

On the border between the games and athletics is the 
amusement known as " Hog's-rub," awoli-sheshe^ One boy 
goes down on all fours, and two others, of more or less equal 
weight, lie on their backs, one on each side of him, and, putting 
their legs over his back, catch hold of each other's feet with 

^ Also known sometimes as awoli-shomhi, " Hog's tail," 

[To face p. 108. 


their hands. The first boy raises himself and moves about 
with bent back, and the other two hanging on across it Uke 
paniers on a donkey. Kitike, another amusement, which 
perhaps may definitely be reckoned as athletics, is that of 
A\ hat may perhaps be called kick-fighting. Two lads hopping 
on the left legs strike with the right. It sounds clumsy 
enough, but the dexterity, agility, and elasticity displayed 
is extraordinary ; lightning kicks are given, received, and 
eluded at a great speed without loss of balance, and it is 
very rarely indeed that either of the opponents falls over. 
Catching with the hands is regarded as a foul, but in the 
heat of contest is sometimes resorted to. It seems quite 
easy for a Seraa to kick, and very hard at that, at right 
angles to his body. The rounds are short, probably lasting 
as a rule not more than about three or four minutes, being 
usually stopped by the onlookers, who are very quick 
to interfere if either of the kickers appears to be getting too 
roughly handled or to be losing his temper. " Stick- 
kicking " {asii-pusilke) is a form of exercise which consists 
in putting a piece of wood on the point of a spear 5 feet or 
more from the ground and jumping up and endeavouring 
to kick it with both feet at once, an acrobatic feat requiring 
considerable agiUty.^ The long jump (akukike) and the 
high jump {asu-ilheche,= "stick jump") are practised by 
the Semas just as by ourselves, though in the case of the 
former a step back is not reckoned as detracting from the 
jump, the jump being measured to the place where the feet 
first landed. Both these sports are almost certainly 
indigenous and not learnt from Europeans. This at least 
is the Sema belief, and the high jump at any rate is practised 
by Transfrontier tribes that have never come into contact 
with European customs. Putting the weight {athu-peveke, 
" stone -throw ") is also a Sema tribal sport, and is practised 
in a way very similar to our own, except that large round 
stones are used instead of shots. The standard attained 
in these contests is poor compared with that of British 
pubhc schools, but then there is no such thing as " training " 
at sports, nor any organisation calculated to produce a high 

^ See illustration supra p. 100. 


standard; 18 feet is a good long jump for a Naga, and a 
high jump of 5 feet is probably but rarely attained. The 
best Sema put the writer has seen was one by Sakhalu, 
Chief of Sakhalu-nagami, of 32 feet with a 15-lb. shot, bat 
the ordinary weight is a stone about the size of a man's 
head, and a put with such is difficult to compare with a 
put with shot. 

Competitors in Sema sports often put down cowries or 
brass ring beads as a stake, the winner taking the whole. 

Of sedentary games it may almost be said that the Sema 
has none, but a game has been recently picked up in Kohima 
by some of them and will probably become popular in time. 
It is similar to the " Eighting-eating " game of the Angamis, 
but as this particular variety has not yet been described 
as a Naga game, it may be worth recording it here. The 
board is made by drawing a square and joining up the 
opposite corners diagonally. The sides are then bisected 
and the middle points joined to the middle points first of 
the opposite, then of the adjacent sides. In this way the 
square has been cut up into four smaller squares, each 
divided by intersecting diagonals. Through these points of 
intersection four more Unes are drawn, two vertical and two 
horizontal, again bisecting the sides of the four inner squares. 
This gives altogether 25 points of intersection, and the 
game is played with 24 pieces, which are placed on these 
points and move along the lines joining them to the adjacent 
points. One player has four pieces (bits of stone, beans, 
anything wiU do), known as " tigers," and these are placed 
one at each corner of the board. His opponent has 20 
similar pieces called " goats," and his object is to place them 
on the board, and to move them when there, in such a manner 
that the " tigers " are rounded up and prevented from moving 
at all. The " goats " may only move in a direct line to the 
next point of intersection, and the " tigers " are similarly 
restricted unless there is a goat at an adjacent point and an 
empty point beyond it in the same straight line, when the 
" tiger " may " eat " the goat by jumping over it as in 
draughts. The player of the " tigers " must move one of 
his pieces for every " goat " placed on the board by his 

^ a :< 




iro/a^e p. 110. 




opponent, and when all the " goats " are out the parties 
must make alternate moves. 

In addition to the game of the tiger and the goats, a 
second game known as the war game is played on the same 
board, each side using eleven pieces which are represented 
by bits of black or whitish stone or anything of that sort. 
Each player places ten men on the two back lines of his 
side of the board, and the two eleventh men occupy the outside 
places on the middle line. The moves are along the inter- 
secting lines not further than one point at a time, unless an 
opportunity occurs to jump over one of the opposing pieces 
into a vacant place behind it, thus " eating " the opponents' 
piece, which is removed from the board, as in draughts. 
The side which eats up the greater number of its " enemies " 


The above diagrams show the board used in both games, 
the tigers being first placed on the four outer corners of the 
board shown in the first diagram, when the player of 
the goats starts introducing his pieces along the outer 
edges in such a manner as to avoid, as far as he can, giving 
an opening to the tigers to eat any of the goats. The 
game is a simple one, but affords considerable scope for thei 
exercise of skill and foresight in playing it. 

In the war game the pieces are set out as shown in 
the second diagram. 

Dancing is an amusement wliich accompanies every genna Dancing 
involving a feast. There are a very large number of dances 
with different steps, but a dance is always conducted on a 
fixed principle. It takes place in the open space in front 

112 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

of the house of the giver of the feast. In the centre of this 
space a fire is built and the dancers dance round the fire. 
The dance begins always with a procession called aghogho, 
in which the dancers advance across the open space by 
successive threes, carrying their spears and in all the 
ceremonial dress that they can muster (for such an occasion 
articles are freely borrowed even from distant villages), and 
hopping slowly on each foot alternately. In the next figure 
a grand chain is formed, the spears being set aside except 
for a few which are stuck in the middle near the fire for the 
use of soUtary dancers. The leader of the chain carries a 
dao at the slope in his left hand. The man behind him has 
his left hand in front clasping the leader's right, and his 
right hand behind holding the left hand of the man behind 
him, and so on to the end of the line, which first of all moves 
slowly round the fire in a circle singing the akhile, the 
" partridge -song " {akhi — the Aracan hiU-partridge, Abori- 
cola intermedia), and then proceeds to dance in earnest. To 
describe all, or even any, of the Sema dances in detail would 
be a task for a dancing-master, for dances are legion, and 
the differences in step between some of them are far from 
obvious to an amateur. Probably the most generally known 
and popular dances are the Yachumi keghile and the 
Yetsimi-keghile, the first of which is a Yachumi dance and 
the second a Sangtam dance, Yetsimi being the parent village 
of the Tukomi (and ultimately indeed of almost all) Sangtams. 
In these two dances the right foot is thrice struck rapidly on 
the ground and a spring is made with the left foot ; then 
the three beats with the right foot are repeated and another 
spring is made. In the former dance the spring is accom- 
panied by a swinging turn of the body first to the left and 
then forward again to the former position, so that the whole 
line of dancers keeps alternately advancing in single file and 
swinging round so as to turn towards the inside of the 
circle. In the Yetsimi-keghile the body is not turned, or 
only very slightly, and the spring from the left foot is 
followed by a pace with the right and then with the left 
again, the pause of the left foot being accompanied by the 
same three beats with the right. These paces are taken 


alternately forwards and backwards, but in the latter case 
the paces are short. In either case the speed gets generally 
faster as the dance proceeds up to the limit of speed at 
which the steps can be executed. Of the multitudinous 
other dances it is perhaps worth while mentioning the 
Akahazie, which represents the elephant testing the boggy 
ground at the edge of a salt-lick before he enters it. The 
existence of such a dance is noticeable, since there are no 
elephants at all in the country at present inhabited by the 
Semas, and the vast majority of Somas have never even 
seen the tracks of an elephant and know nothing whatever 
of its habits. 1 There are also dances pecuhar to different 
villages. Sichemi do not join hands, but dance back to 
back in twos, all carrying daos. Probably this dance shows 
Ao influence. Alapf umi are said to " sing Uke chickens " as 
they " leap from side to side." The Asimi clan are said to 
jump about haphazardly and push one another about without 
dignity, while only two men are allowed to sing. 

In all the dances in which a chain is formed, all motions 
are directed by the leader of the chain, who gives loud and 
emphatic " Yoicks " to mark the changes. As the dancers 
get worked up, those who are, or consider themselves to be, 
star performers come out in the middle of the circles near 
the fire, take a spear and execute fearful and wonderful 
leaps, of which an essential feature is to kick one or both 
heels against the rump with a good resounding smack, the 
whole being accompanied by yells and screeches and spear 
spinning. The end of the dance is marked by everybody 
breaking into a sort of very quick stamping or double 
shuffle called chita, like a clog dance without the clogs, 
which the leader as usual initiates. The dancers then 
break off and leave dancing for drinking. 

The dancing is accompanied by singing, but these songs 
have no words and consist of " ho-ho-ing " to different 

^ There is a tradition in Satami of eighteen elephants of monstrous size 
killed by the first founder of that vallage, in support of which a tooth, 
possibly of Elephas namadicus, found in a stream-bed near the village waa 
brought to me. I sent it to the Indian Museum at Calcutta. The legend 
has it that these elephants were killed with weapons made of a sort of hard 


114 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

refrains. The Coryphaeus aforementioned, who leads and 
directs the dance (he is called atheghumi),is of less importance 
in the singing than the two ou, one of whom dances about 
halfway down the chain and the other at its latter end. 
These two keep up a sort of falsetto accompaniment of 
" ou-ou-ou " to the " ho-ho-ing " of the rest, and are paid 
very often from four annas to a rupee for their services, 
while Coryphaeus rarely gets more than two annas. 

The Sema women sing and dance at the same time, the 
dance, however, consisting merely of a semicircle of women 
who have Unked arms and clasped hands, each woman 
taking with her right hand her neighbour's left after Unking 
arms. The body is rocked on the right foot gently forward 
and backward, while the left foot is alternately advanced a 
step forward and withdrawn till the toe is behind the right 
heel, the clasped hands beating time to the melody, which is 
sung antiphonally by the two sides of the semicircle, the 
contraltos being on one side and the sopranos on the other. 
(The terms " contralto " and " soprano " as used here should 
not be interpreted too nicely.) The songs sung by them 
are usually in praise of visitors, and have more or less stereo- 
typed formula. 

Of genuine songs the Semas have a large number with 
various tunes, and it is essential to proper singing that 
there should be a number of voices of various quaUties 
taking part. The subjects are usually connected with war 
or history, and tell of persons, and even dogs, and their 
deeds in taking heads or founding villages. A love interest 
of some sort is almost always if not invariably introduced, 
but it is often very slender and has not the prominence that 
it has in the songs of the Angamis, where it is usually the 
main interest. In singing when at work in the fields it is 
common to allow only two men of a working gang to sing 
the words of a song, the others joining in the refrain. This 
may possibly be due to a fear of mistakes affecting the 
cultivation, but is perhaps more probably because the 
attention devoted to the singing would interfere with the 
work. In singing a person's praises a set formula is em- 
ployed, to the effect that So-and-so took the head of a girl 


of Such-and-such a village, and So-and-so (his brother) 
put her hair in his ears, and So-and-so (his wife) rejoiced 
{vide Part VI). It is by no means essential that the exploit 
should really have been performed, and the writer has even 
heard such an one attributed to himself. Apart from the 
adaptations of this formula, new songs are not very often 
composed, traditional songs being adhered to. A Soma 
song when weU sung is far from unmusical, and though the 
melody has a monotonous effect and gives one the feeling 
of listening to half the verse of a song repeated and repeated 
without any proper finish to the tune, there is often some- 
thing undoubtedly attractive and even haunting about the 

Sema songs are classified according to the occasion to 
which the tune and time are suited or for which the song 
was originally composed. The fact that a song belongs to 
a certain classification does not debar it from being sung 
on occasions which have no relation at all to its classifica- 
tion. The principal classes of songs are : — 

1. Lezhule = songs sung in the house. ?< ale = song, 
zhu = try, ale = song. 

2. Alukehule or alukumlale = songs sung at work in the 
fields. < alu = field, ke-hu — that which goes (to the 
fields), akumla = work. 

3. Aokeshile or Atishekeshile or Tisole = songs sung 
when husking paddy {ao = cereal, ati = seed or fruit, 
shi = do). 

4. Yemusale = songs sung when returning from a suc- 
cessful raid with an enemy's head. < yema = to string the 
head by means of a hole. 

5. Aphile= songs sung at the aghiizakiphe genua when the 
poles called akedu are put up. (See Part IV, p. 227.) 

6. Avikhole — sung when sacrificing mithan at gennas of 
social status, etc. (avi = mithan). 

7. Laghele — sung when clearing a path {ala = path). 
The latter classes have no words to the songs. The time 

of avikhole is probably adopted from Sangtams or Yachumi, 
who sing them to actual words. 

Some of the words sung by Sangtams seem to reappear 

I 2 

ii6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

in the Sema song, though the Semas do not know that they 
have any meaning, having merely adopted the tune. 

Class 2 is subdivided into many sub-divisions, of which 
the following may be taken as examples : — 

{a) Pushele — sung when digging — slow time. 

(b) Mozale — sung when hoeing out weeds from the young 
blades — fast time. 

(c) Lotisale — sung when plucking out weeds from the 
ripening crops. 

{d) Lephile — sung when reaping. 

(e) Luphile — sung when pulling out the stubble to prepare 
for the sowing of the second crop. 

Some examples of classes 1 and 2 are given in Part VI. 

The daily life of the Sema is usually a hard one. He 
rises up early and eats the bread of carefulness. The 
women get up at daybreak and open the door of the house, 
and, if the fire has gone out, fetch a brand from a neighbour's 
house. They then blow up the fire, and women go to the 
village spring for water or send their daughters and children. 
There they wash, and on coming back start getting ready 
the morning meal. Meanwhile " himself " has got up and 
been busy with any odd job such as peeling strips of pUant 
bamboo or making mats. After eating the morning meal a 
start is made for the fields. If the children are not taken 
with them, they are given some rice to serve as their midday 
meal and sent off to collect sticks or something of the sort. 
Their parents and elder brothers and sisters, taking cold 
rice and rice beer, go off to their fields, where they work in 
gangs, every member of the village belonging to a specific 
working gang (aluzhi), usually composed of contemporaries. 
Early in the afternoon one young man is told off by each 
gang to cut firewood, and he takes with him the fuel basket 
of every girl in his gang, which he fills. Towards evening, 
when the work in the fields stops, the girls go off to get their 
baskets, and each gives the wood-cutter a piece of meat. 
The others return direct to the village. Both girls and 
young men wash themselves in any stream that crosses 
their path on the way home, and if there is no such stream 
they go without, as they do also when the work in the fields 

House of Inato, Chisf of Lumitsami. with Y-shaped genna posts and 


W'o.MAN \VASH1M_; A'l- THE ViLLVIii-J SlMllNC. BaMBOO "(.'Hi M.A> iOK 


[To face p. llfi. 


is exceptionally heavy, lasts late, and makes everyone dead 
tired. Meanwhile the men and women who are too old for 
work stay in the village and dry paddy in the sun on mats, 
scaring off the pigs and fowls. If they have no paddy of 
their own to dry they dry someone else's, getting by the 
way of wages a little salt, rice, and chillies. In the evening 
the girls husk paddy, the young men also sometimes, but 
the evening meal is usually followed by an early retirement 
on the part of everyone, the young men collecting in the 
akishekhoh of the house of the chief or of some other rich 
man, and the girls going off, in parties of three or four or so, 
to the house of any friend whose parent's house has a 
suitable abidela. The doors of all houses are barred for the 
night, and generally speaking not opened till daybreak. 
Why the women should then be invariably the first to go 
out is a Uttle hard to understand, as it is often decidedly 
dangerous in the unadministered villages, dawn being the 
time of raids. The men do not ordinarily expose their 
women-folk to danger, and always take the posts of danger in 
the fields, yet they readily admit that women frequently lose 
their heads (in a literal sense) as a result of being the first to 
leave the house in the early morning. Possibly it is regarded 
as a male's privilege to He a little longer abed of a morning, 
though a Sema's bed is hard enough in all conscience. 

On some genna days there is no prohibition on leaving the 
village, and on these days, as on the somewhat rare occasions 
when there is little or no cultivation work to be done, the 
men go off hunting, and the women go out to collect green- 
stuff and fungi from the jungle for food, or sit at home weav- 
ing or pot-making in the villages where these arts are 
practised. On the majority of genna days, however, no 
one may leave the village, even to fetch wood, nor is any 
work done, and the day is spent by most of the villagers 
in searching one another's heads for vermin, exactly 
like their remote ancestors of the tree-dweUing, hairy, 
Darwinian age. Songs round the fire finish off the day, and 
on such days, too, the old men tell stories — many of them 
of unprintable import — to any that care to listen. It is a 
hard fife on the whole, and the sabbath is weU earned. 







The Semas can only be said to have a " tribal " organisa- 
tion in so far as the villages which they inhabit are organised 
on a pattern generally prevalent throughout the tribe, for 
the tribe itself is not an organised community at all. Nor 
is the unit of Sema society the exogamous clan {ay eh), as 
among the Angamis. Clan feeling exists, as does tribal 
feeling, but it has no organs. The basis of Sema society 
is the village {apfu, agana), or part of a village [asah),^ 
which is under the control of a chief. That is not to say 
that the clan is never important in the Sema polity. In 
Lazemi (" Lozema "), where there are no chiefs and almost 
certainly an Angami element in the population, the clans 
(or rather septs, for the village is almost entirely of the 
Asimi clan) seem to be as important as in the Angami villages. 
Other villages, again, are split into asah which follow chiefs 
of different clans ; thus Lochomi contains a Zumomi asah 
and an Achumi asah, Natami and Sishimi each contain a 
Zumomi and Yepothomi asah, Seromi an Awomi asah 
and an Ayemi asah. In the latter case there is an ancient 
and abiding feud between the two. In speaking, however, 
of a village or asah (" khel ") as of such and such a clan, 

^ Such a part of a village is usually known in the Naga Hills as a 
" khel." This Assamese word originally denoted an exogamous group 
of the Ahoms and was applied to Nagas first of all, perhaps to signify 
an exogamous group, but came to be used regularly for the part of a 
village inhabited in the Angami country by an exogamous group, and 
hence for a division of any village, which in the Sema country is very 
rarely conterminous with an exogamous group. 

122 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

it should be clearly understood that in most of such groups 
there are to be found men of many, or at least of several, 
different clans. The predominant position, however, of the 
chief, and of his relatives on the male side, leads to the rough 
classification of the whole group as of their clan. The real 
pivot of Sema society is the chief. 

This is not to suggest, however, that the clan is un- 
important. It pervades the life of the ordinary Sema from 
his birth upwards, determining, or at any rate influencing, 
his choice of food, of wives, of friends, and sometimes of 
enemies, for now and then clan feeling is strong enough to 
cause war, as in the case of the old hostility between the 
Yepothomi and Zumomi clans in the Tizu valley, where the 
Zumomi villages prevented the Yepothomi from coming into 
Kohima. This particular feud, however, is more or less 
dormant, as the Yepothomi villages in that quarter have 
quarrelled among themselves. The Sema clans are usually 
reckoned at twenty-two,^ viz. : — 

Asimi Zumomi 

CheshaHmi Kibahmi 

Chishihmi Katenlmi 

Achumi Khuzhomi 

Awomi Khakhomi (or Khakholimi) 

Ayemi i Tsiikomi 

Chekemi V ^ Wokhami 

YepothomiJ Wotzami 

Nunomi Chunimi 

Shohemi Chophimi 

Kinimi Muromi. 

Among these, some of them may be grouped by various tests. 
For instance, when sacrificing a mithan in the Asimi and 
the clans nearly connected with it, the giver of the feast 
can eat the flesh of the mithan. In the Yepothomi and the 
connected clans of the Ayemi, Chekemi, Nunomi, and 
Awomi the giver of the feast may not eat of the meat. 

^ There is also a small and insignificant clan called Shochumi, and 
probably others. 

2 Sometimes also spoken of collectively as " Tukomi " by villages near 
the Dayang. 



The ceremonial is also different in the two groups. Such 
groupings, however, are not along clear lines. The Shohemi, 
for instance, follow the practice of the Yepothomi in not 
eating of sacrificial meat, but in ceremonial observances follow 
the Asimi practice. The last two clans on the hst are of Ao 
and Sangtam origin respectively, and the Chophimi, at any 
rate, are almost purely Ao in the matter of ceremonial, as 
well as following other Ao customs, such as the maintenance 
of village drums, huge trees hollowed, carved at the head 
and tail, and kept in a house of their own and beaten upon 
at various seasons. Even the Chophimi speech is still 
tainted with Ao, as, though Sema has become their language, 
they speak it like an Ao-speaking Sema, and the expression 
ChopM-Choli-tsa (" Chophimi -Ao -speech ") is used by other 
Semas for an incorrect use of the Sema language. The 
Chophimi seem to have originated in some of the original 
inhabitants of Lotesami village, who fled before the Semas 
to Longsa and were allowed to return. They left some 
relations in Longsa, who are now spoken of by the Aos as 
of Sema origin, which they probably, almost certainly, are 
not. The Muromi are few in number and found principally 
east of the Tizu, and seem to be of Sangtam origin. They 
are regarded as persons of iU omen, and if a man starting 
out hunting or on the warpath meets one of them he gets 
nothing at all. For this reason they are sometimes called 
Murosipomi, the Muro whom it is unlucky to meet.^ Part 
of the Awomi are also of Sangtam origin. The genuine 
Sema Awomi amalgamated with some Sangtams from 
Yetsimi who claimed to be of the same clan, but these men 
did not eat the meat of dogs, whereat one Hoshomu of the 
genuine Sema Awomi admonished them, saying that the 
real Awomi eat dog, and if they considered themselves Awomi 
they had better do the same. On this many of them were 
persuaded, but some would not, and so the Awomi clan is 
divided into Awomi proper and Awomi-atsiishi-kuchukumo 
(i.e., " the Awomi who eat no dog meat," sometimes also 
spoken of as " Awo-kinimi," since the Eanimi also abstain 
from dog meat). Part of the Yepothomi and Aye mi clans, 

^ CJ. the Chereohima of the Memi Angamis. 

124 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

notably those in Vekohomi, are also of Sangtam origin, 
hailing from Yetsimi, though they claim nowadays to be 
genuine Semas. These clans are called by Semas of the 
western villages " Tukomi," though Tukomi is really the 
Sema name for the more southern Sangtams.^ An almost 
sure indication, however, of the non-Sema origin of the part 
of the Yepothomi clan referred to is that they eat the flesh 
of the bird called awutsa,^ like the Chophimi and most of 
the Awomi. Apparently the genuine Semas all abstain, or 
used to abstain, from eating this flesh. Most of the Sema 
clans have their own food gennas of one sort or another, 
except perhaps the Chunimi, who are said to " eat every- 
thing *' and to have acquired their name for this reason. 
Even in this case, however, everything does not apparently 
include the awutsa or the other foods that have already 
been mentioned in Part II as genna to Semas in general. 
The Asimi, Cheshalimi, Chishilimi, and probably some others, 
abstain from the winged ants (alhu) that emerge in the 
autumn from the ant-hills of white ants, and are considered 
generally a great delicacy, and from a certain sort of edible 
fungus that grows directly out of the earth. The reason 
given is that as their first ancestors emerged from the earth, 
so do the winged ants and the fungus, which should there- 
fore not be eaten ; for the Semas, while regarding Tukahu 
as the fount of their race, believe, like the Angamis and 
other Naga tribes, that their original progenitors emerged 
from the bowels of the earth. In the Kinimi clan the men 
abstain from the flesh of dogs and goats, while the women 
eat of the pig and fowl alone of domestic animals, and of 
wild mammals only deer (barking deer and sambhar) and 
porcupine. There is, however, a section of the Kinimi 
which has disregarded, or which has never observed, these 
restrictions, and which is called in consequence Kini -Chunimi, 
because though Kinimi they resemble the Chunimi, " eaters 

^ So also the Asimi of Lazemi, Mishilimi, etc., speak of all Semas to the 
east of them as Tushomi, a term applied by Semas in general to the alien 
tribes to the east of them. It suggests considerable expulsion and 
absorption of foreign elements by the more easterly Sema villages, which 
is indeed the case. 

• The Rufous-necked Hombill (Aceros Nepalensis). See Part II, p. 93. 


of everj^thing," in having no clan food restrictions. This 
section is said to be of the same blood as the Kinimi, but 
it has possibly an adoptive origin, like part of the Awomi 
and Yepothomi clans, such amalgamation being very easy 
and frequent enough. 

The word for " clan," by the way, is ay eh or ay a, and the 
same word serves for " custom," an indication, perhaps, of 
an original differentiation between clans according to the 
customs they followed. 

Properly to appreciate the conditions of Sema society six 
or seven generations ago, we must probably conceive of very 
small village communities living very isolated lives among 
heavy forest land only cleared in small patches. These 
communities must have had a very severe struggle for 
existence, and no doubt dwindling villages would frequently 
migrate and amalgamate both with others of their own kin 
and with villages of different tribes. 

As to the origin of the clans, accounts are very conflicting. 
The Chishilimi have a Rabelaisan story that all the Semas 
were originally divided into two divisions, the ChishiUmi 
and the Ashonumi, which comprised all the other clans, 
including the Cheshalimi, and that everyone claimed to be 
Chishilimi. To test this claim, it was decided that those 
whose ordm"e was white should belong to that clan, and the 
rest to the Ashonumi. The real Chishilimi then fed them- 
selves on rice-meal, modhu, and light food, while the rest 
ate beef. This caused the real Chishilimi to be confirmed 
in their title. This story may conceivably contain some 
memory of prehistoric dispute between a Patrician and a 
Plebeian clan.^ Several Naga traditions in various tribes 
suggest that the race may have had a mixed origin. In 
any case it has no bearing on the present status of the 
clans. The most consistent and explicit of many diverse 
traditions is one which speaks of the first man as one 
Nikhoga, who had six sons. These six founded six clans, 

^ Chesha and Chishi perhaps represent two brothers who emerged from 
the bowels of the earth in whom we may recognise the two brothers Thevo 
and Thekro of the Angami legend. Extant accounts, however, give the 
two brothers a human origin, as recorded below 

126 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

the Asimi, Awomi, Achumi, Ayemi, Tsunimi, and Aboimi. 
The first four are still represented by clans bearing their 
names, but, unless Tsunimi = Chunimi, the last two clans 
have been split up into other clans and their names have 
disappeared. One variant tradition gives the last five 
sons only with a father named " Simi," though this is an 
obviously collective noun. Another gives the six original 
clans as the Asimi, Awomi, Chunimi, Ayemi, Achumi, and 
Yepothomi, and relates that Nikhoga was only able to find 
a wife for the eldest, and the others kept intriguing with her 
and had to be ejected, so he made a feast, killed a pig, a 
dog, and a goat, and called on his sons to choose their 
shares. The founder of the Chunimi took the dog's head, 
and his clan are called Chunimi because, like a dog, they 
eat everything, chu = " eat." The ancestor of the Awomi 
chose the pig's head and were called after it, for awo = " pig." 
That of the Ayemi made a great hullabaloo when carrying 
wood to cook the feast, hence the name Ayemi from 
yeye = " jabber," The fifth son started off eating first, 
and his descendants are therefore called Achumi, from 
ana = " rice " and chu = " eat." The sixth stood looking 
on in silence and so earned for his family the name Yepo- 
thomi, the silent clansmen, from aye — " clan " and 
putJio = " night " and therefore silence. Derivation a 
little strained. As regards the Yepothomi, however, the 
split between them and the Ayemi is held by both clans to 
have been comparatively recent, both being descended from 
one ancestor, Kaka. Anyway, they have no signs now of 
the silent character imputed to their ancestor. The tradi- 
tion which gives the Tsunimi and the Aboimi as two of the 
original clans is to be preferred, if one can have a preference 
as regards such legends, as otherwise there is no reason why 
their names should be remembered at all. As regards the 
other clans, some are given a purely patronymic origin. The 
Cheshalimi and Chishilimi are descended from Chesha and 
Chishi, the two sons of one Khogamo ; the Kinimi from one 
Kinishe (though Kinimi also means " rich men " and some 
prefer this explanation), and the Khakomi, or Khakholimi, 
from one Khakho. The Wotzami ascribe their name to a 


legend that their founder when catching a pig {awo) got his 
hand (a'ou) bitten (tsa), while the Kibalimi clan are credited 
with having developed a most uncleanly and insanitary 
habit owing to their being afraid to leave their houses {ki) 
in the early morning, and are named accordingly. Other 
and even less likely explanations of other clan names will 
be found in one of the stories in Part VI. There is no call 
to recount them here. The Wotzami, it should be added, 
abstain from kilUng or eating the " huluk " ape, with which 
(hke the Chang Kudamji) they acknowledge a sort of vague 
blood connection, though they do not always care to be 
reminded of it. Some say that a Wotzami man turned into 
a " huluk " and that all the Wotzami become apes after 
death, others that a " huluk " became a man and founded 
the Wotzami clan. This version, even apart from Darwin, 
has on the face of it the more plausibility, as there have 
been persons unkind enough to say that there is little need 
of death to turn the Wotzami into apes.^ 

The origin of the Zumomi clan is a matter of much dispute. 
The explanation of the word is generally beheved to be 
either from azhi, " blood," and mo, " not," because they 
were of no one's blood, or, with less improbabihty, from 
zhu, " perceive," and mo, " not," because no one could 
point to the husband of the mother of their first male 
ancestor. The clan traces its human descent to an ances- 
tress, one Putheli, a daughter, by some accounts, of Kho- 
ghamo, father of Chesha and Cliishi, and who was the father 
of her son perhaps mattered Uttle enough before the fashion 
in genealogies became patriUneal. Now, however, the 
birth of her son by an unknown father is a matter of such 
shame to the powerful clan of her descendants that they will 
invent any story to account for it, and the writer has heard 
at least half a dozen totally different accounts of the origin 
of the Zumomi from members of that clan, though the other 
clans seem unanimous enough on the matter, giving the one 
version the Zumomi will not accept. One story derives 
their origin from some red earth that looks like blood, 

^ A Kachari story given by Soppitt (op. cit., p. 70) tells how the huluk 
derives his origin from the Kachari. 

128 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

another from a species of red plantain, and a third, by a 
very far-fetched derivation, from a supposed occasion on 
which the plantain leaf cups available failed to suffice for so 
hard-drinking a clan. The family of Ghukiya, a Zumomi 
chief of great renown in his day and recently deceased, name 
as the father of Putheli's son a spirit called Tiighaki, who 
was in the habit of taking the form of a squirrel {Tiighaki 
probably = " spirit Squirrel ") and who died before the 
birth of the son. According to the powerful Sakhai branch, 
however, Putheli's husband was a mortal man who was killed 
by his enemies at Emilomi, when his widow and infant son 
migrated to Sukomi and his name was forgotten. And there 
are other versions. The number of stories to account for 
the origin of the clan clearly shows that they are fantastic 
inventions to evade the slur of bastardy, or at any rate to 
evade admitting it, for the Zumomi are a new clan sprung 
to eminence in three generations, and Putheli is almost 
certainly an historic personage. It is just possible that an 
injustice has been done to her reputation by a change since 
her day in domestic etiquette, while the attempt to evade 
tracing descent to a woman by the imputation of fatherhood 
to inanimate or non-human sources suggests that totemism 
in some parts of the world may have had an origin of this 

Some of the food tabus may no doubt suggest the possi- 
bility of some form of totemism having obtained among the 
Semas, but except for the Wotzami there is not a single clan 
which genuinely traces its descent from an animal or plant, 
and none has anything like a definite totem. The absten- 
tion by almost all Semas from eating or touching the hornbill 
called awutsa conceivably points again in the same direc- 
tion, but seems to have a different origin.^ If there is any 
animal which one would expect the Sema to regard as a 
totem should be regarded, it would be the tiger (angshu), 
which he credits with an origin senior to his own, one mother 
having had three children, a spirit, a tiger, and a man whose 
respective descendants still people the world. The tiger, 
however, though many superstitions surround him, is no 

^ See Part II under Food tabus 


totem. The great hornbill (aghacho) ^ and perhaps the 
python (aithu) fall to some extent in the same class as the 
tiger, though not credited with any similar origin, but they 
too are in no sense totems. The probable origin of food 
tabus is in some behef at some time that such foods have 
proved detrimental to persons eating them. The question 
of totemism among the Naga tribes generally has been gone 
into at more length in the Angami monograph. Generally 
speaking, it seems that one would be rather going out of 
one's way to attempt uncalled-for ethnological gymnastics 
if one set about demonstrating the former existence of 
totemism in Naga tribes. It may conceivably have existed 
once, but if it did it has left singularly few traces behind. 
The question is only introduced here because the connec- 
tion between exogamy and totemism seems so frequent that 
exogamy without totemism seems to call for some remark. 
It is perhaps conceivable that totemism did indeed exist at 
some former date in conjunction with a matrilineal system 
of descent, and that when the patrilineal system supplanted 
the former (as it might be expected to do when once the 
father's share in the production of offspring was fully recog- 
nised and understood) some odd remnants of the totemism 
of the abandoned matrilineal clans survived the change in 
society. If this were the case, it might account for some 
of the rather confused and unreasonable food tabus of the 
Sema clans. 

The twenty-two clans have been given in the list as 
exogamous, but although these twenty-two are still recog- 
nised as the genuine Sema clans, many of them have long 
ceased to be in any sense exogamous. The smaller ones, 
Katenimi, Kibalimi, Khuzhomi, Tsiikomi, Wokhami, Wot- 
zami, and Chekemi, still appear to remain exogamous, at 
any rate as a general rule, as also the Ayemi, who even 
avoid marriage with the Chekemi as being too nearly related. 

The Muromi also are said to be still exogamous. Of the 
others the Awomi have, as already noticed, split into two 
divisions which without compunction intermarry with one 
another as well as with outside clans. A further split in 

^ Dickoceroa bicornis. 

130 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

the Awomi was attempted in the last generation by Kiyelho 
of Seromi, father of Kivilho, the present Awomi chief of 
that village. He said that his ancestors, though incorporated 
with the Awomi clan, came from Yetsimi and were not of the 
same stock as the original Sema nucleus, and that in future 
he and they would intermarry with the rest of the Awomi 
at will and form a separate clan. Immediately after, how- 
ever, he lost his head to a hostile village, and this was 
regarded as a judgment on his impiety, and no more was 
heard of his proposed split. The Chishihmi have long been 
divided into the descendants of Chuoka and those of Kutathu, 
which superseded the Chishilimi as exogamous groups and 
are themselves ceasing to be exogamous. The Chophimi, 
again, have ceased to be exogamous (if they ever were so), 
being at present composed of two sub-divisions at least, 
Molimi and Woremi,i and most if not all of the other larger 
clans have lost their exogamous nature, the exogamous rule 
having been replaced by a working system under which 
marriages between persons of the same clan are not for- 
bidden, provided that the parties to the marriage have no 
common ancestor in the direct paternal line for five genera- 
tions. Sometimes four generations is given as the limit. 
It is true that this rule is usually regarded as applying to 
parties from different villages only. Very likely the average 
villager only knows his parentage for about two or three 
generations, and hence this safeguard insisting on different 
villages, but it is probably a proviso not always too rigidly 
insisted on, much depending on the number of eUgible girls 
locally available. Indeed the Ayemi and Yepothomi, who 
are considered to be nearly related, have a tradition that 
the prohibition of marriage between them was broken down 
by the difficulty of obtaining women from other clans. 

The purely patriarchal nature of Sema society as it exists 
at present cannot be too emphatically stated. The female 
line is of no account, and relationship through the female, 
though recognised as existing, is barely recognised and 
nothing more. A Sema may not marry his wife's mother, 
but can marry practically any female relation of his own 

1 ? Wore-Tni<Aorr, the name used by the Aoa for themselves. 


mother on her father's side. For altliough some Semas are 
said, like the ancient Athenians/ to forbid marriage with a 
mother's sister by the same mother, 2 even though the father 
be different, the vast majority hold that a man may marry 
his mother's sister by the same father and mother without 
any suggestion of impropriety, whereas he would be guilty 
of incest, and banished from the village, if he took to himself, 
say, a third cousin in patrilineal descent. He may also 
marry his father's sister's daughter, though such marriages 
are regarded as unfertile. Whether the exogamous clan 
was always patrilineal is a matter for considerable doubt. 
There is much to suggest that a matrilineal system survived 
till comparatively recently, and if this is the case the alleged 
occasional prohibition of marriage with the mother's uterine 
sister would (if it really exists) be a survival of it,^ and 
it must be admitted that there is something suggestive 
about the syllable li which appears in several of the clan 
and sept names — Cheshalimi, Chishilimi, Khakholimi, Kiba- 
limi ; in names of communities such as Mishilimi, Mukalimi, 
Kichilimi, Sisilimi, all of them, be it noted, villages of 
early foundation among the Semas ; and in a few other 
words such as apelimi ( = " brethren," used by women 
only), angulimi ( = " relations-in-law "). This suffix or 
infix li strongly suggests a derivation from alimi, a girl 
or woman ; it is found in almost all female names, e.g., 

1 As also the Tartars, if Sir John Mandeville (ch. xxv), and Johannes de 
Piano Carpini (ch. vi, Hakluyt's " Navigations," etc.) from whom he 
probably plagiarised, are to be trusted. 

^ One informant only told me this ; all others I have asked strenuously 
deny the existence of any such prohibition. I have, moreover, some 
reason to suppose that my informant, though a chief and skilled in obscure 
points of custom and generally a most trustworthy authority, gave this 
theory on the spur of the moment under the influence of some feeling of 
shame, as a listener from another tribe expressed abhorrence at hearing 
that he (my informant) had married his mother's paternal sister, whereon 
my informant promptly remarked, " Oh, we allow it provided the mother 
is different," a standpoint from which, however, he refused to withdraw, 
and which he amplified by saying that marriage with a mother's uterine 
sister by a different father was equally forbidden, though there was a 
chorus of dissent from other Semas who stood by. 

' It is possible that there raay also be some significance in the fact that a 
Sema in extremis or in any difficulty calls out " Mother ! ", iza, though 
his mother may have been dead for years. 

K 2 

132 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Khetoli, Putheli, Ivili, and the like, and when attached 
to the name of a village or people means a girl or young 
woman of that village or tribe, e.g., Likeli, a girl of Like 
(Nankam) village ; Aborlimi, an Abor girl ; Kungulimi, 
girls of the Kungumi or sky spirits. The obvious inference 
is that if the infix li in clan and community names is derived 
from alimi, the clans and communities in question recognised 
a matrilineal line of descent. Thus Mishilimi would mean 
Mishili's people, Khakholimi the descendants of Khakoli, and 
so forth. Mishili and Khakhuli are still in use as women's 
names, and possibly some of the others. On the other hand, 
the particle li may have some totally different significance ; 
it frequently, for instance, has a purely collective sense, in 
which case it is added as a suffix to the noun of the individual 
to make a collective noun ; thus asahu = a " thorn " or 
" thorn-bush," > asahuli = a, "thorn-brake," "a mass of 
thorny bushes," so also we ha,ye akkehlK akkeh = " cane." 
It seems likely enough that the li in clan names is of the 
same significance as this. In fact the writer has heard a 
Sema head-man of carriers in a transport corps speak of his 
" section-li-mi" meaning the men of his section. The 
most probable explanation would seem to be that the merely 
collective li has been applied by analogy from human 
communities to plants and referred originally to a matri- 
lineal community, but we do in one or two instances find li 
as the termination of men's names as well as of women's, 
e.g., Hocheli, Tsivili, though the latter perhaps is not a 
genuine Sema name. The frequent use of the possessive 
form i-limi without any possessive sense is to be noted. 
Apropos of Mr. Peale's theory, mentioned below, it is worth 
noticing that alimi (ilimi) is used equally for unmarried 
girls of the speaker's own community and for young married 
women who may be drawn from another community. 

If otherwise suitable, marriage with the mother's 
brother's daughter, or father's sister's son,^ is preferred. 
The reason given is that such marriages conduce to 
domestic concord owing to the relationship between the 
parents of the couple, who see that their children behave 
well to one another. 

1 Cf. Playfair, " The Garos," p. 68. 


After marriage a man performing the Apisa ceremony 
(f. injra) must give his wife's mother one hind leg of the 
mithan he kills and must give her half a leg or any small 
portion of meat when he performs less important ceremonies. 
The late Mr. S. E. Peale put forward a most ingenious 
theory 1 that within the community marriage, as implying 
an exclusive right by any one man to any one woman, 
did not exist ; and that the only wives who existed as 
private property were those who had been captured from 
some other community, and had thus become the property 
of their captors ; thus giving rise to a system of exogamous 
marriage, and whereby he also explains freedom of sexual 
intercourse between the unmarried. The arguments, how- 
ever, which support this theory do not hold good among 
the Semas, and it is doubtful whether they do so among 
any Naga tribes. Except perhaps in Lazemi, free inter- 
course with bachelors is not allowed to unmarried girls 
as in the Angami and Ao tribes, and in any case sexual 
intercourse between persons of the same clan is regarded as 
incest,^ whether it takes place before or after marriage, and 
is punished by banishment. Even in Lazemi, as probably 
also in one or two neighbouring villages, where sexual rela- 
tions between the unmarried are pretty free, such relations 
between persons of the same exogamous clan are contrary 
to custom. That is not to say that they never take place. 
Rules that are not broken have yet to be made. But sexual 
intercourse between persons of the same exogamous group 
is not approved by the custom or sentiment of the Semas, 
nor indeed by that of the neighbouring Naga tribes. Of 
course this feeling may have grown up after the acknowledg- 
ment of a private right in captured or purchased women, 

' See " Census of India," 1891, " Assam," vol. i, p. 122, note. 

* The same view is held by all the Naga tribes with whose custom I am 
acquainted, though I cannot answer for the Konyak tribes ; in Nankam 
and Mongmethang, Ao villages, the custom of having free intercourse with 
members of one's own exogamous group exists, but it is regarded with 
aversion by other Aos and is looked on as a case of recent degeneration, 
and actual marriage is punished by destruction of the house of the couple 
and a fine, " in accordance with ancient custom." No doubt breaches 
of the custom exist everywhere, but they are punished when detected. 
Mr. Davis, op. cit., vol. i, p. 250, seems to have erred, though Angamia 
regard such incest more leniently than other Naga tribes. 

134 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

but it may be noted that while Sema marriage is still 
practically a matter of purchase, capture is not and would 
seem never to have been a basis for marriage. The women 
of a Sema's enemies are regarded as the possessors of heads 
to be taken and of long hair to be made into ornaments, not 
as possible wives or slaves. Slavery is not practised even 
by independent Semas, and the daughters of persons putting 
themselves under the protection of someone else, whereby 
they become bound to him, as described later, are barred 
from marriage with him by becoming quasi-members of his 
clan. Another argument used in support of Mr. Peale's 
theory is that exogamy is not an effective bar to consan- 
guineous marriage. That is true, but neither for that matter 
is our own system, which allows unhmited first-cousin 
marriages, frequently with disastrous results, while for- 
bidding (till recently at any rate) marriage with a wife's 
sister. That the Sema recognises the evils of consanguineous 
marriage is clear enough, and he describes it as sterile or 
as resulting in the idiocy or deformity of its offspring, and 
it is also clear that he considers exogamy a sufficiently 
effective bar.^ 

Before leaving the exogamous clan it should be mentioned 
that a clan often identifies itself with a clan belonging to a 
neighbouring tribe. Such identifications, while sometimes 
apparently not unreasonable, would frequently seem to be 
entirely supposititious, and will not bear investigation. The 
relationship is usually based on an alleged common genua ; 
thus the Kinimi claim kinship with the Ao Lungkamrr clan 
on the strength of a common avoidance by each of dog's 
flesh, among other and differing tabus. The Yepothomi 
and Ayemi claim kinship with certain Yachumi and Sangtam 
clans on the ground of common traditions. Here, however, 
we know that the Yepothomi at any rate has absorbed alien 
communities from these tribes, so that such resemblances 
might well be expected. On the other hand, an identifica- 

1 The Changs bar marriage between the males of any clan and the 
descendants of females of the same patrilineal clan to the fourth genera- 
tion, and although recently in some cases the bar has been reduced to 
two generations by rebellious individiials, this is regarded as dangerous and 


tion was attempted within the writer's knowledge between 
the Wotzami and the Lhota clan of the Shitri for which no 
clear ground could be established at all. The truth is that 
it is exceedingly useful to persons of different tribes to 
establish definitely an identity of clan. If a man's hosts in 
an alien village regard him as of their clan, he is at any rate 
safe from being cut up by them, even though others of their 
village may feel no compunction in taking his head, and this 
aspect of clan feeling has undoubtedly caused men to go out 
of their way to claim reciprocally an identity of clan on the 
slenderest pretexts. Once established, such a theory rapidly 
gains ground, as traders of both the tribes affected by it are 
only too glad to take advantage of it. It should be added 
that this explanation of the identification of clans in different 
tribes on fanciful grounds was given to the writer by Nagas 
themselves, who readily admitted that they observed connec- 
tions between clans of different tribes, which were confirmed 
by no genuine identity at all. 

The Sema at present practises polygjniy, but it is just 
possible that some tradition of polyandry lingers in the story 
of Nikhoga already related, who drove out his younger sons 
because they would intrigue with the elder's wife, and in the 
tradition that Tsakalu, an ancestor of the Ayemi, and 
Arka, one of the Achumi founders of Yezami, had a wife in 
common, having combined to purchase her. There is, 
however, no trace of any such practice in present usage. ^ 
In point of practice it is usually only chiefs and other rich 
men who keep more than one wife, the ordinary villager being 
unable to afford it, but even so the average Sema is ex- 
ceedingly prolific and the tribe has increased at a most 
remarkable rate. In 1891^ it was rapidly increasing, and 
it is still doing so. Amongst the chiefs with their numerous 
wives families are often very large indeed, though there 
are signs of a change setting in, possibly due to the 

^ Among the Lhotas men often have access to the wives of their brothers 
when the latter are away from home, and the adultery of a wife with one 
of her husband's clan is almost always amicably settled, being viewed as a 
far less serious aSair than adultery with a man of another exogamous 

» " Census of India," 1891, "Assam," vol. i, p. 248. 

136 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

rapidly increasing inability of the land to maintain the 

A Sema may marry his father's wife, other, of course, 
than his own mother, after his father's death, and indeed is 
regarded as entitled to do so if he wishes, though the widow 
is under no obligation to marry her step -son and no penalty 
attaches to her refusal to do so. Should she refuse, she has 
sooner or later to take her customary share of her late 
husband's movables and her departure. Should she marry one 
of his sons, however, the dead man's movable property is not 
divided until her death, for though the other widows of the 
dead man would be given their shares and their conge, the 
other sons must reserve division. Should several sons marry 
widows this property would probably be temporarily divided 
among these sons and re-divided later, but this is a con- 
tingency which the writer has never known to arise. It may 
be that here again it is possible to see a survival of the 
transference of property in the female line, particularly as 
marriage with a deceased father's widow is commonest 
among chiefs' families (see " The Golden Bough," 3rd 
edition, vol. ii, pp. 285 et seq.). But it seems quite clear 
that the reason why this form of marriage is most prevalent 
in chiefs' families is that they alone are rich enough to have 
several wives, of whom the most recent is normally younger 
than the elder sons. The practice is also found among rich 
men other than chiefs. It appears also likely that it may 
have its origin in its obvious advantages. The widow 
naturally wishes to retain the care of her children, but as 
these pass into the guardianship and keeping of her husband's 
heir, she can only do so by marrying him, a proceeding which 
also ensures her retention of the ornaments that formed her 
dowry. This arrangement, from the point of view of the 
male, avoids the dangers of step-motherhood, the Sema 
having the traditional, and in their case at any rate not en- 
tirely unjustified, beUef in the step-mother's cruelty to her 
step-children. On the other hand, the marriage with the 
widow does not entitle her husband to any larger share in his 
father's property eventually, and the temporary postpone- 
ment of division seems to be one of courtesy to the dead 


man's wife, a Sema's wife holding quite a dignified position 
in his household and in the management of his affairs. 
Indeed it is sometimes advisable to retain the widow in the 
family for this reason alone, as she often has a better know- 
ledge of the debts due from and to her husband than his 
heirs have. 

It should be added that where a man has died leaving 
only young children, and his brother has taken over the 
property, this property is often left intact till the latter 's 
death, when the nephews or other male heirs stand in the 
same position to deceased's widows as his sons, as far as 
the matter of marriage with them is concerned. 

It has been remarked that in the marriage of the widow 
by her son a trace of a former matrihneal system may perhaps 
be detected. It is possible to detect a more definite trace 
in the position of a mother's brother. Among the Semas, 
as among other Naga tribes, the greatest respect is enjoined 
on a man for his mother's brother. The latter is not, 
however, necessarily or even usually addressed by the 
respectful term i-pu (="my father"), i-ngu being the 
correct designation, but it is a very serious matter to say 
anything to him at all which might give offence, while he 
must observe a reciprocal, though perhaps less rigid, for- 
bearance towards his sister's son. There is no social penalty 
attaching to the breach of this etiquette, as the breach is 
believed to entail its own penalty of serious misfortune or 
death. In the case of a girl's relations to her mother's 
brother we find a definite obligation existing, which is 
inherited from the mother's brother by his son if it has not 
been discharged. When a man's sister's daughter is married, 
or when, after his father's death, his father's sister's daughter 
is married, he must give her a present, which may be any- 
thing from a purely nominal gift of meat — half a pig's leg 
or a little flesh — to a large share of a mithan. The girl's 
husband must then make a return. A definite sum is 
agreed upon, according to the means of the newly married 
couple, to be paid at leisure. This sum may be anything 
from a little paddy or salt up to Rs. 15/-or 20/-. It may be 
paid at the couple's convenience, and is claimable from the 

138 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

husband's heirs if he die without paying. This custom, or 
rather the payment entailed by it, is called aghasho. 

On examining the Sema names for relations one is struck 
at the outset by their paucity as compared with those used 
in the plains of India, and by the fact that the terms used 
are applied to males or females according to their relation 
to the speaker ; a woman, for instance, calls her sister's 
husband i-chi, and the term is used inversely by a man for 
his elder brother's wife ; and other terms for relations 
by marriage are little more precise than our expression 
"-in-law." In connection with the apparent derivation of 
the infix li < alimi referred to above, it is worth while 
noting that the use of the expression angulimi seems to 
have a stricter interpretation than the mere word angu, 
which is used by both husband and wife for each other's 
male relations. Failing any suggestion to the contrary, 
angulimi used by a man would certainly be understood to 
refer definitely to his mother's male relatives. On the other 
hand, while there is a word for a son's wife (amukeshiu, 
also appUed to a younger brother's or husband's younger 
brother's wife ; anga, the word infant in arms, is also 
used), there is no word for a daughter's husband. With 
regard to the words for husband and wife a rather curious 
comparison with the Angami terms suggests itself. The 
terms are apparently the same but inverted. In Sema 
" husband " = akimi {i.e., " house man " or " house men "), 
" wife "= anipfu. In Angami 'nupfo = " husband," while 
'kima (with precisely the same significance as akimi) 
= " wife." It may be added that -pfo is very like a 
feminine termination in Angami, and 'nupfo might = " child- 
bearer." Is it possible to see here an inversion of the terms 
by the Angami, and the record therein of a change from a 
household with a woman at its head to a patrilineal family ? 
Or is it merely a trace of the couvade, or what is the meaning 
of it ? 1 The women and men of the Chang tribe use the 
expressions champa-pou and champa-nyu for husband and 
wife, meaning the " male from the house " and the " female 

^ In Kezami the word for husband and for wife is the same, akami 
being used for both. 


from the house," respectively for their husbands and wives. ^ 
The use of aza for a female maternal cousin as well as for 
" mother " is to be remarked, whereas the term used for a 
mother's brother is only angu ; the expression apuza is also 
to be noticed, and just conceivably suggests again a former 
matrilineal system, as it apparently means " father's 
mother," but is applied to all grandparents of either sex 
except the father's father. It seems, however, more likely 
that the termination -za here represents the Angami -tsa 
which terminates the four Angami words for " grandparent." 
In the following table ^ of the names used by Semas for 
relatives and connections the names are given in what may 
be called their disjunctive form. In use the initial a- is 
replaced by the possessive pronoun, thus apu = a father 
> " my father " (or in address *' Father ") = i-pu, " your 
father "= o-^w, "his iather " = jM-pu. Unless explicitly 
specified as M. S. (= man speaking) or W. S. (= woman 
speaking) the terms given are used by both sexes alike. 

Asil = paternal grandfather or other ancestor (lit. 
" tree," " stock "). 
Apuza ^ = Grandparent, other than asil. 
Apu = (1) Father. 

(2) Father's brother. 

N.B. — If it is necessary to specify further, a man 
will say, for instance, i-pti pa'mu, " my father 
his elder brother," but in addressing him he 
would use i-pu simply. In speaking in Assamese 
the Sema does not use the correct Assamese 
terms, whatever those may be, but speaks of 
his paternal uncles as his " big father " or 
" little father," according to whether the uncle 
is older or younger than his father himself.* 

* Lau and yak are the real Chang terms for husband and wife, and are 
also used. "^ See Appendix III. 

' The apparent meaning is literally "father's mother," but it may be 
connected with the Angami equivalent putsau in the case of the male 
grandparent. Putsau probably<aj>u, = "father" and tsa = "side." 

* As such terms as " big " and " little father " do not exist in Sema, the 
expressions used by him in " Assamese," fft^^ "^^j C^l I? TtTJ, may 
possibly be borrowed from the Ao, who uses in his own language the 
expressions " elder " and " younger father " and so translates them. 

140 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

I-pu is also used as a term of general respect, 
and is in this way often applied to other rela- 
tions and connections of mature age in place 
of the more explicit term. 

Aza = (1) Mother. 

(2) Mother's sister. 

(3) Mother's brother's daughter. 

N.B. — Like i-pu, i-za is used vaguely as a term 
of respect to relations who are not strictly 
entitled to be so addressed. 

Amu = (1) Elder brother. 

(2) Elder male cousin (on paternal side only). 

Afu = (1) Elder sister. 

(2) Father's brother's daughter older than 


(3) Wife's sister (though here the personal name 

is used if she is young in comparison to 
the speaker). 

Atilkuzu, M. S. = "I (1) Younger brother. 

Apeu, W. S. =3 (2) Male cousin (younger than 

speaker) on paternal side. 
Achepfu, M. S. = \ (1) Younger sister. 

Atsiinupfu, W. S.= J (2) Father's brother's daughter 

younger than speaker. 
Atikeshiu, M. S. = (1) Sister's children. 

(2) Father's sister's children. 

Anu = (1) Son, daughter. 

(2) Grandchild. 

(3) Younger brother's child (M. S. only). An 
elder brother's child is addressed by name, and 
spoken of to a third person as i-mu nu (= *' my 
elder brother's child "). 

Anu also = " child " generally. 

Akimi = Husband (but the term is not used in addressing 
him by his wife, who does not even address 
him by name, but speaks of him as " Himself," 


Anipfu = Wife (but in addressing her the husband uses 
her personal name). 

Ani = (1) Father's sister. 

(2) Wife's mother. 

(3) Husband's mother. 

(4) Husband's elder sister. 

(5) Elder brother's wife (W. S.). 

(6) Husband's elder brother's wife ; also 

husband's younger brother's wife if old 
in relation to the speaker. 

Angu'^= (1) Mother's brother. 

(2) Mother's brother's son. 

(3) Wife's father. 

(4) Husband's father. 

(5) Wife's brother (but achi is used by the 
eastern Semas). 

(6) Husband's brother. 

Achi = (1) Father's sister's husband. 

(2) Wife's brother (but angii is used by the 
western Semas). 

(3) Elder sister's husband (M. S.). 

(4) Elder brother's wife (M. S.). 

(5) Sister's husband (W. S.). 

Ama or Amakeshiu = Younger sister's husband (M. S.). 

Amukeshm = (1) Younger brother's wife. 

(2) (in some villages) Husband's younger 
brother's wife. (Personal name also used 
for this.) 

(3) Son's wife. (But anipa used for this 
in some villages.) 

N.B. — The literal meaning of amukeshiu 
appears to be one who makes or is 
made (Keshiu), an elder brother (amu). 

1 Of the term angu the Ao equivalent is aniik or tanitker = a watcher 
guard <anuk — to look after, guard, or protect. It is to be noticed that 
the root ngu-, meaning " to dwell, remain " in Sema, means " to see " in 
the Angami language, which is closely allied to Sema. 

142 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Anipa = (1) Wife's sister's husband. 

(2) Husband's younger brother's wife (if young 
compared to speaker. But amukeshiu is used 
for this in Seromi). 

(3) Son's wife. (But amukeshiu is used in some 

N.B. — Anga (= "infant") is often used in 
addressing a son's wife. It seems to be used 
as a term of endearment. 

A father's brother's wife is called aza\ 

or achi 
A mother's brother's wife is called aza 

or afu 
A mother's sister's husband is called 

apu or amu 

according to the 
relative ages of 
the person speak- 
ing and the person 
spoken to or of. 

No specific term is used for the following relatives ; either 
the personal name is employed, or some colourless expression 
such as " friend " {ashou, etc.), " lad " {dpu), or the respectful 
apu, amu, aza, afu, etc., according to circumstances : — 

Daughter's husband. 
Son's wife's parents. 
Daughter's husband's parents. 
Wife's brother's child. 
Husband's brother's child. 
Wife's sister's child. 
Husband's sister's child. 
Mother's sister's child. 
Sister's daughter's husband. 

The following collective terms are used : — 

Ataziimi, M. S.' 
Apelimi, W. S. 



Atilimi or atiliun = Grandchildren {ati = *' seed," 
fruit "). 



Atikeshiu, M. S. = Persons related to the speaker through 
their mother, who is a woman of his 
family {atikeshiu = " come of (our, 
etc.) seed "). 

Angulimi = Male relations by marriage, in particular the 
males of a man's mother's family ; but 
also those of his wife's family or of a 
woman's husband's family. 

It should be added, perhaps, that the use of these terms 
of relationship^ instead of the personal name of relation to 
be designated does not imply any genna or tabu on the 
utterance of that name, but is a matter of courtesy. Where 
it can be used without disrespect, as from a senior to a junior 
or between contemporaries, the personal name is frequently 
used ; nor does a man ordinarily hesitate to mention any 
name save perhaps his own and that of his wife, and vice 
versa. Here he is restrained, or rather checked, by what is 
apparently a feehng of delicacy or shame at speaking on a 
point of such personal intimacy. It is, however, a feeling 
very easily and quickly overcome in the case of males at 
any rate. If the coyness shown in this matter has any 
origin other than that of modesty it would seem to have 
been forgotten, and this coyness itself seems gradually 
disappearing. 2 

The accompanying pedigrees of Semas have been recorded Pedigrees 
principally from Semas in the more northern villages of the 
tribe, and generally speaking from the families of chiefs, as 
in such families only is it ordinarily possible to get any 
pedigree for more than three or four generations. More- 
over, owing to the prevalence of polygyny among chiefs, 

* For reciprocal table on Dr. Rivers' plan see Appendix III. 

^ The Angami has exactly the same delicacy about mentioning his or 
her name and that of wife or husband as the case may be, though with 
the Angami, too, the feeling is rapidly weakening. It is a curious fact 
that the excuse given by the Angami for his reluctance to mention his 
own name is that he would be like an owl which is always repeating its 
own name {huthu). This notion is exactly paralleled by the same notion 
fovmd in the Philippine Islands, though there the bird the example of 
which is shvmned is a raven instead of an owl {" Golden Bough," 3rd 
edition, vol. iii, p. 324). 

144 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

who usually marry the daughter of another chief for at least 
one of their wives, it has been possible to obtain tables of 
greater interest and detail than could possibly be done in the 
case of theordinary villager, though the marriages of the latter 
are governed by the same rules as are those of the former. 

N.B. — The name of the person whose pedigree is recorded, and of his 
village and of his clan, is given as a heading. 

The names of the clans into which the paternal line marries are given 
in italics against the name of the woman married, if it is known. 

The names of the villages from which such wives come is given, if known, 
against the first male of that line recorded. Similarly the village of any 
male, if not noted, is the same as that recorded last in the paternal line. 

Thus to find the clan of any person outside the direct paternal line, 
reference must be made to the female descendant who married into it. 
To find the village of such a female reference must be made to the first 
male ancestor recorded on her paternal side. 

Names ending in -li are those of women, unless marked i- 

Names having any other ending are those of men, unless marked ?. 

The names of the subsidiary wives of ancestors whose children do not 
reappear in the pedigree are not as a rule entered. Generally speaking^ 
they are not known. 

The The term " manor " has been here used for what is really 

the unit of Sema society, the organised community, that is, 
with a chief at the head of it, but which is not necessarily 
by any means conterminous with either the population or 
land of a village. This " manor," if the term may be 
permitted, has had its origin in the system of colonisation 
by the son of a chief accompanied by a number of his father's 
dependants (miighemi), and also, perhaps, by any runaways, 
thieves, or broken men generally that he can pick up. The 
chief's son, when making a new village where the land 
taken up is either newly acquired as a result of successful 
hostilities or has never before been cultivated, reserves for 
himself all the land he fancies. Ordinarily he would leave 
over a certain amount of land which might be taken up as 
their own by the more prominent of his companions, and 
he might leave over land for acquisition even by miighemi 
whose entire dependence upon himself was beyond question, 
but in any case he would reserve the greater part of the land 
taken up for himself, any land then remaining over belonging 
normally to whoever first cleared it. The land he took up 
as his own the new chief would parcel out yearly to his 



Tokiye = 


Passed over fdi 
chieftainship af 

Zhu'' = Shosali 
ChojJ . 

Liveshe = 


^^KESHE = 

(succeeds to | 
Kohazu as 
Chief of 


was allowed to sue 
been passed over 
of Hethena with li}' 
which Kiyelho has 
an admixture of 

Tnazu = Niholi 
(of Loko- 


(1) Kakuli (his father's ^ridow) 
= (2) Yezuli Chvnim.) 
= (3) Wokeli (of Phusumi) Asimi 
= (4) Khokheli (of Lokobomi) Chrh- 
= (5) Kuvili (divorced) Chophimi 

(also known as Hokeslie) 

N.B. Intermg ^^ when Vikeshe was still quite young, Kohazu 

uccession. The eldest son of Ghokaiiui having 
Vikeshe with two of his uncle's widows, and 
owever, only two out of the sixteen wives in 
riages into the Chophimi clan probably indicates 
Hokeshe, the former name was given liim by 
his father, the lat^onal and proba^bly correct, but the names of 
Khwoshe's immed: gives another Litapu (of Keromichomi). There 
have probably beei 


?hophimi <founde 

I. I. 


..h„i„u - 

Klyelho = (DK 
jfofAlApfuml. By 

h„,U ,h|ta 


btedlj nf KTMl 

Ue WDlAshf-Plvlll 

1 H.Mu- 




Toklya = Ka 

7 ™" 


^ Kh.,011 


Km"?' TO 



I CAopAfmi [ 

."Sas, °^.K ':: I '"^''"< «•"'"■■" 

:r/"„.r i, j 

I I 

tl (divorced) CAojiAim 

«,« ^-B— Intermarriage with another and difltant brnnch of the Kinimi clan tak-'-n pin' 

was aUowcd to eucceed oa ohief as a matter of courti'sv b' intr thv Rurvnvor o( t!i rid. r r 

b^en passed over aa unfit, tho right dn, . r . ' , ■'''■, 

of Hothena with hia btothor'a widow r„ . 

which Kiyelho has indulged in the oom 

an admixture of Ao blood, though i i 

hi8 father, the Iftttor by hiB father's wix 

^woahea immediate deaoendanta ar* noi lin.uTi \-\,r il,- umndfatlior of Litanu !-. n . f 

have probably been generations omitted in thia table between Hethena I and Keghwo 

nf Tnntn when Vilfsh" was still quite young, Kohuu 





ShepLimu Tsai 

(founder of the (of i 
\i(tiom»cIan) Sukomi) 




X.B. — The Nunom 
marry with tlie Ayen\ 
footing as those of th 
yovuiger two maintaine 
some generations have i 
and Alapfumi, both of 

It is to be noticec 
no obstacle to marriag( 
her lifetime), Vikhepu 
relationship to his mot) 
even by a different fa 
not really exist, at any 

2. Pediukee ai- VIKHEPU, the Chief of the AvEAa Clan in Seromi Villaoe. 


The rr.fisr.n t-iv'-^n is that while thr- elder of the thr^n broth'-r.^ r.-rnainrd behind, the 

Achumi I 

Five children 


gh Wokeli 
from III 
I) Hazali 
[ (Muromi) 
from IV 

Khiikheli = Hezekhu 

See separate 

Kiyashi 9 

Sakhalu = 


Hctoi - Wovlli 
trom III 



N.B. — In addition to t] 
married by some of those in . 

It is to be noticed th. 
his paternal half-sister Wot 
family and Ghokliwi's and 1 
Khukiya, two of whose sonj 
his uncles Nitoi and Hoito, 
place, as the girl died betwec 
twins occurs in the pedigree 
eastern Somas. All children 
Vihepu's great-grandchildren 
many more to come ui the pi 


Ghokhwi = Sacheli 

(Chief of 




]Sitoi — Hotholi 
( Yepothomi) 
irom I 

Hotoi = VSovili 
from 1 

Hoito = "Woieli 
from I 


Tsivill 6 
Muromi I 

Hekliyeke = Zliekiili 
( Yepotho'r.n) 
from I 



( Yepothom 

from 1 



Pedigree of HOITO, Bbother of the Chief of Sakhalo of the Yepothomi Clan. 


Shakir' = <l) VuUioUC. 



UeUyii,= (DHoib 

ITtpollicmi) lYtpoOomi) <r*po(AcmO 

N.B. — In addition to the principal table I, three other tables (II, III, IV) are gnon lo e 
iod by some of tliose in I. In these three tables only the necessary persons have bot-n re. 

It is to be noticed that Sakhalu marrieB his mother's sister, while his brother Nikijv 
"" ~ ' ■ - ■ - ™ . atep-mother's brother, Crr ' ' ' 

grandson man 
3 Hotoi's wif. ■ 

■ ■ '. til- betrothal and the- i 
■■Uichoe awh..k. giv... 

inter-relation of persons 
show the relatiouships. 

of Khukiya' 

ivps of 

I a clauRhter of 

.■ .1 uf the 



H M W p 

\ & Ch U. -^ 

§ £ - •= 
^^ > \A \4 


ii ® (B 

— c — !:i * 5 I* 

'' "^ +i 

s ® s 


s S 5 g 

§- E 

5 tc'S i £ 


5 ? S 

1= be 



S 2 » 

a 3 2 

oT.S to ■^ 



S 4^ 50 

fe c c 

ce £ O' 



_o3 o 

<L s «- g 

oj to «J 
S CO ^ t- 


g g O 0/ C tL W 

•2 ^H^-' S 


> s 




c — 

O 1 


1 £ 


J3 3 









2 =3 
2 115 



^21 W 


















1 1 



II — 

■^ 11 

3 = 



3 3 




^ A. 







>>— >> 


S M 




S o 




M^i t 





zl.%% 11 




^1 1 





11— s- 



§ — 

* odS 





—So g 

o gj25 
5 o:Sc. 

"o **^ 3 

^^ S- n'S I 

:3 ^ 5 s -tf -e £ 

2 ;: "^^ c 




5 O § 






*> <i^ ~ 




CC o 












— A 

« <B « g 


s ■= ^ 

oigo c 






— M 

■Jo iS 

O „ 
to _« 

^ o 






> !)« 






Nakhoga (or Gl 
(of I 


Sataka = Mi 




Tarela ? 

Malyepa = Akhula ? 
I Chophimi 

Viyilho ^'^ ~ Takhuli 

Sliiku = Wokeli 

Tetsiikepa = EhuUi 
I Chishilimi 

Kohazu = Khe3heli 

Mlnyepu = HukbuU 






Vukashe = Hothali 
from A 


■Tsiikom i 


Heshevi ? 


Eumtsa HeMshe 

Ikashe = Luvili 





N.B.— This 
names which aiTlie earHer members of this clan given bear 
generation of ^ ^^^ stage of intermarrying in the sixth 
way in which tp^*^ take the Sema form in -li, showing the 


Pedigree of VIKHYEKE, Chief of TsiviKAPUToan, Clan CinsHiLiJia. 


Chophimi 1 Cfioplt(n 

ViyUtici = Uegheli 
1 Ae^m 

Ularepu = Uukliijll 

Wokire = Lbokull 

J. ,.,„ J I. 

Lukyekc Kirealie 

N.B.— Thiaprdigreo 

IS mtorestiiig as showing the large udmixture of Ao blood represented by the membere of 

bviously Ao and intermarry as they would naturally if of diffe " " ' 

table. Among the namee of the women the Chophimi names 

the Ao fomi in -la pnd take the Sema form in -Ii, showing I 


Hevishe Tail 

(of (c 

Keromichomi) Em3 

Nogeshe = Besb 
I ChisM 



N.B.— This p 
that it diverged i 
junction of the T\ 
occupied by Sei] 
it may be probal: 
liy the names c 
the sites occupied 
by the Sema vil| 

It may be n( 
but the connecti 
were of the same 

Pedigbee of NIZIKHU, 


OF Vekohomt (Cla 


I == (2) woshell 

N.B. — Thia pedigrcp is one of a member of that elemont in Vokohomi which regards itself a 



Kuvikc Punutha 

Rchoche = Kishevi 9 
I Ckishilimi 




Yf.vihe --^ Ziic 




Yekishe = Shovili 

Kiyeho = Alungla 

a woman of the 
Sangtam Tribe 

Pedigree of KAKHU, Headman of Sapotimi (Clan Chishilimi). 

I I 


Klyetio ^ Aluagla 

Pbdiobeb of NIVIKHU, Chief 

TUghftkl = Put 


Thp liuiibAitd (if 
birth Qf IhiUicli 
syatoin ol reckoning deflo? 

lliiSilwlS"''" * hiuband— hiuuaii or tmpttUm 

il t 

n iiccortJ 

thcmaelvr* also dm 


oina (kh 

) It) 

ounl for lb.. 

■' pomibly u n-lie of 


.-.nt in thill K< 
f thf origin of tho i 

«nd c 





= ii; noiiuu I 

= (2) Nlztili 

Ghiikwi = (1) Soekeli 

(founder and = (2) Woke! 

Chief of (gddr. o 

Ghukwi Phoesh( 


toll = Nyegoli 

Q of 


Gliotoi Kiyakhe 


N.B.— The family of 
different from that given 
of Putheli instead of inse- 
this genealogy, would cor 
palpable breach of Sema i 
Kohii, marries a first cou 
and several sisters of the s 
advantages. The names 
by reason of my writing 
a large one and has ma 
" Ayemi " is a Sangtam 


vinepu = xeuiYisuo y 
I Muromi 


(3) Lhocheviso ? 

^ounfc of the jDareatage of Putlieli's child is 

had no hiisband. It makes Kumtsa the son 

umtsa two generations which, according to 

in the paternal line, Vikeli, which is a very 

iusins by paternal descent. Kivitoh, son of 

s daughter. The marriages between a man 

of cousins. The arrangement has obvious 

tender age some harm might come to them 

umomi clan are very frequent. The clan is 

f Sangtam blood. Even the clan given aa 

'A, 134.) 


Genealooy of KOHOTO, son of Hokiya, Sdbsidiary Chief of Ghitkwi, 


ZtJMiian Clan. 

about Hosbyepu) 

:ire£e I <olSanalra- 
rlllage. saml) 


Lhosbyepu ^lage) 

B infra. (gt.-Bddr. of Klyesl 

1 I. 

"I vL 

1 wfitli other branoheB of the Zuinomi 

of Sangtam bloud. Even the clan giv 


Pedigree of KUPVUHE, now Headman of Shahapfumi, 
formerly op lukobomi and originally of lotesami 
(Clan Chishilimi). 


I ("from Tiikahu Mt.") 


! (of Hebulimi) 


I (of Awohoini) 


I (of Tukunasami 


(of Keromichoini) 


I (of Lotesami) 



j (of Sotoemi) 


Lhoziipii = Mushuli 
I ChovMmi 


I (of Lotesami) 
I iTAovishe 

Nogupu = Khetali I (of LukobomI; 

( Chishilimi I 





= MlthiU 

Kuzuli (2) 

KUPVUHE = (1) KlieviU 

I Chishilimi 

I I ' I I 

6 6 6 9 9 
Died in infancy. 

Tokiye Nihokhu Zhetovl Piyoto 

N.B. — This pedigree is a fair indication of the length of time during 
which the Sema villages near the Dayang have been permanently occupied 
by Semas. It is likely that some generations have been omitted between 
Mutsiisii of Hebulimi and Hoishe of Lotesami, but it is probably fairly 
safe to assume that the latter was the first of his family to settle down in 
the present Sema country for good. His descendant Kupvuhe himself 
moved to Lukobomi and again quite recently to a new site near the plains 
which was offered him by the local authorities. It may be noticed that 
his first wife was of the same clan as himself, though coming from a 
different village. The steady intermarriage between Chishilimi and 
Chophimi is characteristic, probably, of the neighbourhood of Lotesami, 
where the Chophimi seem to have been first heard of as a Sema clan and 
where the two predominant clans are still these two. That Kupvuhe 
should have again married into the Chophimi clan in his second wife is 
probably the merest chance, as there happened to be Chophimi families 
among the Sotoemi settlers who went to Kupwihe's new village from 
Sotoemi in the Tizu valley. 


mughemi to cultivate, reserving each year whatever land 
he wanted for the support of himself and his household. 
This society, then, in its simplest form consists of a chief 
and his miighemi (" churl " in its older sense is perhaps the 
nearest English translation), bound by a tie of land tenure. 
Reciprocal duties, however, exist apart from the mere 
holding of land. Besides having to provide his churls with 
land, the chief provides them with wives whenever they are 
unable to buy them themselves. He is also expected to 
feed them when they are unable to feed themselves, and to 
protect their interests generally, a duty which frequently 
includes the payment of fines for misdemeanours committed 
in or against other villages. In both these cases he has 
some expectation, usually distant enough, of ultimate 
repayment. The churl on his part does a sort of homage 
to his chief, calling him " father,"^ and, if he receives a 
wife from him,^ becomes a member or at any rate a quasi- 
member of his clan, and, subject to the same gennas and 
marriage restrictions, owes him a regular amount of work 
on his fields, in return for his protection, and a leg from any 
animal taken in the chase or slaughtered at ceremonial 
feasts. The tie created between the chief and his " orphans " 
is thus a sort of mixture of land tenure and adoption, and it 
follows almost inevitably from its nature that the miighemi 
is tied to his chief's village. The chief provides him with 
land 3 on the understanding that he will do work in the 
chief's fields and will help the chief in war. Under condi- 
tions of society in which the existence of each village depends 
on its ability to hold its own against head- (and land-) 

^ A chief adopting a man as his miighemi is said to make him an 
anukeshiu ( = one who has become a son), while his miighem,i is said on 
his part to make the chief an apukeshiu ( = one who has become a father). 
The real meaning of the word m,ughemi is " orphan," and it is used in that 
sense literally as well as politically, and covers all villagers who are not 
chiefs. The particular retainers who have done " homage " and become 
anukeshiu are called collectively anulikeshimi. 

- Sometimes a gift of paddy, a spear, and a dao serves instead of a 
wife to create the recipient an adopted member of the chief's exogamoios 
clan. A man adopted into a chief's clan by provision with a wife is called 
akadkhem,i (or akhekemi) <khe- = to provide with a wife. 

* A chief is bound to provide any one of his miighem,i with land as soon 
as the said Tniighemi marries, but not before. 


146 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

hunting neighbours on perhaps three or even all four sides, 
migrating from the village without the approval of the 
chief assumes the seriousness of a military desertion. Again, 
if a chief has fed his churl in times of famine, he has a right 
to expect that the man shall remain and repay him. If 
the man once leaves for the protection of another chief, 
recovery of anj^hing due from him becomes a matter of the 
greatest difficulty. The acceptance, moreover, of any 
chief as a protector, and the formal addressing him as 
" father," creates, as has been stated, a quasi -blood- 
relationship, in virtue of which the chief becomes heir to 
his churl in preference to any heirs, however closely related, 
who are not likewise his miighemi^ Thus, if of three childless 
brothers called Kumtsa, Kakhu, and Shiku, Kumtsa and 
Kakhu called a chief named Hekshe " father," while Shiku 
did not, Kakhu would inherit Kumtsa 's property in preference 
to Hekshe, but Hekshe would inherit in preference to Shiku. 
Of course if Kumtsa had a son he would take precedence 
of any other possible heirs, but he would, by birth, be 
Hekshe 's mughemi, the relative positions of chief and churl 
being both hereditary. It follows therefore that if the 
chief's potential rights of inheritance (one is almost tempted 
to use the word " escheat ") in respect of the property of 
any mughemi are to be of any value, he must be in a position 
to insist on the mughemVs remaining in the village, where he 
can without difficulty exercise his rights. The result is a 
generally recognised obligation on the part of the Sema 
mughemi to remain in the village of his chief, whether he 
likes it or not. As, however, it is not possible under the 
primitive condition of Sema life to so secure a man that he 
cannot run away and take his family with him, the chief in 
such cases confiscates all the property, both land and 
movable, of any deserter, excepting always the weapons he 
carries, the clothes he wears, and the utensils he can carry 
with him. In the case of a man with literally no possessions, 
the chief has to be content with his house (the materials of 
which have at any rate a nominal value) and his dhan- 

1 The term miigheini is here used vaguely, as often by Semas, to cover 
anuUkeshimi, akadkhemi, and other specific varieties. 


pounding trestle or mortar. Tliis has become a recognised 
custom, but it is obvious that these two possessions are the 
minimum which a man running away by stealth must leave 
behind him, as they are of the least portable description. 
They fall to the chief by right in the case of any tniighemi 
leaving his village against the chief's will, whatever the 
circumstances, although in the case of administered villages 
the other rights of the chief are nowadays ordinarily com- 
pounded for by the payment of a small sum of money 
varying as a rule from five to fifteen rupees. 

With regard to some of the reciprocal duties of the chief 
and liis churl some further explanation is perhaps necessary. 
It has been said that when a chief provides his miighemi 
with a wife or with food he expects to be paid back ultimately. 
In the case of his providing a wife, the expectation of re- 
payment is limited to his right to the guardianship of the 
daughters of any miighemi who dies without male heirs 
who are also mughemi of the same chief. Thus in the case 
taken above of three brothers Kumtsa, Kakliu, and Shiku, 
Hekshe would have no right of wardship over an only 
daughter of Kumtsa if Kakhu were alive or had a son, but 
he would have that right of wardship as against Shiku, who 
is not his mughemi. The right of guardianship entails, of 
course, the right to " eat " the marriage price of the ward. 
In the case of food, when a chief has specifically lent an 
" orphan " so many baskets of paddy, he is entitled to their 
repayment with interest at the customary rates, but realisa- 
tion from persons who cannot pay has to be left to the next 
generation, and is naturally, therefore, often evaded entirely 
or satisfied only in part. The right of the chief to exact 
work on his fields exists in varying grades from village to 
village. Every grown male of the community over which 
he is chief, including his own brothers, is expected to do a 
certain amount, usually from four to sixteen days in the 
year, for one-half of which, in some villages, the chief must 
give a nominal payment of a little salt or a small piece of 
meat to each worker. In some villages where the chief has 
great personal ascendancy the amount of work which has to 
be done by his villagers is very much more than sixteen days'. 

L 2 

148 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

As might be expected, in the course of time all sorts of 
complicated relations arise within the village, particularly 
where the ability to throw off colonies has ceased. In this 
case the death of a chief invariably entails squabbles between 
his sons or brothers, or both. Besides the chief and his 
brothers, there are other relations who have land and 
miighemi of their own ; there are men who by trade or good 
fortune have become rich and bought land and likewise 
acquired miighemi, and a common man may call one man 
" father " by virtue of having been provided by him with a 
wife, call another " father " because he was given land to 
cultivate by him this year, call a third " father " because 
he was given land to cultivate by him last year, and in 
addition owe the regular two days a year in work to the 
chief. The rights of a chief over his anulikeshimi and the 
right to work from the miighemi in general are to a certain 
extent split up at his death between his married sons, or 
at any rate all sons who are capable of exercising them at 
the time and of exerting their right to do so, for the un- 
married sons may share, though they do not necessarily do 
so. The eldest son may become chief if he has not already 
made a village of his own, but more often the dead chief is 
succeeded in that office by a younger brother, whose 
secondary place is taken by the dead chief's son — assuming, 
that is, that the dead chief was not himself the successor of 
an elder brother. The new chief now gets the same amount 
of free labour that was enjoyed by his elder brother, while 
the late chief's son gets whatever share his father used to 
allow to his uncle. On the death of the new chief he is 
succeeded in the office by his nephew (the son of his elder 
brother), and the secondary place now vacated by the latter 
should probably, in strict custom, go to the latter 's brother, 
but in point of fact it seems now and then to go to his 
uncle's son, or occasionally even to some more distant 
cousin, so that one sometimes finds in this way a dual 
chieftainship growing up. The generally accepted rule, 
however, is that the eldest of the original chief's sons who 
remains in the village ultimately succeeds his father and is 
again ultimately succeeded by his own son, the interludes 


of brothers and uncles being merely temporary, and not 
affecting the general succession. ^ While, however, the 
chief's labour dues are for the most part divided between 
the chief and his brother or nephew, there is no very strict 
rule governing their distribution, and a certain amount is 
often found given to distant relatives, descendants of the 
original chief's brothers, or of a subordinate leader who 
assisted him in founding the village. The practice in this 
respect varies somewhat from village to village, and persons 
are often found with well-recognised rights to a few days' 
labour in their fields who are no longer, or who never were, 
recognised as having any claim on the chieftainship. One 
source of this condition is to be found in the exclusion from 
the chieftainship of a man whose hereditary claim is in- 
contestable but whose personal unfitness disqualifies him. 
Such a man, though passed over for the chieftainship, may 
be given the free labour, or rather part of it, which he would 
ordinarily have obtained, and transmits the rights to his 
descendants, though the chieftainship is retained by another 
branch of the family. If an elder brother settle in a village 
founded by a younger brother, the latter, of course, is 
chief to the entire exclusion of the former. Indeed a son 
may take precedence of his father, as in the case of Khukiya, 
who lived in Sakhalu subject to his own son. 

In some villages the right to free labour from the village 
at large has perhaps either never existed or has ceased to 
exist. In PhiUmi and Rotomi the right to free labour 
from the whole village did not exist, though of recent years 
the chiefs of Philimi have insisted on four days' labour, and 
in some of the other Dayang valley villages the labour on 
the chief's fields is not done, either because he is not regarded 
as entitled to it, or because he has not the strength of 
character to enforce it. In Phusumi, for instance, the 
present chief has the utmost difficulty in obtaining labour 

* In one small village, Azekakemi, the late chief Lohatha having died 
without male heirs of his own family, the office has devolved faide de 
mieux on one of his akadkhemi, but this is quite an exceptional case, and 
the man is not recognised as a genuine chief. There is in point of fact a 
son of Lohatha's, but he is an idiot, and the other relations have become 
poor and milghemi of other men. 

150 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

to which he is admittedly entitled, and sometimes compounds 
for it by accepting a purely nominal sum to save his face. 
In this village, however, the family of the chief has 
degenerated considerably below the usual standard, for in 
most Sema villages the chieftain families form an aristocracy 
in the literal sense of the word, being (possibly owing to 
better nourishment and the habit of command) physically, 
morally, and intellectually the best of the community. 

A chief's relations to his " orphans " are more or less of 
a private or personal nature, but his duties as chief of a 
village or part of a village comprise public functions as 
well. He has to direct the village in war, nominally at 
any rate, and to decide, either by himself or in consultation 
with his elders (chochomi), all questions of the relations 
between his own and neighbouring villages. The extent to 
which he would consult his elders would depend almost 
entirely on the personal character of the chief himself. In 
the settlement of disputes within the village, the elders come 
into greater prominence, as the opinion of the old men is 
often necessary to decide points both of fact and custom. 
Another duty of the chief, naturally arising out of his position 
as " lord of the manor," is to decide what land is to be culti- 
vated in each successive year. In all Naga villages which 
do not practise terraced cultivation, it is for many reasons 
the practice of the village to cultivate together. Patches 
of jhum surrounded by jungle are far more open to the 
depredations of birds and wild animals, and reciprocal help 
in cultivation is less easily given. In villages which are 
liable to head-hunting raids, joint cultivation is the only 
method which offers any safety to the individuals working 
in the fields. It is the chief's business to turn out the village 
in case of danger from fire or any other pressing need, to 
entertain distinguished strangers, and to take the lead 
generally in all social matters. It is also his business to 
give warning of most gennas^ in the customary formula 
and to issue the orders of the day on the morning of any day 

^ The Sage genna is proclaimed by the awou. It has to be proclaimed 
in special terms calculated to confuse the evil spirit as to the date on which 
it is to be held. 


on which the village is to act as a whole. A man who cannot 
give warning of gcnnas in the proper manner never takes 
the position of chief. In this particular duty the chief is 
performing an office which in the Angami tribe is performed 
by the Kemovo, who is a more or less hereditary priest, 
but is not a secular chief. Among the Semas the duties 
performed by the Angami Kemovo appear to be more or 
less spHt between the chief (akeJcdo) and the priestly official 
called awou, the chief assuming the general direction of the 
ceremony, while the awou performs ceremonial acts that 
may be necessary. That the secular chief has in this 
direction tended to oust the priestly awou from what was 
the latter's domain is perhaps to be inferred from the fact 
that, like the Kemovo's house in an Angami village, the 
awou's house in a new Sema village is always built first, 
the chief's being the second to be built. The awou, too, 
is entitled to one day's free labour for his services in first 
sowing and one day's free labour for his services in first 
reaping. These two days' work are called atiakuzhu 
and achushuzhu respectively, and are almost invariably 
acquired by the chief from the awou for a small or nominal 
payment, and are sometimes given free to the chief by the 
awou. The awou, however, is not hereditary, whereas the 
Angami Kemovo is usually hereditary like the Sema chief. 

Although the chief may be regarded as the most important The 
element in the polity of his village, there are others who ' ^^^ 
cannot be ignored. The chochomi have been already 
mentioned. The word chochomi^ means in the first place 
a man who is pre-eminent, and hence one of those whom 
the chief employs to help him in managing public affairs. 
He serves as a sort of herald, whom the chief sends on 
errands to other villages, and as a deputy to manage the 
affairs of his own when the chief is elsewhere or otherwise 
employed. Inside the village, however, the chief normally 
finds it convenient to have a number of chochomi. It is to 
his interest to keep the village contented, and as there are 
normally persons belonging to a number of different clans 

^ Chochomi <root cho- = "stick out" (vertically); cf. Chophimi — 
derivation ascribed to it (Pt. VI, p. 351). 

152 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

in a village who are not entirely without jealousy of one 
another, the chief summons the most prominent member of 
each clan to help in settling disputes, to eat a share of 
animals given him as presents or tribute or by way of a 
fine for a transgression of civil or rehgious custom, to learn 
the opinion of the community on any particular point, and 
generally to take a part in any matter which affects the 
whole community. Of course the position and number of 
chochomi of this sort are very variable indeed. In some 
villages where the chief is very powerful they will 
be negHgible or even non-existent. In other villages 
they might be powerful enough to control the chief entirely, 
though this is rare. They are nominated by the chief, but 
unless he is a very strong man he cannot, of course, in 
practice ignore the men whose position qualifies them for 
selection, and there are few Sema villages so large but that 
there can be little doubt as to who ought to be selected. 
Generally speaking, however, chochomi take only a very 
secondary place in the poHty of the village. It would 
perhaps be more correct to say a third place (and a poor 
third at that), as there are also the kekdmi to be reckoned 
with. These are the chief's relations, men of his family, 
cousins and so forth, who, though they have no very recog- 
nised status, often have much influence and are usually 
able (and often ready) to create and lead an opposition 
party. Their principal occupation seems to be quarreUing 
among themselves over questions of priority. The chief 
himself is, of course, a kekami, the word being appKed to 
those who are of a chief's family, as opposed to mughemi, 
noble as opposed to common, but the status of kekami is 
easily lost by a man becoming poor and having to adopt a 
protector, or by migration to another village, where the 
relations of the kekami in question are of no importance. 
On the other hand, it is not easy to acquire, and mere wealth 
is not enough, though by founding a new village, as chief 
thereof, a man, whatever he was before, becomes ipso facto 
a kekami and the akekao of that village. Kekami probably = 
one who binds <ka- — to bind, prevent. 
Aluzhi. Another important factor in village life is that of the 


" gangs," aluzhi (probably < alu, field, azhu, labourer). 
These are composed of both sexes in the case of the unmarried 
and are pretty well self -component. They nominate their own 
commander {athou), who decides what fields are to be culti- 
vated each day by his gang, and who is usually the biggest 
bully in it. They consist, generally speaking, of persons 
of about the same age, and though each gang can eject 
a member at will, normally a person enters a gang as 
soon as he is old enough to be left behind in the village 
to his own devices when his mother goes to work, and 
belongs to it or to some other gang for the rest of his life. 
He ceases, however, to work with it in the fields as soon as, 
but only for as long as, he has sons old enough to go to work 
with their own gangs ; only when he is so old that he cannot 
go to work in the fields does he practically cease to be a 
member of his gang, for if he has no son or if his son dies he 
goes back to gang work as a member of his old gang. The 
same rule applies to women, who, however, leave their 
original gangs on being married and go to gangs composed 
of married women and widows only. Apart from this 
provision, which entails the virtual separation of the sexes 
after marriage, the composition of a gang depends almost 
entirely on age, contemporary children, associated into 
groups of playfellows, being their ordinary basis. Where 
clan feeling runs high it may happen, of com'se, that the 
gangs are composed largely of members of one clan, but 
ordinarily they are quite indiscriminate in this respect. 
They are also democratic, and the chief's son, hke everyone 
else, must do his work and obey the leader of his gang. The 
latter maintains discipHne by the ejection of the contu- 
macious, but it frequently happens that quarrels break up 
the gang entirely, when the component members join other 

In the independent villages where the children cannot be 
taken to the fields the respective gangs spend much of their 
time in fighting with one another, and where factions in the 
village coincide with the composition of gangs, this fighting 
is undoubtedly very rough, indeed it is probably that in 
any case, and a most suitable education for the Naga warrior. 

154 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

In administered villages the children, less fortunate, usually 
have to work instead of fight and play, and are taken to 
the fields with their parents. ^ Later on, when old enough, 
they go to work in the gangs to which they have already 
attached themselves, and it is really upon these gangs that 
the whole cultivation of the village depends. Every member 
of the village is entitled to have his fields cultivated by 
them, and though, of course, they do not do the entire work 
necessary, it would be practically impossible for a man to 
cultivate more than a very small patch of ground without 
their help. He does not, however, expect to get this help 
absolutely gratis. When a gang goes to his fields he is 
expected to give them liquor and rice. Not very much of 
either is expected from poor men, but the rich are expected 
to be liberal and often to give meat as well as rice, and plenty 
of liquor. If they appear stingy, the gang indulges in very 
free criticism. In the case of a man who is so poor that he 
can really give the gang nothing, the commander teUs off 
a certain proportion of the gang, as much as he thinks 
necessary or desirable, to go and do the work. 

An almost essential feature of the aluzhi system is the 
singing which accompanies it. The gangs work in a long 
line, singing as they work, and each gang has, or at any rate 
ought to have, three leaders of song who know the whole 
art of singing and can teach and lead the rest. There are 
songs particularly appropriate to each phase of cultiva- 
tion, though that does not preclude their being sung at 
other times as well, nor does it preclude the singing of songs 
that have nothing whatever to do not only with the work 
in hand but with agriculture at all. The singing is possibly 
regarded as frightening away malignant spirits as weU as 
an aid to labour, and the same idea may have given rise to 
the practice of " Ho-ho-ing " when on the march and the 
shouts and yells emitted as a village is approached or left. 
Migration When a new village is to be made, the parent village 
insists on the colonists' leaving the village by an indirect 
path avoiding the main village path at the point where it 

* There seems to be some probability of this circumstance considerably 
affecting the character of the average Sema in the coming generation. 


leaves the village. Beyond the precincts of the village, and 
preferably after crossing water, the colonists sacrifice a 
pig, while the inhabitants remaining in the village do the 
same at the village gate on the following day. The 
colonists as they go sprinkle liquor along their path, while 
those who remain do so along the regular village path. 
The object of this is to detain in the village the spirit or 
spirits which properly belong to it, while the colonists take 
with them their own spirits to the village they are founding. 
On reaching the site selected they will again sacrifice a pig 
before occupation, and into the well they must pour water 
stolen from the well of some village which is rich and 
prosperous. Young men of the old village may not eat in 
the new village till some old man of the old village has 
taken food in it. 

The customs that govern the holding and transfer of Property, 
property among the Semas have to some extent been dealt 
with already, though indirectly, under the head of " The 
Manor," but certain points have been left untouched. 
Property as it exists among the Semas may roughly be 
divided into land, movables, and debts. 

First, as regards land. Land that is the common land of 
a village, clan, or family cannot, of course, be sold by an 
individual, nor can an individual sell his share in any land. 
The land must first be so divided between the owners that 
the actual land owned by the one who wishes to part with 
his share can be specified, after which he is at liberty to 
dispose of it as it seems good to him. There is, however, a 
very strong prejudice against the sale of even privately owned 
land to members of another village, and this is recognised in 
practice in the administered villages by an order forbidding 
any sale of land from one village to another without previous 
sanction. It may be added that land questions in the Sema 
country are all very highly coloured by the extreme scarcity 
of land and the rapidly increasing inabihty of the population 
to support themselves on the land at their disposal, no 
other suitable means of livelihood existing. Land held in 
common by the whole community, though it probably still 
exists in one or two of the most eastern Sema villages, has 

156 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

long ceased to exist, at any rate in any appreciable quantity, 
and probably entirely, in the administered part of the Sema 
country. All land is now privately owned, ^ though, as a 
man's land may not be divided by his sons, but must await 
the second generation for division, much land is of necessity 
owned jointly by brothers or even cousins, the eldest 
allotting the land for yearly cultivation. It cannot pass 
to women by inheritance or gift, and in the case of a woman 
purchasing land with her own money it passes to her male 
heirs, sons if she has them, or, if not, her brothers or her 
father's male relations. Land is, however, often given as 
part of the purchase money for a wife to the girl's father. 
Land passing by inheritance ordinarily goes first of all to 
the sons of the deceased, who enjoy it in common, land for 
cultivation being regularly allotted by the eldest, who does 
not fail to choose the best plot of each year's " jhum " for 
himself. It is genua for a man's sons to divide his land. 
In the following generation, however, his land may be, and 
usually is, divided by the grandsons. The shares are 
nominally equal between the families of the different sons, 
but the eldest son's family (and within it his eldest son 
again) takes the best share. As, however, the proposal for 
division is regarded as liable to entail unpleasant conse- 
quences on the proposer in the shape of an early death, the 
grandson who first suggests division is entitled to take one 
first-class field (one man's cultivation for one year) as the 

^ There is a dictum to which effect has been sometimes given 
maintaining that private property in " jhum " land (as opposed to irrigated 
land) is not recognised by Government, at any rate as against Government. 
This dictum probably owes its origin to a theory that " jhum " land is 
normally land held by the village community and not by individuals, and 
is cultivated spasmodically and erratically, and is of small value to its 
owners, as indicating intermittent and sporadic cultivation over a large 
area of country. If this is so the theory is unfortunate, being quite ill- 
founded as regards most Naga tribes, for almost all the land in the Naga 
Hills District is now privately owned, and has long been subject of sales, 
gifts, marriage settlements, and even mortgages of a sort, and has all the 
properties of plots of irrigated land, the only difference being that " jhum " 
land must lie fallow for a period of years if it is to be successfully cultivated. 
A great deal of existing " jhum " land is incapable of irrigation, and, in 
addition to its existing shortcomings, would be made the subject of a 
further disability if this dictum were acted upon. 


price of his proposal, and he must sacrifice a pig to avert the 
consequences of his rash act. 

Should there be no sons, real or adopted, a man's land 
goes on his decease to his brothers, failing them to his first 
cousins (male, on his father's side), failing them to second 
cousins, and so forth. In the case of a man dying without 
children and owning only a share of common land, the 
division of the land in the next generation is not directly 
affected, as the deceased's father's grandsons divide all the 
common land that has come down to their generation 
according to the number of sons who have left grandsons 
in the usual way. Private land, however, that he had 
bought himself would pass to his brothers, who could divide 
it at once, there being no prohibition on this immediate 
division of land inherited from a brother or cousin. The 
matter is probably best illustrated by a genealogical 
table : — 



I \ 1 

Kiyelho of Alapfumi Ghokamu of Lumitsami Khukapu 

I I I I I 

Wokishe Hekheshe Inato Nyekeshe Kohazo 

I I I d.s.p. I 

Tokiye Vikeshe Inaho Hokishe Sakai 

Here Nivishe's land cannot be divided among his three 
sons. In his next generation it is divided equally (or 
nominally so) between the three families descended from 
him, so that one share goes to Wokishe, one to Kohazo, 
while Ghokamu 's sons divide the third between them. 
Should division be postponed to the third generation, 
Vikeshe, Inaho, and Hokishe will still only get a third share 
between them. Nyekeshe, however, dies without children, 
so his land, however acquired, will go to Hekheshe and Inato 
in common, and may be equally divided either by them or 
in the next generation by Vikeshe, Inaho, and Hokishe, as 
Nyekeshe is regarded as equally the uncle of all three of 
them and would be called apo, " father," by them. But 
while these three take equal shares of land inherited from 


their uncle Nyekeshe, they do not share ahke in land 
inherited from Ghokamu, as half goes to Hekheshe's children 
and half to Inato's. Hokishe cannot, of course, share with 
his two first cousins in land bought by Hekheshe, Nor 
can Hekheshe's sons claim any share, if Hokishe Uves, to 
land bought by Inato. Land once divided is treated as 
private land, just as though it had been bought, but in a 
case like this one taken as an example it is more likely 
that family lands would not be divided even in the second 
generation, as the descendants are few in number. In 
point of fact, of the persons named in the table,^ 
Kiyelho is still alive, a reputed centenarian, though his 
two brothers and his son are long dead, Kohazo only of the 
second generation being still living, and the third generation 
having wives and children of their own, the result of Kiyelho 's 
unconscionable longevity having been to postpone up to 
date the formal division of Nivishe's land, though in practice 
the land is divided between the heirs, who cultivate different 
areas and have boundary disputes like separate landowners. 
Movable property follows, as far as inheritance is con- 
cerned, exactly the same law as land, subject to two excep- 
tions. First of all it is divided on the owner's decease by 
his sons, the eldest taking something extra, and need never 
wait until the next generation, though the division is post- 
poned till the death of the widow if the latter marry one of 
her late husband's heirs. In the second place, women are 
allowed to share up to a certain point. Daughters are 
allowed a share of grace only, and if given anything the 
gift is usually limited to ornaments. Widows can only share 
in ornaments, fowls (no other livestock), and paddy as a 
general rule, but they are entitled to a one-third share of 
the sum of these three sorts of property left by their late 
husband. A single wife gets a third of the whole. If there 
is more than one wife this third is divided between them. 
The widow's share is, however, dependent on her good 
behaviour between the death of her husband and the 

^ The table is not complete — Nivishe had a fourth son, Litapu, who had 
a son Vikiye still alive. Kohazo has a brother Kuvulho. See genealogy 
of Vikeshe. The family was perhaps the most distinguished in the Sema 
country, largely on Inato's account. 


division of his movable property, a period whicli may last 
for many months, though it is more often probably a matter 
of weeks or even days. When Inato, the late chief of 
Lumitsami, died, he gave orders on his death-bed that 
unless his wives married his nephew Vikeshe or some other 
of his heirs they should remain in his house and lament 
his memory for three whole years, and he made their shares 
in his property dependent on their doing so.^ The postpone- 
ment of division of property for a share after a man's death 
is probably dictated not only by sense of decency, but also 
by a desire to let the dead man's spirit go peaceably away 
first. The soul of the dead is believed to wait about in 
the house for some time after death. The writer was once 
accommodated in a Sema village in a temporarily unoccupied 
house ; the weather was warm, and in all innocence he 
pulled apart the end wall to let in air. The owner, who was 
staying with his relations in another house and had tempo- 
rarily left the village, was much aggrieved, as it had caused 
the soul of his wife, who had died a few days before, to 
leave the house and frightened her away before her time. 

In movables other than those mentioned women are said 
to be unable, according to strict custom, to share. The 
writer has known, however, of at least one case in which 
cash was left by a dying man to his wives, and in which 
the bequest was honoured, as well as another bequest of a 
valuable armlet to a person totally unconnected with the 
family. It is not, however, necessarily incumbent on a 
man's heirs to honour his d5dng wishes, and if he gives 
directions as to the disposal of his property which are 
contrary to custom, the heirs can disregard them at pleasure, 
even though there is no doubt as to the actual directions 
having been given. But as a general rule a man, even on 
his death-bed, does not give bequests which are contrary 
to custom, and in any case asks his heirs to give of their 
generosity whatever he wishes to bequeath to a person not 
entitled to receive it. It is possible that a dying man, 
however, may promise all sorts of things to his wives or 
others simply because of their importunity, but promises 
of this sort are not made before the heirs and no attention 

^ As far as I remember his directions were not too literally obeyed. 

i6o THE SEMA NAGAS part 

is paid to them at all by them, and indeed it is likely that 
in such cases they were never intended to pay any. 

With regard to the sale of movable property, there is a 
point of Sema custom which is of some importance. A man 
obtaining any article by purchase or barter is allowed three 
days in which to discover any blemish. The article may be 
returned to the original owner and the price of it recovered, 
provided that the purchaser returns it within three days of 
acquiring it. Sometimes a longer period is allowed, but 
only by specific agreement when the article changes hands. 
The following cases in point occur to the writer : that of a 
dao with a concealed crack, a cracked spear-shaft, an entire 
piglet (sold as castrated), a diseased chicken, an ill-tempered 
dog. In one of the latter cases the dog bit its new owner 
so badly that he let it go and it ran away, so that the owner 
was unable to return it, and claimed a return of the purchase 
money in vain. 
Debt. Debts, generally speaking, are treated like movable 

property, but should a question of the transfer of a debt 
arise, no transfer of debt or credit is recognised unless both 
parties to the debt are present, as well as both parties to the 
transfer — an obviously necessary provision among a people 
who do not possess the art of writing.^ For purposes of 
inheritance, debts, whether due to or from the deceased, 
are treated as cash. The male heirs get the benefit in the 
former case and the disability in the latter, as it is absolutely 
incumbent on a man's heirs to pay his debts. And though 
an attempt to avoid the obligation of paying debts is some- 
times made by refusing to accept the benefits as well as the 
disabilities of heirship, a refusal of this sort is not regarded 
as a valid excuse for the next heir not paying the dead man's 
creditors. Attempts of this sort are naturally made when 
the dead man's liabihties exceed his assets. The law of 
borrowing among the Semas would at first sight make them 
appear a most usurious tribe. A loan of cash or of paddy — 
loans are usually given in paddy — must be repaid in the 

^ A tally of loans is kept by stringing sword-beans {alau), one bean for 
three ' kangs ' of paddy lent, i.e., five due next year, each such item being 
called dzhe. 


following year plus 100 per cent, by way of interest. If the 
principal is repaid then, the interest remains as it is and 
does not increase, however much delayed payment may be, 
but if the principal is left unpaid or only paid in part, the 
whole sum outstanding redoubles itself during the following 
year and so goes on at 100 per cent, compound interest till 
the whole of the principal is paid off, at which point the out- 
standing sum becomes stationary. Under this system a 
small debt rapidly assumes impossible proportions, and 
while the Semas were independent large claims, consisting 
mostly of interest, were probably compounded for, the 
creditor gladly forgoing part of his rights in order to get 
the remainder. When, however, administration came, the 
owners of bad debts took them all to the courts and wanted 
their full pound of customary flesh. The trouble that was 
in this led to the institution of a new law of debt among the 
northern Semas, for which Inato, chief of Lumitsami, and 
Sema interpreter at Mokokchung, was mainly responsible. 
This new custom forbade any increase by interest after the 
second year, so that the principal is doubled the first, the 
whole sum outstanding redoubles the next year (provided 
the principal has not been repaid in full), and there it stops. 
This system, which applies to both cash and grain, was 
probably taken from the Lhota system, in which increase 
likewise stops at the end of the second year. Inato might 
perhaps have gone one better stiU and followed the custom 
always in vogue in several of the Sema villages in the Dayang 
valley, in wliich a debt doubles the first year and then 
remains stationary, but perhaps it would have been too 
much to ask of a man who was himself owed very considerable 
sums of money. In any case, all Semas, whether of the 
Tita, Tizu, or Dayang valleys, recognise a definite and 
uniform custom of remission on debt paid off in full. This 
remission is 10 per cent, of the whole payment due. Thus 
a man borrowing 10 kangs of paddy in 1915 and repaying 
none in 1916 has to pay 40 in 1917. If he pays this 40 in 
full, 4 kangs are remitted and 36 only taken. If, how- 
ever, he only pays half, 20 kangs that is, there is no remis- 
sion, and he owes 20 stiU. Should he pay up the remaining 


i62 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

20 in full the following year he will be allowed a discount of 
2 kangs and pay only 18. 

No right to this remission is recognised on broken tens, 
at any rate up to 6, though often given on broken tens of 
more than 6. Thus from a man paying up a debt of 
16 kangs not less than 15 would be accepted, one being 
discounted on the first 10 only, but 15 kangs would also 
probably be accepted in lieu of 17, 2 kangs being remitted. 

Debts of animals are regulated by measurements. If a 
man borrows a mithan, the lender measures the horns and 
the girth behind the shoulder. In repaying, the debtor is 
expected to produce an animal slightly longer in horn and 
greater in girth, though from a really poor man one which 
was of equal size would ordinarily be accepted. Other 
animals are measured by girth only. 

For purposes of inheritance, debts count as cash. The 
male heirs take all the credit as well as the liabilities of 
the dead man. The writer has, however, known one case 
in which a dying man made over part of the sums due to 
him to his wives. 
A.loptun. The question of the inheritance of property cannot be 
passed over without mention of adoption. The form of 
adoption as it exists between a chief and his " orphan " has 
already been described. The adopted places himself under 
the adopter's protection and calls him father, and the 
adopter becomes heir to the assets (and liabiUties also) of 
the adopted should the latter die without male heirs standing 
in the same relation as he did to his adopter. This form of 
adoption is called anu-shi, which means " son-making." 
The actual relation, however, which it sets up between the 
two parties approaches far less nearly to those of a father 
and his real son than those created by the form of adoption 
perversely called anguli-shlshi , which literally means 
" making relations -in-law " or perhaps " attempting to 
make relations -in-law." Probably it is an abbreviated 
phrase to express what it really is, which is making a man 
an absolute member of the family of his relations-in-law. 
This procedure can be done at the expense of the formal 
gift of one cow presented by a son-in-law to his father-in-law, 


provided, of course, that the father-in-law desires to make 
the adoption, for the adopted son-in-law now becomes a 
son and an absolute member of his adoptive parent's clan 
and family and entitled to all the rights of a son, sharing 
with other and genuine sons in their father's property at 
his death on equal terms. A case in point is the adoption 
of one Izhihe by the late chief of Aichikuchumi, Ghulhoshe 
by name. Izhihe, of the Zumomi clan, married Hesheli, 
the daughter of Ghulhoshe, a Yepothomi, and her elder 
brother Mevekhe is now chief in his father's stead. 
Ghulhoshe, however, having adopted {anguli-shishi) Izhihe, 
the latter became a member of the Yepothomi clan, shared 
in Ghulhoshe 's property on an equal footing with his blood 
son Mevekhe, and calls the latter i-mu, " my elder brother," 
instead of i-chi, " my brother-in-law," which he used to do 
before the adoption took place. No formaHty seems to 
accompany this adoption except the casual present of a 
cow, but the results of its taking place are permanent, and 
involve an entire contradiction of the otherwise imperative 
custom of exogamy. It seems to be resorted to but rarely. 

It has already been shown that disputes within the village Settle- 
are settled by the chiefs and their chochomi. If it is a disputes. 
dispute as to a private right the matter would probably be 
settled by a compromise, the Sema being usually ready 
enough to agree to any reasonable sort of compromise on 
small matters such as whether or not the price of a pig has 
been paid in full or in part, or whether a creditor is owed 
20 baskets of paddy or 15 only. In a case of the breach of 
custom which affects the whole community, such as breaking 
a genna, the delinquent would be fined and the fine " eaten " 
by the chief, who would, generally speaking, give a share to 
the chochomi. Such a fine might be in kind or in cash, but 
would usually be in the form of live pork. Should it be a 
case of personal injury to another, a similar fine would be 
exacted from the delinquent and made over to the sufferer. 
On points of custom the chief would be the ordinary 
authority, though reference on difficult points would be 
made to any one of his elders who happened to have authori- 
tative knowledge. On points of disputed fact the chief and 

M 2 

i64 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

his elders would also be usually in a position to know and 
determine, for even if they had no personal knowledge of 
the matter under dispute their general knowledge of the 
circumstances or character of the disputants would probably 
enable them to form a pretty shrewd notion of the real facts. 
It might, however, be necessary to put the parties to the 

The Sema oath has not the value of the Angami oath, and 
as it is far less common among Semas for one party to be 
quite willing to accept the oath of the other, the oath is 
less resorted to by Semas than by many other Naga tribes. 
What usually happens if an oath is suggested is that both 
parties are prepared to take the oath, but neither will 
abide by the oath of the other. Indeed it is dijBficult to 
find an oath that the average Sema, or at any rate many 
Semas, will not take recklessly and indiscriminately, except 
oaths of such weight that guilty and innocent ahke hesitate 
to take them. Such an oath is the oath on the water of 
the Tapu (Dayang) river. No man who took a false oath 
on that water could ever cross the river or even enter it 
again, for it would certainly drown him, nor could he eat fish 
from the river during his whole life or he would die of it 
for sure. But then a man whose cause is really just will 
usually shy at taking this oath, for it is not a thing to be 
lightly undertaken, and the writer has known men content to 
lose their cause rather than take oath to its truth, even when 
there could have been little or no doubt but that they had the 
right on their side. The oath, too, on a village spring is 
another serious matter. A false swearer will never drink 
again of the water of that spring lest it kill him, causing 
his bowels and hands to swell immoderately, and many go 
80 far as to hold that a person who swears truly on the 
village spring should never drink of it again. That renowned 
chief Sakhalu and his brother Kohazu took an oath on 
their viUage well, since when that well has been forsaken, 
and it would not perhaps beseem the writer to suggest that 
their oath was a false one, particularly as no ill befell them 
of it. 

Oaths regarding ownership of land are taken on the earth 


in dispute, which is bitten and swallowed. So also is the 
earth from a grave, while the oath on one's own flesh, though 
sometimes merely entailing biting one's finger, sometimes 
also, if great emphasis is desired, entails the swallowing of 
one's own flesh. The writer has seen a man accused of 
murder (and undoubtedly guilty) chop off the end of his 
forefinger and swallow it to add force to his asseverations of 
innocence. Oaths arc also taken on a tiger's tooth. And 
this form of oath is very popular with perjurers, as tigers 
are becoming so scarce that no one is afraid of being carried 
off if he bites the tooth on a false oath. Probably, when 
the tribe was scattered thinly in heavy jungle and " jhums " 
were few and small, the toll taken by tigers was large, as 
all Naga tribes have an awe of the tiger, which is much more 
than commensurate with the damage he does on his 
nowadays rather rare appearances. Oaths on a tiger's 
tooth are rather troublesome because they entail the 
observance pini (see Part IV, p. 220) for from one to three 
days by the village in which they are taken, at any rate 
at any time of agricultural importance. This piiii has 
also to be kept by the village of any person who, having 
been present at the swearing, re-enters his village the same 
day. This often results in the prohibition of people con- 
cerned in such an oath from returning to their villages at 
once, and from entering any other village. 

Of plants, the ayeshu (a polygonum), a very short-lived 
plant springing up during the rains and dying down after 
a couple of months or so, the gourd vine (apokhu), probably 
for the same reason, and michi-ni, the leaf of the michi-sii 
{Schima wallichii), a tree that loses all its leaves in the 
autumn and remains bare in the cold weather, as well as 
some others, are used for taking oaths, as also is a bit of a 
bamboo that has been used for hanging up outside the village 
the heads of enemies taken in warfare. In the latter 
instances the idea is obviously that the perjurer will meet 
the fate of that which he bites upon and swears by. In the 
case of the tiger's tooth it is the tiger who will punish the 
taking of his name in vain, while the earth from a grave or 
from the disputed land will choke him who swears by it 

i66 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

falsely. A rare but serious form of oath is that taken by 
cutting iron, which if a man do falsely, members of his clan 
die off without apparent cause, such is the power of the 
metal when treated disrespectfully.^ The writer has known 
a man come into court with a dao and a bit of umbrella 
wire prepared to take this oath. 

In all oaths it is essential that the swearing should take 
place between sunrise and sunset, " that the sun may see 
the oath." And it is sometimes arranged that if a man will 
take a given oath the man who denies the truth of his 
statement shall pay him compensation for having un- 
necessarily pushed things so far as the taldng of oaths, the 
taking of the oath being regarded as proof of the swearer's 
innocence. In such eases (which are not very common and 
usually occur where one side is well known to be in the right 
and the other merely obstinately and maliciously insisting 
on an oath) a sum of Rs.5/- or so is usually enough to 
compensate the swearer for the trouble and risk to which 
he has been put. 

The following form may be given as a fair sample of a 
Sema oath : — 

Iria Dovakhe ghaJca pu-puJcdye nishi-ni-ye 

I Dovakhe's rupees steal-steal-if I-and-my-clan 
kuchdpu ghdkave ; Jchu'ithu pa 'msu-moghii chini ; 
whole must-perish ; alive him equal is-tabu ; 

apoTchu ketsii-shi, ayeshu keghd-shi, chuini 

gourd-vine rotten-do, " ayeshu " perished-do, " chuini " 

keghd-shi ghdkave ; hipa 'mphe amte 

perished-do, must perish ; this year's paddy 

chumono tini. 

not having eaten will die. 
That is to say : — 

If I did steal Dovakhe 's money, I and my clan must 
utterly perish ; (while) alive it is tabu to be equal to him ; 
like unto a rotted gourd-vine, unto decayed ayeshu, unto 

^ Inaho of L\unitsami had to desert his house and site and build a fresh 
house in another place because he had cut a bit of iron in his house in a 
fit of temper. 


decayed chui leaf, so must we perish, and before that I can 
eat of this year's rice let me die.^ 

Disputes between villages in the still unadministered War and 
country, where there is no superior authority to settle them, hunting, 
must, if an amicable agreement is not reached, be subject 
to the ultimate arbitrament of war. The real causes of 
war are probably not more than three in number in the 
Sema country' — first, shortage of land necessitating forcible 
encroachment on that of neighbouring villages ; secondly, 
the protection of trading interests, as an attempt on the 
part of one village to trade directly with another at some 
distance has often caused war with an intervening village 
through which the trade used to pass (much to the profit of 
that intervening village) and which retaliates for its loss 
by making war on the interlopers, cutting up their trading 
parties, destroying the intercommunication between the 
offending villages, and compelling their trade to return to 
its old channel. Trade routes east of the administered area 
are still jealously protected in this way, and each village 
on a route makes its little profit on all articles passing 
backwards and forwards — daos, salt, pigs, cloths, pots, and 
the like. The third cause is found in the fits of restlessness 
that from time to time afflict most Naga villages, the desire 
of the young men as yet untried to prove their manhood and 
gain the right of wearing the warrior's gauntlets and boar's 
tush collar, all culminating in an overwhelming desire to 
get somebody's head, which not infrequently outweighs 
all riper considerations of policy and prudence. If this 
cause is at work the most trifling incident may become an 
occasion for a raid. Villages in this mood too will delibe- 
rately provoke hostilities by refusing some act of customary 
courtesy or right. And war has frequently been known to 
be occasioned by the refusal to give the customary feast to a 
person bound by formal ties of friendship, by a refusal to 
pay up the price agreed upon for a wife or to give a girl in 
marriage when it has been arranged, by the divorce of a 

* Compare the Angami oath, " The Angami Nagas," p. 145. Another 
form of Sema oath is also given in the same place. The form ghaka-ve 
is strictly a very complete perfect = " has finished perishing." 

i68 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

chief's wife, the housing of a runaway and refusal to send 
him back, by seUing the flesh of animals that have died of 
disease and so infecting another village, by the breach of a 
genua, such as taking some prohibited thing into the fields 
of another village at harvest time, or by a gratuitous insult, 
" or any other reason why." All such matters as these could 
be and often, probably usually, are settled amicably, but if 
the villages are in the mood for it they will and often do 
occasion war. 

War is of many sorts, and no fine distinction is made in 
the Sema mind between what is genuinely war and what we 
should call merely head-hunting. The following various 
tactics are distinguished by Semas : — 

Akuluh — pitched battle. One village challenges another 
either by a message sent through a third village or shouted 
out on the occasion of a raid or called out from some safe spot 
within earshot of the opponents, but out of their reach. 
A time two or three days off is fixed for the two villages to 
meet at a given place with all the allies they can muster 
and fight. Heads are normally very difficult to get in this 
form of warfare, as the retreat of the weaker side is always 
covered by panjis and picked warriors. Seromi, however, in 
a pitched battle with the Aos of Longsa on the site where 
Sapotimi village now is, once managed to get seven heads. 
A challenge to a pitched battle sent through a third village 
would normally be accompanied by some symbolic message, 
generally a panji or part of one, but often accompanied by 
something else, generally a chili, to signify the smarting in 
store for the recipients. The writer was once sent a chili 
impaled on a bit of panji together with a challenge to 
personal combat, signifying not only war and the un- 
pleasantness in store for him if he accepted, but that if he 
failed to accept he was only fit for impalement like a 
sacrificed puppy. The Survey party in the Sema country 
in 1875 was several times met by the whole fighting strength 
of a village got up in full dress and prepared to give battle, 
though the only attacks actually made were apparently 
attempts at surprise attacks. In event of a battle taking 
place the women would probably support their menfolk 


at a safe distance with petticoats full of stones for use as 
missiles, which they would replenish from dumps previously 
collected along the most probable line of retreat. 

Ashepe is a raid on the fields of a hostile village, proved 
warriors being placed as sentries on the flanks and as a 
rear-guard to protect the raiding party from being cut off, 
while the raiders clean up those of the enemy village who 
have the misfortune to be surprised at their hoeing. Thus 
before their annexation Asiikokhwomi took a woman's head 
from Sheyepu by an attack in this method, while Seromi 
took seven heads from Baimho in a similar raid. 

Ahusil (or inaJmsii) consists in laying an ambu^ for 
people of a hostile village as they emerge from their village 
in the morning when going to work on their fields. They 
are, if possible, cut off from their village and surrounded. 

Tivetsate is the laying of an ambush during the day to 
catch the people of a hostile village returning from their 
fields in the evening. 

Apfulie are raids on the village itself, and are divided 
up according to the circumstances under which they are 
made, thus : 

Puchofile is a raid at midday on a village the menfolk of 
which have gone to their fields to work. Thus in 1912 or 
thereabouts Tsukohomi raided Shietz and got seven or 
eight heads in this way, and in 1914 Shietz raided Lumtami 
(Lumakami) and got the heads of one old man and two 
children. The latter raid was entirely gratuitous and 

Tsuktofile Is a raid at cock-crow — just before dawn. An 
entry is made quietly into the hostile village and the raiders 
post themselves at the doors of the houses and cut down the 
inmates as they emerge at daybreak. So Churangchu, chief 
of the Angangba khel of Chisang, led a raid on Pakavi of 
Kumishe in 1914 which succeeded (owing to the treachery of 
one faction in Kumishe) in destroying twelve or thirteen 
households. Only two men escaped, and a woman and a 
child, who hid behind a door till the raiders had gone through 
the house and then ran out into the jungle. So too in 1917 
the Sangtam village of " Chonomi " raided the newly-built 

170 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Sema village of Zivihe, which consisted of eleven houses. 
" Chonomi " only got two heads, but frightened Zivihe into 
removing his village from their land. 

Kighishi consists in making an entry into a hostile village 
by night and merely spearing a man through the wall or 
roof of his house or entering the house and taking his head. 
In either case a departure is effected with all speed. Baimho 
and Yezami were for a long time at war, during which some 
men of Baimho killed Hovishe, chief of Yezami, by spearing 
him through the thatch of his house at night, and Viheshe, 
a man of Yezami, retaliated by killing Inache, a chief of 
Baimho, in the same manner. 

Tinshi is killing a cow of a hostile village, hiding in wait 
for the first pursuer, and taking his head and one's own 
departure as fast as possible. To provide an instance of 
tinshi and kighishi combined, Nikhui's villages made a 
joint raid on " Lakomi," a Tukomi Sangtam village, in 
1914. They sent a warrior on ahead, who speared a man 
in his house in the early morning. The village braves 
hurriedly assembled for the pursuit and ran straightway 
into the ambush laid for them. A little later, however, 
Gwovishe's people thought they would try the same game 
on Kitsa, but their bait, who had missed his man in the 
hostile village, got wounded by the enemy, who suspected 
a trick and refused to follow him into the trap. 

Tushwonei [tushwonii = a stranger {i.e., a man of another 
village) who is not an enemy and yi = to kill] means killing 
and taking the head of a person who is met casually on the 
path or even by arrangement. Nikashe, the present chief 
of Aichi-kuchumi, practised tushwonei when he incited a 
Yachumi chief to come with him to Mokokchung in 1912 
and get a red cloth, and then while fording the Tizu river 
fell upon him and smote him, and took his head. 

The names given by the Semas to these tactics suggest 
in several instances the perpetration of a grim jest. Ashepe 
is the same word as that meaning work in the fields, and 
only the faintest difference in accent is detectable. Kighishi 
means " thatching," and, in view of the tactics it denotes, 
the appUcation is obvious. Inahusii {<in^, an obsolete 


form of inaklie = early, and hu = going to the fields) means 
early rising to go to the fields. Tivetsate seems to mean 
" letting go," with the intent, of course, to catch on 
their way home, and tinshi, which means " desire to die," 
undoubtedly refers to the mentaUty of the silly ass who 
rashly pursues the killer of his cattle. 

With the exception of akuluh, all these tactics postulate 
surprise, and if the raiders find their prospective victims 
prepared, they come home rather ignominiously. This is 
called agJiuphipusJio. 

The tactics described above should give a fair idea of 
the Sema methods of warfare and head-hunting. Sudden 
raids, surprises, ambushes, and hurried evasion constitute 
most of it, and the pitched battle does not often occur. 
The throwing spear, the crossbow (for the simple bow has 
disappeared), the dao, and an occasional muzzle-loading 
gun are their weapons of offence, the shield and panjis 
those of defence, for a Sema on the warpath carries a basket 
of panjis, and sticks all the path with them, when retreating, 
to hinder pursuit. Booby traps are also popular, but are 
not developed to the extent that the Changs and Konyaks 
use them further north and east, as they consist mainly 
in panji-pits. A favourite variety is the aghiikhoh or 
*' war-pit." This is contrived by choosing a place where 
the path goes along the side of a hill and excavating a deep 
and long pit under the path perhaps as much as 6 feet long 
by 8 feet deep, without disturbing the surface, which is 
left intact for a considerable thickness. 

The bottom of the pit is filled with double rows of panjis, 
say 4 feet and 2 feet in length respectively, and the excava- 
tion is concealed. The aghiikhoh may then just be left for 
the enemy to walk into, or the enemy may be lured to rush 
into it by a warrior on the far side, who apparently risks his 
head to wait about and shout insulting challenges. In this 
way, with good luck, sometimes even three of one's foes at 
a fall may be caused to go down together well perforated 
into the pit. The apukukhoh or " leg-pit " is usually 
made by taking advantage of a depression in the ground, 
and this depression, or a shallow pit made for the purpose, 

172 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

is planted with short panjis in the ordinary way and filled 
up with bits of sticks, moss, grass, leaves, and earth, so 
that it lames people before they reaHse that the ground is 
panjied. The stone-chute {zhiika, " flattener ") is known 
to the Semas, but apparently not put into practice by 
them in warfare. 

Stones and sticks and sharpened bamboos are also used. 
When two neighbouring villages are at war large numbers 
of the former, and these including stones of all sizes, are 
collected near the hostile border by men, women, and 
children for days in advance of a projected battle or raid 
on the enemy. They are then used to throw or roll down 
at any who pursue the returning warriors of their own 
village. Similar collections of stones are made in houses 
built in large trees near the village overlooking any path 
which an enemy is Ukely to use.^ 

The Semas have on many occasions shown themselves 
superior as warriors to their neighbours on the north and 
east, as indeed may be inferred from the way in which they 
have dispossessed them of their lands. Thus the 30 houses 
of Maghromi proved such a thorn in the flesh of the Ao 
village of Nankam (700 houses) that the latter determined 
on a serious effort to wipe out the village. Two hundred 
Aos surrounded Maghromi before dayUght, and, having 
completed their preparations, sat down to wait till it was 
lighter. During the wait they laid down their weapons to 
eat and, Ao-Hke, started chattering. A Sema, up early 
and coming into the jungle near the village, heard them and 
shpped back to warn the village, which collected what men 
it could muster, who surprised and routed seven times their 
number of Aos, taking heads and capturing several guns, 

^ Some tribes, the Phoma and Konyaks in particular, carefully train 
the suckers of the Bar tree (Ficus Indica) so as to grow into a natural 
scaSolding on which a large tree house may be built for this purpose. I 
once found the suckers being trained in this way in a small Ao village that 
had been administered for many years, and asked them why they did it. 
All they could tell me was that it was the custom, and it was only later 
that I found out the real reason, which the village itself had undoubtedly 
forgotten. Mr. Mills tells me that the Ao village of Longjang also trains 
these suckers with hollow bamboos " because it is the custom." 


which they broke up as they did not know how to use 

Maghromi also suppUcd an instance of the Sema use of 
craft. Both the Aos of Nankam and the Lhotas of Lungtang 
claimed tribute from the chief, who was thus between two 
fires. By promises to both he managed to induce the Aos 
and Lhotas to fight about it, offering his tribute to the 
victor and egging on both disputants. As Lungtang was 
a small village and Nankam a large one, all the Lhota men 
had to turn out to fight the Aos in the pitched battle that 
took place by the stream selected by the Chief of Maghromi. 
While the Lhotas were engaged in the fight they suddenly 
spied a great column of smoke rising up from their village, 
where Maghromi had cut up all who were left behind and 
burnt the village. Having thus disposed for ever of one 
enemy (the site of Lungtang was occupied by Semas from 
Phusumi and is the present Litami), they were able success- 
fully to resist the other. 

Many Sema raids, however, have and still do end in 
aghiiphipusho, like a raid of Gwovishe's on Shipvomi ; 
the raiding party found Shipvomi prepared, and when it 
got there came back again, like the fleet that went to 

In the administered village, however, war is gradually 
receding into the limbo of the forgotten past, except in so 
far as the desire to wear the warrior's pigs' tushes and cowrie 
gauntlets keeps the young men desirous of going as carriers 
on expeditions on which they hope for a chance of " touching 
meat " and thus acquiring the right to put on the coveted 
ornaments. It is partly this desire, as well as loyalty, which 
at the time of writing ^ has just taken 1,000 Semas to work 
in France. In their own villages they have to confine 
themselves to the more modest exploits of cutting off the 
tail of a neighbour's cow, a deed of chastened daring which 
is followed by the hanging up of the beast's tail and the 
performance of a genna as though for the taking of a head. 
Incidentally, the animal — it is usually a mithan — which is 
thus treated loses all its value for ceremonial purposes and 

1 April, 1917. 

174 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

becomes fit only for sale as meat, for the owner himself 
cannot even eat of it, much less kill it at a feast, so that the 
animal loses at least 50 per cent, of its market value. A bit 
of another person's hair, if abstracted by stealth or force, 
may be Ukewise treated as the subject of a genua, with 
the dire effect of causing the death, or at least the illness, 
of the original grower of the hair.^ The killing of an enemy's 
cattle, or even dogs, cannot, however, be counted as " heads " 
by the killer unless he has actually taken part in the killing 
of an enemy. If a man does so take part, and probably if 
he succeeds at all in being "in at the death," he reckons as 
heads all the enemy mithan he may have killed previously, 
provided always that he has not eaten the flesh of such 
mithan. No cattle of which he has eaten the flesh can under 
any circumstances be counted. 

The principal gennas connected with head-taking are 
the aghucho, which inaugurates hostilities, and the aghupfu, 
which celebrates their success. The former centres on 
certain stones, themselves called aghucho, which are usually 
to be found lying about the village somewhere near the 
chief's house. These stones should strictly be water- worn 
black stones approximately spherical in shape and divided 
across the middle by a thin white stratum dividing each 
into two parts. 2 The size of the stone is immaterial. Of 
course, stones that really comply with this description are 
only occasionally met with, but anything that approaches 
the standard will serve, and very often any queer-shaped 
stone is taken to the village and preserved as an aghucho. 
Some aghucho were shown to the writer in PhiUmi which 
were just black stones worn into curious shapes by water, 
one or two faintly resembhng the shape of a human neck 
and head. Like the charm stones kept in granaries to 
ensure the prosperity of the owner and as a guard against 
the depredations of mice, these aghucho breed and beget 

^ In 1915 some men of Aochagalimi cut a bit of hair off a boy of 
Yeshulutomi. Though this was settled as between the principals in the 
dispute, Yeshulutomi village demanded a formal and public peace-making 
with Aochagalimi village. 

'^ I have seen just such a stone venerated as a " healing stone " in Co. 
Donegal. See Folklore, Sept. 30, 1920. 


young, in witness whereof there are numerous small stones 
always to be seen lying around the place where the aghucho 
are. These in time will grow up and become aghucho and 
breed in their turn. In most Sema villages aghucho are 
prized only as giving success in war, and, though in PhiHmi 
the chief would not let the writer take away an aghucho 
for fear it might hurt the crop, in most administered villages 
the aghucho have been neglected and lost, as now that there 
is no war they are of no further use. 

The genna preceding a raid consists in killing a pig and 
presenting six small scraps of the liver and of the flesh to 
the aghucho stones. The village is genna that day and no 
one may go to the fields. After this day is over anyone may 
start raiding. When an aghucho is found and brought to 
the village, this genna is observed whether it is intended to 
follow it by raiding or not. 

The aghupfu is celebrated by successful raiders, who 
come back singing a yemale, on the day of their return from 
the warpath. Till it is done they are unclean, genna, holy, 
and a village that is sowing, etc., cannot entertain them,^ 
The whole village is circumambulated by the raiders, 
carrying the heads obtained. Then a chicken is killed by 
each man who has actually taken a head himself, and the 
most pre-eminent warrior in the village, whose duty it is 
to make holes in the crowns of enemy skulls — he is called 
(for this purpose) akutsii-kegheheo, " the head-hanger " — is 
given the head of the chicken in virtue of his office. Tiny 
scraps of the fowl's flesh are set apart for the ghosts of the 
dead enemy. Eleven minute scraps ^ in all, each placed 
on two crossed leaves, six pieces in the name of the victor 
and five in that of the victim, are laid out in a row before 
the head and in the place where the skull is to hang. The 
rest of the fowl is eaten on the spot by the returned warriors ; 
before returning to the village the scraps are again counted, 
and should one be found short the ghost of the dead has 

^ Observed on operations against the Kukis in 1918, as also the custom 
referred to of counting enemy mithan as " heads." 

* Mr. Mills tells me that eleven scraps of meat are used by the Lhotas 
in almost all ceremonies. 

176 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

eaten it, and it is a sure omen of another successful expedi- 
tion, the idea probably being that the dead man, gratified 
at his meal, will call his living friends to come and partake 
similarly. Some of the eastern Semas, following a Yachumi 
practice, skewer wads of meat to the mouth and eyes of 
the dead head, that the ghost may eat and be filled and call 
his friends to come and be kiUed, and that after aU sorts 
of indignities both in word and deed have been showered on 
the trophy by the women and children of the village. It is 
essential, in laying out the scraps of meat for the ghost of 
the slain, that while six are brought in the name of the killer, 
only five are brought in the name of the killed, otherwise 
the former would not be victorious in the future. The 
raiders are genua on this day, and may not eat inside the 
village. They must observe chastity and may not even 
sleep in the inner room where their wives are, but in the 
akishebokhoh. If they are to eat at all they must be fed 
outside the village and before they enter it after returning 
from the raid. There is, however, no restriction on drinking. 
On the following day the warriors are still genua, and a 
pig is killed. The head is given to the akutsii-kegheheo, who 
now makes a hole through the head from the top of the 
forehead to the bottom of the skull at the back,^ after which 
the lapu^ strings it on a cane. A bamboo is cut and planted 
in the ground at the village Golgotha {aghii-kutsii-kogho-bo, 
*' the place of enemy heads ") outside the fence. This 
bamboo must be cut off high enough from the ground to 
ensure its not surviving and taking root, as this would 
entail the success of the enemy. The head is strung up by 
the Idpu to the top of the bamboo, after which it is genua 
to touch it. Those who do not bring back a head, but have 
shared in getting one, hang up an earthen pot to represent 
it. Gourds are also hung up for mithan, dogs, etc., and also 
for human heads. 

A Sema returning from the warpath with a head 
sings " 0, Yemusdle, Yemdle," probably in allusion to 

* Lazemi and probably other villages of the Dayang Valley bore the head 
from ear to ear. 

* For lapu see Part IV. 






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z PB Z 

1- 2 o 

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[To face I). IVfi. 


the piercing {yema)^ of the heads for their stringing up. 
Ale = " sing." 

For some reason or combination of reasons the heads of 
women are as highly prized as those of men, perhaps more 
so. That this is so is demonstrated by the stock formula 
for songs in celebration of a warrior's exploits. This 
formula runs as follows : 

" Oh ! So-and-so killed-and-brought-back-the-head-of a 
girl of Such-and-such (a village or tribe) ; 

" Oh ! So-and-so (the warrior's brother or, if none, his 
nearest male relative younger than himself) cut off the hair 
and put it in bis ears ; 

" Oh ! cut off and put in his ears the hair of the girl of 
Such-and-such ; 

" Oh ! So-and-so (the warrior's wife) rejoiced " (or 
" applauded "). 

Thus a song celebrating the exploits of Sakhalu runs : 

O, Sakhalu-no Aborlimi i-pfu-ghe 

iho, iho, iho, i 
0, Kohazu asa li-kyegJie 

iho, iJio, iho, i 
O, li'kyeghe, Aborlimi'sa li-kyeghe 

iho, iho, iho, i 
O, Ilheli allove 

iho, iho, iho, i 
0, Ilheli allove-o 

iho, iho, iho, i, 

which, being interpreted, tells how Sakhalu killed and 
brought back the head of an Abor girl, how Kohazu (his 
brother) cut off the hair and put it in his ears, and how Ilheli 
(Sakhalu's wife) rejoiced or applauded. Now Sakhalu was 
employed as a Scout on the Abor Expedition of 1911-12 
and took the heads of several male Abors, and, as far as is 
known, of no women, yet in celebrating his exploits he is 
described as taking the heads of women, and not of men. 

* But this is not certain, and some Semas do not profess to know the 
meaning. The Lhotas sing " Sh&mashari o smaiydli " under similar 
circumstances, but do not know the meaning of the words. 


i7« THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Similarly, the song in the same formula celebrating Inato's 
exploits fictitiously attributes to him the taking of the head 
of a girl of Nankam, although he had taken one or two 
genuine heads from men in his time.^ The kiUing of idiots 
and similarly deficient persons, such as hunchbacks and 
deaf mutes, is " genna." 

It is possible that the reason why women's heads are 
held in greater estimation is that they are harder to get, as 
a village in time of trouble sends the men to work where 
there is danger, while the women work only near the village, 
so that to get one of their heads entails venturing right up 
to the hostile village at great risk of being cut off on the 
return journey. It is also possible that the desire to cause 
a permanent reduction of the enemy population may have 
something to do with it. The kiUing of a man wiU not affect 
the birth-rate much, but the kiUing of a woman probably 
wiU.2 It is also possible that the desire for the woman's 
hair for ornaments may have contributed. Some men of 
Lumitsami made a successful raid on Nankam, but several 
of them were cut off on their way back owing to the delay 
caused by their squabbles as to the possession of a woman's 
head with long hair, which all of them wanted in order to 
adorn the tails they wore at festivities.^ 

The taking of a head or kiUing of an enemy entitles the 
warrior to wear cowrie gauntlets {aouka asiika) and a collar 

^ I have gone into this, as the greater value put on women's heads has 
been asserted of other tribes and doubts have been raised as to the truth 
of such assertions. See Hodson, " Naga Tribes of Manipur," p. 114, 
notes 2 and 5. 

* Conversely, too, the acquisition of a female head plus a female ghost 
might increase the fertility of the successful village. 

^ In 1919 I heard an accusation brought by the men of Iganumi, 
headed by their chief, who accused a woman of that village named Shikuli, 
and another, of bewitching and poisoning their fellow villagers with the 
aid of human hair taken in war from dead enemies by the ancestors of 
these women, who were alleged to put fragments of these heirlooms into 
food offered to their neighbours. They produced a thumomi (see Part IV) 
named Kamli, who to prove the truth of her statement produced from 
Shikuli's hand a minute fragment of hair which she (Kamli) had hidden 
under her thumb nail and which she pretended to extract from under 
Shikuli's finger-nail after stroking along her finger as though drawing out 
the hair as by a magnet. 


of pigs' tushes, though strictly only one pair of these should 
be worn unless the wearer has taken more than one head. 
Nowadays it is enough to " touch flesh " by spearing the 
body of an enemy shot by troops, since the administered 
Semas can no longer make war on their own account. A 
man who has speared or " cut " a still living enemy whose 
head is taken by another man— for the first spear gets 
the whole head even if someone else cut it off — has an 
earthen pot hung up in place of a head with precisely the 
same ceremonial, while a man who has only " touched 
meat " has a gourd hung up in the same way, the stringing 
being done by the akutsii-kegheheo. Should the string on 
which a head is hung break, it is regarded as an excellent 
omen, forecasting an early repetition of the success. 

The ceremony of peace-making between two villages that 
have been at war is an elaborate one. A place is fixed upon 
between the two villages at which the opposing hosts are 
to meet and make a formal peace. Each side prepares food 
and drink, and every man according to his abiUty gets ready 
flesh, a chicken, or eggs at least, while several large pigs 
are killed and plenty of rice-beer is brewed. All the flesh 
is cooked, and on the appointed day is taken to the spot with 
cooked rice and several gourds of liquor per head by the 
whole community of grown males. Women are not allowed 
to be present, and must not even go to the fields on that 
day by the path which the men are to use when they go to 
the peace-making. 

Meanwhile the lapu of each village has made ready a new 
fire-stick, and a single sliver of pHant bamboo made from 
a plant most carefully sought and brought in from the 
forest by a selected unmarried youth and kept until needed 
in his house or, if the lapu has no wife, in the lapu's house. 
When the two parties have met at the appointed spot, a 
small party of the chief and leading men of both villages is 
formed at a distance from the main body of villagers, and 
in the presence of this select group the rival lapus proceed 
to make fire, using their new fire-sticks and the single thong. 
Each lapu when starting to make fire says to the other, 
" Alhokesa kizhe a la wosala shipini," which, being inter- 

N 2 

i8o THE SEMA NAGAS part 

preted, is " All that there is of evil, shall it not be on thy 
head ? "i 

After that, should either of the lapu fail to get fire with 
his single thong, then all the expiation to which either side 
or both have rendered themselves liable will be borne by 
the clan of those men, in the village of the lapu who has 
failed, who have lost their heads, or lives, to the other 
village, and some members of this clan will most certainly 
go blind, or lose their teeth, or get a cancer (particularly of 
the mouth or eye), or go lame or die of internal haemorrhage. 
The same happens to the rash man who eats the food, smokes 
the pipe, or touches the dao of a man whose family has 
killed one of the former's clan before any formal peace has 
been made. It is also advisable always to sit on one's dao 
when eating or drinking in the house of a man with whose 
clan one's own clan used to be on head-taking terms, even 
if peace has since been made and many years have elapsed. 
Otherwise one's teeth decay and fall out and one's eyes 
become sore and watery. The idea which underlies the 
sitting on a dao is said to be that iron breaks all gennas, 
the evil effect of the forbidden act being neutralised by the 
iron of the dao. 

After the lapus have made (or failed to make) their fire, 
both villages collect fuel and make a fire, which they light 
from the fire made by their lapu. Should the lapu have 
failed to get fire, his fire-stick is chopped up and thrown away, 
and fire is made by some lusty young man, for since it is 
a serious matter if fire again fails, older men, Uke the now 
very unpopular lapu, are not trusted to try. Matches may 
not be used under these circumstances. ^ On this fire aghii 
(see p. 98) is burnt, and each side expresses a wish that his 
village may be in future as sharp as thatching grass or 

^ The use of the word " head " here is not an absolutely literal rendering 
of the Sema, but probably conveys the sense of the expression as nearly 
as is possible in English. The word wosala is obscure and possibly archaic ; 
wo- probably = o — the possessive of the second person — sala is possibly 
connected with asa = hair of the head. 

2 The Sangtams, who ordinarily possess flint and steel (or rather quartz 
and iron), eschew these in the same way as Semas eschew matches when 
they perform their peace-making ceremonies. 


sword-grass. The reason for burning agliil, which gives a 
very pungent odour when burnt, is probably to drive away 
evil influences, as it is burnt in time of illness to drive away 
evil spirits, and at most or all important gennas, presumably 
with the same purpose. Next the two villages exchange 
the food and drink they have brought and lay out their 
daos upon the ground, and the men of each side, putting a 
foot upon the dao of one of their late adversaries, start to 
eat and drink standing there, but presently sit down and 
eat as usual, still keeping a foot on the dao. While drinking, 
each side expresses a silent wish that all the evil which may 
have resulted from their hostility may be upon the heads 
of the other side. What or why exactly this evil is is not 
clear, and the Sema himself has probably no precise notion 
of what he means, but it is possible that the anger of the 
dead killed in the war is roused at the making of peace by 
their fellow villagers and clansmen with the enemy, and 
that this anger is feared. It must be admitted, however, 
that there is nothing in Sema eschatology to suggest this. 
It is, however, clear that the performance of the peace- 
making genua is not regarded as ensuring the peacemakers 
absolute security against the toothlessness, cancers, lame- 
ness, and other judgments that follow reconciliation with 
an hereditary enemy. In any case it is highly advisable 
to express the wish in silence. When Sotoemi and the 
Sangtam (Tukomi) village of Yetsimi were making peace in 
the way described at the place where the village of Tokikehimi 
now is, a Sotoemi man of the Chophimi clan, which had lost 
eight heads to a man of Yetsimi, expressed aloud and with 
emphasis the hope that the said man of Yetsimi should 
suffer the horrors detailed above. He said this in Sema, 
but one Yevetha, a runaway Sema who had acted as go- 
between, translated it into Sangtam, whereupon a man of 
Yetsimi clave the speaker's head in twain with a battle-axe 
{ailaghi), whereto a Sema of Sotoemi responded by cutting 
down Yevetha, and both sides incontinently fell a-fighting, 
and as they were all mixed up there was much slaughter, 
and Yetsimi got 50 heads off Sotoemi, and Sotoemi 75 off 
Yetsimi ; but this is the Sema version. 

i82 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

When eating and drinking are finished the gourds are 
given back to their owner and the villagers return home, 
usually abstracting many of each other's spears, as these 
are stuck into ground here and there in every direction, and 
the chiefs and elders cannot prevent looting, though they 
hunt out the stolen weapons afterwards and secure their 
return. Before reaching the village everyone has to wash 
himself, his clothes, and his weapons, though the old men 
sometimes restrict the washing of their clothes to one corner 
only for fear of catching cold. If any victuals or drink are 
left over from the ceremony, these must be partaken of by 
the old men before entering the village, after which nothing 
more may be eaten or drunk that day, while all must remain 
chaste that night. 

In the case of a man cutting off the tail of his neighbour's 
mithan, when regarded as head-taking in a minor degree as 
described above, he performs a peace ceremony of corre- 
spondingly reduced dimensions, which in its simplest form 
consists merely of the exchange, between the offender 
and the owner of the tail-cut mithan, of sips first of water, 
then of liquor from each other's plantain-leaf cups, and 
lastly of the burning of aghil on a fire outside the house, new 
fire not necessarily being made, though some insist on this. 
Failure to do this ceremony might entail unpleasant conse- 
quences. Recently one Khekuvi of Shevekhe cut off a bit 
of the ear of one of Sakhalu's mithan. This was found out, 
suitably atoned for, and the peace ceremony gone through 
in its simpUfied form by the offender and Sakhalu. Some 
months later ^ Hotoi, Sakhalu's son, was passing through 
Shevekhe village, and anon blood gushed forth from his 
nose and his mouth in a manner terrifying, at any rate, to 
Hotoi. This was put down at once to his not having been 
made a party to the peace ceremony, and a further ceremony 
was insisted on between Kh ekuvi and Hotoi. 

When fighting with nearly-related persons, as sometimes 
happens in a land dispute, sticks and stones are used, or the 
blunt backs of daos. And even if sharp weapons are used 
heads are not taken. 

> April, 1917. 


A birth of any domestic animal prevents the owner going 
to war, but that of a human being in his house docs not ; 
on the contrary, it is rather lucky. 

Sexual intercourse while on the warpath is strictly gonna. 

The position of women in the Sema tribe, though they Position 
are possibly more restricted in the matter of the possession women, 
of property and in sexual licence than the women of the 
Angami and Ao tribes, is probably higher socially, as it is 
morally, than in either of them, at any rate as far as the 
families of chiefs are concerned. 

The Sema girl lives until marriage in the house of her 
parents unless she is sent to the house of her chief, or some 
other protector, where she lives as one of the family and 
pays for her keep by her services. In any case, though 
given plenty of freedom and going to the fields with her own 
aluzhili, which consists till her marriage of contemporaries 
of both sexes, she is carefully looked after and not allowed 
that freedom of sexual intercourse usual to unmarried girls 
in most Naga tribes. Lazemi is perhaps an exception to 
the general rule in this respect, and possibly one or two 
other villages in the Dayang Valley in which the Angami 
influence is pronounced. This is not to say that the un- 
married Sema girl is invariably chaste, but she is a good 
deal more so than the girl of any neighbouring tribe. The 
care which is taken of her is partly due to the desire not 
to damage her value in the marriage market, as a girl who 
is known to have had an intrigue commands a much lower 
marriage price as a rule.^ Accordingly the iBne for an 
adultery with a girl of position is much higher than that 
for a similar affair with the daughter of a man of none, since 
the marriage price of the latter is in any case much lower 
than that of, say, a chief's daughter. 

A Sema girl's head is shaved until she is regarded as 
approaching a marriageable age, when the hair is allowed to 
grow. Marriage is of course always on exogamous principles, 
and it is regarded as very shameful to say anything at all 

^ The Sema is in no ignorance of the causes of conception, but regards 
it as normally, if not always, requiring intercourse on more than one 

i84 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

improper before a woman of one's own clan and still more 
so of one's own kindred. Shameless men, however, who do 
this are not punished — at any rate by any human agency. 
When she is betrothed she wears a plaited band of red cane 
and yellow orchid -stem round her forehead, which she 
leaves off shortly after her marriage. A girl's betrothal 
in the case of the ordinary villagers does not usually last 
long, but in that of chiefs' children marriages are some- 
times arranged for a long time before they can take place. 
This arrangement is made as a rule by the parents, who are 
asked for their daughter by a go-between, acting usually 
at the instance of a young man who wants her, or at that 
of the parents of a young man who has not found a suitable 
wife, but normally the prospective bridegroom himself is 
the first to move in the matter. In any case the marriage 
is never made against the girl's will, though it may often 
happen that she does no more than passively acquiesce in 
the arrangements made by her parents or guardian. The 
arbitrary breaking off of a match by either party renders 
that party Uable to a fine (usually about Rs. 5/- or Rs. 10/-), 
which, in the case of the engagement being broken off by 
the girl or her people in order that she may marry someone 
else, is paid by the party last mentioned. 

The prices paid for wives vary very considerably indeed 
according to their station in life, ranging in value from 
Rs. 20/- or even less to as much as Rs. 400/- or Rs. 500/-, 
but they are always paid largely in kind, and the girl in 
her turn brings with her beads and ornaments which become 
the property of her husband and which are to some extent 
proportionate to the price paid for her, though they do not 
by any means equal it in value. Besides the girl's birth, 
her capabihties are also taken into account, a girl who is 
thrifty, can weave, or is a hard and good worker in the 
fields commanding a higher price accordingly. Personal 
appearance has little bearing on the marriage price. The 
price of a widow who has gone back to her father's house is 
very much less than that of a girl not previously married, 
while a woman divorced for misconduct, or who for some 
other reason is generally undesirable, would command 


merely a nominal sum. On the other hand, the prices asked 
by important chiefs for their daughters are sometimes quite 
excessive. A daughter of Ghukiya is said to have fetched 
50 head of cattle, a pair of ivory armlets worth Rs. 8(1/-, 
and Rs. lOO/- in cash, which might be in total value anything 
from Rs. 300/- to Rs. 500/- or more, and she blear-eyed, but 
the commoner who married her probably got beads worth 
Rs. 200/- or so with her, as well as the distinction of an 
alHance with Ghukiya, which was as good as a life insurance 
policy 1 and was probably what he wanted. 

The Sema woman is usually a good wife and a good mother, 
and though marriages are polygynous in the case of all who 
can afford it, the various wives get on well enough together, 
particularly if there are more than two. Separate houses 
are sometimes built for some of the wives, but not necessarily. 
The wife manages the house, entertains her husband's guests, 
works in his fields, and generally shares his entire confidence 
on matters of domestic economy. One of the wives is 
usually regarded as the head wife, but she does not necessarily 
take the lead in regulating her husband's household, and 
her position as the principal wife does not seem to be very 
definite. In the case of a chief's son or other kekami, she 
would normally be the one first married, though as it is 
not always easy to find a girl of suitable age and family, 
such marriages are often arranged a long way ahead, and 
thus it happens that sometimes the bridegroom takes one 
wife to himself before the important marriage comes off, 
but in such a case the wife married later would take 
formal precedence of the one married first. 

As regards property, a man's widows are entitled to 
one-third of their husband's movable property, and if one 
or more of the widows remain unmarried in the late husband's 
house, she, or they, may get whatever free labour was due 
to the dead man for a period not exceeding three years. 
After that they may be given some free labour as a matter 
of courtesy, but they are not entitled to it. If a widow 
marries one of her husband's heirs, the latter enjoys the 

* Because few would be rash enough to interfere too far with the man 
who had married the daughter of so powerful a chief. 

i86 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

property without division for her lifetime, and in some 
cases widows are allowed to receive payments in cash on 
the score of dues to their late husband. ^ 

Although women can possess movable property in absolute 
ownership, they cannot, however, possess land unless they 
have bought it, and even then they do not seem able to 
bequeath it as they please, for the sons or other male heirs 
will claim the land in virtue of the disability of women to 
inherit or possess it. 

As regards the guardianship of children, the cliildren by 
her original husband of a wife divorced or of a widow who 
had married again could be claimed by the husband or his 
heirs when weaned, but the woman would have the right 
to keep un weaned children when she left her husband's 
house until they were weaned, which is usually at about 
three years old. If they were not claimed they might stay 
with their mother, but they might, unless specifically given 
up, be claimed at any time on payment of a sum to cover 
the cost of their keep in the interval. In the case of a girl 
who has been brought up by her mother independently of 
the father and his relations, or partly so, it is usual to divide 
the marriage price, the mother taking half and the father 
or his representatives taking half, and even if the paternal 
rights over a girl had been renounced, a payment of some 
sort would probably be made to him on the girl's marriage 
in recognition of the fact that he had begotten her. 

Divorce is easy and fairly often occurs. In the case of 
a wife committing adultery, she may be simply put away, 
her husband keeping the ornaments he got with her and 
claiming a penalty of one head of cattle from her father or 
his heirs, together with repayment of the price which he 
paid for her if within three years of the marriage. Other- 
wise the husband may condone the offence, receiving a fine 
from her paramour, which varies according to the woman's 
position. This fine he could claim in any case, whether he 

^ In 1916, Inato, Chief of Lumitsami, bequeathed part of his unrealised 
debts to his widows, and in 1917 the sons of the widow of Khukiya of 
Yemeshe allowed her to " eat " money paid in lieu of returning a ninaway 
dependant of her late husband's. In both these cases the payments were 
made as of courtesy, not as of right. 


kept his wife or not, but if the offended husband was a 
chief and the offender one of his own men, the latter would 
certainly be ejected from his village and, if in unadministcrcd 
territory, would be in peril of his life if he did not anticipate 
trouble by fleeing fast and far, 

A man who puts away his wife for incompatibility of 
temper or some minor fault may claim a repayment of the 
marriage price provided the divorce takes place before three 
years have expired from the date of the marriage.^ At any 
time, however, he must give back the woman's ornaments 
in case of a divorce of this sort. 

A woman who objects to her husband can leave him at 
any time, but will not get her ornaments back if she does 
so against her husband's consent, unless he has seriously 
ill-treated her, in which case she could claim the return of 
her ornaments as well as a fine for the ill-treatment. In 
any case the marriage price would have to be repaid to 
him. Divorce is, however, probably less frequent among 
the Semas than among neighbouring tribes, of whom the 
Aos are particularly bad in this respect, almost making it 
the rule rather than the exception to be divorced at least 
once during their Uves, and usually for infidelity. They are, 
as Hakluyt's voyager would put it, " the most of them 
naughtie packes." 

The position of women among the Semas is on the whole 
far from the degradation sometimes alleged of Nagas in 
general {e.g. Assam Census of 1891). The women have to 
work very hard in the fields, but their husbands do the same, 
and both as daughters, wives, and mothers they are treated 
with real affection and respect by their parents, their 
husbands, and their children. The writer remembers 
going into the house of Ivihe, the old Chief of AochagaKmi, 
who was very miserable, and noticing a long tally of knotted 
string. On asking what it meant he was told that each 
knot represented one day that had passed since the death 
of the old man's wife some months before, 

^ This right to a repayment of the price if the divorce is within three 
years of marriage seems not to be recognised by the southern villages. 





The religion of the Semas is conveniently labelled Religious 
" Animism " by the Census of India and official authority 
generally, and Sir Edward Tylor, in his minimum definition 
of rehgion, defined Animism as a " beUef in spiritual beings." 
So far as that goes, most of us are Animists, but Sir James 
Frazer, somewhere in " The Golden Bough," lays down that 
when definite deities with specific names and function are 
recognised the Animist has become a Polytheist and the 
term Animism is no longer strictly apphcable. If this be 
so, the Sema is in the process of ceasing, if he has not already 
ceased, to be an " Animist." 

The spirits which the Sema reveres are divided into three Deities, 
distinct classes. First of all there is Alhou (or Timilhdu), 
who seems to be regarded as a usually beneficent but some- 
what remote Creator interfering httle in the affairs of men, 
though approaching more nearly than any other to our idea 
of a Supreme God.^ In the second place, we have the 
spirits of the sky, the Kungumi, dweUing up aloft but far 

1 Some locate Him in all the space that is between heaven and earth, 

and I have heard a Sema attribute to Him the quality of omnipresence, 

even if not of absolute infinity, though the Sema in question was not 

educated or even semi-christianised. 


192 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

from aloof, so far so that, if ancient legends may be believed, 
they have more than once formed unions with mortals, 
taking wives from the daughters of men like the sons of 
God in Hebrew tradition, or taking, like Lihth, a mortal 
husband. In story they take very much the place that the 
fairy princes, princesses, and godmothers good and bad filled 
in the fairy tales of our childhood, except that their abode is 
definitely located in the sky, and Christianity has not yet 
interfered to cast them out of heaven. The third class, the 
Teghdmi, the spirits most in touch with man, are spirits of 
earth, which they inhabit, the true earth-spirits of the 
occultist, often deliberately harmful, beneficent only when 
propitiated, though there is perhaps a tendency for purely 
maleficent spirits to take on, as a result of the habit of pro- 
pitiation, the attributes of beneficent deities. Thus can man 
make him good gods from bad. However, even at their 
best the teghami seem still to consist in a rather mahcious 
sort of pixie, and pictish, indeed, the teghami possibly may 
really be by origin, if teghami means, as it appears to do, 
" Jungle -men." And there are several Naga traditions of 
little wild men or spirits of the woods having been found and 
caught and tamed, ^ and these are always spoken of by the 
Sema as teghami, just as teghashi is, game jungle flesh (as 
opposed to tikishi, house flesh or domestic animals) <agha = 
jungle, wild. This derivation cannot, however, be un- 
reservedly accepted, as the Angami equivalent of teghami 
(which is terhoma) does not appear to have any linguistic 
connection at all with the Angami word for jungle (nha), 
though clearly the same word as the Sema teghami {R in 
Angami regularly becomes GH in Sema). In any case the 
teghami include the spirits of the forest, who are often heard 

^ Certain Angami and Lhota clans or kindreds claim descent from such 
persons. A Phom clan is likewise descended from a woman of the same 
sort who was found in a cave. In 1914 a Konyak village was reported 
to have actually caught a jungle spirit in a snare and to have killed it and 
thrown its body away. 

For the comparative positions of men and spirits see also the story of 
" The Dog's Share " in Part VI, where the teghami is made to admit that 
man {timi) is greater than he. This would be quite natural if the teghami 
were an aboriginal of inferior development, even though he were credited 
with certain magical powers. 



though not seen. Now and then someone claims to have 
seen them ; little men they look hke, but usually they are 
only heard calling to one another in the jungle just as nirn 
call, and sometimes quite close, but on searching tor the 
caller there is no one to be found. 

The teghami too, though generally spirits of the wild, 
must probably be held to include the agJmu. These are 
spirits attached to individuals and houses, and perhaps 
villages, though it is difficult to obtain a precise description, 
and probably no very definite conception of aghau as distinct 
from teghami in general is formed at all. Generally speaking, 
however, the aghau is a personal famihar, the Angami equiva- 
lent being ropfii. Whether all persons have aghau is a 
point which the writer has not been able to determine, and 
apparently opinions differ on the subject ; but perhaps it 
may be said that all persons are potentially possessed of 
aghau, though the existence of an aghau is not always 
apparent. The idea of fate or destiny is very often attached 
to aghau, but one also hears of it as a BaifKov or familiar 
incHned to be malignant, and in some aspect it appears 
almost as a soul. The aghau is also a house spirit, and as 
such it is occasionally seen by men going suddenly into an 
empty house, who get a glimpse of a being not unhke a 
monkey or an ape, which quickly disappears. It is related 
that once a man went to the empty house of his friend and 
dipped for drink in the liquor vat. His friend's agJiau, 
though invisible, caught the hand by the wrist and held the 
marauder there tiU the owner of the house returned in the 
evening and released him.^ When a man migrates he 
scatters bits of meat on the ground behind him to induce his 
aghau to go with him, telling it that no one else mil cherish 
it and feed it. A friend of the writer's has a dozen aglmu, 
though he rarely sees them. Six are like apes and six like 
human beings. They belong to the family and attach them- 
selves to the richest member of it. When paying a visit to 
his house it is desirable to be very particular in blowing 
off the froth from your rice-beer, as this blows away any 

1 Mr. J. P. Mills told me of a Lhota who was caught by the ankle by a 
spirit of this sort near his village (Rechyim) and died the same year. 


194 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

spirits that may be lingering on it.^ The same Sema, 
Hezekhu of Sheyepu, attributes to his aghau an unpleasant 
omen of death that is known by the discovery of wet patches 
of blood on his cloth when he wakes in the morning. The 
writer has seen them himself. 

To return to Alhou and the Kungumi. Alhou {— "the 
Creator ") is the name used to translate in the Assamese 
" Ishwar," God the Supreme Deity and Creator,^ and Alhou 
is certainly regarded as such by the Semas. Omniscience 
and omnipotence and even omnipresence are vaguely 
ascribed to Him, and though He is remote and inaccessible, 
He seems to be all-good as well as almighty and all-knowing. 
His alternative name, Timilhou, would seem to be given 
Him specifically as the Creator of men (timi). The 
general attitude towards Him, however, may be gathered 
from the following experience of the writer, who was 
asked by a Sema villager to write a letter for him in 
which he said " by the grace of the Kungumi I am well." 
On being asked why the Kungumi were responsible for his 
welfare and whether Alhou should not be substituted, he 
repUed, " No, Alhou is different ; He would do me no harm 
— it is by the favour of Kungumi I am well." On the other 
hand, Alhou is the supreme dispenser of good and evil, 
and it is He who makes men rich or poor. There is a story 
of two men who died on the same day and were wending 
their way to the land of the dead. One was rich and was 
taking many mithan, and the other poor and with nothing 
but a basket and dish. When the mithan saw the poor man 
they ran aside on a different path. The rich man abused 
the poor man, asking what such a miserable creature was 
doing driving his mithan. The poor man rephed that he 
could not help his condition as it was due to the wiU of 
Alhou, whereon the rich man boasted that he had become so 
by his owTi efforts. On this Alhou drove them back to their 
village, where they came to life again, but in their second 

1 See above, p. 99. 

^ Alhou >root, Iho = " to create." The Sema Creator is almost 
certainly to be identified with the Kachari Creator Alow (Soppitt, op. cit., 
p. 29). 


sojourn on earth the poor man became rich and the ricli 
man very poor, wherefore the Somas hold that it is Alhou 
who ordains man's worldly lot. 

If it were at all in keeping with the Soma's mentality 
to form abstract ideas, one would almost put down Alhou 
as an abstraction, but the Kungumi are material and active 
beings. Two stories given later on (in Part VI) indicate to 
some extent the conception that is formed of them, and 
though their bodies or their visible forms are regarded as 
outwardly perfect, their activities might conceivably on 
occasion prove injurious to men ; thus the rainbow {Milesil) 
is called kungumi-pukhu (= kungumi s leg), and the place 
where it touches earth is always a spot where some sacriiice 
has been made for the fields and crops ; but should it fall 
inside a village, the death in war of one of the inhabitants 
is imminent and certain. 

When we come to the Teghami we find a tendency to 
speciafise certain named and definite spirits as having definite 
functions, and while it is probable that from village to village 
many varieties may be found of the spirits with speciahsed 
functions, there are some teghami whose specialised functions 
seem recognised by all Semas. Litsaba, Shikyepu, and 
Muzamuza are probably instances, as, even if not universally 
recognised by Semas under these names, they are recognised 
under them throughout by far the greater part of the tribe. 

Kichimiya or Litsaba (or Latsapa), though regarded by 
some (e.g., the Southern Zumomi) as of the Kungumi, is 
more often held to be the most important of the Teghami, 
as he is apparently the spirit of fruitfulness and gives the 
crops. 1 He does not seem to be in any way identified with 
the corn itself, ^ but is usually recognised as being responsible 
for its increase, and must always be propitiated in order to 
obtain good crops, though this may be because he is liable 

^ According to Dr. Clark, Lizaba, the principal Ao deity and the counter- 
part of the Sema Kichimiya, is the chief deity on earth as opposed to 
Lunkizingba in heaven and Mozing in the abodes of the dead. Lizaba 
may mean " earth walker " or " earth-maker." See Dr. Clark's Ao-Naga 
Dictionary under "Lizaba," Calcutta, Baptist Mission Press, 1911. 

^ The last sheaf ogr^agr^Mfco (see above, p. 64) does not seem to be particu- 
larly associated with Litsaba. 

o 2 

196 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

to visit the earth in the form of a whirlwind and spoil them. 
With him is in some way associated the toad — Thoghopu, 
who is said to be his " friend." It is difficult to make out 
exactly what this association is, but it appears in Angami 
practice also, for they set apart a special day for giving the 
toad his share, Thewiiukukivu, at one of the less important 
harvest gennas and associate the toad with the mouse as 
entitled to have a share of the crop ; but in other parts of 
the world toads have been associated both with the obtaining 
of rain^ and with the prevention of storms, ^ and it is far 
from unlikely that the Sema association of the toad with 
the spirit responsible for the harvest is the result of some 
association of the toad with rain or storm, in which case it 
is probable that the conception of Latsapa as a whirlwind 
is the original one now being ousted by a conception of 
Latsapa as a spirit of fertility and beneficent rather than 
maleficent. In this connection it may be mentioned that 
the stone celts found by the Semas, and always regarded 
as thunderbolts, are called Poghopu- (or Thoghopu-) moghii, 
i.e., toad's axes. Other Naga tribes call them simply 
" god-axes," and though it is just possible that Thoghopu- 
moghii is simply a euphemism for teghami-moghii, a theory 
which was attested by one inteUigent Sema of the writer's 
acquaintance, the inference may not unfairly be drawn that 
this word for what is beUeved to be a thunderbolt is an 
indication of the association in the Sema mind between the 
toad and thunderstorms.^ 

Kichimiya is probably the genuine Sema name for this 
spirit and Litsaba of non-Sema origin, and is probably adopted 
from the Sangtams, from whom the Semas undoubtedly 
took much of their ceremonial practice. The name is 
virtually the same as that of the corresponding Sangtam, 

1 " The Golden Bough " (3rd ed.), vol. i, p. 292. 

* Ibid., p. 325. 

^ According to some the toad is associated with Alhou rather than with 
Latsapa. The people of Kon-Memey in Cochin-China believe that the 
soul of a former chief entered into a toad and in this form watches over 
the rice -fields and ensures a good crop provided he is propitiated by 
offerings of pigs, chickens, and millet-beer. See " The Golden Bough " 
(3rd ed.), vol. viii, p. 291. 



Ao,and Lhota spirit, but the use of it among Semas is perhaps 
more common than that of Kichimiya. 

Litsowo is a spirit who lies in wait to catch anrl devour 
the souls of the dead on their way to their long home.i 
This spirit, however, is also known as Kolavo, which is the 
name given him by the southern Zumomi. 

Shikyepu (? = " Game-allotter ") is the spirit who presides 
over all wild animals, and it is by his favour only that men 
are successful in hunting. Whatever game they take is given 
by him. 

Muzdmuzd, Echo, is no attractive nymph, but a malicious 
spirit of the woods who leads men astray in the jungle. 2 
Anyone who is lost in the forest is taken by Muzanrnza, 
who sometimes causes them to disappear entirely, and 
sometimes drives them permanently or temporarily mad. 
Either way it is the ruination of them, for even if they 
recover from their madness they are not the same men again 
that they were before. A man who merely loses his way in 
the jungle cuts off a bit of the fringe of his cloth and sticks 
it in a tree. This apparently satisfies the spirit, for after 
this the lost man finds his way home. The Changs in 
similar circumstances cut off a bit of hair and put it on a 
fork of a tree for the rock python that has bedevUled them. 
Muzamuza makes a man do all sorts of unpleasant things 
— eat worms, for instance, make and wear a necklace of 
huge worms, or put them in his ears. He makes a man 
think the level ground the brink of a precipice and go 
hesitating in fear and trembUng lest he fall over ; or again 
a cliff appears level ground so that he runs up it — or falls 
over it. The searcher for a man taken by Muzamuza 
lets go a chicken into the jungle and sings " Muzamuza ! 
Show me where So-and-so is ! " and so goes on his search 
singing thus.^ The finder of the lost man becomes rich in 

1 See p. 212. * Like the " Fodheen Mara " in Galway. 

3 There is a form of song in many villages which is always used and nins 

thus : 

Muzamuza-no Taloli sao ; awu pheni, Taloli phelo I 

i.e., " Muzamuza took Taloli ; I am letting go a fowl, let Taloli go ! " 
Taloli is said to have been a woman of Zhekiya village formerly lust 
and recovered 


worldly goods. Vutahe, of Sakhalu's village, was lost in 
this way and found. Similarly, a man of the same village 
named Kocheke was transported by Muzamuza to a distant 
place — how, he cannot say, but he was eventually found. 

Tegha-aghiizuitm is the delirium spirit (a literal transla- 
tion), who makes man delirious or mad. 

Aphowo is a spirit propitiated in alternate years at 
harvest. Possibly he is in some way connected with the 
practice of cultivating a cleared field for two years in succes- 
sion and then lea^dng it to go back to jungle, but this is a 
purely speculative suggestion. 

Tegha-kesa, " the bad spirit," is a spoiler of crops in 
particular and a mischief-maker generally. 

Kukwobolitomi'^ are spirits who destroy cliildren in the 
womb and cause miscarriage. 

Loselonitonii ^ are mahcious spirits or famihars who, Uke 
Eris, breed strife between friends and quarrels in the house- 

Kitimi, dead men, are the spirits of the dead, who are 
regarded as coming to fetch the hving when they die, and 
sometimes therefore as responsible for death, a dead man 
being said to have been taken by the Kititni. 

The disposition of teghami in general differs httle from that 
of the faeries in our own folk-tales. In spite of all their 
supernatural quaUties they are very easily deceived, and 
their mahcious activities can be met by very simple guile, 
as, for instance, when the Aivdu gives out the wrong day as 
the date for the Sage genna in public, though everyone knows 
that it is the wrong day except the spirits whose mahce is 

The teghami need much propitiation, and are very apt 
to be annoyed by the abandonment of ancient customs, which 
is not perhaps entirely unnatural, as by the abandonment of 
a custom they usually lose offerings of some sort. Thus 
when the harvest has been bad a " Morung " is sometimes 
built, as has already been mentioned, to fulfil no other 
purpose than obedience to a custom the lapse of which has 

^ My informant spoke of these two as individual spirits in the singular, 
but the form of the words is clearly collective. 



conceivably angered the spirits. Again a village whioli 
has for years Uved under the protection of the Pax 
Britannica continues to make an occasional pretence at 
erecting defences and the accompanying ceremony, as 
this is believed to propitiate the spirits, who certainly 
receive some sort of offering on that occasion. At 
the same time they are a timid crew and may be 
frightened from molesting men on the march by singing 
and shouting, a notion which may have something to 
do with the incessant " ho, ho "-ing kept up by a Homa 
working or carrying a load. They are also easily kept at a 
distance by a sprig of wormwood and are generally very 
sensitive to strong or unpleasant odours. ^ The teqhami 
generally have the dispositions of the more unpleasant of 
humans, and if they have many human instincts this is 
not to be wondered at, for the teghami, the tiger, and the 
man were the three sons of one mother originally. 2 The 
kungumi are distinctly superior in all ways to the general 
run of teghami. The aghau too, though often quite harmless 
or even beneficent guardians of the individual with whom 
they are associated, are in some cases most obnoxious, causing 
a man to run amok and to commit various offences which 
bring on his head the wrath of the community. At the 
same time, it seems to be the aghau which give gifts of 
prophecy and dreaming of future events, and of the power 
of extracting foreign bodies from sick men and of witchcraft 

The Sema word for " soul," aghongu, is the same as the The Soui. 
word for " shadow " and the word for " reflection " and the 
word for any likeness or image, and at times the soul is 
probably still confused with the shadow cast by a man or 
an animal or object, for it follows that if the shadow be the 
soul the possession of a soul is not confined to human or 
even animate beings. The more intelligent, however, 
though applying the word for shadow to the soul, probably 
do not really confuse the two any more than they would 
confuse with the soul the wooden image that might be made 
of a man. Nor do most of them object to being photo- 

^ E.g., garlic, ginger, lemon-grass. " See Part VI, 

200 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

graphed, though the daughter of the Chief of Philimi was 
in much trepidation, and was with difficulty reassured that 
the writer had not deprived her of her soul when he took 
the photograph reproduced in this volume. She was 
only really satisfied when it was given back to her to 
keep in the form of a print. Probably connected with the 
association of soul and shadow is the fear that the soul may 
be left behind or lost, or may go straying off on its own 
account. Thus if a Sema away from home build a temporary 
shelter, he will always burn it when he leaves it, for fear it 
should take the errant fancy of his soul, which might linger 
behind or leave him in his sleep to return to his temporary 
habitation. It is the same conception of the soul which 
prompts the Sema when migrating to make a hole in the 
roof of his house just above his bed in order that his aghongu 
may find its way out and accompany him to his new village. 
In the same way a Sema who is sick goes to the fields to 
call his soul, whose desertion of the body may be the cause 
of the iUness. The sick man takes a chicken or a dog, kills 
it, and sets aside a share for his aghongu. He calls loudly 
on his own name. He then returns very slowly home. His 
soul follows, but may easily be frightened away again, and 
the writer had to adjudicate upon a case in which a mahcious 
fellow laid in wait for an acquaintance who had gone to the 
fields to call his soul. As he passed on his way home, the 
one in ambush leapt out suddenly, beat the ground just 
behind the passer, and shouted aloud. The frightened 
soul which had been following its body fled again, and the 
unfortunate body, deprived of its soul, died a few days 

The separative nature of the soul may also be inferred 
from the danger which the soul of a man who has recently 
killed a tiger is in if he sleep sound at night, though as long 
as he keeps lightly and wakefully on an uncomfortable 
bamboo bed the soul of the dead beast can do him no 

Involved in this separable aspect of the soul is the theory 
and practice of lycanthropy among the Semas, though the 
animal identified with the practice is usually a leopard, 



sometimes a tiger. The beast whicli is thus connoctorl ^\•ith 
a human being, and the recipient, at any rate temporarily, 
of his soul, may be recognised by having five toes instead 
of four, and the dew-claw is often taken as evidence of a 
dead animal's having been a were-leopard or tiger. A casual 
power of a human who is a were-leopard is said to be the 
ability to lift water in a basket with a large open mesh such 
as chickens are carried in. 

Many Semas are, or have been in their younger days, 
confirmed lycanthropists. The theory and symptoms are 
clear and recognisable, and, differing from lycanthropists in 
most parts of the world, the Sema undergoes no physical 
transformation whatever. The " possession," if we may 
term it so, is not induced by any external aid, but ordinarily 
comes on at the bidding of spirits which may not be gainsaid 
and under whose influence the man possessed entirely loses 
his own volition in the matter. The faculty can, however, 
be acquired by very close and intimate association with 
some lycanthropist, sleeping in the same bed with him, 
eating from the same dish with him, and never leaving his 
side for a considerable period — two months is said to be 
the shortest time in which the faculty can be acquired in 
this way. It can also be acquired, according to some, by 
being fed by a lycanthropist with chicken flesh and ginger, 
which is given in successive collections of six, five, and three 
pieces of each together on crossed pieces of plantain leaf. 
It is dangerous, too, to eat food or drink that a lycanthropist 
has left unfinished, as the habit may thus be unwittingly 
acquired. The animal of the body of which the lycanthropist 
makes use, though sometimes the tiger proper (abolangshu), is 
usually a leopard and is known as angshu amiki, a word 
which is said to be derived from the verb kemiki — meaning 
to wander alone in the jungle for days together, as men who 
do this are most liable to possession. It may be observed, 
however, that the root miki also means "to bite. "^ Cowardly 
and worthless men, if they acquire the habit, make use of 
the body of a red cat {angshu-akinu, ? Felis aurata). The 
habit is very far from desired. No one wants to be possessed 

1 Incidentally it also mrans " to tell lies." 



by the habit, and it is, on the contrary, feared as a source 
of danger and a great weariness to the flesh. 

The soul usually enters into the leopard during sleep and 
returns to the human body with daylight, but it may remain 
in the leopard for several days at a time, in which case the 
human body, though conscious, is lethargic. It {i.e. the 
human body) goes to the fields and follows the usual routine 
of life, but is not able to communicate intelligibly, or at 
any rate intelligently, with other persons until the possession 
expires for the time being. The soul, however, is more or 
less conscious of its experiences in leopard form and can to 
some extent remember and relate them when it has returned 
to its human consciousness. During sleep the soul is the 
leopard with its full faculties, but when the human body is 
wide awake the soul is only semiconsciously, if at all, 
aware of its doings as a leopard, unless under the influence 
of some violent emotion, such as fear, experienced by the 

The possession is accompanied by very severe pains and 
sweUings in the knees, elbows, and small of the back in the 
human body, both during and consequent on the possession. 
These pains are such as would result from far and continuous 
marching or from remaining for long periods in an unaccus- 
tomed position. During sleep at the time of possession the 
limbs move convulsively, as the legs of a dog move when it is 
dreaming. A were -leopard of the Tizu valley in a paroxysm 
at such a time bit one of his wife's breasts off. When the 
leopard is being hunted by men, the human body behaves 
like a lunatic, leaping and throwing itself about in its efforts 
to escape. Under these circumstances the relatives of 
the were -leopard feed him up with ginger as fast as possible 
in order to make him more active, so that the leopard body, 
on which his life depends, may have the agility to escape its 

Were-leopards are particularly liable to possession between 
the expiry of the old and the rising of the new moon. Those 
possessed are liable to a special sort of disease which is 
believed to attack tigers and leopards generally, but no 
human beings except were-leopards. When the leopard is 


wounded, corresponding wounds appear upon the human 
body of the were-Ieopard, and when the leopard is killed 
the human body dies also. It is, however, possible appa- 
rently for the soul to throw off the possession permanently 
as old age is approached. The father of Inato, Chief of 
Lumitsami, got rid of the habit by touching the flesh of a 
leopard. The village had killed one and he carried home 
the head. After that he naturally could no longer associate 
with the leopard kind. It is generally held, and doubtless 
not without some substratum of truth, that a man under 
the influence of the possession can be quieted by feeding 
him with chicken dung. Probably this produces nausea. 

Possession is not confined to men. Women also become 
were-leopards and are far more destructive as such than 
men are. Of men, those who have taken heads are most 
dangerous, and are believed to kill as many men as leopards 
or tigers as they have done as warriors. 

The actions of the leopard's body and of the human 
body of the were-leopard are closely associated. As has 
been noticed, if the human limbs are confined the leopard's 
freedom of action is constricted, and troublesome were- 
leopards are said to be sometimes destroyed in this way.^ 

Almost all this information as to were-leopards was 
obtained first hand from were-leopards themselves. Un- 
fortunately, the writer has not so far succeeded in seeing a 

^ On one occasion the elders of a large Ao village (Ungma) came to 
me for permission to tie up a certain man in the village while they hunted 
a leopard which had been giving a great deal of trouble. The man in 
question, who was, by the way, a Christian convert, also appeared to 
protest against the action of the village elders. He said that he was 
very sorry that he was a were-leopard, he didn't want to be one, and it 
was not his fault, but seeing that he was one he supposed that his leopard 
body must kill to eat, and if it did not both the leopard and himself would 
die. He said that if he were tied up the leopard would certainly be killed 
and he would die. To tie him up and hunt the leopard was, he said, 
sheer murder. In the end I gave leave to the elders to tie the man up 
and himt the leopard, but told them that if the man died as a result of 
killing the leopard, whoever had speared the leopard would of course be 
tried and no doubt hanged for murder, and the elders committed for 
abetment of the same. On this the elders unanimously refused to take 
advantage of my permission to tie up the man. I was sorry for this, 
though I had foreseen it, as it would have been an interesting experiment. 



man actually at the moment of possession. He has, however, 
had the marks of wounds shown him by men who claimed 
that they were the result of wounds inflicted on their leopard 
bodies. Kiyezu of Nikoto, now chief of Kiyezu-nagami, 
who used to be a were-leopard in his youth, can show the 
marks on the front and the back of his leg above the knee 
where he had been shot, as a leopard, long ago by a sepoy 
of the Military Police outpost at Wokha with a Martini 
rifle. Zukiya of Kulhopu village showed fairly fresh marks 
about his waist which he said were two months old and 
caused by shot which had hit his leopard body, and the 
marks looked as though they might have been caused by 
shot. Ghokwi, the chief of Zukiya 's village, said that 
Zukiya was in the habit of pointing out the remains of pigs 
and dogs killed by him in leopard form so that their owners 
might gather up what remained. ^ He said that he had had 
a quarrel with his brother, one of whose pigs he had killed 
and eaten by accident. Ghokwi mentioned the names of 
various people whose animals Zukiya had killed and eaten. ^ 
Sakhuto, Chief of Khuivi, showed a wound in his back which 
was quite new on March 1, 1913, which he said was the 
result of someone's having shot at him when he was in 
leopard form. The wound in the human body does not, 
under such circumstances, appear at once. It affects the 

^ While correcting the proofs (February, 1921) the following case has 
occurred : — 

Zhetoi of Sheyepu has become a were-leopard and eaten a number of 
animals of his owii village and the neighbouring village of Sakhalu, 
including two of Sakhalu's dogs. In one case in his own village he told 
the owner of a mithan calf that he would find the uneaten part of his 
calf stuck high in the fork of a tree in a certain place, which proved 
absolutely correct. Sakhalu village one day succeeded in rounding up 
the leopard that had been raiding the village stock, but an urgent messenger 
came running from Sheyepu imploring Sakhalu to let the leopard they 
had ringed go, as if they killed it Zhetoi would che. After this Sakhalu 
late one evening shot at a leopard behind his granary in the dusk. Very 
early next morning a message came from Sheyepu to say that Zhetoi 
had been shot at the night before by Sakhaki and would he kindly forbear. 
I had this account independently from two sources, one of which came 
from Sheyepu, while the other was Saklialu himself, who says that ho will 
certainly shoot the leopard if he can next time. 

'^ According to some a were-leopard who kills cattle may be found in 
the morning to have bits of their flesh sticking to his teeth. 


place in the human body corresponding to the place 
of the original wound on the leopard, but takes several 
days to appear. In March, 1919, an Angara! inter- 
preter, Resopu of Cheswezuma, then working with the 
writer, wounded a large tiger near Melomi. Three or 
four days later the Head Interpreter of the Deputy 
Commissioner's staff, a weU-known Angami, Nihu of 
Kohima, happened to meet a sick Sema road muharrir, 
Saiyi of Zumethi, being carried home. The man, who was 
employed near Melomi, complained of having had an 
accident, but on being pressed several times for details 
admitted that he had no external injury that could be seen, 
but was suffering from the effects of the wounds inflicted 
by Resopu on his tiger form, having very severe pains in 
his neck or shoulder and abdomen and being haunted by 
the horrid smell of rotten flesh. ^ The writer has known a 
large number of Semas who are or claim to be were-leopards 
or were-tigers. The headman of Chipoketami is one ; 
Chekiye, Chief of Aichi-Sagami, is another ; Inaho, Chief 
of Melahomi,^ is the most notorious perhaps. Gwovishe of 
Tsukohomi and his daughter Sukheli are only known to 
him by repute, Gwovishe's son, Chekiye of Lukammi, more 
intimately. KusheH of Litsammi, a second woman were- 
leopard, has her home inside the frontier, and a most un- 
enviable reputation. The Sakhuto above mentioned died 
on July 19, 1916, as a result of the leopard which was 
occupied by his aghongu having been shot by Sakhalu of 
Sakhalu on June 30 of that year. It was reported to the 
writer on July 4 that Sakhalu had shot a were-leopard, 
but it was then believed to be identical with Khozhumo 
of Kukishe, and it was expected that he would die when 
the news reached him, as the death of the man concerned 
does not actually take place tiU he hears that his leopard 
body has been killed. The son of Yemithi of Lizotomi, 
whose leopard-cat body was killed at Sagami, heard the 
news as he was returning to his village and expired on the 

^ Ultimately he died in Kohima owing, it is said, to the putrefaction of 
his internal injuries. 

2 The same man referred to in Part I, p. 27. 

2o6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

spot for no other reason. A curious example of the power 
of the Sema mind over the Sema body. 

Both Inato of Lumitsami and Inaho of Melahomi related 
to the writer independently how, when they were going up 
together from Phusumi to Lotesami, Inato managed to 
persuade Inaho to show himself in his tiger body. The latter 
lingered for a moment behind, and suddenly a huge tiger 
jumped out on the path in front of Inato with a roar and 
an angry waving of his tail. In a flash Inato had raised his 
gun, but the tiger-Inaho jumped in time to avoid the shot 
and disappeared. Since this Inaho has had an excellent 
excuse for refusing to show himself in tiger form to anyone 
at all. 

It is also told of Kusheli of Litsammi that she cured her 
husband of making sceptical and impertinent references to 
her lycanthropic peregrinations by appearing before him in 
leopard form. His name is Yemunga, and he was returning 
from a business deal in Chatongbong when suddenly he saw 
a leopard blocking the path. Guessing it was his wife, he 
laughed at it and told it to go away. It went on and 
blocked the path a little further ahead. This time he 
threatened to spear it and it sUd off into the jungle only to 
reappear behind him unexpectedly with a sudden growl. 
This frightened him and he ran home as fast as he could, 
the leopard pursuing till near the village, where it dis- 
appeared. When he entered his house his wife at once 
started to mock him, asking why he was perspiring so and 
whether he had seen a leopard. 

The Sema were-tiger, or reputed were-tiger, with whom 
the writer was best acquainted was Chekiye, Chief of 
Lukammi and a son of the famous Gwovishe of Tsukohomi. 
He would never admit to the writer that he was a lycan- 
thropist, but none of his Sema acquaintances ever doubted 
but that his reputation was well deserved. ^ He came 
nearest to admitting to the writer that he was a were-tiger 
on the occasion of a tiger hunt in which the writer took part 
at Mokokchung on March 29, 1916. Ungma village ringed 

^ Except Vikhepu, who caught him out on one occasion in a pure 
and demonstrable romance. 


some tiger — there were certainly two full-grown animals 
and two three-quarter-grown cubs present. The old tiger 
himself broke out early in the beat, mauHng a man on his 
way, shortly after which Chekiye turned up, armed with a 
spear, but no shield. The tigress broke near him and came 
within a few feet of him, bit and mauled his next-door 
neighbour, and went in again. Chekiye, when remonstrated 
with for having stood quietly by and not having speared the 
animal, said, " I did not Hke to spear her as I thought she 
was probably a friend of mine." After she had been shot 
he pronounced that she was a lady of Murromi, a trans- 
frontier village somewhere (if it exists at all) to the east of 
the Tukomi Sangtams, where all the population are believed 
to be tiger-men. He also explained that the tiger in a 
beat was really far more frightened than even the hunters 
themselves, which is probably true enough, and shrewdly 
observed that the use of the tail, which is stiffened up and 
out behind and swayed at the end from side to side, is to 
make the grass wave behind the moving tiger so that the 
position of the tiger's body is mistaken and the aim disturbed 
accordingly, an observation which seems to be at least true 
of the result of the waving tail. It was reported that he 
claimed in private to be identical with the tiger that first 
escaped, but he would not admit this to the writer, and there 
was indeed another and more likely candidate to this rather 
doubtful honour. 1 

^ This was an Ao named Imtong-lippa of Changki. While this beat 
was going on three miles away, he was behaving like a kmatic in the house 
of one of the hospital servants at Mokokchung. During his possession 
he identified himself with one of the tigers being hunted and stated that 
one of them was wounded and speared ; that he himself was hit with 
a stick (the Ao method of beating entailed the throwing of sticks and 
stones and abuse incessantly to make the tiger come out). He laid a rolled 
mat to represent a fence and six times leapt across it. He ate ginger and 
drank a whole bamboo " ciuxnga " (about a small bucketful) of water, 
after which he said that he had escaped with three other tigers after 
crossing a stream, and was hiding in a hole, but that one tigress, a trans- 
frontier woman, had been speared in the side (in point of fact she was 
speared in the neck) and had been left behind and would die. (We shot 
her in the end.) He said there were four tigers surrounded. Chekiye 
said six. Four actually were seen, however, two grown and two half or 
three-quarters grown. There may have been others, but it is not very 

2o8 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

In connection with were -leopards and were-tigers it must 
not be forgotten that a common origin is claimed for men 
and tigers (wliich includes leopards) by all the Nagas of, 
at any rate, the western group. The story of the man, the 
spirit, and the tiger, three children of one mother, is given 
below (Part VI), and it may be added that when an Angami 
village kills a tiger or a leopard the Kemovo proclaims a 
non- working day for the death of an " elder brother." 
The flesh of tigers and leopards is often eaten by Angamis 
(men only and under certain restrictions), that of leopards 
(never of tiger) by the Changs, but the Sema would not 
dream of eating either. It is absolutely genna to touch it, 
and most Sema villages, if they kill a tiger or a leopard, leave 
the body to rot where it lies, though the head may be taken 
and brought back to the village. The fear of tiger among 
all Nagas is considerable, and they all regard them as 
beings apart from the ordinary wild animals and very nearly 
connected with the human race. Thus a man who is 
descended from one who was killed by a tiger wiU not eat 
meat from a tiger's kill, as it would be equivalent to sharing 
the dish of an hereditary enemy. 

It has been shown that the soul may be conceived of as 
a shadow, and that it is separable from the body, and may 
occupy the body of a leopard or a tiger during life, in 
addition to its habitation in the human body, leading, in 
fact, a sort of dual existence. After death, however, it 
may sometimes take the form of a particular hawk, probably 
a kestrel, in which the soul flies away to the Hill of the 
Dead at Wokha or to that called Naruto. To demonstrate 
the truth of this behef an account was given to the writer 
in June, 1915, of an occurrence then a fortnight old at 
Lumitsami. A man named Ikishe of that village had just 
lost his son, a child ; and after the boy had died, a hawk of 
the species mentioned flew down to the house where he 
lived and, after alighting on a mithan skuU on the gable, 
descended to rest on the bosom of the mother herself and 

likely. Some sixteen cattle had been killed in two days. This account 
I took down after retummg from the beat, on the same day, from an eye- 
witness of Imtong-lippa's exhibition. 


allowed itself to be fondled by her, and when handed to 
others repeatedly returned to the mother's breasts. After 
about an hour it took wing and flew off in the direction of 
Wokha. After this one could not very well ask for more 
convincing evidence in support of the theory in question. 
The return of the soul in this way, however, instead of 
going straight to the Wokha Hill, was regarded as most 
unlucky, and the whole village observed a genua. 

The appearance of the soul in the form of a hawk, however, 
is only for the purpose of its journey to the Hill of the 
Dead, and the soul of the dead is not permanently embodied 
in the kestrel form. This much is quite clear, though 
otherwise the eschatology of the Sema is a httle mixed. 
It is well known that death is caused by the soul's leaving 
the body, more or less, it would seem, at the former's own 
desire. Thus when a man is even unconscious from any' 
cause or when he is seen to be dying, he is held up in a 
sitting posture, and two persons, by preference those with 
the strongest lungs, bawl into the dying man's ears, one 
into one ear, the other into the other ear ; one yeUs the 
name only of the dying man, the other " o-o-o-o " — in the 
manner of a man calling from a distance to attract the 
attention of another. Meanwhile a third takes a piece of 
smouldering wood from the fire and applies it to a piece 
of cotton wool held under the dying man's nose ; he then 
blows the smoke from the cotton wool up the nostrils to 
make the patient sneeze. The dying man is kept sitting 
up and made to drink Uquor or water unless he is obviously 
dead, in which case he is allowed to fall back and covered 
with a cloth. Meanwhile all present are crying and howhng, 
and as long as there is hfe in him are reasoning with the 
dying man, telling him it is better to live, and asking why 
he behaves in this untoward way. It seems clear from this 
procedure that the soul can perhaps be induced to remain 
in the body if convinced of its folly in leaving it. On one 
occasion the writer saw the eyes of the corpse carefully 
closed and the lips compressed and held together for a long 
time, as though to prevent the dead man's soul from 




When, however, the soul has left the body it does not 
immediately depart from the neighbourhood. Warriors 
who are returning from a raid with heads or any fragment 
of flesh must throw aside a bit of food for the ghost when 
they eat, otherwise they cannot eat without dropping food. 
The same belief is shown in the fragments of meat put out 
for the souls or ghosts of the dead enemies by the victor 
when doing his genua (Part III, p. 176). It may be that 
the soul (aghongu) transfers its habitation to the less material 
ghost {kitimi, ? = dead man), but Sema thought on these 
points is very vague. The ghost (kitimi) seems simply to 
be a more or less concrete manifestation of the soul (aghongu). 
The writer on one occasion, when visiting a Sema village, 
was accommodated in an empty house the owner of which 
was temporarily away. As it was very hot he had the 
matting forming the wall at one end removed. The owner, 
who returned that evening, was highly indignant, as the 
opening of his house and the removal of part of the walling 
must certainly have caused the soul of his wife to depart. 
She had been dead for several days, and usually, apparently, 
the soul or ghost only stays for about three, ^ but in this 
case the bereaved husband had shut up the house in the 
hopes of delaying its departure. It is possible, too, that 
this idea of the staying behind of the soul in the house that 
the body inhabited underUes the prohibition, which a dying 
husband sometimes makes, against the abandonment of the 
house by his widows for a given time after his death. It 
seems fairly common for dying men to direct their relicts 

1 The ghost of a tiger seems to stay for six days if an inference may be 
drawn from the period of the genua mentioned in Part II for killing one. 
The Changs believe in a ghost, sou, which is quite distinct from the soul, 
yimpuh. The latter goes straight to the next world, while the ghost stays 
on for a few days or even a month, whimpering about its old haunts, and 
then expires like the body. Some Semas also appear to have this belief, 
which they may have picked up from the Yachungr, who have a good 
deal of intercourse with both Semas and Changs, but I am doubtful as 
to its being held generally by the Sema tribe, with most of whom the 
" soul " and the " ghost " of the dead, if not regarded as identical, are 
at any rate not separated by any clear discrimination of thought and 
classification leading to the use of different names as in the case of the 
Changs. The expression used by the Sema for the ghost of the newly- 
killed, etc., is simply kitimi, a dead man. 


to cherish their memory for perhaps a year, hving in their 
original house and making them benefit in some way con- 
ditionally on their observing such an injunction. Such a 
condition, however, is rarely regarded as very serious. 
Inato of Lumitsami directed that his wives should remain 
in the house for three years after his death ; but they were 
remarried in less than a year, and were not penalised by 
Inato 's relations as he had directed. The insistence on a 
three years' widowhood, during which they were to be of 
exemplary behaviour, was much criticised as being quite 

The views of what happens to the soul when it does Eschat- 
take its final departure from its former habitations are not ° ^^' 
very consistent. One account says vaguely that the good 
souls go to the east towards the rising of the sun, while the 
bad ones go westward to its setting ; ^ another that souls 
go into butterflies or other insects, a common Naga behef ; 
but the commonest and best-known theory, the holding of 
which, however, does not apparently preclude belief in one 
or both of the other, is that the souls go to the Hills of the 
Dead, and from there pass into another world, sometimes 
conceived of as celestial, more often as subterranean, where 
they continue to exist much as they did in their mortal 
lives. With them they take those of their worldly posses- 
sions (or the " souls " of them) that have been buried with 
them or placed on their graves, and all the mithans they 
have sacrificed or killed during life accompany them. The 
writer has also known a chief nearing his end ask for a new 
Government red cloth, which is issued as a badge of ofiice, 
in order that when he reached the world beyond the grave 
he might be recognised at once as a servant of Government 
and treated accordingly with becoming respect. As for 
the mountain of the dead, there are at least two. The 
Semas of the Tizu valley place it at the hill Naruto near 
Sagami, while the majority identify it as the Wokha moun- 
tain. Both from certain points of view are roughly sugges- 

^ The Changs, too, place much virtue in the rising sun, but regard the 
setting sun as bad. Garo souls go to the hill Chikmang. Plaj'fair, 
op. ciL, p. 102. 

P 2 

212 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

tive of a series of steps culminating in a peak, and the location 
of Alhou and the kungumi in the sky (just as the Angami 
place Upekenopfii there) suggests that the Sema conception 
of the location of Heaven is not far removed from our own, 
and the step-hke slope of the Wokha mountain may be 
connected with the idea of the Angamis' attempt to get 
up there by a tower containing a ladder, which all ended in 
babel and a dispersion abroad. The Wokha mountain has 
white strata visibly running along on the Sema side of the 
cliff. This is laiown as " Dead man's Path," Kitila, and 
it runs along the face of the cliff, but other accounts make 
the route followed by the dead go along the ridge of the 
mountain that rises as by steps from near Koio village to 
the summit. The eastward face, which the Semas see from 
all the villages between the Dayang and the top of the 
range just west of the Tizu, is a precipice, and the summit 
in the rains is usually capped with cloud. 

When the dead man reaches the land of the dead, 
wherever that is, he goes to his own village, of which there 
is presumably a ghostly reproduction, and lives just as he 
did in this life, after presenting the chief of the village with 
a chicken which he takes with him for the purpose. Before, 
however, he reaches that land he must pass by the house of 
the spirit Litsowo or Kolavo, which is alongside the Road of 
the Dead. This spirit seizes and devours the souls of the 
unwary, 1 and perhaps for this reason a man takes his spear 
and shield to the grave, and a young boy is not buried without 
a sharpened bamboo. A woman apparently is left to elude 
him as best she can by cheating him, but it seems to 
be only the weakly and foolish souls which he is able to 
catch, as he is easily induced by a subterfuge to leave the 
road open so that the soul may sHp by.^ 

Once in that long home the Sema dead Uves just as he 
did in this world. He that is poor shall be poor still, and 
he that has been rich shall remain so. But though this 
behef holds but cold comfort for those who are poor and 

^ Like the Angami " Metsimo" Lhota " Echlivanthano,''^ Chang 
" Ujingkaklak," and Garo " Nawang,'" all of whom perform the same 
function. ^ yidg infra, under Death Ceremonies. 


in misery, the Sema has it at least to his credit that he has 
not, with the detestable self-sufRciency of the purblind 
West, fatuously arrogated to man alone of animals the 
possession of a soul and the power of reasoning. It prob- 
ably remains for the Christian missionaries to teach him that. 

Rehgious ceremonies as practised by the Semas at present Magic 
are propitiatory rather than magical. It is not an un- 
reasonable supposition that they were magical ceremonies 
originally and intended to control the operations of Nature, 
but they would seem now to have reached a stage at which 
the magical intention has disappeared, and the ceremony is 
performed partly in the belief that to omit it would be dis- 
pleasing to the spirits and partly with the direct object of 
pleasing them by offerings. 

That is not to say that magic is not practised, but the 
practice of it is a thing apart from the regular propitiation 
of the spirits. Magical rites are occasionally practised by 
the village, as in the case of the proceedings for the produc- 
tion of rain, which are magic in its purest form, though it 
is doubtful whether the actors any longer see it in 
this Light, and the majority of gennas in general no doubt 
contain many elements of magic and are probably develop- 
ments of magical ceremonies. But the really important 
gennas, permanent ceremonies of the agricultural year, 
seem no longer to be thought of in any sense other than 
that of propitiation or precaution against causing dis- 
pleasure. A rather different instance of the decay in the 
belief in magic is perhaps to be found in the present belief 
in the powers of many ihumomi {i.e., seers, witches) to 
extract foreign matter from the interior of sick persons. If 
a man is ill or lame he will often go and consult a thumomi, 
who will tell him that there is " dirt " in his body and will, 
after rubbing the injured place or sundry and divers parts 
of the patient's body, extract, either by mouth or by hand, 
bits of stone, scraps of bones, teeth, chewed leaves, brown 
juices, or any old thing from the patient's body, leaving no 
mark where it came out. In the case of a man with a cough 
large masses of hair (it usually looks hke dog's hair) are 
taken from his throat externally by the thumomi. In spite 



of the obvious nature of this imposture, the vast majority 
of Semas firmly beUeve that the " dirt " is really drawn out 
magically from the interior of their bodies. The writer had 
pebbles taken out of his leg by a female thumomi who 
solemnly informed him that when a child he had sat on a 
heap of such stones and some had entered into him ; a 
bystander remarked that he had not known that sahibs 
had " dirt " in their bodies like Nagas. It has occurred 
to the writer that these operations were originally mere 
magic, and that the outward and visible extraction of the 
stone was intended to produce an actual and spiritual 
extraction of disease or other afifliction. Indeed some of 
these practitioners may still believe that it does so, but 
most of them are frauds and know it. In the rain-making 
proceedings the rain-makers, the young men and boys, go 
and dance and sing like children playing in the rain. In 
order that rain may faU they make beUeve that it is doing 
so. The whole genua is on this wise : — ^in case of an untimely 
drought the lajpu, who is the village burier and who ordinarily 
conducts personal as opposed to pubUc ceremonies, announces 
in the morning that a genna for rain (tsitsogho-pini) will be 
observed. No work of any sort may be done that day by 
anyone in the village. The head of a huluk ape {Hylobates 
Huluk) having been procured, either sex will do, at any rate 
in some villages, the lapu removes the brain and substitutes 
pounded agliil seed {Chenopodium murale, see Part II, 
p. 98, and Part III, p. 180), and, carrying this, goes with 
the old men to some deep pool in the nearest river which 
never dries up and which is traditionally associated with 
rain. There are many such pools, and to interfere with 
them always causes rain ;i often it is enough simply to drive 
a stake into the pool, and at the time of writing there are 
two disputes pending settlement by the writer, one in which 
a village wantonly fished such a pool and caused a fort- 
night's untimely rain, and the other in which the same fort- 

* The heavy rain in 1918 which ruined the millet crop was put down 
in Shevekho village to the irrigation channels dug by a pestilential 
innovator who wanted to make terraced fields instead of jhuming like his 
forebears. The wrathful villagers broke them up. 


night's rainfall was caused by the tapping of a different pool 
in a different river to flood a field, with the result that six 
or seven villages had their millet crop spoilt. Arrived at 
the pool the huluk's head is put into it and pegged down 
by a stake driven through it. Meanwhile the young men 
and boys with joined hands perambulate the village singing 
(strophe) " Helo ! helo ! " (antistrophe) " Boboshi-tsiighulo ! " 
which may be translated " Smite ! Smite ! " (probably 
addressed to the rain or whoever sends it), " Come down 
plop, plop ! " — ■"' bobo " being an admitted imitation of the 
sound of heavily falling rain. After the rain which 
invariably follows this ceremony has fallen for long enough, 
usually seven or eight days, the lapu goes and removes the 
huluk's head, whereon the rain ceases. Some Semas put 
the head of the huluk ape in the water at a salt-lick. They 
also drive a stake into the ground in the same place, sajdng 
as they do so, " Tsuna tsuna li, tsuna tsuna li," which 
are the words used when beating " poison " in a river 
for fish, and when they have finished and are going 
away they sing " Tsiiga thoile, 'yegi thubo,'" i.e., " Rain 
come down, reach the earth," which is the song sung 
by naughty children playing in the rain. When enough 
rain has fallen and they want it to stop they remove the 
head and puU out the stake, otherwise the rain would fall 

The meaning of the huluk's head is not quite clear. Its 
treatment is probably intended to cause the wrath of heaven, 
as the huluk is frequently associated with rain. It does 
not apparently descend to the earth to drink, except in times 
of extreme drought, subsisting on the rainwater that it 
can find in the hollows of trees or catch from dripping leaves, 
but some Nagas insist on the head of the black male only, 
the fawn-coloured female not being used for the ceremony. 
However, the other part of the ceremony is purely 

Direct magic of this sort seems to have more or less dis- 
appeared from the regular ceremonies for the sake of the 
crop, in which abstention is much more prominent than 
action, but before going into these it will perhaps be better 

2i6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

to give some idea of the hierarchy which regulates these and 
other gennas. 

The regular officials of the village are five — Akekao, the 
chief, the Awou the priest, the Amthao, the first reaper, the 
Ldpu or AmusJwu, the burier, the Ashiphu, the divider of 
Hier- The Akekao is really a secular official, but in virtue of his 

archy. position as chief of the village and leader in war he announces 
the gennas for the clearing of the village paths and for the 
purposes of war and peace. 

The Awou is the principal rehgious official. He is selected 
by the Akekao and Chochomi, and is practically compelled 
to take the office, which is unpopular, as his length of life 
is apt to be injuriously affected by the Asumtsazil (" tree- 
spittle "), the frothy sap which exudes from newly-cut trees, 
at the clearing of new jhums.^ It is the ai^ow '5 business to 
initiate the sowing and to announce all the gennas for 
crops. 2 He is, from the point of view of religious ceremonial, 
the most important person in the village, and he has an 
understudy called Mishilitha, who acts as his deputy in 
case he is ill and unable to perform his duties. A poor 
man is usually selected for the post of awou. On the day 
on which his new jhums are cleared by the whole village, 
and on the following day, the awou must abstain from all 
flesh except pork and from all wild herbs. The awou gets 
two days' free labour from the whole village — one when 
his new jhums are cleared and one when they are sown. 
His deputy, the mishilitha, gets no free labour and has no 
disabilities except having to take the awou's place when the 
awou is unable to carry out his duties. On the awou's death 
(normally, at any rate, all these officials hold office for life) 
his mishilitha may or may not be, but more often is, 
appointed awou in his place. 

The Amthao is the First Reaper ; sometimes a male, 

^ The idea may be that the trees combine to spit upon him, just as a 
Sema village curses a man by calling out his name and spitting in unison . 

* He thus combines the offices of the Angami Kemovo or Pitsu, and 
Tsakro — First Sower, though some of the fimctions of the Angami Kemovo, 
are performed among the Semas by the Akekao, who may be likened to the 
Greek apxny^ri\s perhaps, c/. Sophocles, Oed Col. 58-63. 


and sometimes, as the Angami equivalent (lidepfu) commonly 
is, a woman. ^ It is the amtlmo's business to start the 
cutting of each crop, and in the case of paddy and Job's 
tears — not always, however, of the millet crop (Setaria 
italica, L.) — the harvest is accompanied by strict prohibi- 
tions, and on the day that the amthao initiates the cutting 
of the paddy every house in the village gives him or her a 
measure of paddy (about a seer), except those who are so 
poor that they can only give beans. The office is unpopular, 
as the unfortunate amthao is liable to die if he makes any 
mistake in the conduct of a ceremony, in particular that of 
the genua known as asilkuchu, which is only done occasionally 
in a year when the harvest promises to be exceptionally 
good, each asah or " khel " sacrificing a pig on the outskirts 
of the village. The office sometimes runs in families, the 
nearest suitable male relative being compelled to succeed 
in place of a deceased amthao. A man or woman who is 
fastidious about food (Shonumi) is selected, at any rate if 
possible, and the food restrictions are often very onerous. 

During the duration of the harvest (the millet harvest 
excepted) the amthao may not eat the flesh of an animal 
kiUed or wounded by any wild beast, nor that of the kaUj 
pheasant or " dorik " {aghu ; Gennoeus horsefieldi), nor of 
the Arakan Hill partridge or " duboy " {akhi ; Arbor icola 
intermedia), nor the grubs or honey of bees and 
wasps, nor smell beans, nor bamboo rat's ^ nor dog's 
flesh. The last two of these are in point of fact tabu to 
the whole village during the harvest, but in some cases 
they all, or some of them, are tabu to the amtJiao at 
all times. 

The Ld'pu (or Akumd-heshu,Amoshu, Amushou, i.e., corpse- 
burier) is the official burier of the dead. He is a poor man 
and appointed by the Chief and Elders from the clan whose 

^ Among the Asimi and Zumomi villages he is a male, among the 
Ayemi and Yepothomi villages usually a female. One Ayemi village 
experimented by appointing a man for amthao, but the experiment was 
a failure, as the harvest was very poor as a result, although the crops 
appeared excellent before reaping started. The experiment was not tried 

* Achiigi — a Rhizomys. 

2i8 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

members are fewest and of least importance in the village. 
Thus he is a KibaUmi man in the Zumomi village of Sheyepu, 
a Chophimi in the Yepothomi village of Sotoemi, a Tsiikoml 
in Sakhalu. Besides digging the graves and interring the 
bodies of the dead he performs the requisite ceremonies for 
the recovery of the sick, such as that called avmkhu-pheve ^ 
(" egg-throwing "), in which he comes to the sick man's house 
in the evening holding two eggs in his right hand, which he 
waves six times (five only for a woman) widdershins 
round the sick man's face, counting carefully " khe, kini, 
kuihu, bidi, pungu, tsogoh (up to pungu only for a woman), 
after which the sick man spits on the eggs, when the lapu 
takes them away and casts one towards the sunrise and 
then the other towards the sunset, repeating as he does so 
words to the effect that he is casting the disease out of the 
sick man, who will get well. Meanwhile someone in the 
house has taken a burning brand from the fire, thrown 
it out at the doorway, and shut and barred the door, which 
is not opened again till morning. The blazing brand is 
probably to keep the spirit of sickness from returning. 
Another such genua which the lapu does is the awugha 
(fowl's scream), which consists in taking an unfortunate cock 
and plucking it slowly to make it squawk loud and repeatedly, 
so that whatever spirit has stricken the sick man may hear 
and accept the offering. ^ 

The lapu has some other more or less public duties as 
well. He must make the first cut when cutting up the meat 
of mithan or cattle sacrificed at the social ceremony called 
apikesa ; he first digs out and cleans the water supply when 
a new village is made, and he strings and hangs up the 
heads of enemies taken in war after they have been bored 
for hanging by the akutsil yekhipeu, who is the most renowned 

^ This genna, however, also called apikukho, is in some villages, perhaps 
most, not done by the lapu, but by any relation or friend of the sick man 
or indeed anyone willing to oblige. It certainly is not essential in all 
villages that the lapu should perform it. Vide injra, p. 230. 

* As the plucking of fowls alive has recently been forbidden in the 
administered villages, the wretched bird is now slapped instead of plucked, 
or the movements of plucking are gone through and the bird is well 
squeezed with the left hand at each movement. 



warrior in the village available for the purpose. The lapu 
also announces the Teghakusd genna {vide infra). 

No particular prohibitions in the matter of food, etc., 
attach to the office of lapu. 

As for the Ashiphu, he is the least important of the official 
hierarchy, at any rate in virtue of his office. Any elderly 
man may be appointed ashiphu, and the akeJcao and 
chochomi make the appointment. In the " Tukomi " clans 
the ashiphu is often, if not normally, the akekao himself. 

The ashiphu's duties are to make the first cut in the 
flesh of beasts sacrificed in the ceremonies of social status 
known as Shisho and Yiicho. lie has no other duties, but 
in the case of persons doing the Shisho genna, which foUows 
a man's marriage and begins the series of ceremonies that 
he must perform if he is to attain high social position, he 
has to live for thirty days in the house of the man who is 
Shisho and eat only rice, pork, and the bean called akyekhe. 
He may drink liquor provided it is not brewed from 
atsiinakhi {Sorghum vulgare). 

The duties of these officials have been set down as they 
are observed in the Zumomi village of Sheyepu. They 
probably vary in different places, and are sure to vary 
with the three forms of Sema ceremonial. For three 
divergent practices, ahke in principle but differing in detail, 
are well recognised. The words and the acts of the celebrant 
and the gennas observed vary and the number of days during 
which a tabu lasts also varies according to the practice 
followed. These practices are known respectively as the 
Siiphuo, the Tukophuo, and the Choliphuo. It is obvious 
enough from their names that while the first may be regarded 
as the genuine Sema practice {Sii is the root of Simi or 
Siimi, and it is the practice which is normally followed by 
the Asimi clan and its offshoots including the Zumomi), the 
other two represent Sangtam {Tukomi) and Ao {Cholirni) 
influences. Such influences we might certainly expect to 
find, where so much that is now Sema territory belonged 
to these tribes, for not only would they know best how to 
propitiate local spirits, but both their members and their 
culture were often adopted by their Sema conquerors. It 



is, moreover, in the areas taken from the Ao and the Sangtam 
that the Choliphuo and Tukophuo practices predominate. 
The form of gennas in the following list is, generally speaking, 
given according to the Siiphuo practice as being the form 
most genuinely Sema. 

Before, however, giving details of these gennas it will be 
as well to explain that the expression " genna " is loosely 
used to cover both the Sema words cMni and pini. 
Chini = " is forbidden " and is used of any tabu. Thus 
a man may say that he is chini, meaning that for the 
time being he is unable to speak to strangers, or he might 
be unable to speak to anyone at all or to be addressed by 
anyone. Again some action may be chini or " forbidden," 
while the word is sometimes loosely used for an action that 
ought not to be done. Thus the writer has heard men say 
that it is chi7ii to be imprisoned, meaning that they would 
not dream of doing anything which would entail such a 
consequence. Generally speaking, however, chini when used 
of persons or communities means a condition in which com- 
munication between them and others is forbidden. Pini, 
on the other hand, refers only to the prohibition under which 
it is forbidden to work in or even go down to the fields. 

The gennas of the agricultural year are proclaimed (unless 
the contrary is stated) by the moou on the morning of the 
day on which he has decided, after consulting if necessary 
the old men wise in these matters, to hold the genna, as 
the date is not a fixed one, but varies according to the state 
of the weather and the success or failure of former crops 
considered in conjunction with the times of previous sowing. 
It is, however, desirable, though not necessary, to sow at 
the end of the first quarter of the moon. Seeds sown at 
the wane of the moon do not sprout.^ The position of 
Orion is also observed for the sowing, which should 
take place when he is in the same position in the sky as the 
sun is at about 2 p.m. (lubagholo) in the dajrtime. The call 
of the kasupapo (cuckoo) is also listened for as an aid to 
fixing the sowing gennas, for the sowing should never take 
place before it has been heard. The remaining gennas are 

^ But not so others ; cf. p. 62. 


fixed with less precision and more by guess, except in the 
case of the harvest, which is fixed by the ripening of the 
crop. Follow the gennas of the Sema agricultural year 
by Silphuo reckoning and as observed in the Zumomi village 
of Sheyepu : — 

1. The first genna of the year is the ASUYEKHIPHE. 
It marks the beginning of the clearing of new jhums. On 
this day no one may cut wood, husk paddy, spin, weave, 
sew, string beads, or peel tying bamboos. All persons 
clearing new fields take an egg to their field, and they may 
not let anyone take fire from their hearths on that day. 
The egg is placed in a piece of tliumsu^ stick split into three 
at the top to hold the egg. The field house, akhapiki, is 
afterwards built on the spot where the egg was placed. The 
clearing of the jungle is then begun and may proceed at 
the clearer 's will, provided he leaves a small patch uncleared 
for the next genna. 

2. This is the LUWUNYI, which marks the completion 
of the clearing of new jhums. On this day the same prohibi- 
tions ^ are observed as on that of Asiiyekhiphe. All the 
patches of uncleared jungle must be cleared and finished 
off on that day. Persons whose fields contain unlucky spots, 
spots such as places struck by Hghtning, or springs from red 
earth and containing a red deposit in the water (and an 
oily scum on it), must offer an egg at these spots, stuck as 
before in a cleft thumsu stick. Later also offerings of dogs 
and pigs and chickens are made at such places. 

3. The next genna takes place after the jhums have been 
burnt and are all ready for sowing. It is called VIS A VELA . 
Spinning, weaving, sewing, peeling of tying bamboos, and 
all work in the fields is forbidden. ^ 

4. The Visavela is followed on the next day by the 
KICHImIYA (or LIT SABA) in honour of the spirit of 
that name, at which paddy husking, spinning, weaving, 
sewing, and stringing beads are forbidden ^ to the village. 
All rich or important men kill pigs, and each gives the lower 
part (from halfway up the thigh do wti wards) of the off 
hind leg to the Amthao (the First Reaper). Persons who 

^ Thumsu is a tree bearing very acid edible berries. " Chlni. 



kill pigs at this genna must also refrain ^ from peeling tjdng 

5, 6, and 7. The Kichimiya marks the completion of 
preparation of the fields. The actual sowing may follow 
immediately or be postponed till the time is exactly right 
in accordance with reckonings already mentioned. In 
either case it is immediately preceded by the genna called 
MITI, in which it is forbidden for any member of the village 
to go to the fields at all.^ The day after Miti is also genna, 
and called MVzAH. Tying bamboos may not be peeled, 
and every man sows a handful of paddy, not in his field, 
but on the path. The next day the whole village goes and 
sows fields of the awou, the aivou himself beginning. On the 
next day, APITEKHU, it is again genna ^ to go to the 
fields at all, but on the day after Apitekhu the chief's field 
is sown by the whole village, the chief being forbidden to 
take anything out of his house or to speak to any stranger. 
This day is called Ariizhu, but it is not a genna day. 

8 and 9. The completion of sowing is marked by the 
AOKHUNI gennas. Big and Little (Aokhuni kizheo and 
Aokhuni kitla). The former takes place immediately 
sowing is completed. No wood is cut and paddy is neither 
husked nor even spread to dry, as if this were done the roots 
of the sown grain would not strike, drying up, no doubt, 
like the paddy dried in the village. The latter genna follows 
a few days after the former and consists merely in a prohibi- 
tion against going to the fields. ^ If rain is wanted at this 
time the Tsitsogho pini for making rain is performed as 
already described. 

10. When the young rice is about a foot or so high the 
AUHUKITI is observed, to keep the young blades from 
withering. All work is stopped for one day and the genna 
is followed by the first clearing (amuza) oi the fields to get 
rid of the weeds that have grown up. 

1 1 . The second clearing (akiniu) of the fields is inaugurated 
by the ALU C HIKE genna. Every member of the village 
who is cultivating that year sacrifices a fowl or an egg in 
the fields and throws a few grains of corn to every stream 

1 Chlni. * Pini. 


which he crosses. He works in the fields that day, but the 
following day all work is forbidden, and no one in the village 
at all may go to the fields. 

12. When the ear begins to form, the very important 
genna called ANY I takes place. It must be started five 
days before the end of the last quarter of the moon and 
lasts during these five days. No one may go to the fields 
for that period, and on the first day (called Asilza) no one 
may leave the village at all. On the second day, Aghiiza, 
persons who have acquired status by gennas prepare rice 
for brewing the hquor called azhichoh. On the third day 
(called Ashyegheni) everyone must remain in the village and 
must eat pork. AU who can kill pigs. Those who do not 
must buy flesh from those who do, for if pork is not eaten 
the grain will not form properly. On the following morning, 
Anyeghini, every married couple makes a httle offering at the 
foot of the front centre post, atsiipi, of the house for Litsaba 
(the name Kicliimiya not being used in this connection). 
On both Ashyegheni and Anyeghini men must remain chaste, 
and on the day following the latter, Laghepini, all males 
clear the village path to the fields, but women are allowed 
to go and work in the fields. 

13. The Anyi is followed by the genna called LAKEOKHU 
or TEKHEKHI, observed for the good of the crops. The 
whole village is forbidden to go to the fields, and paddy may 
not be husked at all. The a A;e^ao provides a pig and iheawou 
and amthao go outside the village and eat it. The amihao 
brings back the head and cooks and eats it in his house. 

14. The next genna is the AKHAPE-KUMTA^ to 
make the ears break their sheath straight and well. The 
whole village abstains from going to the fields and may not 
peel pliant bamboos, nor spin, nor weave, nor sew, nor string 
beads. No doubt the binding of thread could have a 
binding effect on the bursting ears. 

15. The SAGHU-AKHU (female saghii) is an important 
genna of one day's duration. All work is forbidden ; many 
kill pigs, and whoever does so distributes pieces of flesh 
throughout the village. This is done at dawn, when each 

^ Akhape-kumta = "The ear cannot open." 

224 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

man must squeeze out through a half-closed door, get his 
share, take it back, and burn a scrap of it before his atsiipi 
(the front post of the house) before opening his door wide. 
Killers of pig get one day's free labour from the recipients 
of pieces of pork. The offering burnt before the atsiipi 
must be done by the householder or he suffers disaster. 

The awou at dawn on the day of the saghu announces the 
next day but one as the day of the genna, but the genna in 
point of fact is kept that day. The object is said to be to 
deceive the spirits whose evil influences the genna is intended 
to avert. Saghii is said to be connected with the root of 
Kesah = bad. 

16. The SAOHV-ADU (male saghii, the two Saghii are 
said to be called male and female because there is a pair of 
them) is a one-day's genna kept exactly like Saghii-akhu, 
except that pigs are not killed. If this genna and that of 
Saghii proper are not announced wrongly the awou is apt 
to die untimely. The Saghii-adu is kept at full moon and 
the reaping begins at the next new moon. 

17. APIKHIMTHE marks the beginning of the reaping 
and takes place the day before that fixed for the first cutting 
of the crop by the arnthao ; males must abstain from rice, 
beef, and dog's flesh on this day, but may drink liquor and 
eat the flesh of other animals. Before dawn on this day 
all males go to the nearest river and wash their bodies, 
weapons, and clothes. The infirm wash only a corner of 
their cloth. They bring back with them new water in new 
vessels (" chungas ") of bamboo and may not touch the old 
water that may be in their houses on that day. On the 
eve of Apikhimthe and on the following night all males 
must remain chaste, and, having taken their clothes and 
weapons, collect before the house of any member of 
their clan who may have a suitable house as clean as possible. 
There they collect the fermented rice, from which they are 
to make their liquor with the new water that they bring, 
and there they sit and drink on the day of the genna. All 
meat and drink unconsumed by cock-crow on the night 
following the day of genna are buried in one pit near the 
village. Should a wild dog defecate over this pit it is 


regarded as a most unlucky omen. On the day of genua 
the whole village must stay at home, neither going to the 
fields to work nor visiting any other village. On the next 
day reaping is begun. The day before the reaping is open 
to the general public the amthao goes to the fields and cuts 
a single head of corn from his (or her) own field (if any). 
If the corn in that particular field is not in ear, a stem or 
leaf of the plant will do. This is taken back to the viUage 
and deposited in the granary. ^ For the ceremony performed 
by individuals before reaping their own crops see story XVII 
in Part VI. 

18. The next genua, the AWONAKUCHU,^ celebrates 
the harvest home after the reaping has been finished and all 
the grain reaped by everyone carried home. This genua 
occupies two days, the first of which is strictly called 
Abosuhu, that is to say, the " making of mat enclosure " for 
the grain, bamboo mats being used to enclose the grain 
within the walls of the granary to prevent the loss of the 
grain, which is heaped up inside a circular wall of mat. 
The Awonakuchu is the first eating of the rice from the top 
of the newly-stored crop. 

On the morning of the Abosuhu the men eat as usual with 
the women, but in the evening separate themselves as in 
the ApikJiimthe and sleep away from the women. Again 
at cock-crow some of the men go for new water and there 
wash their bodies (not their clothes) and bring new water 
in new " chungas," and this water only may be used by the 
men that day for washing or for cooking. The whole village 
is. genua that day, doing no work and going nowhere. The 
men again separate themselves that night, and the genna 
ends at cock-crow next morning. 

Of the gennas above given the Anyi, Saghii, and Awona- 
kuchu are probably universally observed by Semas, though 
the others are most of them subject to very considerable 
variations and divergences. 

In addition to the regular agricultural gennas, some, 

^ The Angami first reaper cuts several heads, takes them home, rubs 
out the grain, and cooks and eats it. 

* Awonakuchu probably = "The awou's eating (chu) of rice {ana)." 


226 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

if not all, of the Semas who have recently started 
terraced fields have adopted an Angami genna observed 
on the occasion of flooding the field. New fire is made 
with a fire-stick and on it " pitu modhu " (azhichoh) is 
made. This is taken to the field and some of it is poured 
into the channel or channels that bring the water to the 
terraces, with an injunction to the water to flow steadily 
and not to be lost in holes by the way. 

Another annual genna there is, but not connected with 
agriculture. This is the TEGHAKU8A (="the genna 
of the Teghami "), which is performed for the prevention of 
disease. It is announced by the Lapu and consists in one 
day's pini. 

The origin of all gennas is imputed to the original man 
who lived with his brothers the Spirit and the Tiger. The 
Spirit knew when it was right to go to the fields and when 
to abstain in order that the crops might be good, and the 
man would ask, saying, " Do you go to the fields to-day ? " 
and the Spirit would answer " Yes," or " No. It is the 
Litsaba genna," and so forth, and thus the man learnt. 
This perhaps suggests the adoption of the gennas from the 
inhabitants found in country invaded and occupied by 
Semas, or from immigrants of superior culture who may have 
introduced the cultivation of rice. 

In addition to the regular and recurring agricultural 
gennas 1 there are, of course, a number of gennas observed 
by the whole village which occur from time to time according 
to circumstances — gennas for making peace or war, gennas 
for repairing the village defences, gennas observed for the 
birth of some monstrosity, or gennas such as that observed 
by Alapfumi in 1915, when the whole village beheld two 
suns (or a sun and a moon side by side, as others say) 
in the sky at sunrise {v. infra under " Nature "). The 
genna for rain has already been mentioned ; there are 
gennas to avert disease ; and there are also occasions when 
the whole village is genna on account of the action of one 
member of it. Thus if a man takes oath on a tiger's tooth, 

^ In the accounts of the following gennas I have not adhered in all 
cases to the Suphuo form. 



at any rate while the crops are in the ground, tlie village 
must observe a genna, or if a man gives a feast or entertain- 
ment (Inami-kusd) to which another village is invited, the 
whole village does genna. Most of these gennas merely 
consist in the observance of pini. 

This feast of Inami-kusa (" stranger calling feast ") is the Social 
final goal of the series of feasts by which an individual attains ^**^"^- 
to social distinction. The first of these is the 8HIKUSH0, 
at which one pig is killed and its flesh distributed and liquor 
provided for the whole village on six successive mornings. 
It is performed at the harvest. A man who has performed 
the Shikusho may then proceed to the APIS A, at which a 
bull is killed and liquor provided as before on six successive 
mornings for the whole village. In the case of both these 
gennas the village generally puts on its best clothes and 
turns out and dances. The man who has done the Apisa 
(? = " cloth feast ") is entitled to wear the cloth called 
akhome,^ and he puts up outside his house a long bamboo 
pole thickly covered with small cane leaves and with the 
lower half supported by a rough forked pole of the tree 
called michisil,'^ a tree with a white flower and highly irritant 
bark. To the dropping end of the bamboo ornaments of 
gourds a sort of tassels of bamboo are attached, which swing 
and clatter in the wind. This erection is caUed aghiiza. ^ The 
bull is not an absolutely essential part of this ceremony, 
but unless included the cloth akhome cannot be assumed. 
Mithan may be substituted for ordinary cattle by anyone 
rich enough to do so. 

The Apisa genna is followed by that called AKIK YEOHE. 
This necessitates the slaughter of a mithan and the standing 
of a drink to everyone in the village. An ordinary bull may 
be substituted for the mithan, at any rate in some villages. 
The celebrating of this feast enables the giver to put horns 

' See Part I, p. 14. - Schima wallichii. 

* Or akedu, or michikedu when the ceremony is not abaohitely com- 
pletely performed and a shortened bamboo is put up (akedu) or the cane 
leaves with which the bamboo should be covered are omitted {michikedu). 
When a man is fetching cane leaves to make an aghiiza the whole village 
must observe a genna and such leaves may not be taken from the land 
of another village without permission. 

Q 2 

228 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

{tenhaku-Jci) on Ms gable and the Y-shaped genna posts in 
front of the house, each one of which represents a mithan 

The culminating genna of this description is the 
INAMI-KUSA. Only a very rich man can do it, and it 
can hardly be reckoned as belonging to the regular series 
of social status gennas. Another village must be invited 
(as the name denotes) and at least two mithan, and usually 
more, killed, together with pigs in large numbers. Liquor 
is unlimited, and altogether it is a great feast. The whole 
village in which it takes place observes pini, and there is 
dancing in gala dress. 

In all these gennas an egg is broken on the bull's head 
as it is being killed, with the words " Athiuno kuthomo 
hekepini. Teghdmino kimiyeno atsii akizheo o-pa nyekdni " — 
" Hereafter let me kill many. Be the spirits kind, a mighty 
bull shall follow in your tracks." It should be added that 
though it is normally bulls which are killed, the substitu- 
tion of cows is not barred. 

At the Shikusho and Apisa the festal liquor must be first 
tasted by an old woman, who receives the leg of a pig, which 
is hung up over the celebrant's door while he is genna and 
taken away by her afterwards. This old woman must be 
the first to cook during the genna, and she separates and 
throws away the share of meat set aside for the spirits. 
She is called Yi'ipu or Atsiighukulhau. 

Another feast of a similar sort is theKUPULHU-KILEKE, 
the Feast of Friendship, given by a man to cement the tie 
of friendship with another. The present given to the guest 
so bound amounts to from half a pig's body with the head 
to a hind-quarter and a large part of the body of a mithan. 
The whole village keeps pini on the day of the entertainment, 
and songs are sung, in particular songs in honour of the 
entertainer and his friend. There is no dancing. The friend 
spends two nights in his host's house, sleeping as a rule on 
the paddy husking bench in the akishekhoh or apasuho, and 
thereafter goes home. 

This feast must be returned within three years, but some- 
times the recipient is unable to do this, and it may stand 

,;^ /~>-^i 

Zi H 
r ^ 




\To fare l>. 220. 


over to the next generation, when, if not repaid, a fine is 
sometimes claimed. In any case the return feast is expected 
to exceed that originally given in extent, though the penalty 
claimed in case no return is made is usually half the expenses 
of the original feast. 

It is not incumbent on a man asked to a feast of 
friendship to accept the invitation in the first instance, 
but if he accepts he is liable to damages for breaking the 

The method of killing mithan at these feasts is interesting. 
The mithan, with cane ropes bound to its horns and forehead, 
is hauled up to a new Y-shaped post erected for the purpose, 
and when it puts its head against the fork, its legs are pulled 
away with the help of cane ropes so that it is thrown on 
one side, in which position it is held down by long poles laid 
across its body. Its head must point east, and some Semas 
insist on its being thrown on the left side.^ Its legs are 
then lashed together, and one of the poles no longer needed 
to hold it down is inserted between the hind legs in front 
of the lashings and passed up behind the tail. This is 
pulled back so as to lever the hind legs almost into a straight 
line with the body, rendering the animal unable to struggle. 
First two or three formal strokes with a stick are given, 
then a shght cut is made on the flank behind the shoulder, 
and an old man inserts into this cut the point of a hard 
stick, which he drives home with a quick push, while the 
giver of the feast pours water on to the animal's muzzle. 
The whole operation is surprisingly quick, and death seems 
to be practically instantaneous the moment the stick is 
driven home. It is drawn out carefully and slowly. The 
formal blows with a stick and the use of a stick instead of 
a spear to kill the animal suggest a period when iron weapons 
were not known and a reluctance to use iron in kiUing the 
animal even though transfixion may have been substituted 
for beating to death. Aos, when sacrificing mithan, make 
a formal blow on the forehead with a stone. 

Of gennas done by individuals to get rid of sickness the Sickness. 
APIKUKHO has already been mentioned (p. 218). A 

* So that the cut is raado behind the right shoulder. 

230 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

variant form, however, exists in which one egg may be used 
instead of two and thrown in any direction away from the 
sick man's house, and in which the egg or eggs may be 
manipulated by any person and are not thrown by the lapu. 
The thrower in throwing the egg away says, " Hi pfe 
o-tsilanike ; hi nguno athiuye i-pulo akevisJiivepelo " — " This 
I have taken and given you ; henceforward make good my 
condition." Immediately this is done the sick man's door 
is shut, and he speaks to no one but those of his own house- 
hold, while the operator goes to his own place. Should the 
operator himself be of the sick man's household he comes 
back into the house, takes a burning brand or two from the 
fire, throws it towards the door, shuts the door, and sits 
down inside the house as far from the sick man as he con- 
veniently can, and refrains entirely from speech with 

Another ceremony for healing the sick is the KUNGU-LA 
(lit.= " Heaven-road "). A thumomi is called in to do this, 
and the precise formulae are known only to him (or her), 
but as far as the uninitiated can say the ceremony consists in 
killing a pig and tearing up a banana leaf into strips. From 
these a large number of diminutive leaf cups are made and, 
filled with rice-beer, are hung on the carved frontal post 
{aisu) of the house. In other pieces of leaf scraps of 
pig-meat are wrapped and also stuck on to the post. A leg 
of the pig, together with the tongue, gall, tail, a scrap of 
Hver, and the bladder unemptied, is put into a basket and 
left in the house near the sick man's bed in order that the 
thumomi may come in the spirit that night and take the 
contents, or rather their spiritual equivalent, as a gift to 
the Kungumi. On the following morning the thumomi 
comes in the flesh and takes away the gross matter that 
remains. During the actual day of the ceremony the sick 
man may not speak to strangers, and a bunch of leaves is 
stuck up on the outside of his house to show that he is 
genna that day. 

In Emilomi and the neighbouring villages a form of 
genna of the same sort, more or less, is used and called 
AZU-LA (" Water-road "), but is associated with the 


python {aithu) to whom, no doubt, intercession for recovery 
is made. 

There are probably many other forms of genna^ practised 
by the fhumomi, who, indeed, probably invent new forms 
of whatever kind and whenever they see fit. These ihumomi 
are arrant frauds and practise any sort of knavery that a 
gullible clientele finds attractive. Some of them probably 
have second sight in some degree, but do not scruple to 
" detect " thieves, etc., with absolute disregard of even the 
possibihties of the case, probabilities let alone. Their 
favourite trick of extracting " dirt " has already been 
mentioned. The foolery with which they accompUsh this 
is manifold. They will pretend to draw it up to the surface 
of the body with leaves as though with a magnet, to blow 
it down from the top of the patient's head till it descends 
to his feet, where they extract it, to squeeze it up to the skin 
with the hands, and a hundred and one hke escamoteries, 
" extracting " it at the critical moment by sucking with the 
mouth, where they conceal the " dirt " to be extracted 
under the tongue, and allowing it to fall out, when the 
patient seriously beheves that it has come from his body, 
though devil a mark there is to show how it passed his skin. 
The sucking out of the extracted object is often accompanied 
by a shrewd nip, which the patient takes for the pain 
attending the object's emergence from his body. The 
writer has been operated on by one of these practitioners. 
The objects produced are bits of stone, quartz, iron, tin, 
old teeth, chewed leaves, mud, hairs, etc., the latter being 
invariably produced from a patient with a cough. They 
are taken from the exterior of his gullet and he is told that 
it was these hairs that made him cough. A really clever 
thumomi extracts not with the mouth, but with his bare 
hands, so that the object is probably not concealed in his 

^ Petty afflictions such as 8ore eyes are said to be sometimes got rid 
of by peicking up rubbish in the house in an old basket and saying " I 
am going out," then leaving the house and hanging up the basket on a 
tree outside the village with the words " Stay here and mind this basket, 
I shall not be gone long," then returning home by another path. I am 
indebted to Mr. Mills for this, and it is a Lhota custom, but the Semas 
who practise it may have got it from the Sangtams. 

232 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

mouth, but in such cases he usually does it in the inner 
darkness of a Sema house where little skill or sleight of hand 
is needed. 

For a consideration a thumomi will sometimes teach his 
trade, but no case of a pupil's having given away his teacher 
is known. Indeed they appear to have a belief in their own 
powers which assorts most ill with the impostures they 

But to go out of one's way to convict the thumomi of 
fraud is to break a bluebottle upon the wheel. Sufficeth it 
that the thumomi beheves in himself and is believed in by 
his patients and in very truth often cures them by faith 
alone. After all, he differs little from a " Christian 
Science " practitioner, unless it be in that he uses a trifle 
more deception to induce the state of mind in which the 
patient recovers of his affliction. 

The thumomi, though a well-known and more or less 
indispensable person, has no official position in the village 
hierarchy. He (or she) is a private practitioner, self- 
appointed and independent. He acts as an intermediary 
between private persons and the spirits, and sometimes is, 
or claims to be, clairvoyant. He is a dreamer of dreams 
and skilled in the interpretation thereof, a curer of illness, 
and a discoverer of stolen property. ^ Sometimes he has, 
or is credited with, a knowledge of poisons ^ not possessed 
by the ordinary man. Yet he is not as a rule a man of 
any social standing or personal influence, and is almost 
invariably poor, so markedly so that it is generally held 
that a thumomi is unable to acquire riches, a belief which 
assists creduHty in the thumomi s impostures, as it meets 
the most obvious criticism as to the thumomi s object in 

^ Divining is a property often ascribed to books. A chief once came 
to me and asked me to look in my books and tell him the whereabouts of 
his brother, who had run away from the hospital into the jungle in deliriiun. 
I consulted the sortes Homerianae for him with the most appropriate 
results, opening the Odyssey at the passage where Telemachus asks for 
news of his father, and is told that he has visited the land of the dead and 

* Including that of the poison called atsiinigha, the fruit of a plant, 
which when thrown at a person or secreted in his clothes enters into his 
body, causing him to die later on by the swelling of all his limbs. 

[To face p. 2:3 


deceiving. No stigma attaches to the activities of a thumomi 
or to his practice of magic, ^ and he is not necessarily 
regarded as being personally responsible for being a thumomi, 
which may befall him against his will. 

The important incidents of a man's life entail, of course, 
the observance of gennas. It has already been mentioned 
that the birth of a domestic animal necessitates the observ- 
ance of genna,and the birth of a human being is accompanied 
by stricter observances. 

When a male child is born its mother observes six days' Birth, 
genna, and five for a female child, but in the case of her first 
child, of whichever sex, the genna is ten days. A dog or 
pig is killed. Wild vegetables, flesh killed by wild animals, 
or any other " bad meat " is forbidden to the household, 
which must live on food of its own provision. The members 
of the household may not work in their own fields or go 
to their granary, but may work in the fields of others. The 
mother herself must stay at home for the period of the 
genna and may not leave the precincts of the house except 
to defecate, and may not speak to any stranger. As soon 
as the child is born she eats a chicken of the same sex as the 

When the days of genna are completed the mother takes 
a child of the same sex as her infant, an empty basket, and 
a rain shield, and goes to the end of the village and says " I 
am going to the fields," and then returns to the house. 
The genna is then at an end. 

Should the father be out when the birth takes place he 
may not enter the house till the sun has set. 

The method of delivery (or at any rate one method) is 
for the mother to squat on her heels upon a cloth spread 
on the ground. A woman steadies her shoulders from behind, 
another doing the same from in front, while a tliird steadies 
and supports her knees. 

The after-birth is buried inside the house under the bed 

1 I have noted this as Dr. Jevons has based a distinction between magic 
and rehgion on the lines that the former is regarded as something bad and 
unlawful even by primitive communities {Folklore, vol. xxviii, No. 3, 
September, 1917). This is, at any rate, not always the case. 



or in some other spot where no one is likely to tread. An 
old woman buries it and washes her hands and face there- 
after, and, though eating in the house, eats separately for 
three days. 

Should the mother die in childbirth she is taken out by 
the back door and buried behind the house. The husband 
in such a case is genna for eleven days. All the dead 
woman's beads, ornaments, clothes, etc., are thrown away, 
and her husband's personal property is not touched by 
anyone "for a year," i.e., until after the next harvest. 
Even then all utensils, etc., are got rid of as soon as they 
can be replaced, and no one will touch them except the 
aged. If the child lives and there is no woman of the house- 
hold to take charge of it, it is given to some childless couple, 
who eventually take half the marriage price if it is a girl, 
and who bring it up as their own son if a boy, though in the 
latter case the boy does not change liis clan for that of his 
foster-parents. If the child dies at the same time as its 
mother it is buried with her. 

A new-born child which dies is buried in the aJcishekhoh, 
and is not buried with a cloth, but only with bamboo bark 
instead. Three days' genna only is observed for its death. 

Children are suckled for from one to three years, and it 
is not unusual to see a Sema mother suckhng two children 
who may have more than a year's difference between them 
in the matter of age. 

On the third day after the child's birth the lobe of the 
ear is pierced by some clans, notably the Yepothomi and 
others to the north, and a wisp of cotton put into it, and at 
the same time a tiny basket is made and Uned with leaf 
and six pebbles, and six bits of ash are put into it. When the 
mother takes a child and goes (nominally) to the fields to 
break the genna, the child carries this basket and its contents 
to the village well, where it throws them away. The child 
taken on this occasion may be a brother or a sister of the 
infant or near relative or merely a neighbour. Just before 
the boring of the ear the child is given a chicken of the same 
sex as itself. The mother may not eat of this chicken. 
The Asimi, Zumomi, and some other clans do not bore the 


ear at all on this occasion, and by those that do so only 
the lobe of the ear is bored then. In the case of boys the 
concha of the ear is pierced later, and usually somewhere 
about the age of puberty. If not done before marriage the 
concha of the ear cannot be pierced unless the genna for 
touching an enemy's corpse is done. Among the northern 
Semas two holes are made, one at the edge of the fossa of 
the antihelix and one in the concha, and become gradually 
enlarged by the insertion of thick wads of cotton wool until 
in the aged they are distended to an enormous size. In the 
case of girls all Semas alike bore the hole at the apex of the 
helix from below upwards. These holes are in addition 
to the hole in the lobe which every Sema has. A Sema 
accustomed to wear cotton in the holes in his ears cannot 
discontinue it without discomfort, largely owing to passage 
of air through the empty apertures, which interferes with 
his hearing. 

The distension of the ear sometimes causes even the outer 
edge to split, while to inflict an injury on a man by tearing his 
ear, whether the lobe or the concha, is a serious offence, as 
the torn ear will not hold ornaments. The torn ear, however, 
can be mended, as if tied up quickly and spliced with fresh 
chicken skin the parts grow together again. 

The Asimi, Zumomi, and other clans who do not always 
pierce the lobe of the ear on the third day have a regular 
occasion for doing so. Anyone who is so inclined and has 
a son of suitable age celebrates a genna called aniini, in 
which he kills a pig and provides a large quantity of rice 
liquor and gives a feast. Anyone in the village who has a 
son or daughter with ears unpierced may have them pierced 
on that day. For boys they make only one hole in the 
middle of the concha instead of two, and one in the lobe. 
The number and position of holes bored vary by locality 
rather than by clan, the southern Semas following the last- 
mentioned custom generally, while one or two villages like 
Iganumi, much influenced by Angamis, bore four small holes 
in the outer edge of the helix and one in the lobe, no others. ^ 

1 If a man die with the concha of his car unbored his forebears in the 
next world disown him. 

236 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

In the Yepothomi and in the other clans who bore the 
lobe on the third day the child's name is usually given on 
the same day. It may be given by the parents or by 
anyone at all who has ideas on the subject. Omens as to 
its suitability are not taken, but the choice of a name, as 
among all Semas, except possibly the villages of the Lazemi 
group, is hmited by the social standing and degree of pros- 
perity of its parents. If an ambitious name is given to the 
child of poor parents people remark, " Aho ! aho ./ " (" Oh ! 
I say," as one might put it), and most frequently the child 
dies. In any case it is a subject for ridicule, and probably 
receives a nickname much more opprobrious than a name 
that might in the first place have been suitably bestowed. 
Thus while a chief will give a child names implying prowess 
in war or prosperity in peace, the names given to a poor 
man's son denominate him an object of poverty, scorn, or 
aversion. Among chiefs' names we find such as " Victor " 
(Gwovishe),^ " Challenger " (Nikhui), " Preventer " {Ka- 
khiya, one who holds the road and prevents the escape or 
onslaught of the enemy), " Resorted to " (Inato),^ " En- 
riched " (Nikiye), or in the case of girls " Peace-maker " 
{Siikhali), " Hostess " (Khezeli). As examples of the 
names of nobodies, we might take " Eyesore " (Zunache), 
" Notorious debtor " {Nachezil, Nachelho, the debts being 
in paddy and this existence implying permanent poverty), 
" Untouchable " {Sholepu, because of the filthiness of his 
habits,) "Outcast" (Yevetha), and for girls "Spurned" 
(Mithili), " Gossiper " {Pilheli).^ 

In the more southern villages of Zumomi and Asimi the 
name of a child is fixed upon when the genna for its birth 
expires, but it is not used and the child is spoken of as 
Kumtsa,* or Kakhu, or some such common name, the real 

^ Lit. " one who goes well." 

* I.e., by persons wanting help or protection or the settlement of 

' Or, perhaps, " chatterbox," but the name has the implication that 
the chatter is of an unpleasant if not abusive description, and that the 
owner's tongue is without restraint — " Billingsgate " might almost pass 
as a translation. 

* Kumtsa — " Bitter," a very common name indeed. 


name not being used till the child is some months old, an 
indication of the excessive susceptibility of new-born 
children to evil influences. Another instance of this is 
found in the superstition that the sand-Uzard (aniza) informs 
the spirits (teghami) of the birth of male children, with the 
result that the spirits collect and destroy the new-born child. 
For this reason men kill the sand-lizard on sight. Women, 
on the other hand, always let it go scathless, as when a 
female child is born it remains chini and does not leave its 
hole. The women, moreover, sometimes make a fuss if 
men try to kill an aniza and endeavour to protect it.* 

Generally speaking, the Sema has the same disinclination 
to mention his own name that most Nagas have, though the 
feeling is fast weakening. It may have some connection 
with the notion that a man's soul answers to the name as 
well as his body. 

Before leaving the question of nomenclature it should be 
mentioned that the Sema never gives to the child the name 
of a living relation, though the names of dead ancestors are 
popular among those with a child to name. The explana- 
tion given is that, if the name of a Hving senior be given, the 
elder will die, as a substitute for him in this world has been 
provided. Possibly there is behind this some fear that such 
nomenclature would be tantamount to saddling one soul 
with two bodies, one of which, being useless, would die. 
The very strong objection which Semas have to having an 
animal named after them may be connected with the same 
idea. At the same time, they do not appear to have, at the 
present time, any behef at all that the dead are reincarnated 
in the living. 

In addressing one another, Semas are most punctihous 
in using a suitable appellation in spealdng to or of any but 
intimates or inferiors. They use the terms of family 
relation when speaking to a senior or a stranger who is 
of their clan, calhng them " imu (my elder brother) So- 

^ Cf. the practice of the Port Lincohi tribe of South Austraha in regard 
to the Hzard called ibirri (male) and waka (female) ; each human sex tries 
to destroy the opposite sex of the lizard, on the ground that it was this 
lizard which divided the sexes in the human species. Sir J. Frazer, " The 
Golden Bough," vol. xi, p. 216 (3rd ed.). 

238 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

and-so," " Ini (aunt) So-and-so," " Itilkuzu (my younger 
brother) So-and-so," and so forth, according to their 
seniority. Similarly, members of a clan to which the speaker 
is related by marriage will be addressed as " ichi (my 
brother-in-law) So-and-so," etc. Equals who are not 
intimates or relations are addressed as " ishdu (my friend) 
So-and-so," inferiors (in age) who are not related are 
addressed as dpu (" lad"), while the terms ipu and iza (" my 
father," " my mother ") are used for any very senior person 
or one to whom much respect is due owing to his position. 
Thus the writer was always addressed as Ipu shaha (" Father 
Sahib ") until well enough known to become " Ipu " simply. 

The assumption of man's dress by a Sema boy is a matter 
of small account and is variously observed by the different 
clans. Thus the Yepothomi boy on the day that he first 
puts on the " lengta " merely abstains from wild vegetables, 
meat killed by wild animals, and any other sort of food 
which is spiritually dangerous. The Ayemi boy is stood 
upon the husking-table while the " lengta " is first put on 
by his parents ; this is done to put him out of reach of lice, 
which might otherwise infest his " lengta " and trouble him. 
He observes no other rite or tabu. The Zumomi, also with 
the object of avoiding hce, refrain from the rice from which 
Uquor has been brewed on the day on which they have 
first put on the " lengta." They also refrain from vege- 
tables. As, however, the "lengta" is usually first put on 
by them at night after the last meal, the actual abstention 
is rarely more than a nominal deprivation. 

The Sema formalities in connection with marriage vary 
to a considerable extent among different clans and are 
characterised by a vast number of minute observances. 
The account below gives only the general details. 

At the time of formal betrothal the prospective bride- 
groom goes to the house of the parents of the girl and 
eats and drinks there. He is accompanied by a person 
called anisu — in the Yepothomi clan an old man, in the 
Ayemi clan an old woman — who drinks and eats before 
the prospective bridegroom does so and blesses the 
match. This is no doubt to assure, if possible, that 


any evil influences attending the proposed marriage shall 
fall on the anisu, who is old' and therefore unimportant or 
less susceptible, rather than on the bridegroom, just as the 
reaping and sowdng of crops are initiated by old persons 
who have in any case little to expect of life, are of little 
value to the community as fighting, working, or breeding 
units, or perhaps who are so tough as to be able the better 
to withstand evil influences, for it is clear that young infants 
are the most vulnerable. The anisu is asked whether he 
comes with the authority of the intending bridegroom's 
parents. He answers " Yes," and asks for the girl. Assent is 
given, after which he kills a pig and cuts up the meat. After 
this a breach of the promise of marriage by either party 
without cause entails liability to a fine, usually of from 
Rs. 5/- upwards, according to the social position of the 
injured party. 

The time that may elapse between the betrothal and the 
marriage may be almost anything from days to years, for 
in the Tizu valley the children of rich men are sometimes 
betrothed before they reach puberty, and though in such 
cases the actual marriage sometimes takes place before 
puberty,^ it is more common for a betrothal to take place 
and the marriage to follow when the parties are of a suitable 

Before the day fixed for the marriage the anisu takes a 
piece of salt and a dog and visits the house of the bride's 
parents. He (or she) puts the salt into the thatch of the 
roof from inside the house, where it remains untouched, and 
gives the dog to the bride's parents. Tliis visit is followed 
by one by the bridegroom, who is accompanied by a friend 
or relative chosen for his cleverness, who argues the question 
of price with the bride's parents, doing his best to reduce 
it. When the price is finally fixed, the cattle, etc., are 
brought over the same evening from the bridegroom's house 
if the parties are in the same village. If the bride lives in 

1 Cohabitation does not take place in the case of such marriages until 
the parties are fit for it. They return to their parents' houses for the 
time being, as a rule. Such early marriages usually take place for more 
or less political reasons. 

240 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

a distant village, the approximate amount of the bride-price 
is conveyed by friends of the bridegroom some way behind, 
and if after all they have not brought enough they hand 
over what they have and indicate to the bride's parents 
other cattle in their village which they will add to the 
price. When the bride's parents have expressed themselves 
satisfied, a pig brought by the bridegroom's party and called 
azazhunala (? = " way to mother-beholding ") is killed and 
cut up. This completes the contract, and the essential transfer 
of the girl from the potestas of her father to her husband is 
complete. The fragments of the pig are given to the bride's 
relations (the bride may not taste it), and each one that 
receives a fragment pays a basket of paddy, which is sent 
with the bride to her new house. The bridegroom's party 
then name the date, not before the third day under any 
circumstances, on which they will come for the bride. 
Against that date the bride's relations get ready. Drink 
and food are prepared to entertain the bridegroom's party, 
all the paddy which is to be sent along with the bride is 
got ready, and whatever else she is to take with her. 

On the day appointed the bridegroom comes with a party 
of his relations to carry away the bride and her stuff. The 
latter, consisting of a considerable amount of paddy together 
with the bride's dowry of cloths and ornaments, is all 
arranged ready outside her parents' house. The bride- 
groom's party, having arrived, eat and drink with the bride's 
people, and after that start back to their own village. 
The anisu must be the first to pick up a load and give it to 
someone to carry. Then a procession starts to the bride- 
groom's house. First goes a warrior in full kit and carrying 
a spear in one hand and a dao in the other. He is called 
akeshou. After him goes the anisu, Hkewise, if a man, with 
spear and dao. After the anisu comes the bride, a narrow 
red and yellow circlet of plaited cane round her head, and 
a chicken in her hand, and a woman's staff which has a 
wooden top shod with a long iron butt-piece. In some cases 
the bride carries a dao instead, which she presents to her 
husband. After the bride comes her personal property, 
carried by a man specially chosen for the purpose and called 


aboshdu. He also carries food for her to eat on the way, as 
she may not eat after her arrival. The aboshou is followed 
by the bride's paternal aunt (ani), preferably her father's 
elder sister, but a younger sister or, if no sister is available, 
a female cousin on the father's side will do. She is called 
for the occasion akawoku-pfu in virtue of carrying the bride's 
akawoku — a " work-basket " containing balls of thread, a 
spindle, etc., symbolical of her duty in Ufe. This is carried 
even in the case of the Tizu valley Semas, who do not know 
how to spin or weave. After the akawoku-pfu come the 
bride's brothers and her mother and other relations, excepting 
her father, who is not allowed to accompany the bride, 
together with the bridegroom and his relations, in no par- 
ticular order of precedence. AU, of course, go in single file 
and march to the usual accompaniment of meaningless 
chants and loud cries. On arrival the property is put into 
the bridegroom's own house. The bride and her mother 
and relations sleep there, but may not eat in it. They eat 
(except the bride, who must fast) in the house of the bride- 
groom's parents. The bridegroom may not sleep in his 
own house that night. The next morning the bride and 
the aboshou first eat together in the bridegroom's parents' 
house ; then the aboshou and the whole of the bride's party, 
who eat after the aboshou and the bride, go home. Small 
presents are given to the anisu, the akeshou, the aboshou, 
and the akawoku-pfu by the bridegroom, and also to the 
aluzhitoemi, or captain of the working gang of which the 
bride was a member. The latter 's present consists of a 
chicken and a handful of small beans, and is called 
mini-lha-me (" petticoat stripping-off price "). The akeshou 
and the aboshou usually get about Rs. 2/- each, and the 
akawoku-pfu Rs. 5/-. The bride's mother is given a hoe by 
the bridegroom. 1 When the anisu is a woman she gets a 
basket of each sort of cereal brought by the bride, but these 
payments vary a good deal. For that doy the newly- 
married pair observe pini and may not go to the fields, and 
the bride may not even go to cut wood or draw water. In 
the evening the anisu kills the chicken brought by the 

^ This is not given if the brido has been married before. 





bride, and the bride gives liquor to the bridegroom's 
relations. The chicken is cooked and eaten by the 
newly-married couple, who sleep together in the bride- 
groom's house that night, the ceremony being entirely 

By the custom called agasho a man, or his heir male, can 
claim a payment on the marriage of his sister's first child, 
male or female. The amount used to be a black cloth, but 
is now Rs. 5/-. Failing payment a field is liable to be 
confiscated and sold. 

No ceremony accompanies divorce, but if a woman is 
divorced for adultery she or her parents or their representa- 
tives have to pay a cow to the injured husband. Moreover, 
the marriage price has to be returned to him if such a divorce 
takes place within three years of the marriage. The 
paramour is beaten if he is caught, and if he has ventured 
to interfere with a chief's wife he is turned out of the village 
and his property confiscated. If the husband divorces liis 
wife for any other fault within three years of marriage he 
may claim back the price paid for her, but not after that 
date, though he can claim it if she divorces herself by refusing 
to live with him. If, however, he systematically iU-treats 
her without cause he loses the claim. ^ 

The Sema views as to the soul and its survival after death 
have already been dealt with, but to understand the observ- 
ances attending death it is necessary to bear them in mind. 
It has been seen that the episode of death is to some extent 
regarded as due to a voluntary desertion on the part of the 
departing soul, always a source of anxiety on account of its 
liability to stray. It would appear, however, that there is 
something contagious about dying, and that association 
with death is liable to cause it. Merely to spread an untrue 
report of a man's death may cause it in itself, and the penalty 
for doing this serious injury is a heavy fine, usually about 
four mithan. Possibly the fact of a man being reported 
dead gives maHcious spirits some hold over him, just as to 
mention the name of an infant (or even of an adult if done 

^ See also Part III, Position of Women, etc. The right to a return of 
the price within three years of marriage does not hold good for all Semas. 


often and persistently) is enough to cause death. Again 
the grave is begun as soon as a man is dead, but should he 
prove to be merely unconscious and recover, it is essential 
that some substitute should be buried, and his own stool 
{alaku) is wrapped in a cloth and put in the grave in his 
stead. ^ The stool is chosen as, like the bed (alipa), it is so 
closely associated with its owner as to contain some part 
of his essence, as it were, in virtue of which it is absolutely 
genna at any time to cut or burn a person's stool or bed, 
while it is very bad form to sit on the bed of a Sema chief 
unless invited by him to do so. Until the actual burial 
the dead man's household may eat and drink as usual, 
but after the burial has once taken place no one of the 
household may eat again that day, and on the following 
morning akini seed {Perilla ocimoides, L.) is pounded up, 
made into a paste with hot water, and put into the mouth 
on a bit of thatching grass stalk. It is spat out, and after 
that all the dishes and vessels in the house are washed, to 
cleanse them, no doubt, from any death-pollution which 
might affect others using them. A meal is then taken as 
usual. 2 

On the second day after the death a pig is killed, and the 
dead man's share of flesh, torn up into very fine fragments 
such as a ghost can manipulate, is put for him in a platter 
with rice, chillies, etc., covered up with leaves and set on 
a shelf for the ghost, who helps himseK to minute particles. 
Pieces of meat not torn up are sometimes set there, and it is 
known that the ghost has partaken by his infinitesimal 
nibblings. For ten days not only the whole household but 
everyone in the village who belongs to deceased's clan 
observes pini, not going to the fields and abstaining from 
all vegetables. On the tenth day the house is cleaned out 
and the genna is at an end. 

The method of burial is as foUows. A grave is dug breast 

1 This waa done in the case of one Kiyakhu of AochagaUmi, an 
acquaintance of mine. CJ. " The Golden Bough," vol. viii {3rd ed.), 
pp. 98, 100. 

* The ceremonies of death and burial are recorded as observed in the 
Zumomi village of Kiyeshe. 

R 2 



deep in front of the house ^ and usually a little to the left. 
This grave is lined with hewn planks of wood at the bottom 
and sides and with bamboo matting at the ends. The body 
is laid face upwards, the head at the end nearest the house, 
on the plank at the bottom at full length, with a spear at 
his side, a dao at his head, and a dao carrier, at least one 
string of conch shell beads (ashogho), cloths up to about 
seven or eight, and a spare " lengta." Asimi villages put 
a bead and some fragments of foodstuffs between all the 
fingers of their dead. In the ears are wads of fresh cotton 
put in by some near relation. ^ A peg-top (aketsil), a snare 
for birds {akilsu), and a pipe and tobacco accompany the 
dead warrior. A boy is given a sharpened bamboo instead 
of a spear, while a woman, in place of spear and dao, is 
given the iron-shod stick that she used in her lifetime. In 
place of the peg-top she takes a single bean of the pod of 
the great sword-bean (alau), together with a springy shp of 
bamboo taken from the wall of the house. This serves the 
same purpose to her as the peg-top does to the male, for 
she uses it to delude Kolavo^ when she comes to the narrow 
way where he hes in wait for passing souls seeking whom he 
may devour. He sits in the path with a truculent air. 
" My head is full of lice " (akhu), says he. " Oh," says she, 
" let me kill them for you." Then she goes up to him and 
as he sits there searches his head and starts to cUck the 
bamboo shp from time to time as though it were the popping 
of squashed lice, monsters in size. Suddenly she flicks the 
bean to a distance. " I will run and catch it," she says, 
and so shps by and escapes. In the same way a man or 
boy gets by when pretending to go to fetch his errant peg- 

^ A new-boni child that dies, or one that is bom dead, is buried inside 
the house in the akishekhoh. An American traveller relates that a Sema 
told him that he buried a yovmg girl, his daughter, inside the house because 
she would be frightened to be left outside alone at night, but the actual 
age of the child is not given (" Ethnography of Nagas of Eastern Assam," 
Furness, Journal of Anthropological Institute, 1902, vol. xxxii). 

* This service is performed by any near relation, mother, wife, brother, 

' Metsimo, the Angami equivalent, makes every passing soul eat a 
monster nit from his head unless he is already eating one, so that a 
black seed is put in the mouth of the dead to deceive him. 

A' . 

Cka\ks jn From (u a 1I<>l.-^k av l-l\iii.o.\ii. Thk Ukavks akk To the Right 

Front instead of to the Left Front as is customary. As ttsual the 

Man's Grave is fenced, while his Wife's has no Fence. 

fe^-;-'^--^ >;■"•«■ 

.1 Z7/A(.7/ll(> at i'HlUMI ViLLAOE. 

\To face p. 245. 


top. When the body has been laid in the grave a piece of 
resinous pinewood is taken and lit, and the body is fumigated 
to drive away worms and flies and insects by waving the 
torch round it to the words " Ni'ya liki kumoike, hia 
cheghi 'ya ke, ina kuku 'ya ke," which is, being interpreted, 
" It befalls not our clan alone. Men of all villages that can 
be named come to this.''^ Cross-pieces of stick are then 
put across the grave over the body, being thrust into the 
earth on each side just above the planks that form the 
lining of the sides. Over these another plank is put to form 
the lid, as it were, of the grave, and on the top of that the 
earth is heaped in and piled up. In the process of this a 
chicken is killed and buried by stamping it into the earth 
that is being put into the grave. All the earth taken from 
the grave is put back so that when the grave is completed 
there is a mound over it. On this mound a piece of bamboo 
is set upright, the bottom sharpened and thrust into the 
earth, the top split, splayed out, and made into the form of 
a basket by the interweaving of horizontal strips. This 
is used as a stand for a gourd of liquor. For a man of 
importance a fence is made round the mound and a Uttle 
roof of thatch put up. 

On the day of burial cattle and pigs are killed and the 
skulls put up on a sort of fence or rack erected for that 
purpose along with the skulls of those slaughtered by the 
dead man during his lifetime, the souls of which he either 
takes with him to the village of the dead or finds already 
awaiting him there. At right angles to this fence down 
another side of the grave is put a rail of bamboo on which 
cloths and ornaments belonging to the dead man are hung, 
as well as a miniature panji basket with " panjis " and his 
shield, while a spear or two are stuck into the ground beside 
them. To the inside of the shield a fire-stick and thongs for 

^ Lit. " Our clan (custom) alone is not. Villages ton custom is ; 
villages call-call custom is." The language is archaic. Ten is used as 
the equivalent of a very high number where the Sema ordinarily uses 
ketonhye, " a thousand," nowadays. Perhaps it dates from the time 
when cotrnting did not go beyond ten. Kuku in the last clause is obscure, 
but is believed to be from the ku — to call. Ina = ghana, " a village 
community." Aya is the southern form of aye = " clan," " custom." 

246 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

making fire are tied. The disposal of a dead man's dog 
varies. The prevaihng custom has been described, a dead 
man's favourite dog being killed and buried in his grave 
after his body has been put in and before the earth is thrown 
back. The Zumomi, however, cut up the dog together 
with the cattle and distribute its flesh to all guests at the 
funeral who are not of the same clan as the dead man. The 
Chophimi clan divides the flesh of a dog killed in this way 
among all the guests. A dead man is systematically 
keened by his female relatives, and his widows will 
often keen him for some time after his death and 

Occasionally a wooden statue of the deceased nearly life- 
size is made and set up clothed in his ornaments over the 
grave, but this appears to be merely imitation of the Angamis 
and not a genuine Sema custom. It is rarely done. If the 
dead man is a warrior, a bamboo pole is erected from which 
dangles a string supporting a gourd for each head at the 
taking of which he has assisted, and an earthen pot for each 
head he has actually taken himself.^ After a man has taken 
a head himself an enemy's cattle and even dogs killed by 
him are counted when reckoning the number of gourds to 
be put up. Besides these, little baskets are hung up repre- 
senting the number of raids or warhke expeditions in which 
the dead man has carried panjis or otherwise taken part. 
In some Asimi villages the memory of a rich man is 
perpetuated by a shallow circle of flat stones set in 
the ground so as to slope away from the centre of the 
circle at an obtuse angle. Stone circles of this sort are 
called atheghwo.^ 

When a woman in extremis is visited by her parents they 
take a bit of stick from the gable of her house. When 
they have said all they wish to say they place the stick by 
the dying woman's bed and cut it in two, thus releasing 
the life so that their daughter can die in comfort. 

1 Mr. Mills tells me he has seen a tally of the dead man's liaisons put 
up on a Sema's grave in the form of little sticks carrying a tuft each of 
red hair. He was told that to touch a woman's breasts would qualify 
for one of these. 

- Kacha Nagas build similar circles for the same purpose. 

5 = 


a q 5; 
X a o 

H ^ . 


>: ^-^ 

u: X -^ 
i: r a 
= z3 

■Ji H 

|7'o /ace p. 240 



In the case of a woman it is a matter of strict etiquette 
that as many should attend at her funeral as accompanied 
her on her wedding day from her father's to her husband's 

There is no positive orientation of the dead, but a negative 
orientation, as they must not, when buried, look towards 
the house in which they lived when alive. 

There remain a few miscellaneous items of semi -religious 
belief which it is difficult to assign to any particular category. 
The fhumomi have already been mentioned in their connec- 
tion with the healing of the sick, but their activities are not 
limited to this. The thumomi is essentially a seer, the Greek 
fiavTl<i, an interpreter of omens, a dreamer, clairvoyant. 
Second sight he no doubt often has in some degree or other, 
and since it is an intermittent gift, he must simulate it when 
absent, for the sake of his reputation, and descend to decep- 
tion just as a European medium does. In general the 
thumomi is in some degree possessed and is sometimes subject 
to fits somewhat resembhng epilepsy. In particular, it is 
true, he diagnoses and recommends upon cases of sickness 
and also upon the probable success or failure of contemplated 
trading ventures, but he may be consulted on anjiihing 
from the detection of theft to the foretelling of the future, 
though in the latter case he usually restricts himself to 
advising that good or bad will probably follow a certain 
course of action or the observing of certain gennas. Omens 
may be taken by anyone, though certain persons and 
thumomi in particular have the faculty of obtaining correct 
results. The commonest method is by the use of the fire- 
stick, the omen being taken from the disposition of the 
broken strands of the bamboo thong after it has been 
charred through to breaking point by the friction. Dreams, 
like omens, are not the exclusive province of the thumom,i, 
and happen to anyone. Indeed most Semas believe in their 
own dreams, and take note of them as forecasting events 
to come, in particular those of hunting and war. A dream 
is not interpreted in the terms in which it occurs, but on a 
regular and known system. Thus to dream of bringing in a 
human head forecasts success in hunting, but the opposite 

248 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

in war.i To dream of a man carrjdng a load means that 
someone will be injured, and so forth. Of course all dreams 
cannot be reduced to formulae, so that there is plenty of 
scope for the exercise of the imagination of the dreamer or 
of anyone he consults in the interpretation of them. 

Second sight also is far from being confined to thumomi. 
Very early in the morning before daybreak on April 13, 
1918, some Sema scouts and carriers attached to the column 
operating against the Kuki Chief Chenjapao burnt a Kuki 
village after a brush with a Kuki patrol and succeeded in 
taking a head. They marched back to the camp singing 
paeans, arriving at about 8.15 a.m. The leaders of the 
party were Nikiye, Sakhalu's brother, and Sakhalu himself, 
and the carriers who went included a large proportion of 
men from that village, one of whom killed the Kuki, whose 
head Sakhalu cut off. The following night (April 13) 
many persons in Sakhalu's village (six marches distant) 
clearly heard the chanting of the paeans of the successful 
raiders. A number, however, were, even when their atten- 
tion was directed to it, totally unable to hear the singing, 
but it was at once known and recognised throughout the 
village that their fellow villagers with the column had got a 
head. No natural explanation of this phenomenon is 
possible. Semas in administered villages do not take 
heads, or if they do, they do not advertise their wrong-doing 
by singing paeans that can be heard for miles at night, 
while verbal communication with the column was out of 
the question. Nor had any heads been taken or paeans 
sung by the independent villages across the other side of 
the Tizu valley. This instance cannot strictly perhaps be 
called second sight, but is clearly of that nature. Two or 
three cases also occurred within the writer's knowledge in 
regard to labourers who had gone to France with the Naga 
Labour Corps. They may have been pure coincidence, 
but a similar explanation certainly suggests itself. It 

^ And usually to dream of dead animals' flesh foretells human death. 
A curious parallel may be found in the English superstition (for presumably 
there is one) which causes Mr. Vachell in one of his novels to make a 
character dream of butcher's meat and therefore predict misfortune. 
This was pointed out to me by Mr. J. P. Mills. 


happened three times that relations of an absent hibourer 
came to the writer to ask if it were true that So-and-so 
(in France) was dead, refusing to say any more than that 
they had heard that he was dead. On each occasion no 
casualty report had been received, nor could any news of the 
labourers' death have reached their relations by material 
channels, but the death reports were received in each case^ 
about two months later. 

Wraiths of the living are also seen. On June II, 1918, 
Hotoi and Luzukhu (two interpreters), with four servants, 
went out to meet some friends expected to arrive that day 
at Mokokchung from a distant village. They saw them 
coming towards them up the hill, called to them, and were 
answered. The approaching guests disappeared for a 
moment in a bend in the path. Hotoi and Luzukhu 
waited for some time and, being unable to conceive why 
they did not appear again, went to look. They found no 
one at all in the angle of the path, and it was not possible 
for them to have gone off in any other direction. The 
expected guests arrived the following day. A similar case 
occurred in Sheyepu about the same time. A man from 
another village came to the village to trade, spoke to several 
people, and was seen and recognised by many. It was, 
however, only a wraith, as the man himself came two days 
later and said the same things as his wraith had said to 
the same persons. He avowed that he had not been present 
at all on the previous occasion. ^ The psychic experiences 
of Semas differ little on the whole from those of more 
cultured societies. 

The forces and phenomena of Nature, though not definitely Nature, 
deified by the Semas, are often regarded as the manifesta- 
tions or abodes of spirits. In the case of the sun and moon 
they are not worshipped or deified, and no clear conception 
at all is entertained of their nature. They are regarded 
as phenomena, and their existence is taken as a matter of 
course, but they are called upon to witness oaths and 

1 One was a Chang, two were Semas. 

* I am indebted to Mr. Mills for drawing my attention to these two 

250 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

asseverations, and cannot be falsely invoked with impunity. 
Their functions used to be the opposite of what they now 
are, as the sun shone by night and the moon by day, but 
the heat of the moon was so intolerable that the earth and 
all that is therein was becoming scorched up entirely. At 
last a man took a handful of dung — a cow-pat — and threw 
it at the moon's face, telling it to shine at night only, when 
its light would be less intolerable, and to let the sun shine by 
day instead. This change took place, and the cow-dung 
is still to be seen sticking to the moon's face.i In this story 
the daily change from darkness to light is apparently 
regarded as a phenomenon independent of the sun and 
moon. The word for sun is tsilkinhye (? =" Eye ^ of heaven's 
house "). The moon is akhi, the same word being used for 

EcUpses are said to be caused by a tiger eating the sun 
or moon, as the case may be, and in the case of the former 
they foretell the death of some great man within the year. 

The stars {ay eh) are believed to be, in some cases at any 
rate, men who have been translated to the heavens after 
their death. A comet is always regarded as the soul of 
some great warrior. Only a few of the stars and constella- 
tions are named, and these, as might be expected, are the 
more striking of the ones that appear in the cold weather 
when night after night the sky is clear. In the rains it is so 
overcast that one rarely sees the stars at all. The Pleiades, 
as always, have caught the fancy. They are very bright 
and clear in this latitude for all their minuteness, and it 
is often possible to count seven and sometimes nine of them, 
though all do not seem to be visible at the same moment. 
The Semas, however, seem to notice the six larger ones only 
as a rule,^ though they say that there used to be seven, 

1 The Kukis have a similar legend regarding the changing about of 
the svin and moon, though the incident of throwing dtmg is omitted. There 
is also a Mexican story which ascribes the diminution in the moon's bright- 
ness, which used to equal that of the sun, to the gods having flung a rabbit 
in its face {Man, November, 1918, p. 165). "^ Or "node." 

^ Unless they regard these stars as moving about, which is not unlikely, 
as it seems impossible with the naked eye to see even seven at the same 
moment, and the efiect is not unlike that of a star popping in and out at 



reminding one of the Greek tradition that the seventh star 
of the Pleiades (Pleione) had fled at the time of the Trojan 
War. The Semas call the Pleiades Ayenikilimi, " The Star 
Princesses. "1 They were a company of pretty girls who 
were spinning and making Hquor in a rich man's house 
when they were killed in a sudden raid on the village. They 
still dance in the heavens as they did on the earth. 

The Belt of Orion is the most obvious of all constellations 
to those who live in these hills. It is known as Phoghwosii- 
lesipfemi, the " Rooftree-carriers," and was once three men 
who were killed by their enemies as they were carr^dng a 
tree to make the roof-beam of a house. The small stars 
that form the sword or scabbard are sometimes regarded 
as the enemies that ambushed the " Rooftree-carriers." 

The Milky Way is known as Azughongu or Aizilghongu, 
" The Soul-River."2 

No distinction other than that of size is drawn between 

different places. Thus the Gurkhas call them Kochhpachi, the " hurly- 
burly." Sir James Frazer ("The Golden Bough," 3rd ed., vol. vii, 
pp. 307, note 2, 312, Ime 1, and note on the Pleiades, passim) suggests 
that savages see no more than six because of defective vision. As the 
vision of Nagas is usually very keen, I doubt if this explanation of the 
reason why only six are usually seen is the real one. It is more likely 
mere inattention. I have known men, when asked how many there are, 
reply, " I can't say, I never counted them." On the other hand, the 
Angamis see seven and say so. They were, in Angami story, seven men 
who were killed by raiders while digging up bamboo rats, and seven is 
an unlucky number among the Angamis, and parties of seven are strictly 
avoided by traders or warriors on the warpath or a-hvuating. Meches, 
too, call the Pleiades the Seven Brothers. The visibility of Pleione seems 
to vary in the Naga Hills. In the winter of 1915—16 I frequently noticed 
the star distinctly, while in that of 1918-19 I was unable to detect it 
without field-glasses (in spite of a very clear sky) as anj^thing more than a 
blurred or twinkling aspect of Atlas. 

The Thado Kukis say that the Pleiades are a number of brothers who 
only had one cloth between them and had to cover themselves with it 
all at the same time. To the belt and sword of Orion they give the name 
of a rat that digs its hole deep down in a direct line from the surface of 
the groimd and then turns off at right angles. Shooting stars, they say, 
are going to the " deka chang " or bachelors' hall, and they have a song 
which represents them as calling to the other stars to join them there. 
^ Aye = star, niki-limi = kinilimi (fem. of kinimi), " rich girls." 
* It might mean merely the reflection of a river : aghonvgu = shadow, 
reflection, soul ; azii = water; aizil = a river, pool, or stretch of still 
deep water ; but " river-soul " is perhaps more likely. 

252 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

the smaller stars (ayesil) and the planets or big stars 
(ayepu). Of the planets, Venus is known as " The Sema 
Star " (Siyepu) ; another, probably Mercury, as " The 
Tushomi Star " (Tushyepu). The identity of Venus when 
she appears as the morning star with her appearance as 
the evening star seems to be reaUsed. Falling or shooting 
stars are just ayeba — " star-dung." 

In June, 1915, the villages of Alapfumi and Lumitsami 
saw a moon and a sun^ rise together in the east. On the 
appearance of this phenomenon all the young rice died, 
but when an hour or so later the sun was seen to shine by 
himself as usual, the rice took heart again, no doubt, for the 
young plants revived. The occurrence was beUeved un- 
precedented, but was thought to be possibly connected with 
a recent epidemic in Lumitsami. Anyhow, a strict genua 
was observed by that village, which abstained from eating 
vegetables during its observance. 

Earthquakes {tsufsii-kogholu, prob.= " world rending "^) 
are caused by some spirits raising the earth as though it 
were paddy, to test the weight and fruitfulness of it. They 
are usually followed by a poor harvest. ^ 

The rainbow (milesu) is spoken of as " The Seraph's 
foot " {kungumi 'pukhu) and rests upon earth in some spot 
where a sacrifice has been made in the fields. Should it 
fall in a village it portends the death in war within the year 
of someone in that village. 

Lightning — sheet Hghtning, that is — is the " Flashing of 
Iki's dao," Iki being a fabled fellow of excessive cunning who 
cheated the tiger more than once as well as his fellow men.* 
But no further explanation is forthcoming as to what Iki is 
doing flashing his dao in the sky. Forked hghtning is called 
amusuh and marks the fall of a celt and the wrath of heaven 

^ Or, as some said, two suns. 

^ Or tsutailii, perhaps = " heaven-shivering." 

* The Kukis in the event of an earthquake call out " We are alive ; 
we are alive," so that the god under the earth, who is conceived of as 
shaking it to find out if men still inhabit it, shall know they are there and 
desist. They also attribute earthquakes to the presence of a great snake 
that coils round the world. When it succeeds in biting its own tail the 
earth is shaken. * See Part VI. 


on the stricken object. Thunder is atsutsiitsu ( = " Heaven- 
tearing ") or tsutsiikussu. 

The conception in the Sema mind of a river, at any rate 
a large river, appears to be rather that of a conscious and 
personate being rather than merely the abode of a spirit. 
Thus one of the few really serious oaths that can be adminis- 
tered to Semas is that on the water of the Tapu (Dayang) 
River, a small quantity of which is drunk by the swearer. 
Even a man who has sworn truly on Dayang water will 
often be afraid of crossing it or of eating fish from 
it, lest he should have taken its name in vain and not 
be held guiltless. The same probably applies to other 
rivers such as the Tuzii (Tizu), the Nanga (Dikhu), and 
the Tiitsa (Tita). It also apphes, in a lesser degree 
probably, to the water of the village spring. So, too, 
when crossing any biggish river by a bridge, a Sema 
almost always throws down on it, apparently as a present 
to the stream, which may object to being crossed in this 
way, a scrap of greenstuff plucked from the bank or a stone 
picked up from the path. The thought underlying this is 
not, however, very clear, and it may be that the bridge itself 
as such is the abode of some dangerous spirit, just as the 
Semas who went to France with the Labour Corps, when 
getting into a railway train for the first time, dropped copper 
coins in considerable numbers on the railway track to 
propitiate the spirits that belonged to it. 

Stones are also the subjects of some beliefs which are, 
from the civiUsed point of view, decidedly radical. The idea 
that stones can breed, begetting and conceiving offspring, 
is not easy to assimilate, but the aghucho, " war-stones," 
have been already mentioned.^ Like them, too, the charm- 
stones (anagha, ashegha) breed and increase. AnagJia are 
kept in the paddy and conduce to plentiful crops, ensure 
their lasting well, and among other duties fight the mice that 

^ There seems to be a legend about a stone called Puzi at Champhimi, 
or on the ridge near that village, having been overthrown by the mountain 
Tukahu. Possibly this story reflects some tradition of the overthrow or 
expulsion of Rengmas by Semas or of Semas by Angamis. One may 
compare the traditions of the fighting stones of the Khasia hills, or Duilong, 
the Lhota stone which overthrew the stone at Changchang of the Ao tribe, 

254 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

come to eat and despoil. In proof of this, every true anagha 
has on its surface the marks where mice have bitten it. 
These marks are, curiously enough, exactly like the imprint 
of a rodent's gnawing.^ The stones are usually smallish, 
heavy nodules about the size of a pigeon's egg or bigger, 
round or oval, and black. When rubbed with the finger 
a wet smear appears. If burnt they make, it is said, a very 
loud report. They also have a disconcerting habit of 
running away and hiding in unexpected places. While the 
round or oval charm-stones are called anagha and associated 
with rice, the irregular ones are compared to the hind leg 
of a pig, the head of a deer, etc., and contribute to 
plenteousness of flesh, whether wild or tame. These are 
called ashegJia and kept in the house to ensure success in 
hunting and the prosperity and fruitfulness of livestock. 
The probable derivation is from the root of teghami ; 
anagha <ana = " husked rice " and {te)gha = " spirit," 
ashegha <ashe = " deer," " game " (or ashi = " meat," 
probably the same word originally), and -gha. It is probable, 
however, that the significance of the derivation is not 
realised, as the stones are not regarded as real teghami, 
though they are often held to have a more or less animate 
existence and certainly to act as prosperity charms. They 
are taken out at times and pig's fat is put on them for their 
delectation and nourishment. 

A black stone about 18 inches long, picked up in the 
fields at Natsimi somewhere about the year 1906, had (in 

^ One anagha in my possession appears to have been rubbed at one end 
and the " tooth-marks " at the other appear to be the result of dehberate 
incisions. It has occurred to me that this stone was intended to be made 
into an implement, the broader end being rubbed down and worked to a 
cutting edge and the more pointed being roughened and reduced to form 
a tang. An Angami once told me that all true charm-stones were elongated. 
If this supposition is correct, one may imagine how suitable stones of the 
right material (hard rock, like olivine and serpentine, is rare in the hills) 
would be saved up and, after the introduction of iron, would survive as 
treasures, the real purpose for which they had been intended being 
forgotten, even though many might already be partially worked. The 
prevalence of " mice's tooth-marks " might be due to the incising of 
stones when found to make sure that they were of the right texture. 
Montesinos {Memorias Antiguas Historialea del Peru, Hakluyt Soc, 1920, 
p. 86) mentions small stones identified, like Naga celts, with thunderbolts, 
kept (as anagha by Kacha Nagas) in little baskets, and used as love charms. 

Celts found at or nkar Sekomi Village. A.ya(i//a suuwinl; Scars 


THE Mice or Rats \v^TH 


N.B. — The tape measure shows the scale in inches. 

Iron Blades at present in use and Celts found in Sema Country. 

1. Iron Axe (or Adze) Blade — Amoghu (Amkeh). 

2. „ Hoe Blade, tafuchi. imported from Yachungr Tribe. 

3. ,, ,, ,. hanqo-kupu. 
4 ,, ,, pushye-knpa. 

5, 6, '7. Stone Celts. I^"-^"^' "• -•'■•• 


1912) acquired a regular cult. It has an interpreter who 
communicates with it in dreams, in which it appears as a 
human being, the stone itself being said to walk about in 
human form by night. The stone has been put in a niche 
in a cliff where only one or two can approach at a time. It 
is said to foretell success or failure in trading ventures, a 
coin, usually a pice,i being handed to the interpreter, who 
places it on the sloping side of the stone. If it slips off, the 
omen is bad, if it stays on it is good. The behaviour of 
the coin depends, as a matter of fact, on the precise spot 
on which the stone's " dobashi " puts it, as the inclination 
of the slope varies. The number of pice collected from its 
devotees by this stone is considerable, and, though he stoutly 
denies it, the stone's " dobashi " no doubt disposes of them, 
while he gives out that the stone itself removes them by 
night. This stone grows, and is incredibly reported to have 
increased its length by several inches since its first appear- 
ance. It had, when the wTiter saw it, a greasy surface 
and received a surreptitious finger-print, though leaving no 
grease on the finger. It is said on more or less reliable 
information to change colour — possibly under changing 
atmospheric conditions. Its vogue is considerable among 
the neighbouring villages, particularly the Rengma villages 
just west of Natsimi. The approaches to the stone are 
marked with the remnants of innumerable sacrifices of 
eggs, fowls, and pigs, and fowls released at the spot w^ere 
reported to stay there of their own accord. Lazemi has two 
stones which are kept buried and dug up at irregular 
intervals of about three years or so at the instance of the 
principal religious official of the village, who shares the secret 
of their abiding place with two other old men. These two 
stones are male and female and, of course, cohabit and breed 
prolifically ; their existence, safe-keeping, and propitiation 
(or nourishment) are regarded as essential to the prosperity 
of the village. The stones, which are buried in the ground, 
come to the surface of their own accord on the proper date, 
when they are produced and feasted, after which they are 
buried again in secret by the three old men. 

^ Value one farthing or so of English money, but with greater purchasing 
power locally. 

256 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

With reference to these beUefs in Natsimi and Lazemi, it 
is to be remembered that both villages are west of the 
Dayang and in closer contact with Lhota practices than 
the majority of the Sema tribe. The cult of stones is 
marked among the Lhotas, but is not particularly noticeable 
among Semas in general. There are, however, certain 
stones which are looked upon with some superstitious feehngs. 
By the side of the bridle-path from Mokokchung to Lumami 
there is an outcrop of shaly reddish sandstone to which 
every passer-by makes a present^ — usually a pebble or a 
bit of stone picked up from the path and tossed casually 
on to the stone while going by. Again, between Alapfumi 
and Lumitsami the path is in one place cut in the rock. 
This is a crumbUng bit of cHff with gaping strata which 
harbour a number of snakes. It is regarded as a special 
home of some spirit, and the Semas of some adjacent villages 
object most strongly to its being cut away to improve the 
bridle-path, and will not do the work themselves on any 
account ; nor is it regarded as anything but rash in the 
extreme, if not actually mischievous or impious, to try to 
kill any snake living in the cracks in that rock. A man once 
tried to do so. He failed, but nearly died himself as a result 
of his attempt. 

Celts, as already noted, are called Poghupu-moghii (i.e., 
" Toad axes "),^ and are beUeved to be thunderbolts falling 

^ Alternative erqalanations {vide " The Golden Bough," 3rd ed., 
vol. ix, p. 9 et sqq.) have occurred to me, but there is no evidence to suggest 
any explanation of this particular case as other than one in which presents 
are offered to the stone. The Semas themselves so describe it. It is 
possible that these stones, and the similar presents of stones and grass 
offered when crossing a river by a bridge, were originally substitutes 
offered to the spirit of the place, to be accepted by him in lieu of the person 
of the passer-by, as an alternative subject for his unpleasant attentions. 
If so, this would seem to have been forgotten. It may perhaps be inferred 
from note 4 on p. 9 of the passage in " The Golden Bough " referred to 
that actions of this sort may gradually have developed into the mere 
offering of gifts in other parts of the world also. That the Semas regard 
them nowadays as propitiatory offerings is probably established by the 
offerings of " pice " given to the railway by the Sema labourers as 
above mentioned. 

* Almost all other tribes speak of them as " spirit hoes," " god-axes," 
etc., e.g., Miighka-wo (= "spirit's hoe" — Chang), Potso-phu (= "god- 



in a flash of lightning. The real essence returns to heaven, 
the mere husk only remaining on earth. The name is 
probably significant of the connection between the Toad and 
Kichimiya, the spirit of fruitfulness, who gives the crops. 
The Toad is his friend, though no one seems to know much 
more about the relationship between them. The possession 
of celts is not, as a rule, so highly prized by Semas as by 
Angamis. The Sema who finds a celt, however, does not 
(like the Lhota) refuse to touch it. He always keeps it and 
believes that it causes fertility to his beans and possibly 
to his other crops of minor importance. He often uses it 
as a whetstone. Celts used to be found with some frequency 
near Seromi, Yehimi, and Tichipami. They are highly 
reminiscent of Naga iron implements, having plano-convex 
edges (flat one side, rounded the other, like a Naga dao)^ 
and slightly indented slioulders so as to facilitate fitting to 
a wooden handle. The flat surfaces of the blade end are 
polished, but the round ones of the tang end are left rough. 
The stone of which they are made is, as a rule, either a 
greenish stone resembUng serpentine, or a black stone of 
almost exactly the same appearance as the anagha and 
ashegha. There are two types, the majority being more or 
less triangular with some attempt at making shoulders, and 
the others longer with less difference in width and no attempt 
at shouldering. The wear of the latter exactly corresponds 
to the wear of the average iron hoe, the right-hand corner 
(as the hoe is held when in use) being much worn. They 
vary in length from 5 inches to 1| or less, in breadth from 

axe " — Lhota), Kutahr-pu (or vu = " god-axe " — Ao), etc. The Angami, 
however, does not use any such expression. The Kuki, while using another 
word, nevertheless says that celts are the hoes of the sky -spirit, and they 
explam the fact that they are occasionally picked up by human beings by 
relating how sometimes, when the sky-spirit is laboriously working at 
the perfection of his hoes, he is infuriated by the incessant shrilling of the 
cicada and hurls his unfinished implement at the tormentor. Thus it 
falls to the ground and is found of mortals. To anyone who has suffered 
at the cicada's hands the story is most convincing. 

1 I have only once seen a Naga dao that was not plano-convex. It was 
a Konyak dao fresh from the forge at Wakching with a flat edge on both 
sides. I fancy it was about the first Naga dao ever made so. Tliat was 
in 1916, but I have not seen any more since. 


258 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

3 J inches to about half an inch, and in thickness from nearly 
1| inches to less than half an inch. As these celts are 
regarded as " dead " they naturally do not breed. It may 
be added that in the same way any charm -stone can be 
killed by inflicting a wound or burning it, so that a chpped 
charm -stone has no virtue, though this does not apply to 
the wounds of mice's teeth, which are the proof of its 
genuineness. It is probably not so very long, comparatively 
speaking, since the Semas acquired the use of iron. Mr. 
Ogle in 1875, when he visited Chishilimi surveying, noticed^ 
that " 3 or 4 inches " of worn spear butt would fetch a rupee, 
and that when the rupee, in the Naga Hills at any rate, was 
worth far more than it is now. Two annas would be about 
the present value. 

Beliefs attaching to animals are, of course, legion, and a 
book might be made of them alone. Many have been touched 
on already, and some will be found embodied in the stories 
in Part VI, but one or two instances may here be given of 
the sort of powers with which animals are credited. A leech 
if cut in half dies. If cut in three pieces, however, a little 
bird takes the middle part as his share and joins the two 
end parts together by way of return. This belief appears 
to be common to all Naga tribes and is, at any rate, known 
to Semas, Lhotas, Aos, Changs, and Phoms. The leech, of 
course, is one of the minor trials of the hills, as it swarms 
everywhere throughout all jungles in the rains, and the 
word for leech ^ is one of the comparatively few words that 
are very patently traceable to a common root among most 
of the Naga tribes. Again there is the flying fox ^ caUed 
agho, which flies over the Sema country in the cold weather 
and goes in orderly formations, but returns, it is said, in a 
disorderly rout. These " birds " are held to be going to 

1 Para. 11, Appendix A to the " Report on the Survey Operations in the 
Naga Hills, 1875-76." 

- Angami — reva. Kacha Naga (Lyengmai) — the-ba-po. 

Chang — wdth. Lhota — iva. 

[Kuki (Thado) — wat, wa.] Sema — aive. 

Kacha Naga (Zemi) — them-bat. Sangtam — avi. 
* It is usually spoken of as a bird, and, as it seems rarely found in the 
Sema country and is only seen when flying, the mistake is not imnatural. 


make war on Toti-ina, the Amazons' village, which is just 
east of Murromi, the village of tiger-men ah-eady referred to. 
The disorderly manner in which they return is due to the 
squabbles they are having about the heads that they have 
secured. On the way over the hills they commission bees 
to go and take men's heads for them. The bees go and 
try to bite off a hair from a man's head, and if they get it 
and carry it away to the agho, the man dies. The passage 
of these bats over a village is said always to be followed 
by death. 

From Toti-ina are beheved to come the little gongs of 
bell metal (probably Singpho work) which are imported 
from the East and sometimes worn hanging on the front of 
the cowrie-covered lengtas called amini-kedah. And from 
there, too, come certain spears that are really made by the 
smiths of the Kalyo-kengyu tribe in their slate-roofed houses 
in territory still unvisited by white men. 

The giant wood-louse that curls himself up into a striped 
ball the size of a 2 oz. bullet is regarded as a most pernicious 
insect. When a man goes by, he curls up and stays so for 
a considerable time, after his manner. Some time later 
he uncurls. By and by comes a teghami hunting the man 
after the manner of spirits. " Has that man gone by ? " 
says he. " How long since did he pass ? " " Oh," says 
the wood-louse, " he has just gone. I curled up when he 
came, and I have just uncurled again." So the teglmmi 
continues the pursuit and, it may be, catches the man. The 
spider, on the other hand, sees the man go by and goes on 
spinning his web. When the teghami asks the spider the 
same question the spider replies, " He passed long ago. 
See ! I have spun all this since then ! " and shows his 
cobweb, when the teghami gives up hope and his pursuit. 
Semas seeing the giant wood-louse in the path, stamp on it 
and destroy it. 

A centipede that curls up like an ammonite is called 
Utimi-nodu (= "Dead Man's Earring" or "Ghost's Ear- 
ring "), a name which, in their own tongue, the Lhotas also 
give it. The strings of ants that one sees crossing and 
recrossing paths are going to attack their neighbours, and 

S 2 

26o THE SEMA NAGAS part 

it is from them that men iirst learnt the art of war. The 
chattering of certain birds foretells the presence of game, 
or fortmie or misfortune in war. 

The time of sowing is foretold by the call of the Kasupapo 
and by the ascendancy of Orion's belt, and the whole Sema 
calendar depends on the time of sowing. Indeed in some 
of the more eastern villages there seems to be no real 
calendar at all, and the times of year are just given names 
according to the work that is done, the year being reckoned 
always by the jhums cleared.^ The items in the programme 
of the agricultural year are all known and are gone through 
consecutively in the same order year after year, and the 
lapse of time is marked by referring to the period of such- 
and-such an operation, but this can hardly be called a 
calendar. The Cis-Dayang villages, however, (and probably 
others which are subject to Angami influences) have a 
regular calendar of twelve months in the year, as have also 
the northern Semas, though the months of the latter have 
different names from those of the former and differ among 
themselves a good deal. The majority of Semas seem to 
have no intercalary months, but the Cis-Dayang Semas 
probably have, like the Angamis, some intercalary days. 
In any case, the reckoning is both vague and rather 
arbitrary, and, as it is not written or recorded in any way, 
it can be roughly corrected from time to time by the arbitrary 
rulings of the " Old men who know," the unofficial and 
decidedly untrustworthy trustees of the calendar. It is 
regarded as genua for the younger men to attempt to keep 
the reckoning. 

The year of the Cis-Dayang Semas begins, like the Angami 
year, about October, just before the harvest ; but the other 
Semas seem to end their year with harvest-home, beginning 
it about January. The Cis-Dayang months are given 
as : — 

1 Thus a man asked his age will say that he can remember such- 
and-such a field having been cut so many times and the interval 
between its cutting is so many years. This reckoning is, of course, 
very vagiie, as the interval of years between the clearing of a given 
field and its next cleariaig tends to decrease considerably as the villages 




1. Akinekhi (i). 

2. Ghikusokhi. 

3. Apokusdkhi. 

4. Asophukhi. 

5. Aposhakhi. 
G. Athikukhi. 
~. Aghihukhi. 
8. Akinekhi (ii). 

9. Amozakhi. 

10. Tuluni. 

1 1 . Kimnyakhi. 

12. Amtlmklii. 

The trans-Dayang Asimi villages probablj^ observe much 
the same calendar. Of the other 8emas, the northern 
villages observe a calendar as follows : — 


5. Wozhokhi. 

(k Mozalhi. 

7. Mozakhi-akinyn. 

8. Anyekhi. 

\). Teghekhi. 

10. Saghekhi. 

11. Ghilekhi. 

12. Aifikupukhi, 

or Aonakuchukhi. 

Obviously, No. 1) of the first calendar corresponds to No. 6 
or No. 7 of the second, as does No. 2 in the first to No. 11 
in the second. Ghilekhi in the month oi reaping. Kimnyakhi 
probably corresponds to Anyekhi, the month of the Anye 
genna. A certain amount of Ught is thrown on the connec- 
tion of the two calendars b}^ the variations from the latter 
of the southern Tizu valley Zumomi. These have Nos. 4, 
5, and 6 of the second calendar identical. Mozakhi, however, 
is followed by Lurukhi, and this by Tulunikhi, corresponding 
apparently to No. 10 in the first calendar and apparently 
also to Mozakhi-akinyu in the second, as it is followed by 
Kichiminikhi, which certainly corresponds to Kimnyakhi 
and Anyekhi. Kichiminikhi is followed by Lahiikhi and 
that again by Saghekhi (the month of the Saghe genna), 
and then by Saghe-athuivukhi, '' the month after Saghe, " 
this being followed by Ghilekhi. Lusakhi marks the burning 
of the old jhums, Kichiminikhi is the month in wliich the 
new millet just reaped comes into use, and Aonakuchukhi is 
the month in which the new rice is available for food. The 
variations in the calendar probably correspond in some 
degree to variations in agriculture necessitated by differences 
of climate in different localities. 

Generally speaking, the Sema finds it difficult to >;»>■ 
offhand either the number of months in the year or thcii- 

262 THE SEMA NAGAS pt. iv 

names, and can only get them in order by a deal of thought. 
Even then, he generally gets the number wrong, and one is 
often assured that there are ten months in the year or 
sometimes even thirteen. ^ 

1 The Changs reckon eleven months to the year and fill in with " naklig," 
a space which is not reckoned at all, but is regarded as night. It may noD 
be coimted, as to do so is genna, since it belongs to the spirits. The Changs 
are careful observers of the siui, and the naklig is perhaps the direct result 
of the detection of the difference between the lunar and the solar year. 


(1) Twins. Twins among the Semas are more frequent than among 
neighbouring tribes. They are on the whole held unfortunate, partly 
owing to the added trouble to the mother, partly owing to a belief that 
they are less strong than single children, and that if one die the other will 
not long survive. Hoito of Sakhalu and his t^vin sister (p. 144, Fed. Ill) 
are quoted as an instance. Some appear to think that the birth of twins 
is followed by the early death of both parents. iMore than two children 
at a birth seems to be unheard of. 

(2) " Apodia" deaths. — Besides death in childbed, death at the hands 
of lightning, fire, water, or wild animals, or the fall of or from a tree, or 
by suicide, are regarded as " apocUa " (asiikesalo) — in some way accursed 
and contagious. The body must not be buried in front of the house, but 
at the back instead or in broken ground near by where men do not walk 
about {cf. the Garo belief, Playfair, op. cit., p. 105, Garos killed by wild 
animals being reincarnated in that form). 

Animals killed by carnivora are regarded in a similar light and called 
ketseshe. Their flesh may not be eaten by women. 

In the case of both men and animals the evil attaching to the manner 
of death and the prohibitions entailed can be avoided if before expiry the 
unfortunate can be caused to consume food or drink. It is enough to 
pour a little water into the mouth of the dying or even to spit into it. 

(3) A curse is effected by men naming the one to bs cursed, flourishing 
their daos and spitting in unison. It is evaded by passing a fowl round 
the person and letting it go into the jungle. It is called ghapiu — 
" devoted to the spirit " or "jungle." The same is done after taking a false 
oath, etc. 





Readers of Herodotus will remember the passage which 
relates how the Scythians sent Darius a symbolic message 
consisting of a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. * 
A similar use of symbolism to convey or merely to emphasise 
a message is common among all Naga tribes. The com- 
monest symbols used by the Semas are those of a panji, a 
burnt stick, and a chilli. A challenge to war is usually 
conveyed by a broken panji. The writer once received a 
challenge to personal combat purporting to come from the 
chief of the Yachungr village of Saporr and accompanied 
by a chilli impaled on a panji, signifying that if he declined 
the challenge he was only fit to be impaled like a sacrificed 
dog and would be made to smart with a smarting as of 
many chillies. In point of fact the message was probably 
concocted by the village of Sotogorr or by some Semas who 
had a grudge against Saporr and wished to get the village 
into trouble. Another of the commonest of all symbols 
in the Sema country is the laying of greenstuff or any other 
barrier across a path to intimate to persons following that 
the man who has preceded them has not followed the path 
so barred. 2 It is enough, when using such a symbol, merely 
to throw down in the path which is not to be followed a 
handful of leaves or grass. 

As to the use of symbols, however, most of what has 

^ Herod, iv. 131. So during the Kuki rebellion of 1917-19 a large 

number of such symbolic messages of the most varied composition were 

circulated in the hills by the Kukis, an ear-bead meaning " Hear (and 

obey) ! " being usually attached to them. 

* Vide infra. Part VI, story No. xvii. 


266 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

been said about it in the Angami monograph appKes, gene- 
rally speaking, to the Semas too, and the same may be said 
of the Sema use of the Assamese language. Indeed, the 
Assamese language, as used in the Naga Hills, is peculiarly 
well adapted for the reproduction of Naga idioms, and as 
a vehicle of interpretation it makes a far better lingua franca 
for the Hills than Hindustani or English would, the substitu- 
tion of which for Assamese has been occasionally suggested. 

The Sema language itself, like that of all Naga tribes, 
varies both in vocabulary and in pronunciation from village 
to village. There are, however, certain groups within which 
the language is comparatively stable. The divergence is 
most marked between the dialect spoken by Lazemi and 
the other Semas of the Dayang Valley and that in use in 
the Tizu Valley. The villages in between differ from both 
to some extent, but incline decidedly towards the Tizu 
Valley dialect, from which the Dayang Valley language is 
so different as not to be ordinarily understood by a Sema 
not in touch with Dayang Valley villages. 

In the Tizu Valley, again, there is considerable difference 
in pronunciation. The northern villages of the Yepothomi, 
Awomi, Ayemi, and other clans are apt to cUp and shorten 
their words even more than the Ziimomi villages lower down 
the river. For instance, " mlai " becomes " mla" " pilesai " 
'' pisai," and so forth. Particularly noticeable is the 
dropping of final i in the northern villages : " ani " becomes 
" an\" Yehimi becomes Yehim\ Also il at the end of a 
word is used where the others use i, while the / in pf is 
dropped entirely. At the same time the vocabulary is 
very much the same. The villages, however, of the central 
plateau, such as Sanakesami, have many differences of 
vocabulary as well as differences of pronunciation, and 
Seromi and its neighbours to the north differ similarly 
from the Tizu Valley Semas. The village of Aichi-Sagami 
has a trick of inverting the order of words and even syllables, 
particularly with interrogations. There is a Sema jest which 
aptly illustrates the differences of vocabulary from village 
to village. Seven men of different villages happened to 
paeet by the road one evening. They asked one another 


what they had got with them to eat with their rice. Each 
mentioned a different thing — atusheh, gwomisid, mngishi, 
amusa, akelho, etc., inchiding, as some understood it, dried 
fish, meat, and various kinds of vegetables. They agreed 
to pool their good things and share alike and sat down 
prepared for a feast, each one thinking how he had scored 
by agreeing to share with his neighbours. When they 
opened their loads, they all produced chilhes. 

The dialect followed here is, as far as possible, based on 
that of the Ziimomi and other Semas situated round the 
upper waters of the Kiliki river, and more or less in the 
centre of the administered parts of the Sema country, as 
well as on that of the Tizu Valley. The dialect of the 
Yepothomi Semas on the Upper Tizu differs slightly in 
pronunciation, but scarcely at all in vocabulary. The 
vocabulary to this grammar, however, is rather more 
cosmopolitan, containing words picked up at random any- 
where in the Sema country, central Sema forms taking 
precedence. A few Dayang Valley forms are given in 
square brackets by way of contrast. 

Elisions of vowels or syllables have been marked by an 
apostrophe, but in the majority of cases the full form has 
been written. Great difficulty is caused in understanding 
Sema by the frequency of elisions. Thus No etadolo izuwuni 
aie ? (= " Are you going on tour these days ? ") Avould be 
reduced to No' dolo 'zunyaie ? At the same time actual 
inversions of letters and syllables, such as apuku for akupu 
(leg, foot) or tikila for Jcitila (little), are very frequent. 
A further difficulty is encountered in the tonal nature of 
the language. Words will be found precisely the same, 
but differing in meaning according to the tone in which 
they are pronounced ; e.g., Achui pronounced in a high tone 
means a frog, in a low tone a " serau," while pronounced 
in a tone midAvay between the two it means a " green 
pigeon"; azU (high) = Kquor, azU (low) = (1) blood, 
(2) rat. The number of meanings attaching to one word is 
a great stumbling-block ; akuhn, for instance, means red, 
huluk, bug, root, raw, and other equally disconnected things. 

In sentences and words given as examples the verbs 'Mo 

268 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

come " and " to go " have been generally given with their 
fuU root forms givogh and gwo. In ordinary speech the 
abbreviated roots egh or gh and gu or wu are much more 

The quality given to aspirates varies as much as, or even 
more than, quality given to vowels. The sound represented 
by gh, for instance, varies in practice from an ordinary English 
" g " to nothing at all. The normal value is a guttural sound 
something like the Arabic " gJiain " (A), but this is often 
slurred into a mere " w." 

The only printed authorities on the Sema language are 
(1) Sir G. Grierson's " Linguistic Survey of India," vol. iii, 
part ii, where he includes Sema in the western Naga sub- 
group of the Naga group ; and (2) the rudimentary grammar 
by the writer of this monograph, of which the present account 
is nothing more than a shghtly abbreviated revision. The 
vocabulary and specimens, however, given by Sir George 
Grierson in his sketch of Sema were probably recorded 
entirely through the media of other languages and seem to 
be based primarily on the dialect of Lazemi and the Dayang 
Valley Semas, which is confined in scope to a few villages, 
and which is with difficulty understood by the bulk of the 

The brief outline of Sema which follows makes no preten- 
sion to being an exhaustive or really scientific grammar, ^ 
and the vocabulary ^ has been shortened as far as possible 
by omitting words given elsewhere in the pages preceding it. 

1 A review by Mr. Grant Brown of Mr. Pettigrew's " Tangkhul Naga 
Grammar " {Man, February, 1919) is very severe on persons who have the 
audacity to reduce an unwritten language to writing in spite of an ignorance 
of phonetics. The writer's excuse, however, must be that, however 
bad his attempt may be, it is the best available, as there is probably no 
other person at all with a knowledge enough both of Sema and English for 
the purpose, and no previous reduction to writing exists at all, except the 
section allotted to Sema in Sir George Grierson's work already mentioned. 

The alphabet used is approximately that recommended by the Royal 
Geographical Society, though the doubling of a consonant to indicate the 
shortening of a preceding vowel has been eschewed as inexpedient. The 
system does not differ materially from Sir George Grierson's, and it is 
probably much better suited to practical purposes than the elaborate, if 
scientific, phonetic alphabet. 

* See Appendix VI. 


The alphabet that follows shows the value given to the 
letters of the Roman character when used for writing the 
Sema language, which has, of course, no written character 
of its own. Vowels have their Continental rather than 
their English values, and the accent is on the whole evenh* 
distributed, though a faint stress is laid on the first, third, 
and fifth syllables of a word, in preference to the second, 
fourth, etc., as a rule. Unusual stresses have been indicated. 

(a) Simple. 

B as in English. 

D ditto. 

F ditto. 

G always hard, as in " gun," except when it is joined with 
" n " in " ng," wliich is pronounced like the " ng " 
in " singer," the " g " sound not being carried on to 
a following vowel. 

H as in " Heaven," always sounded when written. 

J as in " joy." 

K as in Enghsh, but perhaps very slightly aspirated. 

L as in English. 

M ditto. 

N ditto, shown as n when nasal as in French. 

P ditto. 

R as " rr " in " carry." (" R " is practically non-existent 
in the language as spoken by the southern Semas and 
is rare among all Semas, who find the sound difficult 
to enunciate.) 

S as in " this." Always sibilant. 

T as in Hindustani with the tongue against the upper teeth. 

V as in English. 
W ditto. 

Y as in " yes " ; always consonantal and never merely 

equivalent to a vowel. 
Z as in EngUsh. 
(6) Aspirated. 

Ch as in " church," always soft.^ 

' C only used in the aspirated form Ch, Q and X discarded. 

270 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Gh represents a peculiar guttural g approximating to the 
Arabic • ((r/^ain) and sometimes approaching an 

" R " sound. " Gh " takes the place in Sema that 
" R " does in Angami. 
Kh as in " funk-hole." Also as the " ch " in the Scotch 
" loch," in which case it is written M. But the 
pronunciavtion varies, as in the case of " gh," very 
considerably, according to the individual speaking or 
at least his village. 
Ph as in " tap-house," not as " f." 

8h as in " shall," but sometimes interchangeable with " s." 
Tib as in " pot-house," not as in " pith." 
Zh a,s " s " in " treasure " or as the French " j." 
All other aspirated consonants are pronounced on the 
same principle as the pronunciation of pJi and th. 

(ii) VOWELS. 

(a) Simple. The usual value 

A long as in " father." 1 of the vowel is 

A sharp as in " pant." j somewhere be- 

tween these two. 
A also occasionally short as u in " cut." 
E long as a in " pay." \ 
E short as in " HeU." j 

/ long as in " ravine " or as e in " me." 1 ^., , 
, 1 ,.,,,. ,, \ Ditto. 

1 short as m tin. J 

long as in "go." | ^^^ 

O short as in got. J 

sUghtly broader than above, perhaps as 

in " gone," shorter than oa in " broad." 
U long as uin " flute " or as oo in " pool." \ -^. 
C/ short as in " pull." j 

U almost as oe in German " Goeben," as u in " churn," 

but sometimes tending towards the French w of " tu." 
(6) Diphthongs. 
Ai as in " aisle " or as i in " ice." 
Au as ow in " cow." 
Oi as oy in " oyster." 


N.B. — Om is pronounced, not as a true diphthong, but as 
two more or less distinct sounds. The diseresis is not 
written to avoid confusion with " ii." Ao is a slightly 
longer sound than aw. the two vowels being so pronounced 
that their separate sounds can just be distinguished. 

The value of the simple vowel has purposely not been too 
closely defined. In the first place, the pronunciation of 
vowels varies considerably, not only between villages, but 
between individuals. In the second place, the normal value 
of the vowel is very elusive and varies between the long 
and short quantities. Where the vowel is very definitely 
long or short, the marks - for long and ^ for short have 
been used. A pause between two syllables is marked by 
an apostrophe thus, ' , the ordinary apostrophe, ' , being 
used for the omission of a vowel. The dicX^resis is used to 
mark the separate pronunciation of contiguous vowels, 
except in the case of the vowel ii. The accent from left 
to right, ^ , is used to denote the sharp a, while that from 
right to left, ' , is used to indicate stress. 



1. Laki, khe. 

2. Kini. 

3. Kuthu. 

4. Bidhi, bidi. 

5. Pongu. 

6. Tsogha, soghoh. 

7. Tsini. 

8. Tache, thache. 

9. Tuku. 

10. Chiighi. 

11. Chiighi -khaki. 

12. Chiighi -kini, etc. 

17. Muku-ma tsini (or c hiighi -tsini ).i 

18. Muku-ma thache {or chiighi -thache). 

19. Muku-ma tuku {or chughi-tuku).^ 

1 See note on next page. 



20. Muku. 

21. Muku-khaki. 

22. Muku-na kini {or miiku-kini). 

23. Muku-na kiithu [or muku-klithu), etc. 

26. Muku-na tsogho, muku-tsoghoh. 

27. Seghi kumpa tsini [seghi kupvuma tsini.^] 

28. Seghi kumpa thache (etc.).i 

30. Seghi. 

31. Seghi-khaki. 

32. Seghi na kini, seghi-kini. 

33. Seghi -kiithu, etc. 

38. Lhobdi toma [upvoma] tache.^ 

40. Lhobdi. 

41. Lhobdi-khaki, lhobdi na laki, lhobdi laid. 

42. Lhobdi na kini, lhobdi kini. 
48. Lhopung toma tache.^ 

50. Lhopung u. 

60. Lhotsoghoh. 

70. Lhotsini. 

80. Lhothache. 

90. Lhotuku. 
100. Akeh. 
110. Akeh na chiighi. 

200. Akekini, khekini. 

201. Akekini na laki. 
300. Akekuthu. 

1000. Ketonhyeh, akeh akechiighi. 
1100. Ketonhyeh laki no akeh. 

In speaking of numbers the word paiia — the agentive 

^ N.B. — In the case of the last number, and generally of the last three 
numbers, short of any multiple of ten the number is expressed by saying 
"the 8 short of 30," "the 7 short of 50," etc., as the case may be. 
The expression " short of " is expressed by different words in the case of 
the tens, the twenties, and the multiples of ten above 20. Among the' 
northern Semas the straightforward form is possibly the commoner, 
except for the nines, which are almost always put in the indirect form. 
In some of the Tizu Valley villages the indirect form is used for even the 
sixes, the nearest multiple of ten being always used to reckon from, 
whether forward or backward. This method, however, is very rapidly 
becoming obsolete, alid the younger generation uses the direct forms even 
for the " nines." 


of the pronoun of the third person — pa, is sometimes 
used ; 

e.g. i mmu pana pongu ani = (lit.) my children tliey are 

Kipitimi pana kirii, totimi pana kilthu — two boys and 
three girls. 

Imislii pana Ihopung anni = I have 50 head of cattle. 
(Lit.) my cows they are 50. 

Khe — one, is used in counting only. 

Ketonhyeh, 1000, is used vaguely of very large numbers, 
like the word '" myriad " in English. 

(ii) Ordinals. 

Ordinals are only found up to three or four places, at any 
rate among the Semas of the Tizu Valley. 

1 st — athegJiiu {a tighishi) . 

2nd — (of more than three) pashelo, athegJiiushelo. 

2nd — (out of three) amithan. 

3rd — (out of more than three) amithau. 

Last — athekau. 

Athekau covers all after 2nd or 3rd as the case may be. 
These ordinals are the terms used for dividing the game got 
in hunting. 

(iii) Distributives. 

Singly = laki laki. 

Two by two = kini kini, etc. 

(iv) Numeral Adverbs. 

Once = Ohto laki. 
Twice = Ohto kini. 
Thrice = Ohto kiithu. 
Fourth = Ohto bidhi, etc. 

Half = Thiikha. 

Fraction, part = sazhe, asazhe. 

N.B. — The Sema method of counting is clearly based originally on the 
five fingers of the hand and the ten of the two hands. 

Changs, however, go up to the 20 digits of the hands and toes, taking 
that as a unit, and I have heard a Phom speak of " a whole man " meaning 
twenty, the maximum number of digits possessed by one man. 


274 THE SEMA NAGAS part 


The Sema noun has two forms — 

(1) The complete form, when it is preceded by the 

entonic a. 

(2) The enclitic form, when the entonic is dropped ; 
e.g. in complete form " atsa " = " word " — encUtic form 

" tsa." 

The complete form is used when the word stands alone 
or at the beginning of a sentence or is unqualified by a 
possessive pronoun, or other similar qualifjdng word 
immediately preceding it. 

The enclitic form is used when the noun is governed by a 
v/ord preceding it. 

e.g. Amti kiiniye clieni = I am come to buy salt. 
Pa'mti ahevi moi = His salt is not good. 

Kiu'tsa pi kya ? ''atsa kaJia " = '' Whsit word did you 
say ? " " No word." 

There are no cases, the case meanings being expressed by 
the use of post-positions (vide infra). (The personal pro- 
nouns, however, have an oblique form) ; 

e.g. Give it to Khupu = Khupu tsillo. 

The plural is sometimes formed by the suffix ko, particu- 
larly in the Dayang valley,^ but when the number is obvious 
from the context, this is usually omitted. 

Dobashiko hulao ani = The Dobashis are over there. 

Amishi kija aie ? = How many cows are there ? 

A common plural is formed in -uh ; e.g. apeli-mi = 
" brother " {or " brothers ") > apeliun = " brothers " — a 
definite plural. 

The post-position " vile " is, however, used almost as an 
objective case termination. Its proper sense is one of 
proximity or direction, but " Ivekuvile pilo " merely means 
" tell Iveku." The post-position -no, or sometimes -ye, is 
suffixed to the nominative of the verb when the noun repre- 
sents an agent by which something is done ; 

e.g. Sakhalu-no Abor'limi ipfii ghe = Sakhalu took the 
head of an Abor girl. 

^ The plural in -ko is not in general use anywhere else. 


-tje is used particularly when the noun is, so to speak, in 
a disjunctive position, e.g. " O Amiche, O Hocheliye " ( = " O 
Amiche, O Hocheli " ) in Part VI, story No. XX. 

Gender of Nouns. 

In the case of human beings sex is denoted by the use of 
different words, but in the case of animals and birds the 
sexes are differentiated by the use of certain suffixes distin- 
guishing males, females which have not given birth, and 
females which have given birth to offspring. 

(1) Used in the case of certain domestic animals : — 

Male. Female that has not Female that has 

given birtli. given birth. 

All. Ani. Akliu. 

e.g. Atsilyatsilli atsiiani=Si maiden atsukhu = a brood 

= a dog. bitch. bitch. 

Awoyawoli aivoni=a. sow that atvokhu—a, sow that 

= a hog. has not littered. has littered. 

(2) Used in the case of almost all wild animals and one or 
two domestic animals : — 

Atsii. AkhuJchoh. Akhu. 

e.g. Akahay akaliaHsil, a male ele- and oJcaha 'khuklioh, 
phant. etc. 

Avi > avitsii, a bull mithan, 

N.B. — Ashiki. a monkej-, maj' take either (1) or (2). 

(3) Used for all birds : — 

Adu. Akhukhoh. Akhu. 

e.g. Laliu > laliudu (a cock jungle fowl), etc. 

Formation from Verbs. 

A noun may be formed from verbs by prefixing Ke to 
the root and suffixing -mi (man, men) ; 

e.g. ti = die yKetimi — dead man or dead men. 
Puka =- thieve > Kepukami = thief, thieves. 

T 2 

276 THE SEMA NAGAS part 


The adjective follows the noun qualified. 

It is not changed for a feminine noun. 

Sometimes the entonic a is retained and a preceding final 
vowel, usually *, elided, but ordinarily it drops the entonic 
when following a qualified noun. The entonic is used, not 
ehded, when the adjective is predicative ; e.g. azhta 'kizhe = 
a big dao, azhta akizhe = the dao (is) big. 

An adjective is formed from the verb by the prefix of ke 
to the root ; e.g. pi = speak, > kepi = spoken ; piti = 
burn, > kepiti = burnt. 

Comparison is made by the use of the suffix -ye, after the 
noun with which the subject referred to is compared, followed 
by the pronoun joined to the adjective of comparison ; e.g. 
otsilye itsii pa zhe = My dog is bigger tha7i your dog. 

Timi hupauye Mpau pa vi = This man is better than that 
[literally " man that-than this he (is) good."] 

A superlative is formed by the addition of the suffix o to 
the simple adjective. Akizhe = big > akizheo = biggest. 

" Choemi akevi ami, Asimi akevio " = " The Lhotas are 
good, but the Semas are the best." 

The adjective is sometimes formed into an adverb by the 
addition of the suffix -ko, -ku, -kei ; 

e.g. Alio good, right > alloku well, very. 


Singular. Plural. 

Ni, \ _ J [niuhko] \ ^ ^^ 

Niye j ' ni, niuii j 

Oblique form (always preceding 

and attached to the govern- 

word) i- 


|=You. t^^^^^.U = You. 

J no, nan J 

Singular. Plural. 

Oblique form : — o- [but in agentive no-] 
Pa = he, it [pananuko, pananko] 1 _rr.L 

panonh j ~ ^' 


Oblique form : — j^^ 

e.g. hm pike (or niye pike) ^= I said. 
Pana i-pike = he said to me. 
pana otsiivekeana = he gave it to yon. 
niy' ohempi — I did not strike you. 
niye pa heni = I will strike hi7n. 
pana pini — he will say. 
pa helo = strike him. 

N.B. — Vile (really a post-position implying approach, e.g. ivile gowghckc- 
velo = don't come (near me)) is used with the indirect object of verbs of 
speaking, e.g. tell him -pavile pilo. 

A dual form of the personal pronoun is also found, at any 
rate among the Northern Semas : — 

We two = ikuzho. 
You two = okuzho. 
They two = pamho. 

For numbers of more than two the first person singular 
is used with the numeral : — 

e.g. We three — niye kiithu. 

The Pronominal Adjectives. 

My = i. Our = niukomi.^ 

Thy = o- Your = nonkomi.'- 

His = pa- Their = panonkomi.'^ 

e.g. Amishi = a cow. 
i mishi = my cow. 
niukom'mishi = our cow. 
atsil = a dog. 
otsil — thy dog. 
nonkomi'tsil = your dog. 
'pa'tsii ■= his dog. 

1 The agentive /no is probably the more correct. The form nvjc is really 
a sort of locative, an miinflected noun being avoided and the uninflected 
pronoun ni- only used when there is a following noun which is usually 

- In form this is a collective noun. 

278 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Demonstrative Pronoun. 

This = hipau, tipa, ti, i. 
That = hupau, tipa, ti. 
This, that much = tiliki. 


These = [hipako], hipanon. 
Those = [hupaico], hupanoh. 

The demonstrative pronoun follows the noun it qualifies ; 
thus " those men "= tiini hupako. 

The Interrogative Pronoun. 

Who ? — kit, ku'u kiu, kiuwi, kuhu ? 
What ? — kill, kihwi ? 

How much ? ) , . . 7 . . , . o 
How many ? j j ' j 

The Indefinite Pronoun. 

Some = kiukiu, used of both person and things. 

A few = kiitila, kitila. 

Someone = hammi. 

Something = kunliye, kukunhye. 

Anyone = kammi. 

Anything = kiwii, kiwiimo, kuwumo. 

A J.1 • t at all = kiu-kiu mo. 
Anything J 

T,^ ^ !- at all = kumo kumoi, kunio kaha. 

No one j 

The Relative Pronoun. 

The relative pronoun " who " is translated by " Kiu," 
which is : (1) placed in the relatival clause while the verb 
in the same clause is put into the participial form ; 

e.g. The man who came has gone. 
Kiu gwogheno gwovekeana. 


(2) Suffixed to the verb^ which belongs to it, the verb 
put into a short form of the tense which it would naturally 
take ; 

e.g. Gwovekm — The man who has gone {gwove). 

Boroshaha givoghinkiu = Deputy Commissioner who 
is coming here (givoghinchin). 

The Reflexive Pronoun. 

" Self " is expressed by the word aliki, but this is only 
used in the singular, and contains also the sense of alone. 
Like " self " in EngHsh, it is usually linked to the pronominal 
adjectives, but precedes the verb ; 

e.g. riiki = myself. 

Oliki = thyself. 

P aliki — himself. 

Niye iliki gwogJii = I came myself (or I came alone). 

Oivn is expressed by repeating the pronominal adjective 
after the reflexive pronoun ; 

e.g. Iliki Vu = my own property. 
Oliki o^u = your own property. 
Paliki paki = his own house. 

" One another "==" Pamaliki " (" Both themselves ") and 
is followed again by " Pamakepi " (" the aforesaid two ") ; 

e.g. Hupako pamaliki pamakepi tikileve = Those two 
killed each other. 


The negative particle is — 

mo = no (as opposed to ih, iye = yes) ; 
e.g. "Do you understand?" "No" = "A^a itia)i' 
kya?'' " Mor 

1 I am not sure that I am correct in this, and that the relative in this 
case is not formed by the particle -ke, to which the emphatic -u has been 
added, and that gwovekiu should not be written gwove-ke-u. CJ. p. -92 aq. 
—use of the particle -ke. The emphatic u (or o) is the same as that used 
to form a superlative. 

28o THE SEMA NAGAS part 

The simple negative used with another word is 

moi — not ; 
e.g. " Amishi hipau omishi mo7io ? " " Imishi moi." 

" Is this cow your cow or not ? " " It is not my cow." 
With verbs the negative varies with the form of the verb 

There are three negative enclitics used with verbs : — 

moi, mpi, mlai. 
moi is the general negative and may refer to any time. 
mpi refers definitely to past time only. 
mlai implies inability as well as negation, and may refer 
to any action in either present or past time ; 

e.g. niyepi moi = I did not say, I do not say, I will not sa5^ 
niye pi mpi = I did not say, I never said. 
niye pi mlai = I cannot say, I could not say. 
InabiUty is also expressed by the termination " = lesai " 
e.g. pa pilesai = he can't say. 

With verbs of perception the enclitic " mlai " has no 
more than a merely negative sense ; 

e.g. " Itumlai "=" I do not see " (it could not mean " I 
am blind "). 

N.B. — Mpi apparently <mo pi — "not say." Mlai probably <-mo- 
le-sai ; -sai = sah = bad. 

Want of knowledge is expressed by " mta ''^ [ < mo iti 
a{ni)] ; " mta " alone = " I do not know '' ; 

e.g. " Khupu kilao gwoniani Jcya ? " " Mta." 

" Where is Khupu going off to ? " " I do not know." 

" Mfu " is also used to express " I do not know how to," 
in which case it is attached as an enclitic to the root form 
of the verb ; 

e.g. " niy' otsa pi mta " = " I do not know how to speak 
your language." 

Prohibition is expressed by the use of the infix -keve- ; 

e.g. pilo = speak, pikevelo = " don't speak." 

Ke alone as a suffix with the root of the verb is used as 
an abbreviated prohibition ; pikef " don't speak." 

The word " Kahd " is used in the sense of " there is not " 
or " I have not " or " there is none," or merely " is not " ; 

^ Or mtai, mtao. 


e.g. *' mti animoi ? " " Kahd." 

" Have you any salt ? " "I have not." 

(lit. " Your salt is there ? ') 

" Inato an'kija ? " " Inato hahd.''' 

" Is Inato here ? " " He is not." 

" Opfulo musheho kije kya ? " " Kahd.'" 

" How many guns are there in your village ? " 

" There are none." 
" Otsa pikepfu an' kya ? " " Kahd." 
" Have you anything more to say ? " "No." 
A corresponding interrogative ahai, " is there ? " is also 
occasionally used, and an obsolete form lia is sometimes 
found for kaha in songs. 


The Sema verb is not inflected to accord with difference 
in number or person, and has no genuine passive voice. ^ 
Mood and tense, in so far as they are distinguished at all, 
are expressed by the addition to the root of suffixes, infixes, 
and occasionally affixes, for which the verb " to be " (a) and 
other auxiliary verbs {shi — do, pi = say, wu = go, che = 
proceed, lu = take) are used, as well as post-positions 
-no = from, -ye = in, at. In addition to these are certain 
particles used with verbs which probably originally fell 
under one of the heads described, but which are now not 
ordinarily used except to form part of a verb ; e.g. -ni, -ke, 
-ve, -lo, -puzii. 

The combinations of these auxiliaries and particles with 
the root are infinite, and by their arrangement and repeti- 
tion all sorts of shades of meaning are conveyed. The 

^ The verbal adjective formed with ke {vide infra) is, of course, passive in 
sense, and an approach to a real passive is found in the use of the active 
verb with a subject understood, but even hero the verb is really active 
and not passive, though it is used perhaps as a sort of middle. Thus we find 
Eno Ayemiye atsa-yeyeshiye Ayemi shitsiike ■ 
and the Ayemi by chattering Ayemi became 
where shitsiike (lit. = '• make-gave ") is equivalent to a passive, a subject 
for shitsiike being really required to complete the grammatical sense, imless, 
indeed, Ayemiyehe taken as the subject, in which case a direct object is 
required for shitsiike. 

282 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

negative is similarly used, though the form used varies to 
some extent with the tense of the verb, as has already been 
indicated when dealing with the negative. 

Taking then, for example, the verbal root pi = " say," 
" tell," different parts of the verb may be formed as 
follows : — 

Apart from the use of the root alone, which is sometimes 
used as an aorist tense without inflexion, the simplest parts, 
in which verbal participles only are used, are : — 

The present or future with -ni ; e.g. pini = " says," 
" will say." 

The imperative with -lo ; e.g. pilo — " say " [Lazemi use 

The past with -ke ; e.g. pike = " said." 

N.B. — This ke is occasionally reduplicated apparently for emphasis ; e.g. 
aJcikeke for lakike = " was single " < laki — one. 

The particle ve is used with some irregularity. With 
certain auxiliaries such as the causative -tsii- {tsii- = " give ") 
it is almost always used ; e.g.pilo = " s&y ," pivetsiilo = " cause 
to say," though pitsulo in such a case would probably be 
understood. Again with the past tense form in which the 
auxiliary a is used, ve is always inserted — piv'a (or pivai)'^ 
for pive-a — " has said," " did say." [Lazemi and some 
other Dayang Valley Semas say pive-la.] So also with the 
past tense form in -keana {ke-an{i)-a, the particle ke followed 
by the present tense and again by the root a = be, remain) 
pivekeana would more often be used in preference to pikeana 
for " has said," but not necessarily. 

N.B — The form in keana is particularly used by the Senias east of the 
Tizu, but is not very common. 

Again with the imperative, -ve- is almost always omitted, 
though pivelo for pilo might perhaps be occasionally heard, 
and in some verbs such a use of -ve- in the imperative would 
be normal. The termination -ne is added to the imperative 
to make a command less abrupt or to modify it to a request ; 
e.g. pilo = " say," pilone = " be good enough to say." In 
the prohibitive form of the verb, however, -ve- is always 
found when the full form is used. This form is made with 

* This form has a stronger sense of completion than the form in -ke. 


the prohibition -ke- (not to be confounded with the suffixed 
Ice of the past tense), with ve, and with the imperative particle 
lo in that order. Thus pilo = " say," pikevelo = " do not 

An abbreviated pike with a marked accent on the second 
syllable is, however, often used instead when speaking 

There is another use of ke when it is an affix and appears 
to be distinct from the infixed or suffixed ke of the past 
tense. As an affix it is used to form an adjective from the 
verb ; thus kepi = " said," " spoken," " that wliich is or 
has been said." Atsa kepi inzJmlo = " listen to the word 
which has been (or is being) spoken." This use of ke has 
been dealt with separately below. Its use in the gerundive 
{pi-ke-pfu = " for saying," " to be said ") and the corre- 
sponding negative {pikepfu kahd = " nothing to say ") 
probably falls into the same class. The pfu of the gerundive 
is probably the root pfu = " carry." 

The verbal termination -puzii is used to form a past 
participle ; e.g. pi-puzii = " having said." A similar use of 
-puzii other than with verbs is to be found in ipuzii — " there- 
after," but -puzii does not seem to be used as an ordinary 

The post-position -no is used like -puzii to form a past 
participle ; e.g. pino = " having said," but the degree of 
completion indicated is less than when -puzii is used. Some- 
times -no is used redundantly suffixed to -puzii ; e.g. ti 
pi-puziino == " having said this." 

The post-position -ye is used principally in conjunction 
with the auxiliary verb a ( = " be ") to form a conilitional 
or with the future particle -ni to form a final tense. Thus 
pi-a-ye ="if say " [Lazemi pi-a-zo], pi ni-ye = " for saying," 
" in order to say." In the case of both these post-positions 
in their use with the verb they do not bear quite the same 
shade of meaning as in their regular use as post-positions 
with nouns. 

The composition of parts of the verb with auxiharies is 
rather more compHcated, as several are often collected 
together, and the result is really a compound verb rather 

284 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

than a part of a verb ; but as some of these forms are much 
abbreviated by use, examples of the commoner ones are 
necessary, particularly as they are coming to be used almost 
as inflections of the verb. Thus the imperative of pi, 
= " say," is sometimes used practically tantamount to a 
permissive suffix, the i being elided and p'lo being prefixed to 
the infinitive of the verb ; e.g. pa p'longulo, " let him stay," 
really being " tell him to stay," " say to him ' stay,' " 
though the direct object pa is used here, and not the form 
pa-vilo, which would be usual with the verb pi. So also 
pa p'lo paHsa pilo = " let him tell his story," of which the 
corresponding prohibitive would be pa p'lo pa'tsa pi-keve- 
lo = " let him not tell his story." 

With ani, the present of the verb " to be," an ordinary 
continuative present is made — piani (usually contracted to 
p'ani), " is saying." In addition to this, and to the general 
use of the root a- to form a continuative verb, the compounds 
of the root with the auxiliary roots are usually helped out 
with the verb "to be " as well. Thus the potential form 
of the verb, e.g. " can say," is composed of the roots of the 
verbs " to say " {pi-), " to take " (lu-), and " to be " (a-), 
giving pilunani {pi-luni-ani) — " can say." The Lazemi 
dialect uses a potential form like the Angamis in -levi 
> pilevi — lit. " good for saying " or " up to saying." 

With the verb "to do " {sJii-) a desiderative is formed ; 
e.g. pini shiani = " wishes to say " (lit. " is making ' will 
say'"). So also a continuative perfect pi-a-5^m', "has 
said " (lit. " say-be-makes "). Compounds with the verb 
die, meaning " proceed," are very frequent and almost 
always express habituation ; e.g. pi-che-ni = " always says," 
pi-che-ke — " used to say." 

There is, however, one combination, in which che follows 
the root of the verb ivu — " go," where the combined roots 
express inception and the idea of habituation is not associated 
with che. Thus piun'chen' (for pi-wuni-che-ni) = " begins 
to say " or " is about to say " — lit. " say, will go, proceeds." 
In this combination the root may or may not be followed 
by the particle ve. 

A particle used with verbs to give a dubitative sense 


is kye = " perhaps." In the past it seems to be usuaUy 
associated with the particle ve, e.g. pi-ve-kye-ni = " perhaps 
has said," in the present with the verb " to be," e.g. pi-an- 
kye-ni, " perhaps says," and in the future with the inceptive 
combination given above — pi'un'chen'kyeni = .*' will possibly 

The variations of the negative with the different tenses 
of the verb have been already mentioned. The position 
varies as well as the form, as the negative particle is some- 
times used as an infix, sometimes as a suffix. The simple 
negative mo is usually infixed, the form moi is used as a 
suffix, as also are the forms -lesai, -tnlai, -rnpi. 

Thus formed with mo, we have a negative of the dubitative 
pi-mo-kyeni = " perhaps does not," " will not," or " did 
not say." So too we have a negative conditional pi-m'aye = 
" if not say " (for pi-mo-a-ye) and pi-mo-no the negative of 
the past participle pino and pipnzil. Only when suffixed 
to the root form aori«t {pi-mo < pi) is mo used otherwise 
than as an infix to make a negative verb. 

Moi, on the other hand, is always a suffix except in the 
past time negative formed with moi and ve ; e.g. pi-moi- 
ve = " did not say," " has not said." Otherwise it is 
always a sufifix and as such is perhaps the commonest form 
used for giving the verb a negative sense ; e.g. pi-moi, the 
negative of present or future (or sometimes of the past),= 
" does not say," " will not say," sometimes even " did not 
say." [The Lazemi group uses pi-lho = " will not say," 
an Angami form.] So too in compounds pin'shimoi = " does 
not wish to say," pi'uchemoi ^^ " does not begin to say," for 
pi-wu-che-moi, negative of pi'un'chen' (pi-wu-ni-che-ni). So 
too a negative habitual pi-che-moi = " never says " or 
" does not always say," corresponding to pi-che-ni. 

The negative suffix mpi is used with the root only and 
in reference to past time always ; e.g. pi-mpi = " did not 
say," " has not said." The potential negatives, -lesai and 
mlai, are also suffixed to the root pi-lesai pi-mlai = " can- 
not say," the latter form probably expressing the more abso- 
lute inability and being no doubt originally a contraction of 
pi-mo-lesai ^ " not even bad to say," i.e. " not able to say 

286 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

at all,"^ pi-le-sai, " cannot say," " bad for saying " being 
the negative of pi-le-vi {vide supra), " good for saying," 
" able to say " ; sai probably < the same root as sah in 
alho-ke-sah, akesah = " bad." The prohibitive with -keve- 
and the negative of the gerund have been already mentioned. 
Instances of the use of the verb in all its forms may be 
found in the Sema stories in this volume, but one or two 
are appended here as examples : — 

Continuative and Causative Verbs. 

CoNTiNTJATiVE Verbs are formed by the addition of 
-a- ( = " remain," " be ") to the root form of the simple 
verb, which is then conjugated as usual ; 

e.g. Pi = " speak " > pi-a = " continue speaking," pialo 
= "go on sajdng," pia-cheni — " keeps on saying." 

Other compound verbs are formed by simply joining two 
roots and adding the necessary suffixes, etc., to the second ; 

e.g.pi-inzJmlo = " ask and say," < pi = say, inz}m-= ask. 
zhu-palmiveke = " looked -but-could-not-find," <zhu = 
look, paha, pahai, = lose. 

Causative Verbs are formed by adding the particle -ve 
to the simple root, and compoiinding with the verb 
tsil = " give," thus : — 

LJia — " flay," Niye olJiani = " I will flay you." 

Niye olhavetsilni = " I will have you flayed." 

Shi = " do " > Shilo = "do," Shivetsiilo = " cause to 
do," " make do." Piti = " burn " > Pitike = " burnt " 
(intransitive), Pitivetsiike = " burnt " (transitive). Aki 
pitike — " the house burnt," aki pitivetsiike = " he burnt 
the house." 

The particle ve is sometimes omitted. The causative 
form of a verb is sometimes used as nothing more than a 
merely emphatic form of the simple verb. 


Assent ... ... ih, ih ih, iyeh, oh, uh. 

Approval . . . hau ! liau ! 

1 Or perhaps the mo in pimlai is merely a redundant negative put in for 


Disapproval ... a, ya 
Disgust ... ) . , 

Anger ... ... j 

Dissent ... ... mo. 

Satisfaction ... tah ("Enough!" "That'll do.") 
tiv'ai ( = "is dead "). 


Questions may be asked by — 

{a) The addition of an interrogative particle or enclitic 
which (i) merely asks a question, or (ii) suggests the possi- 
bility of an answer in the negative. 

(i) Particles implying mere interrogation are — 
kya, la, aie, no, 'o. But " kya " is the one in ordinary 
use and cannot be misunderstood. 
Nuan' kya .?' 
Nuani kya ? 

Nuani aie ? f= " Are (you) laugliing ? " 
Nuani no? 
Nuani '0 ? , 
La is used particularly in asking for confirmation or 
repetition : — 

" Was it Inato you called ? " No Inato ku la ? 

(ii) Particles implying a possible negation are : - 
moi, mono, shina, keslia, the first two being in common 
use ; 
e.g. Nuani moi ? \ 

Nuani mono ? > =" Are you laughing or not ? " 
Nuani shina ? ) 

Nuani kesha .? = " Are you laughing ? " (expressing 
surprise and the answer " No "). 
(6) The omission of the final i of the verb ; 
e.g. Nuan' .? = " Are you laughing ? " 
Alternative questions may be asked — 

(i) By using the enclitics ... %o kya ? or merely 

suffixing the enclitic ... 'o to the first alternative ; 
e.g. Enakha mishi kyo, ketami mishi ghi kya ? = " Are 




they Enakha's cattle, or are they the cattle of others as 
well ? " 

Na kinimi 'o kumulhomi ? Na kekdmi kyo, kahdmi kya ? 
= " Are you a rich man or poor ? " " Are you a chief or 
a nobody ? " 

(ii) By repeating the verb and following it by the 
negative enclitic mono, 7noi, or in the case of the past 
tense " mpi'a " ; 

e.g. Nuani, 7iuani mono .? = " Are you laughing or are 
you not ? " 

Nu, numpi'a ? = '' Did you laugh or not ? " 


Post-positions correspond to prepositions in English, and 
take the place of case endings, of which there are none. They 
are all enclitic, following the word governed : — 

Into, to 


'lo, 'w. 


7o, 'no. 


.. 'so, 'sliou. 


.. 'lo. 

Along with 

.. 'sa. 

With, by (instrumental) 

... 'pfe, 'no. 

By (agentive) 

.. 'no, nd.^ 



Between . . 





'shou, 'so. 




.. 'dolo. 


.. 'kho, 'cMliu. 


.. 'thiu. 


. . 'vile. 


.. 'ho. 

Through . . 

.. 'mtala. 

Towards . . 

'vile, 'vilo. 

Because of, 

for ... 

.. 'ghenguno, 'ghe'uno 



In presence of 

In, at, to, by, than 

e.g. Pana iki-lo wuv'ai 
O-pfulo avi kaha 



Azhtaso ikhlo = 
Pa'pfulo pov'ai 
Pasa izuwuni = 
Asilpfe helo = ' 

" He went to my house." 
' There are no mithan in your 

■' Sit on (your) dao." 

= " He ran away from his village." 

" I will go out with him." 

Beat (him) with a stick ! " 

Kungumino i-tsiive = " A spirit gave (it) me." 

I-zu chelo = " Go in front of me." 

Zhuke 'ghenguno, ilumo = " Because you looked, I am 

Tighenguno {tighe'uno) = " Because of that." 
Apazaye pike = " (He) spoke to his parents " (or 

'' (his) parents said "). 
Thanawuye = " At dawn." 
Niye ziiake = " I slept on." 

^ N.B. no, -ye are attached to the nominative of the agent, no real 

passive mood existing. The sense of agency impUed by -no is much 
stronger than that suggested by -ye, which really indicates notliing more 
than the location of the action. 


Adverbs of Manner. 


... kishene. 

Thus ... 

... hipapi, Tiahi, ishi. 

In that way 

... hupapi. 

Slowly ... 

... asheshina. 


... mtazii. 






... akemeh. 


... mtano (" mia " par 

Haply ... 

... mtapi. 

Alone . . , 

... kiliki. 

Gratis , . . 


Why ... 

kushia {<ku shi a) 

participial form). 





Very, truly, quite 


alloku (e.g., Akumla ani = " I am 
busy," akumla alloku ani = " I 
am very busy," alloku keguzumi 
= " quite mad "). 


Adverbs of Time. 

The other day 

The day before the day 
before yesterday 

The day before yester- 




The day after to-morrow 

The day after the day 
after to-morrow 

Last month 

This month 

Next month 

Last year 

This year 

Next year 

Last night 


To-morrow night 




When ... 

Then ... 

At once 

kaghenyu (usually about 10 to 12 
days ago). 


ieghi, eghena. 


ikulo khil^ 



kanikhu'mphelo. 2 



izhi, izlii potho. 

tohuh (used when speaking during 

itizhi (used when speaking after 


ishito-gJiolo, eiadolo (itahe-dolo). 

tileno, pathiu {i.e., after that). 

Or khi. * 'Mphelo is usually omitted in ordinary conversation. 



One day 

... aghla laki, gwola lahi. 


... khanhia-khanhia , kanhiu, kanya 


Daily, always 

alhokuthu, gwolatsutsii, aghla- 


Never . . . 

kilemo. .moi. 


... kitla-dolo. 

By and by 



... hepathiu. 

Before . . . 



... athiuno. 


... hithouno. 

Until ... 


By day ... 


At midday 

... telhogholo . 

In the morning 

... inakhe. 

In the afternoo 

n ... avelao. 

In the evening 

... kezhiliu. 

At night 


Again . . . 

... etaghe. 

Adverbs of Place. 






... kilaumo. 


... kumtsulo. 

On this side, h( 

3re ... hilau. 

On that side, t 

lere ... hulau. 

Hence . . . 

... hilehina. 

Thence ... 

... hulauona. 


avela, avile. 


... gJiachtwa. 

At a distance 

... kushuwa. 

Above . . . 

... aMi, asliou. 

Below . . . 

achilu achiliu, akho, apeo. 



Ahead . . . 





... athiu. 

u :: 




In the presence (of) 

Within ... 



Before . . . 

After ... 




azu, selokuno. 



kalatseu, kalacheo. 



akhwou, akho. 




Also ghi. 

Although ... ... -mw (enclitic on the verb). 

Except ... ... ... peveno, iveno. 

Because ... ... ghengu. 

But ... ... ... kishikeno. 

And ... ... ... eno, ino, -ngwo, -ngo. 

Perhaps ... ... kye , kyeni (both at end of sentence) . 

Then ... ... ... tishino, tilehi. 

Therefore ... ... tighenguno, tighe'uno. 

Too ghi. 

And linking two nouns is expressed by the suffix -ngwo 
or -ngo suffixed to the anterior noun of the two ; e.g., timi- 
ng wo tegJiami — " the man and the spirit." 

Eno Amiche-ngo Hocheli-no, kimiyeke-ghenguno, Arkha pa 
'ki pitivetsiimoke. 

" And Amiche and Hocheli, because they pitied (him), 
did not burn Arkha's house." 

Arkha no panoh hapovetsiike-mu, ami sutsiimokeke = 
" Although Arkha had driven them out, (they) did not set 
fire (to it)." 

Use of the particle Ke in the formation of nouns and adjectives 

from verbs. 

A. Nouns are formed from verbs by using the particle Ke. 

(!) Nouns of the agent, the doer of an action, are formed 
by the addition to the verbal root of ke and mi ( = man). 
These two are added in two ways : — 


(a) Ke precedes the root and mi follows it ; 
e.g. Puka-lo = steal > ke-pvka-mi = a thief. 

(Akha) musse-lo = fish > (akha) ke-musae-mi = a 

(b) -kemi, the two particles being joined, follows the root 
form of the verb. This is generally done with compounds ; 

e.g. Astali shilo = murder > dtsalishikemi = a murderer. 
Kineshu chelo = oppose > kineshukemi = an oppo- 

Atsaokebachulo = loot > atsaokebachukemi = looter. 

(2) Nouns of the instrument with which the action is done 
or of the results caused by the action, are formed by the 
addition of '' ke " as a prefix, with varying nouns added to 
the root as a suffix instead of the mi used for the nouns of 
agent ; 

e.g. Puka-lo — steal > ke-puka-nhyem^ga = stolen 
property (anhyemoga = property). 

{Akha) musse-lo = fish > {aklia) ke-musse-i = a fish 
hook {-i < ayi = iron). 

(3) Nouns of the results of the action are also occasionally 
formed by the addition of " A;e " to the root as a suffix ; 

e.g. Atsaokebachulo = loot (vb.) > atsaokebachuke = loot 
{i.e., the plunder obtained by looting). 

(4) The addition of " ke " to the root as suffix, although it 
is possibly in reality merely the sign of the past tense, often 
gives it the force almost of an abstract noun ; 

e.g. Puka-lo = steal > pukake = theft. 

Kelamu-lo = starve > kelamuke = starvation. 

B. Adjectives are also formed by the addition of Ke- 
or -Kehu. 

(1) A participial adjective is formed by the prefixing of 
Ke- to the root of the verb ; e.g., pi > kepi =- spoken, 
ti > keti = dead. In the case of a transitive verb this 
participle is a passive participle ; keshi, for instance, meaning 
" done" not " having done." 

294 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

(2) An adjective may in some cases be formed by the 
suffixing of -ke ; 

e.g. dm eat, {ake)vi good > chuvike = palatable. 

(3) An adjective, which is really equivalent to a relative 
sentence, is formed by the addition of -kehu to the root of 
the verb ; 

e.g. pi > pikehu = " which has been " (or " is to be ") 
"spoken," thus akumla shikehu shialo = " go on doing 

iare i 
> doing " (or " which you 

have to do "). 

N.B. — The use of ke is very idiomatic, and as ke has a prohibitive and 
sometimes a privative sense, it may, if used wrongly, convey precisely 
the opposite intention to that desired. It is also a part of the verb " to 
be," and, suffixed to an adjective, converts it to a verb. Thus siti-ke = 
"it is cold," " shonumi A;e" = " (he) is a miser." 


Owing to the absence of inflexions, the order of the 
sentence is important in Sema. The rules are very simple. 

The subject comes first, followed by its adjuncts, then 
the predicate, the verb standing laet. 

The object precedes the verb, the direct object preceding 
the indirect object where both are found together. 

An adjective or demonstrative pronoun quaUfying a noun 
follows it. 

An adjective forming part of the predicate precedes the 

Possessive pronouns precede the nouns which they qualify. 

Adverbs precede the noun or verb qualified. 

Interrogative particles come at the end of the sentence, 
even in indirect speech. 

In compound sentences the dependent clauses precede the 
principal clause. 

In conditional sentences the protasis precedes the apodosis. 
Examples : — 

I struck him ... Ina pa hev'ai ... (I him struck). 
He struck me ... Pana i-hev'ai ... (He me struck). 


I spoke my words Niye i-tsa Shahuvile (I my-words Sahib- 

to the Saliib ... piv'ai to spoke). 

I gave you two Niye amishi tsoboi (I cows black two 

black cows ... kini otsiivekeani you-gave). 

That crow is danc- Agha hulau allokei (Crow that well is 

ing finely ... ilheani dancing). 

I have much work I shi akumla (to-day work much 

to-day ... kuthom'ani ... is). 

What are you Na kiu kaku-he^ (You what write, 

writing? ... kya ? eh?) 

I never told you Niye egheni pi ovile (I will come-say you- 

that I would pimpi. to said not). 


If he stay here, I\ (Pa hilau nguaye, niye Kabu (or Kozumi 
shall go up to I pfu) ekwoni. (He here stay-if, I 
Kohima. J [ Kohima will go up). 


A sentence is put into indirect speech by the use of the 
verb Pi, " to say." This is used in three forms : the present, 
Pani {Pi-ani), " he says," "it is said," " they say " ; the 
past, Pike, " he said," " it was said," etc., and the aorist, 
P* = " he says," " he said," etc. Of these three, Pani is 
the form most in use, though Pi is also very common, 
particularly among the more northern villages. 

(1) Pani is used after the root form of the dependent verb, 
followed by the particle le, or after the root form alone, e.g. : — 

Direct form. Indirect form. 

Speak = j9^7o ... ... He tells you to speak, 

Nona pile pani. 

What are you saying ?1 (He asks what you are saying. 

Kiu'tsa pi an'kya ? J | Kiu'tsa pile pan'kya. 

He comes for a law] jHe says that he is come for a 

suit. y ^ law suit. 

Atsa kekeghaniye che'nij {^Atsa kekeghaniye che pani. 

* Lit. " paper {kaku) strike {he)." 

296 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

(2) Pike is used when the words are reported in their 
original form, the main clause standing first and the reported 
speech being often followed by a second and redundant 
pike ; e.g. : — 

Khupu reached Kohima] fKhupu said that he reached 

Kohima yesterday. 
Khupuno pike, eghena Kabumi 
pfu tohvai pike. 

Khupu eghena Kabumi 
pfu tohvai. 

(3) Pi is used (like pike) after the words of the speech 
reported in the direct form, redundantly at the end of the 
dependent clause, but the dependent clause comes first, 
followed by the main clause containing the verb of saying ; 
e.g. :— 

I will come ... ... I never told you that I would come- 

Niye egheni ... ... Niye egheni pi, ovile pimpi. 

An oblique imperative is often used, and is formed by 
adding pi to the root plus Ze, e.g. : — 

" Come "= Eghelo, " You are told to come "= Eghelepi. 

This form, however, is often used as a mere substitute for 
the direct imperative. 


The writer has only actually met with one word (there 
are probably others) which is actually substituted by Semas 
in speaking as slang for the real word. This is achokha, an 
obscene expression for the fish called keghenipu.^ There is, 
however, a practice which seems to be known in most Sema 
villages of inverting or altering the order of words in a 
sentence, or of syllables in a word, so as to make the language 
meaningless gibberish to anyone not knowing the slang. 
There does not seem to be any fixed system on which this 
is done, but the general idea seems to be, as has been said, 
to reverse the order of words, syllables, or both. There 
does not seem to be any very real advantage gained by the 
use of this slang beyond that of being able to irritate one's 

^ Which is held to resemble the male organ of generation. 



neighbours who do not know it by speaking it in their 
presence, and, speaking generally, it seems to be more of a 
game than anything else, and is invented and used much as 
secret alphabets and ciphers are by small boys at school, 
who send notes to one another in them simply for the sake 
of using the code. At the same time, it is said that the 
Sema slang is used with some effect in trade, as it is possible 
for one man to warn another that the price asked by a third 
for some article is too high, which he would not like to do, 
and would not do, if he had to speak in plain Sema which 
the seller could understand. This slang is also said to be 
useful in intrigues, and undoubtedly is used to make 
offensively personal remarks and to abuse strangers who do 
not understand it. 

The use of this slang is sometimes confined to a very small 
proportion of each village, sometimes it is used by the 
majority of the younger population, who have more than 
one version in use, but in one Sema village, apparently the 
only one, Aichisagami, the whole village has acquired this 
slang, and to such an extent that it has almost become the 
ordinary language of the village and is normally used by 
the people of the village in speaking to one another, and is 
frequently used unthinkingly to people from other villages 
who cannot understand until the speakers correct themselves 
and use ordinary Sema, The result of this in Aichisagami 
has been the production of secondary slangs based on the 
first, which are spoken by a number of the villagers in the 
same way that what may be called primary slang is used in 
other villages. As the original slang was never formed by a 
complete inversion of words or phrases, the secondary slang 
is not a mere reversion to straightforward speech, though in 
short words it is necessary to omit, or to insert or alter 
sounds to avoid this. 

As there are variations, however shght, of dialect from 
village to village, and as the possible combinations and 
permutations of words and sentences are infinite, and the 
amount of the inversion used in speaking slang dependent 
purely on the whim of the inventors, it is obvious that the 
slang used in one village is not likely to be understood by 




the speakers of slang in another, though words and even 
phrases here and there might easily coincide. 

As examples of slang by inversion, the following phrases 
from Aichisagami are given : — 


Ordinary Sema. Inverted form. 

(Proper name) In&khn 

(Proper name) Hozeke 

One laki 

Three kuthu 

Sixteen muku-ma-tsogho 

Twenty-one muku-kaki 

Forty-two Ihobidi-kini 

Forty -eight Ihopongu pa-tache 

Sahib shaha 

Don't know mta 

ChilHes gwomishe 

Accursed ghapio 

Thus nahi 

la ani 

Is calling me i kuani 

What shall (I) do 7 k'u shini a ? 

There is no cooked ana kaha 

There is no liquor, azhi kaha 
Where are (you) kilao wuni 7 

going 7 
What ia your 

name 7 
Why have you kiushi'chon'kya 7 

come 7 
What to do 7 kiu shikepfu ke 7 

(I am) going osa itsiicheni 

about with you. 
Killed a tiger eghena angshu 

yesterday. vekev'a. 

He is asking too pa'me chile 

high a price. kuani. 


shinia ku 7^ 

Re-inverted jorrtx. 
(Used by part of 
the village, 
others using 
different re- 


tagam, tamcga. 





lakiwvmio 7 

iniaku 7 

laowuniki 7 

o-zhe kiu kya 7 ok'uzhekya 7 ok'ukezha 7 

shik'u'nchekya?* chenkuahikya 7 

u 'unoshi 7 kyinopfuk'uahe 7 

osa ichen'tsii osa itetsechiini. 

enaghe ashongu aahuwimo ekeu- 

kevev'a. ghevena.* 

pachilomeanjriku kuanyilo amechi. 

^ Shinia ku. — A Seromi man using the inverted slang of that village, 
or one of the inverted slangs of that village, would say shiaku ? 
* Shik^u'nchekya. — The Soromi inversion is shik'uchenkya ? 
' Jpkenghevena < Eghena vekev'a amalgamated, 




Ordinary Scma. Inverted form. 

hizhehi tsiikovelo zhchi kevelotsii 

Rc.-inverlrd form. 

(Used by part of 
the village, 
others using 

different re- 

in versions.) 


Don't give so 

In Sagami village Sagami pfulo atsa Agam'sa palopfu Mlsagami sago 
they always kumtsii bidelao akiimtsiitsa atsakiitsa piono 
speak all words picheni. d e 1 a o n o p i dal-uono chen 

upside down. chen'pi. 'pi. 

It remains to be added that Semas believe they had 
once the secret of writing, but that dogs ate the skin on 
which it was recorded. 

Sema vocabularies wiU be found in the Appendices {VI ), 






The stories which follow here were taken down by the 
writer principally from two Semas — Vikhepu, Chief of the 
Ayemi clan in Seromi, and Mithihe of Vekohomi, a man of 
the Yepothomi clan. The stories given by Mithihe may 
be recognised at once by beginning with a set formula which 
varies very little. Asked why he began in this way, lie 
replied that that was how the old men had told them to 
him. Vikhepu, on the other hand, a chief and a man of 
superior intellect, considered the formula out of place and 
unnecessary, and his style is generally much less diffuse. 
The actual words of these two are recorded except in one 
particular point. As most of their tales were originally 
collected to form the basis of a " reader " intended to be 
used in elementary schools in Sema villages, it was necessary 
here and there to substitute finite verbs, as approved by 
the Sema relators of the stories, for some of the participles, 
and to start new sentences from time to time for the sake 
of lucidity. As some of the stories were originally written 
the participles carried on interminably till the thread 
was lost, and the sense sometimes confused. As the 
original manuscript was destroyed and the opportunity 
for again recording the stories had passed, they are set 
down here in their revised forms with the finito verbs 
in place of the partipiples which are ordinarily strung out 
to the utter confusion of any listener not a Sema, and some- 
times indeed to the ruination of the story-teller himself. 
In other respects nothing has been altered, as the participles 



would come at the end of clauses where at present they are 
as finite verbs. Numbers XXI and XXII were recorded 
as they are from different sources. 

In recording the stories here an approximately literal 
rendering is given in English followed by the original Sema 
translated word for word. The titles are in some cases 
fanciful, as the stories in the original have not any fixed 
and definite titles. Many Sema stories there are which, as 
one of Hakluyt's voyagers says of the " maner " of 
Persian " mariages," " for offending of honest consciences 
and chaste eares, I may not commit to writing." But the 
twenty or so given here will serve as a sample of Sema folk- 


Now of old time we Semas have a story. I will tell it. 
Do you listen. 

The Plantain said to the Hairbrush Tree, " Do you grow 
(and bear fruit) from your stem, or do you do it from your 
branches ? " This did he ask him. And the Hairbrush 
Tree made answer to the Plantain ; "I bear fruit from the 
stem," said he. And the other supposed it to be true, and 
after bearing fruit from his stem died. But the Hairbrush 
Tree, because that he bore fruit from his branches, even yet 
survives, it is said. 

Eno kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ino ti 
Now men of old we Semas word one is. I this 

pini, inzhulone ! ^ 
will say, Usten (please). 

Auchcbono amoghobovilo ti pike, " Noye 

The Plantain to the Hairbrush-tree this said, " You 

amuziilono wuchen' ^ kyo anikalono 

from the stem continue to go (or) from the branch 

^ The addition of -ne to the imperative termination -lo makes the 
injunction rather more polite than it would be otherwise. 
* Wuchini always accented on the second syllable. 


wuchen' kya ? " ti pi-inzhuke. Amoghobono 
continue to go eh " this say-asked. Hairbrush tree 
auchobo pishike, " Niye amuziilono wucheni," 

Plantain say-made " I from the stem continue to go " 

pike. Paye kucho keghashi ; pa 'muziilono wu-epeghe- 
said. He true supposed his stem from go-having- 

puziino tiuve, eno amoghoboye anikalono 

come-forth died, but the hairbrush-tree from branch 

wuchenike-ghenguno itahe ghi a pike, 
continued to go because of now too remains said. 



Of old we Semas have a story. I will tell it. Do you 

The Sambhar and the Fish said they would make friends, 
and the Sambhar said to the Fish, " My friend, whenever 
men with dogs come hunting me, I shall come running down 
the stream. Do you splash up the water and obscure my 
tracks." Having said this he went his way. And the Fish 
said to the Sambhar, " My friend, men will strip the bark 
of the fish-poison vine^ and bring it to kill me. You too 
break down that vine with your horns ! " With these words 
he told the Sambhar to break it down. For this reason 
even nowadays the Sambhar keeps breaking down the 
fish-poison vine. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ino ti pini. 
Men of old we Semas word one is I this will say. 

Inzhulone ! 
Listen (please). 

Akhuh-ngo akha pama ashou shi pike. Akhuhno 
Sambhar and Fish both friend make said Fish 

akhavilo " I-shou, timino atsii sasii i- 

to Sambhar, " My friend men dogs with me 

1 See Part II, under " Fishing." 

3o6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

hachekeloye, ino aghokilo polo-eghenike. 

when keep hunting I in river bed running will come 

Nono azii shopfe i-nyepa nhavetsiilone." 

You water splash up my tracks make obscure (please)." 

Ti pipuziino pano itsuwuve pike. Eno akhano 

This having said he moved off said and fish 

akhuhvilo " I-shou, timino aphitsUbo 'kwola 
to Sambhar " My friend men fish -poison creeper bark 

khusa-siiwu i-vekhichenike. No ghi aphi- 

strip-bring-go me keep on killing You too fish-poison 

tsiibo o-kibono sochevetsii-lo " pipuziino, akhuh 

creeper your-horns with break down having said Sambhar 

pulo sochevetsiipe pike. Tighenguno etadolo ghi 

to break down told on account of this nowadays even 

akhuhno aphitsiibo sochechenike. 

Sambhar fish-poison creeper keeps breaking down. 



Of old there is a story of us Semas. I will tell it. Do you 

The Quail and the Squirrel agreed to make friends. " My 
friend," said the one, " we two will have a look at the 
snares men set." The other agreed, and they went to 
have a look at the snares set by men. As the Quail went 
along in front, it was the Quail that got caught in the snares 
of men. The Squirrel with his teeth used to gnaw them 
through. The Quail said to the Squirrel, " My friend, my 
throat is aching.^ You go in front now in your turn," 
said he. The Squirrel agreed and went in front. The 
Squirrel got caught in the snares of men. The Squirrel said 
to the Quail, " My friend, my throat hurts." But the Quail, 
as he had no teeth, did not gnaw through (the snare) at all. 

* I.e., as a result of putting his head into the nooses. 


And so the Squirrel died. For this reason the Quail does 
not enter the jungle, but keeps to the open fields, at least 
so they say. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi 'tsa laki anike. Ti pini. Inzhulone ! 

Atsung-ngo akili pama ashou shi- 

The Quail and the Squirrel they two friends agreed -to- 

pike. " I-shou, ikuzho timi 'liche ikani " 

make. " My friend we-two men's snares will examine " 

pike. Allo-pipuziino pama timi 'liche ikawuke. 
said having agreed they-two men's snares went-to-look-at 

Atsungno atheghushi chekeloye timi 'lichelono 

The Quail in-front as-he-went-along men's snares-in 

atsung meveke. Akilino ahuno ghuthavetsii- 

the Quail was caught. The Squirrel teeth-with kept- 

cheke. Atsungno akilivilo " I-shou, niye 

gnawing-through the Quail Squirrel-to " My friend I 

i-ku'ohno sUai. No ghi itaheye atheghushilo," pike, 
my throat-in ache You too now go-in-front " said 

Allo-pipuziino akilino atheghushike. Timi 'lichelono 
having-agreed the Squirrel went-in-front Men's snares-in 

akili meveke. Akilino atsungvilo 

the squirrel was caught The Squirrel the-quail-to 

" I-shou, i-ku'oh siiai," pike. Atsungno ahu 

" My friend my throat hurts " said the Quail teeth 

kahake-ghenguno kuno ghuthavetsiimokeke. 

were not-by-reason-of at all did not gnaw them through 

Iveno akili tiuveke. Tighenguno atsungno 

and so the Squirrel died This-because-of the Quail 

aghala ilomoike ; alughulo chewuve, pike- 

jungle does not enter open-field keep-going they having 


X 2 

3o8 THE SEMA NAGAS part 



Of old we Semas have a story. I will tell it. Listen. 

The Leopard-cat and the Squirrel made friends. The 
Squirrel said to the Leopard-cat, " My friend, I will gnaw 
off and bring that bees' nest from the tree. I will climb the 
tree," said he, " and will call out from the top. Then 
you answer ' Holloa, friend ! ' and beat your breast." 

When the Leopard-cat beat his breast accordingly the 
bees came out of their nest and stung him in the eyes. For 
this reason the Squirrel, through fear of the Leopard-cat, 
does not come out on to the path, as he squatted on a soap- 
vine^ in the jungle in fear, they say. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ti pini. Inzhulo ! 

Anyengu-ngo akili pama ashou shike. 

The Leopard-cat and Squirrel they two friend made 

Akilino anyenguvilo " I-shou, ino asiilo akhibo 
Squirrel leopard-cat to " my friend I tree-from bees' nest 

ghutha-siigheni," pike, " Ino ikhu asii akelono eghan- 
gnaw will bring " said " I climb tree from top will cry 

ike ; noye ' I-shou, huhwoi ' pino o-melolo 

out you, ' My friend, holloa ' having said your-breast-on 

kokhulone." Ti pipuziino anyenguno pa 'melolo 

beat (please)." This having said leopard-cat his breast-on 

kokhukelaoye akhino pa 'bolono ipegheno 

in beating the bees their nest out of having come out 

pa 'nhyeti khuphovetsiike, Tighenguno akilino an- 
his eyes stung. For this reason Squirrel Leopard- 

yengu musano alaghulo ipeghemoi, 

cat having feared on the path does not come out 

musano aghasalo asakhelilo awuve pike, 

being afraid in the jungle soap-vine on squatted they say. 

^ Felis bengalensis. 

* Asakheli is a creeper which is bniised and used as soap for washing 
with. It yields a certain amount of thin lather. 



There is a story of olden times. Do you listen. 

The Leopard-cat and the Nightjar^ made friends. The 
Leopard-cat asked this of the Nightjar — " My friend, why 
do you keep crying out in the night ? " The Nightjar 
answered to the Leopard-cat, " My friend, I do not know," 
and the Leopard-cat said to the Nightjar, " My friend, if 
(you hear) a rustling at the top of the tree, I am coming 
to have speech with you, be on your guard, please. But if 
a rustling comes along the ground it is the wind blowing, 
fear nothing." Having said this he came along the ground 
in the night. (The Nightjar) thought in his heart that (the 
Leopard-cat) was not coming, and not being aware of even 
a breath of wind above him feared nothing. Thus (the 
Leopard-cat) having got to the top of the tree above him 
devoured the Nightjar. 

Kaghelomi 'tsa laki anike. Inzhulone ! 
Men-of old's word one is Listen, please. 

Anyengu-ngo akaku^ pama ashou shike. 

The Leopard-cat and Nightjar they two friend made 

Anyenguno akakuvilo " I-shou, kushiye puthou- 

The Leopard-cat to the Nightjar " My friend, why night 

no eghachenike ? " ti pi-inzhuke. Akakuno 

in do you keep crying out " this said asked the Nightjar 

anyenguvilo " I-shou, niye mtake," pino, 

the Leopard-cat-to " My friend, I do not know " having said 

anyenguno akakuvilo " I-shou, asU akeone 

the Leopard -cat the Night jar- to " My friend, tree at the top 

ghoghoshicheaye ino oputsaniye chenike, musa- 
keep-rustling-if I to you to-have-speech am-coming be- 
alone, Eno ayeghilono ghoghoshi-cheaye 
afraid, please. And on-the-ground rustling come if 

^ Akaku is probably the Indian Nightjar, but has not been positively 

310 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

amulhuke, musakevelone." Ti pipuziino 

the wind blows do not be afraid, please." This having said 

puthouno ayeghilo egheke. Pa'melolo ani 

in the night on the ground came His mind-in was 

chekemopaye pa'shou kumono amulhughasi 

he not coming if him above not one breath of wind 

kumsiizhuno musamo. Hishi akelono pa 'shou 

perceiving was not afraid Then to the top him above 

egheno akaku tsiichuveke. 
having come Nightjar devoured. 



Of old we Semas have a story. I will tell it. Listen, 

The Leopard-cat and the Otter made friends. The 
Leopard-cat said to his friend the Otter, " My friend, let us 
get into man's house and steal a fowl." His friend the Otter 
agreed, unknowing. They two got into man's house and 
caught a fowl. Thereupon the fowl set up a squawk, whereon 
the man got up in haste. He snatched a brand and struck 
both the Leopard-cat and the Otter. The Leopard-cat ran 
out, but the Otter not knowing the way was left behind 
inside, and the man belaboured him with the firebrand. 
For this reason the Otter said to his friend the Leopard- 
cat, " My friend, let us go into the pool (in the river) and 
catch and eat fish. Do you take hold of my tail and hold 
on to it hard." Saying this he plunged in. Now the Otter 
was at home in the water. As nothing happened the Leopard- 
cat was ashamed to come out before his friend had caught 
anything. After this had gone on (for a while) he (the 
Otter) at last caught and brought out a little tiny fish. The 
Leopard-cat was curling back its lips in death. His friend, 
pretending that this was laughter (said), " My friend, why 
are you so delighted at having caught a minnow ? " While 
he was saying this his friend expired. 


Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ino ti pini. 
Inzhulone ! 

Anyengu-ngo atsugho pama ashou shike. Anyeng- 
Leopard-cat and Otter they two friend made Leopard- 

uno pa'shou atsiighovilo " I-shou, ikuzho timi 
cat his friend Otter-towards " My friend, we two man's 

'kilo ilono awu pukani," pike. Pa 'shou 

house-in having entered fowl will steal," said His friend 

atsiighoye mtano allo-pike. Pamano timi 'kilo 
Otter unknowing agreed They two man house-in 

ilowuke ; awu laki keghake. Tilehino awuno egha 
went in fowl one caught Thereon fowl squawk 

ithougheveke. Tilehino timino po-ithougheveke. Amisii 
got up Thereon man run-got up firebrand 

ikipe, anyengu-ngo atsiigho pama heke. Anyenguye 
snatched leopard-cat and otter both hit Leopard-cat 

po-iveno atsiighoye ala mtano seleku 

having run-gone out otter way not knowing within 

nguke. Tilehino timino amisii pfe atsiigho kuthomo 
remained Then man brand lift otter much 

heveke. Tighenguno atsiighono pa'shou anyenguvilo 
beat Therefore otter his friend Leopard-cat-to 

" I-shou, ikuzhe aiziilo ilono akha kegha- 

" My friend, we two pool-in having entered fish catch 

chuni. No ghi i-shomhi phekeveno^ i-shomhi 

will eat. You too my tail not letting go my tail 

siinhye-pfelo," pipuziino pana iloke. Tilehino 

pull-take " having said he went in Now 

atsiighoye aziilo kaakeke. Kumo shimono 

otter water-in was-a-dweller Nothing having not done 

anyenguye pa' shou zukuzhoye, akha 

Leopard-cat his friend being ashamed (before), fish 

^ phekeveno, a gerundival form derived from the prohibitive phe-keve-lo, 
" do not let go," compounded with the post-position no. 

312 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

itumlai apiloye ipemoke. Hi shi- 

could not get as long as did not come out. This having 

apuziino akhati kitla itulu-ketino kalao 

kept doing fishlet little having got (at last) out 

siipegheke. Anyenguno tiwuniye ahu 

brought-emerged. Leopard-cat being about to die teeth 

itsiipfeake. Pa 'shou nuani keghashi, " I-shou, 
bared His friend is laughing pretend " My friend, 

noye khamlati keghalukeno ku allo-kevishia;nike ? " 
you minnow having caught why are delighted ? " 

Ti pino-laoye pa'shouye tiuveke. 
This while saying his friend died. 



We Semas of old have a story. I will tell it. Listen. 

The Sand-lizard and the Tailor-bird ^ made friends. 
The Tailor-bird broke off a twig and turned his friend the 
Lizard stomach upwards on to his back. Thereon the 
Lizard spoke thus : "If this is what you do I will collect 
all that creep on the earth." Having said this he collected 
all that creep on the earth. And the Tailor-bird said " If 
you do this, I likewise will collect all the birds of the air." 
And having said so he collected all the birds of the air. 

Then they made war, fought. And the earth -creepers 
brought the Python as leader and the birds of the air brought 
the Hornbill ^ and the Eagle ' as leaders. The Eagle said 
to the Hornbill, " You are the biggest. Go down and carry 
off the Python," says he. The Hornbill, saying " The 
Python is bigger than I am," would not go. So then he 
said to the Awutsa,^ " You go and bring up the King-cobra." 

* Liliti — Orthotomua sutorius — the Indian Tailor-bird. 

* Aghacho — Dichoceros bicornis — the Great Hornbill. 

^ Alokhu — Lophotriorchis kieneri — the Rufous -bellied Hawk-Eagle. 

* Aceros nepalensis—ihe Rufous-necked Hornbill. 


But the Awutsa said, " The King-cobra is bigger than I. I 
go not." Then the Eagle said, " I will go down," and did 
so. So the King-cobra and the Eagle fought together. 
And when the Eagle got the worst of it the birds of the air 
cried aloud, but when the Eagle got the upper hand they 
chuckled. And when the Cobra was being worsted the 
reptiles cried out, but when the Cobra got the upper hand 
the reptiles chuckled. At the last the Eagle flew back with 
the King-cobra and the birds of the air chanted a pa3an. 
Then they divided the flesh. The Crow ^ rubbed himself in 
the gall, and they say that this is why he is black. And 
the Minivet^ rubbed himself in the blood, and this is why 
the Minivet is red, they say. And the Ruby-throat^ was 
late and did not arrive until after the other fellows had 
eaten up the meat. There was no meat (for him). Although 
he had been given none, only a little blood remained. It 
was smeared on his chin, and for this reason, they say, he 
has a red chm. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ino ti pini. Inzhulone, 

Aniza-ngo liliti pama ashou shike. 

Sand-lizard and Tailor-bird they two friend made 

Lilitino asiikugha nichephe pa'shou aniza 

Tailor-bird twig broke off his friend Sand-lizard 

kive vekide-vetsiike.^ Tilehino anizano ti 

stomach turned upside down. Then Sand-lizard this 

pike " Nono ti shiamu, ino ayeghilo-kechepu 
said " You this do-although I the earth-on creepers 

kumtsii sa-eghenike," pipuziino ayeghilokechepu 

all will collect " having said earth-creepers 

kumtsii sa'gheke. Eno lilitino " Ti shiaye, niye 
all collected And Tailor-bird " This if do I 

* Ag?ia — Corvus macrorhyncus — the Jungle Crow. 

* Chilichepu — Pericrocotus speciosus — the Indian Scarlet Minivet. 
» Izhyu. Probably Calliope tsebaiewi — the Thibet Ruby-throat. 

* Perhaps it means that the lizard was disembowelled, but I think that 
it merely means he was rolled over on to his back. 

314 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

ghi kungu-'ghao kumtsii sagheni " pipuziino, pa ghi 
too heaven-birds all will collect " having said he too 

kungu-'ghao kumtsii sagheke. 
heaven-birds all collected. 

Tilehino panon aghiishike, kulouke.^ Eno ayeghilemino 
Then they made war fought and earth -remainers 

aithu akizheo shi-egheke. Eno kungu-'ghaoye aghacho- 
Python biggest make-came and heaven-birds Hornbill 

ngo alokhu pama akizheo shi-egheke. Alokhuno 
and Eagle they two biggest make-came Eagle 

aghachovilo ti pike. " No akizheoke ; ikeno 

Hornbill to this said " You are biggest having gone down 

aiithu pfeghelo," pike. Aghachono " Ni-ye aithuno pa 
Python carry off," said Hornbill " I than Python he 

zheke " ti pipuziino wumoive. Tamaye awutsa- 

is big " this having said would not go So then to the 

vilo " Nono ikeno apeghiala pfeeghelo," 

awutsa " You having gone down King-cobra bring up " 

pike. Awutsano, " Ni-ye apeghialano pa zhekeke. 
said Awutsa " I than King-cobra he is big (indeed) 

Wumoi," pike. Tilehino alokhuno " Ino ikeni " 

I go not " said Then Eagle " I will go down " 

pipuziino, pano ikeke. Apeghiala-ngo alokhu 

having said he went down King-cobra and Eagle 

pama kicheghike. Alokhuno akhwo shi-akeloye 
they two fought Eagle underneath do - becoming 

kungu-'ghaono kaapike. Alokhu-no asho shi-akeloye 
heaven-birds cried out Eagle above do-becoming 

kungu-'ghaono nuapike. Eno apeghialano akhwo 

heaven-birds laugh-remain-said and King-cobra underneath 

shiye ayeghilemino kaapike. Eno apeghialano asho 
doing earth-reraainers cried out and King-cobra above 

^ The root kulou- = to fight without using deadly weapons, i.e. with 
shields and stones or clubs, whereas aghushi- would imply the use of 
spears and daos. 


shi-akeloye ayeghilemino nuapikc. Kuthouye 

do-becoming carth-remainers laugh-remain-said Eventually 

alokhuno apeghiala pfe-egheve, kungu-'ghaono aghiile 
Eagle King-cobra carry-came heaven-birds pjean 

kuake. Tilehino panoimo ashi phuke. Aghano atithi 
chanted Then they flesh divided Crow gall 

bolo ihike. Tighenguno aghano tsiibui, pike, 

pool-in wallowed This because of Crow black said 

Eno chilichepu azhi bolo ihike. Tighenguno 

And Minivet blood pool-in wallowed On account of this 

chilichepu huchuhi, pike. Eno izhyuno eghemo- 

Minivet red said And Ruby-throat having been 

apuziino timino ashi chukhavoke'thiuno egheke. Ashi 
not come men meat had eaten up after came Meat 

kahake. Pa tsii-mono azhi kitla agheke. Pa 

was not him not having given blood little remained his 

'mukhu lo nyetsiike. Tighenguno pa 'mukhu huchuhi 
chin on smeared This-because-of his chin red 




Once upon a time a Tigress had a cub which she had 
given birth to in the jungle. A Partridge was scratching 
up the earth in the bed of a stream when a Crab bit the 
Partridge's leg. The Partridge flew up and colliding with a 
plantain tree (disturbed) a Bat (which) brushed against 
the back of a Sambhar's ear (as it flitted away). The 
Sambhar, as it dashed off, stepped on the tiger cub and 
killed it. The Tigress came. " Sambhar, for what did 
you step on and kill my baby ? " "It was not me. It 
was the Bat ; see him about it " (said the Sambhar). But 
the Bat said, " It was not me ; it was the Partridge. See 
him about it," says he, and the Partridge said, " It was not 
me ; it was the Crab. See him about it." " Crab," said 

3i6 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

the Tigress, " for what did you step on and kill my baby, 
eh ? " The Crab said nothing, but, grunting " 'm 'm," 
slipped in under a stone. Then the tigress had to ask the 
Huluk.^ "You pull the Crab out of that," said she. But 
the Huluk pitied him and said, " He is not there." Just 
then the Crab bit the Huluk's finger, and on that he pulled 
him out and threw him down on a great big boulder so that 
he broke, and bits of Crab drifted down into all streams. 
That is why, they say, crabs frequent every stream. 

Kaghe angshuno aghalo ati laki piti- 

Formerly Tiger jungle-in offspring one give-birth -to - 

sasiiake. Agilino aghokitilo ayeghi pea- 

was accompanying Partridge stream-bed-in earth while 

kelono, achuwono agili 'pukhulo mikitsiike. 

was scratching up Crab Partridge leg-on bit 

Agilino yeo, auchobo vekinikelono, ashukhano 

Partridge flew plantain-tree having struck against bat 

yeo akhuh 'kinibalo vetsiike. Akhuhno poniaye 
flew Sambhar ear-back-on struck Sambhar in running 

angshu-ti nekhevetsiike. Angshuno eghepuzii 

tiger -cub trampled-on-and-killed Tiger having come 

" Akhuh, noye ku-ughenguno i-nga nekhevet- 

" Sambhar you for what reason my baby trampled on 

siike ? " " Ino kumoi. Ashukhano ke ; pavilo 

and killed " " (by) me was not (by)Bat was to him 

pilo," pike. Ashukhano pike, " Ino kumoi ; agili- 
speak " said Bat said " (by) me was not (by) 

no ke ; pavilo pilo," pike. Agilino " Ino 
Partridge was to him speak " said Partridge " (by) me 

kumoi ; achuwono ke ; pavilo pilo," pike. " Achuwo, 
was not (by) Crab was to him speak " said " Crab 

noye ku-ughenguno i-nga nekhevetsiike-a ? " 

you for what reason my-baby trampled-on-and-killed, eh ? " 

*■ Akuhu = " Hylobatea huluk,^' the black gibbon. 


ishi pike. Achuwono ku-umo pimono " ahia- 

thus said Crab nothing having not said " 'um 

ahia "^ ishi pipuzii atukholo iloveke. Tighenguno 
'um " thus having said stone-underwent in Because of this 

angshuno akuhuvilo pike " Noye achuwo siinhye- 
Tiger to ' Huluk ' said " You Crab pull- 

phetsiilo," pike. Akuhuno, pa kimiyeye, " Kahai " 
extract " said Huluk him in pity (for) " Is not " 

i pike. Kutou ghi akuhu achuwono aoulotilo mikitsUke- 
this said after just Huluk Crab finger-in bit 

ghenguno akuhuno pa siinhye-phepe, atukhu 

because of Huluk him pull-extracted boulder 

akizheolono vephovekelono, achuwo 

biggest-one having thrown down and broken Crab 

'muno aghokiti kumtsii iloveke. Ti-ghenguno 
fragments streams all went in This because of 

aghokiti kuchopu achuwo acheni pike, 
streams all crabs frequent said. 



Of old a Spirit, a Tiger, and a Man were born of one mother. 
When the Spirit looked after his mother he washed her and 
fed her with rice and gave her rice beer to drink, so that his 
mother fared well. When the Man looked after his mother 
she fared well. When the Tiger looked after his mother 
he used to scratch her and lick up his own mother's blood 
so that she withered. 

One day the mother said to the Spirit and the Man 
together " I am going to die to-day. Let the Tiger go to 
the fields. When I am dead bury my body and cook and 
eat your meal over my body." 

After the Tiger had gone down to the fields his mother 

^ Ahia-ahia has no meaning, but represents the grunts of the crab. 

31 8 THE SEMA NAG AS part 

died. The Spirit and the Man together buried their mother's 
body. Over her body they cooked and ate their meal. 
After that the Tiger came. When he could not find his 
mother he cried out, " Where is my mother ? " With this 
he scraped about for his mother's body, but being unable 
to find it fled into the jungle. 

Kaghe aza laki-no teghami laki, angshu laki, 
Formerly mother one from Spirit one Tiger one 

timi laki punuke. Teghami no aza sasiiaye 

Man one were born Spirit mother while-remaining-with 

azii-kuchuveno ana-tsii azhi-zheno 

water having bathed rice given liquor having made drink 

aza akevishi-a. Timi-no aza sasiiaye 

mother well-do-remains Man mother while-remaining-with 

aza akevi shi-a. Angshu-no aza sasiiaye 

mother well-do-remains Tiger mother while remaining with 

aza chukano aza'zhi mineveno 

mother having used to scratch mother's blood having licked 

azaye kimoghwoiye agheke. 
mother in drying up remained 

Aghla laki-no aza-no teghami-ngo timi pamavile pike : 
Day one on mother Spirit and Man they-two to said 

" Niye ishi tiveni aike. Angshu alu huvepelo. 
" I to-day will die am Tiger field let go down 

Niye tivepuzii ikumo khwoveno ikumoshouno 

I having died my-corpse having buried my-corpse-over 

alikuli shi-chulo." 
meal make-eat." 

Angshu alu huveketino aza tiuveke. Te- 

Tiger field having gone down mother died Spirit 

ghami-ngo timi pamano aza'kumo khwoveke. Pa'- 
and Man they two mother's corpse buried her 

kumo shouno alikuli shi-chuke. Tilehina angshu egheke. 
corpse over meal make-ate Then Tiger came 


Pa'za zhu-pahaiveno atsa pike : " I-za 

his mother look-having lost words said " My mother 

kilao ai kye ? " Ti pino aza'kumo 

where is eh ? " This having said mother's corpse 

Ihezhuke. Lhezhu-pahaiveno aghalo poveke. 

scrape-sought scrape-seek-having lost jungle-in ran away. 


We Semas have a story of the ancients. I will tell it. 
Listen, pray. 

A Tiger kept a pig.i Iki told the Tiger to bait a snare ^ 
with the pig. The Tiger asked Iki, " How are snares set ? " 
said he. On this Iki said to the Tiger, " KilP the pig and 
bring along the meat, the forequarters and the hind, and 
tie it with cords* just by the snare." That was what he 
said, and so the Tiger, supposing him to be in earnest, 
brought along the fore- and hindquarters and placed them 
near the snare. Iki took them away, cooked them, and 
ate them up. Next the Tiger asked Iki why the game was 
not caught. " Why does not the game get caught ? " asked 
he. So Iki said to the Tiger, " Perhaps you are keeping 
some of the meat in your house, and that is why game does 
not get caught in the snare." That is what Iki said to the 
Tiger. The Tiger having replied " I am keeping a little of 
the liver and a little of the fat,"^ went to his house, fetched 
back the liver and a little of the fat, and set it (by the snare). 
Iki ate this too, but did not get caught. Then the Tiger 
said to Iki, " Game does not get caught." Iki said to the 
Tiger, " In that case fetch here some rice beer and beans 
and set them by the snare." And so Iki smeared his body 
all over with rice beer and beans and got caught in the 
Tiger's snare. The Tiger and the Leopard-cat came down 
to examine the snare. When he saw the two of them Iki 
ran down and remained caught. The Tiger in ignorance, 
supposing it to be real, said to the Leopard-cat, " Game is 

320 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

caught, is it not ? " and they two carried off the meat. Iki 
said to the Leopard-cat, " When you are carrying off my 
body to the house don't exert yourself too much ! " 
Accordingly the Leopard-cat went along without doing his 
share of the carrying. The Tiger, being unable to carry 
(the body alone), said to the Leopard-cat, " You carry 
properly too." The Leopard-cat went on carrying. Iki 
took out a knife and slashed the Leopard-cat. The 
Leopard-cat said to the Tiger," Pismires^ keep on biting me." 
The Tiger said, " In that case we will cut up the meat. 
Pluck and bring leaves." The Leopard-cat went to pluck 
leaves ; he brought leaves which he had torn. On this the 
Tiger said, " If that is what you do, bring bamboo 
' chungas '^ now ! " said he. The Leopard-cat went to 
cut " chungas." He brought them with both nodes cut off. 
The Tiger said to the Leopard-cat, " I will get (them) ! 
Stay here and watch the meat."^ After he had said this, 
and when he had gone to get the " chungas," Iki said to 
the Leopard-cat, " Leopard-cat, if you too wish to eat my 
flesh, make water on my tail ! "^ On this the Leopard-cat 
made water on his tail. Iki flicked his tail in the Leopard- 
cat's eyes and ran off. 

Next the Tiger came. " Where has the game gone to ? " 
he asked the Leopard-cat. " Gondoup, gondoup,"^" said 
the Leopard-cat. Then the Tiger struck the Leopard-cat 
so that he fell over by the side of the path. For this reason 
the Leopard-cat always frequents abandoned paths. 

After this the Tiger, having gone to Iki's home, (found) 
Iki weaving wall-matting. ^^ He spoke to Iki. " Both its 
hands and its feet were just like yours," said he. Iki said 
to the Tiger, " My child has got dysentery to-day," and 
having said this he wove the Tiger's tail into the matting ; 
the Tiger was not aware of it. A little later Iki said to the 
Tiger, " If you really want to eat my flesh to-day, drag 
that and come after me ! " said he. The Tiger chased 
him, dragging the matting. When he had all but caught him, 
Iki called out to a Shefii^^ that came flying overhead, saying, 
" O creationis of mine ! " The Tiger asked Iki, " The 
Shefu — is it you were his creator ? " The Tiger said to 


Iki, "Me too— make me like the Shefu." The Tiger said 
that to Iki. Iki agreed. " Climb up," said he, " and fetch 
back cane," and then, " Climb down and strip athuyhu^'^ — 
(bark) — bring it back (for fibre)," said he, and then, " Climb 
u-p a.nd cut thumsii^^ wood and bring it back," said he, and 
then, " Climb down and iind a shokosil^^ tree," he ordered. 
At last, having gone with the Tiger into the jungle, and when 
(the Tiger) had brought fibre and cane to the shohosii 
accordingly, he tied up the Tiger to the shohosii tree. Then 
he said to the Tiger, " See if you can shake ! " He tried to 
shake ; not a bit of it ; he cquldn't. Then he sharpened 
the thuynsii wood. " With this I am making you a beak,"^^ 
said he, and thrust it into his jaws.^^ Then, " With this I 
will make you a tail," said he, and he sharpened (another 
bit of) thimisii wood and thrust it into the fundament. 
After the space of three days Iki and the Leopard-cat came 
along together. The Tiger was in distress. " Iki," said 
he, "is it for good that you are doing this, or is it for 
evil ? " Then Iki and the Leopard-cat both went off and 
came back in nine days' time. The Tiger had died and a 
blue-bottle fly was laying eggs. Then Iki and the 
Leopard-cat broke off branches and beat the body till the 
blue-bottle flew out. Iki said, " I told you to turn into a 
shefu ; do you prefer turning into a blue-bottle fly ? " 

Then he caught the blue-bottle and put her into a bamboo 
" chunga," and, having smeared the " chunga " with pigs' 
fat, kept repeating, " There's a charm-stone in this."^^ 
There was an old widow woman who kept a pig. Iki kept 
marching round the widow's house. In the widow's house 
there lived only 20 the widow and a girl. The girl said to 
Iki, " I will have a look at the charm-stone." When Iki 
refused, the girl, in spite of it, pulled out^i the stopper from 
the bamboo. Off flew the blue-bottle. Then said Iki to 
the girl, " If it was your pig that you and your mother would 
be giving me, I'd not take it ! "22 and the girl said, " Be 
content with my mother's and my pig," so Iki grabbed up 
the pig and made a pig-cradle^^ and carried it off on his back, 
chanting, " Oh ! she has stopped up Iki's fundament ! "2* 
On this the girl asked Iki, " Iki ! What's that you're 


322 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

singing ? " "I was singing How heavy the load," says 
he to her. 

For this reason we Semas always tell the story 
of Iki. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Ino ti pini. 

Angshuno awoli^ peghiake. Ikino angshu-vilo awoli 

Tiger pig (male) kept Iki Tiger towards pig 

aitho^-shimukha pike Angshuno Ikivilo " Kishishi aitho- 

snare bait said Tiger to Iki " how snare 

shichenike la ? " pipuziino Ikivilo inzhuke. Tilehino Ikino 

is made eh " having said to Iki asked Thereon Iki 
angshu-vilo ti pike, " Awoli hekhipuziino^ 

Tiger to this said " Pig having beaten to death 
abi-ngo apukhu-ngo ashi pfuhuho aithovilo 

forequarter and leg and meat carry-down snare-near 

akeghino ^ tsiipaalo," pike. Tilehino angshuye kucho 
with cord tie up " said Then Tiger true 

keghashi abi apukhu pfuhuno aitho-vilo 

suppose shoulder leg having carried down snare near 

tsiipaake. Ikino pfewo-lhochuveke. Ipuziino 

place-kept Iki take-away-cook-ate up After this 
angshuye mtano " Kushia ashi memoke la ? " 
Tiger not knowing " why game is not caught eh " 

ti pipuziino, Ikivilo " Ashiye kushia memoke- 
this having said to Iki " The game, why is not caught, 

a ? " inzhuke. Tilehino Ikino angshuvilo ti pike " Nono 
eh ? " asked Then Iki to Tiger this said " You 

ashi akilo paani-kye, tighenguno aitholo 

meat in house are keeping perhaps therefore in snare 

ashi memono anike," Ikino angshuvilo 

game not having been caught is " Iki to Tiger 

ti pike. Angshuno " Ino alloshi kitila amchi^ kitila 

this said Tiger " I liver little fat little 

paanike " pipuziino, aki wono alloshi-ngo 

am keeping " having said house having gone liver and 


amchi-ngo susiihu-egheno paiike. Ikino ti ghi 

fat and fetch-having come placed Iki this too 

chuheno memoke. Tilehino angshuno Ikivilo 

having eaten -up was not caught Then Tiger to Iki 

ti pike " Ashiye memoke." Ikino angshuvilo ti 

this said " game is not caught " Iki to Tiger this 
pike " Ti shiaj^e azhicho-ngo aA;Aonye-ngo pfuhu- 
said " This do-if rice-beer and beans and bring-down- 

egheno, aithovilo paalo," pike. Ikino azhichopfe 
having-come snare-near place " said Iki rice-beer- with 
aMonyepfe ishi pa phi kumtsii nupfupuziino 

beans- with thus his body all having smeared over 
angshu 'itholo meake. Angshu-ngo anyengu 

Tiger's snare-in remained caught Tiger and Leopard-cat 

pama aitho kaniye huegheke, Angshu-ngo 

they two snare to examine came out Tiger and 

anyengu pama zhuno Ikino pohuno 

Leopard-cat they two having seen Iki having run down 
meaghike. Angshuye mtano kucho keghashi 

remained caught The Tiger unknowing true supposed 

anyenguvilo " Ashi meaye-kena ! " 

to the Leopard-cat " Game being caught is it not so ? " 

pipuziino, pama ashi pfuke. Ikino anyengu-vilo " 
having said they two meat carried. Iki to the Leopard-cat 

" Ikomo akilo pfuwuveno sanoye, ikomo 

" my corpse house-to having carried off in taking my corpse 

ighwono pfukevilo ? " piyeno, tighenguno 

with effort do not carry " having instructed therefore 

anyenguye pfutsiimono cheke. Angshuno 

the Leopard-cat not having carry -given went The Tiger 

pfumlano anyenguvilo " No ghi 

being unable to carry to the Leopard-cat " You too 

thapfulo ? " pike. Angyenguno pfucheke. Ikino akke 

carry fully " said Leopard-cat carried on Iki knife 

ikipfe anyengu ghathake. Anyenguno angshuvilo 
took out Leopard-cat slashed Leopard-cat to the Tiger 

Y 2 

324 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

pike " Atisii ^ i-mikikhichenike." Angshuno " Ti shiaye 
said " little ants me keep on biting " Tiger " This if do 

ikuzho ashi phunike. Akeghu ghesii-eghelo ? " pike, 
we two meat will cut up leaves pluck-bring " said. 

Anyenguno akeghu ghewuke ; akeghu siikhuveno 
Leopard-cat leaves went to pluck leaves having torn 
siigheke. Tilehino angshuno pike " Ti shiaye itaheye 
brought Thereon Tiger said " This if do now 

asiipuhu siighelo ? " pike. Anyenguno asiipuhu 
bamboo vessels bring" said Leopard-cat bamboo vessels 
nichewuke ; anhye ghuveno siigheke. Angshuno ti 
went to cut node having cut off brought Tiger this 

pike anyenguvilo " Ino luwuni ? Ihi ashi 

said to Leopard-cat " I will get Here meat 
kheaghelo ? " Ti pipuziino pano asiipuhu 

watch over " This having said he bamboo vessels 
luwukelaoye Ikino anyenguvilo ti pike, 

while had gone to get Iki to Leopard-cat this said 
" Anyengu, no ghi i-shi . chunishiaye i-shomhi 
" Leopard-cat you too my flesh if wish to eat my tail 
puzhotelo ? " Tipuziino anyenguno pa'shomhi puzhotetsiike. 
urinate on " After this Leopard-cat his tail urinated on. 

Ikino pa 'shomhino anyengu 'nhyeti 

Iki his tail with the Leopard-cat's eyes 

hephovetsiipuziino poveke. 

having caused to strike (lightly) fled, 

Tilehino angshuno egheke ; anyenguvilo " Ashi kila 
Then Tiger came to Leopard-cat " Game where 
wuveke?" ti pi-inzhuke. Anyenguno " Ikera, ikera "^" 
has gone" this say-asked Leopard-cat "Gondoup Gondoup" 
pike. Tilehino angshuno anyengu hekulupfe, 

said Then Tiger Leopard-cat knocked aside 

alavelo vesiike. Tighenguno anyenguno 

by side of path threw down For this reason Leopard-cat 

lave- 'zuchenike . 
always-walks-about-on-abandoned -paths. 


Tilehino angshuno aki-u wupuziino Ikino 

Thereafter Tiger house the having gone Iki 

atozu ughoake. Ikivilo ti pike "Apukhu ghi 

wall-matting was weaving To Iki this said " Leg too 

aou ghi noi toh " i-pike, Ikino angshuvilo " I- 

hand too you-just like " this said Iki to Tiger " My 

ngano ishi azhiba anike." Ti pipuzuno 

babe (by) to-day dysentery iS " This having said 

angshu 'shomhi atozulo ghosiivetsiike ; angshuye 

Tiger tail wall-matting in wove Tiger 

mtano ake. Kuthouno Ikino angshuvilo ti pike, 
not knowing was Afterwards Iki to Tiger this said 
" No ghi i-shi chuni-shiaye ihi khapfu i-hazulo ? " 
"You too my flesh if wish to eat that drag me pursue" 
pike. Angshuno atozu khapfu pa hake. Pa 

said Tiger wall-matting drag him chased Him 

haluvenichekelono shefu^^ yeocheghekelono 

having begun to catch up hornbill while having flown across 
Ikino shefuvilo *' o-i-lho " pike. Angshuno 

Iki to the hornbill " my creation " said Tiger 

Ikivilo " Shefuye nono Ihotsiikeshi-a ? " ti pi-inzhuke. 
to Iki " Hornbill you created what, eh ? " this said asked 
Tilehino angshuno Ikivilo " Ni ghi shefu toh i-shitsiilo " 

Then Tiger to Iki " I too hornbill like me make " 
pike. Angshuno Ikivilo ti pike. Ikino allopipuziino 
said Tiger to Iki this said Iki having agreed 

" Azhou hukeloye akkeh pfueghelo " pipuziino, 
" Up above in climbing cane carry-come " having said 
eno " Ghabou huaye atughu Iha-pfu-eghelo " 

and " Down below climbing fibre-bark strip-carry-come " 
pike, eno etaghe " Azhou huaye thumsii 

said and again " Up above when climbing acid- wood 
hetha-pfu-eghelo " pike, eno " Ghabou huaye 

cut-carry-come " said and " Down below when climbing 

shohusii zhu-pa-eghelo " piyeno, ike tilehino 

bard- wood look-find-come " having directed so then 

326 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

angshu sasii aghau hupuziino shohusiilo 

Tiger with jungle having gone to hard- wood tree 

atughu-ngo akkeh-ngo ishi pfepuziino 

fibre bark both cane and accordingly having brought 

angshu shohusiilo phepukuke. Tilehino 

Tiger to the hard -wood tree tied up Then 

angshuvilo " Ethazhulo ! " pike. Ethazhuke ; laimo 

to Tiger " Shake-see " said tried to shake little not 
shimoveke. Tilehino thumsii Miipuziino " Ihino 

did not do. Then acid wood having sharpened "with this 
ahu^' shitsiianike " pipuziino, abaMalo^*^ A:Aesii-tsiike. 
beak shall get made " having said mouth-into thrust-in-gave 
Eno " Ihino ashomhi shitsiini " pipuziino, 

and " with this tail will make give " having said 

thumsii A:/mpuziino asiibokilo /^Aesiitsiike. 

acid wood having sharpened into fundament thrust-in-gave 

Akiithunino Iki-ngo anyengu pama 

In a three days' space Iki and Leopard-cat they two 
huegheke Angshuno amelo siiagheke, " Iki noye kevipuno 
came down Tiger in heart was aching " Iki you for good 

i shianil^e, kesapuno i shianike la ? " ti pike, 
this are doing for bad this are doing eh ? " this said 
Tilehino Iki-ngo anyengu pamaye wuvepuziino aghlo 

Then Iki and Leopard-cat they two having gone day 
atokunino hugheke. Angshuye tiuvepuziino 

in nine days' time came down Tiger having died 

ayela yesiiagheke. Tilehino Iki-ngo anyengu 

blue-bottle fly was laying eggs Then Iki and Leopard-cat 
pama atsiini pighepheno angshu 'kumo 

they two leaves having broken off Tiger's corpse 
heketino ayela yepegheke. Ikino ti pike 

having beaten blue-bottle flew out Iki this said 

" Ino shefu miviulo pike, no ayela miviu- 

" I hornbill become said you blue-bottle become 

shi-a ? " 
wish eh 1 " 


Tilehino ayelakhu keghasuwo asiipuhulo 

Then female blue-bottle caught in bamboo vessel 

siipuziino, ashi-kimitheno asiipuhu nupu- 

having put pig's-stomach-fat-with bamboo vessel having 

ziino " Agha anike " picheke, Thopfumino 

smeared " Charm-stone is " kept saying Old woman 

awoli pegheake. Ikino thopfumi 'ki muMaake. 

pig kept Iki old woman's house kept walking round 

Thopfumi 'kilo thopfumi laki ilimi laki pama 
Old woman's house-in old woman one girl one they two 

chimeake.20 Ilimino Ikivilo " Ino agha zhu-tsiini " 

lived alone Girl to Iki " I charm-stone will look -give " 

pike. Ikino piyemo piamuno, ilimino asii- 

said Iki refuse although having said girl bamboo 

puhu akimike sujuvetsiike,^! ayela yeowuveke. 
vessel stopper pulled out blue-bottle flew away. 

Tilehino Ikino ilimivilo " 0-za okuzho 'woli 

Then Iki to girl " Your mother's you both pig 

i-tsiini pimu, niye lumoke-cho ! " 

to me will give although say I am not taking-indeed " 

ti pino, ilimino Ikivilo, " I-za ikuzho 

this having said girl to Iki " My mother's we both 

'woli luvetsUlo " pino, Ikino awo keghapfe, 

pig make take " having said Iki pig grabbed up 

awophe shipuziino akho pfunikelono " Ih ! Iki 
pig-carrier having made load while carrying off " Oh Iki's 
'siibo mikhenhe ! " pike. Iketilehino ilimino Ikivilo, 
fundament stopped up " said Thereon girl to Iki 
" Iki, tiye ku 'le ke ? " ti pike Ikivilo inzhuke. 
" Iki that what song was " this said to Iki asked 

Ikino pavilo " Akho-kemishi 'le ke," pike. 
Iki to her " load heavy song was " said. 

Tighenguno ni Simiye Iki 'tsa pichenike. 
For this reason we Semas Iki's story keep tolling. 

328 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

^ Awoli — not, however, a boar. As mentioned (Part II), grown boars 
are not kept by Semas, nor, indeed, by other Naga tribes. 

* For aitho see also Part II, under " Hunting," etc. 

^ Hekhi or hekhe {cf. nekhe) is to kill by beating, the usual way of killing 

* Akeghi is the usual word for string, cord, etc., and is used primarily 
of jungle creepers and fibre used for tying. 

* Atnchi = the fat of the intestines only. 

* Atisii — a very small variety of ant. 

' A section of bamboo cut off just below one node, which forms the 
bottom of the vessel, and just below the next node above so as to give an 
opening at the top. The leopard -cat brovight sections of bamboo without 
a node at either end and so quite useless for holding the blood for which 
they were wanted. The leaves were wanted to put the pieces of flesh on. 

* Or " game." 

" The human and animal attributes of the persons in the tale are changed 
almost at will. Iki is normally regarded as a man, but is given a tail for 
the nonce. 

1" " Ikera " is meaningless, but might be mistaken for either the word 
for " went down " or that for " went up " equally well. 

'* The walls of Sema houses are made of bamboo split into narrow slats 
and woven. 

^* The Malayan Wreathed Hornbill — Rhytidoceroa undulatiis. 

^' Lho = " create," cj. Alho-u = God — the Creator. 

** A shrub that produces fibre, the bark being stripped and used for 
making nets, bow-string, etc. 

'* A fruit tree the berries of which are eaten and the wood of which 
contains a plentiful supply of very acid sap. 

" A tree with very hard wood. 

^' Ahii — lit. " tooth," but always used of a bird's beak. 

^* Abakha appears to give the sense of the open mouth ; the ordinary 
word for mouth is akiche. 

*^ See Part IV, page -'63 sq. It is customary to anoint charm-stonea 
with fat taken from pigs' intestines. 

^° Chimemi is a person who lives without a companion of the other 
sex, and thus a " widow," " widower," " bachelor," " spinster " ; chime- 
is used as the root of a verb meaning to live in such a condition. 

"' Sujuvetsuke — or " pulled OjQ''," according to whether the vessel is closed 
by a stopper that fits in or a lid that fits over ; akimike means either. 

*^ I.e., as sufficient compensation for the vanished charm-stone. 
(Cho < kucho = true.) 

^^ Pigs are carried strapped to a flat frame of bamboos which enables 
a man to carry them on his back. The Naga does not attempt to drive his 
pig to market. 

2* The expression i-silbo mikhenhe is used in derision by a man who has 
scored off another in a bargain and got much more than the real value 
of the article sold or bartered. The precise significanco of the metaphor 
is unprintable, but there is much the same expression in vulgar English. 




Once upon a time a man had two sons. Their father 
and mother both died. The two brothers hved alone. ^ 
Sky maidens 2 used to come down the frontal post, and 
washed themselves ; they spied on them. Two girls came 
and were washing. The elder (boy) spoke to the younger. 
" I will catch the pretty one ; you shall catch the ugly 
one," he said. The elder first tried to catch the pretty 
one, but the ugly one fell into his hands, while it so happened 
that the pretty one came into the hands of the younger 
(brother). On this account the elder said to the younger, 
" Let us two go and gather fruits." On the brink of a 
deep pool there was a fruit tree. (The elder) having said 
to the younger " You climb up that tree first," the younger 
climbed up. Then (the elder) cut down the fruit tree and 
(the younger) fell down into the pool. So his wife took a 
chicken's thigh, but as she was charming and luring him 
out^ (the elder) startled her.* Because he had done this 
the wife of the younger said, " You take me for your wife," 
and saying so told him to make up a fire afar off. Believing 
her in earnest and having made up a fire, the younger 
brother's wife ascended to heaven (in the smoke). Then 
in heaven she gave birth to a male child. As the child 
always kept saying " I will go down to the village of my 

^ See Note 20, ]))V'ce(ling tale. 

* The Sema word is kungulimi — feminine of kungumi — i.e., women of 
the spirits of the sky. They seem to be conceived of as using the carved 
pole of the front of the house as a means of descending to earth, but the 
original is far from explicit. 

' The Sema word mussu-sapechepia (literally " bait-with-lift-come-say 
continue ") means coaxing and enticing along with a bait, and the fairy 
is probably conceived of as drawing her husband out of the water by super- 
natural power as with a magnet. 

* The Sema word kichi-siivetsu implies the making of a sudden rush or 
other movement calculated to startle or frighten. It may have as its 
object either the fairy or her hxisband, as the language is ambiguous, but 
the effect in any case is to break the spell and cause the man's death. 

The whole story as recorded is excessively ellipt ical and suffers in a very 
typical way from an absence of subjects, objects, and explanations. 

330 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

father's people," his mother let him down by a thread (tied) 
round his waist and sent him off. But before he could 
reach the earth a crow broke the thread and dashed the 
child to death, so that its liver burst out. And because the 
crow pecked at it, they say, the crow even now always pecks 
the flesh of man. 

Kaghelomi timi laki-no kepitimi kini punuke. Apu 
Men of old man one by males two born Father 

aza pama kinikuzho tiuveke. Pama atazii 

mother they two two-both died They two brothers 

chimeake. Kungulimino atsiikucholono azii- 

lived alone Sky-spirit women frontal-post-on-from used 

kuchucheke ; mikiake. Ilimi mi-kinino azii- 

to bathe hid and watched Girls two persons came 

kuchuagheke. Akicheono aitiuvilo pike " Ino akevio 
and were bathing Elder to younger said " I best 

kaghaluni, noye alhokesao kaghaluni," i pike. Akicheo 
will seize you worst will seize " this said Elder 

paghino akevio kaghaaye alhokesaono pa 'oulo 

first best while catching worst his hand-in 

eghe, akeviono aitiu 'oulo iloghe i shike. 

came best younger hand-in entered so happened 

Tighenguno akicheono aitiuvilo " Ikuzho aA;^ati 
For this reason elder to younger " We two fruit 

khouni," i pike. Aizii kuchomukulo aMatibo 
will gather " so said Pool at the edge of fruit-tree 

laki ake. Aitiuvilo " Tipa 'bolo o paghino 

one was Younger- to wards " that tree-on you first 

ikulo " pipuzii aitiu ikuveke. Tilehino 

climb up " having said younger climbed up. Then 

a^Aatibo yekhepe, aiziilo vesuveke. Ike pa 

fruit-tree cut down into the pool fell So his 

'nipfuno awudu 'loko pfe, mussii-sapechepiaye 

wife cock thigh took bait-keep-luring-out-while 


kichisiivetsii. I shike-ghenguno aitiu 'nipfuno pike 
startled This did-because of younger wife said 

" Nono o-nipfu i-shipeni " ipiaye, akhalo ami pliolo^ 
" You your wife me make " so saying afar off fire light up 

pike. Kuchokucho keghashi ami photsiikelono aitiu 
said true true suppose fire in lighting up younger 

'nipfuno atsiitsiilo ikuveke. Ike atsiitsiilo anga 
wife into heaven ascended So in heaven babe 

kepitimi laki punuke. Angano " I-pu nagami 

male one born babe " My-father village-men 

'pfulo ikeni " i pikacheake- 

village-into will descend " this always kept on 

ghenguno, pa 'zano ayethi laki achitalo 

saying-because of his mother thread one round-waist-by 

chiitsiipuzii pikeke. Ike ayeghi tohmla-aphilono 
let down sent off So earth before he could reach 

aghano ay a vethave-tsiipuzii anga vekheveke. 

a crow thread having made to break babe killed 

Tilehino anga 'lloshi vezoveke. Aghano meghike- 
Then babe's liver broke out Crow pecked 

ghenguno agha-no itahi ghi timi 'shi meghicheni pike, 
because of crow now too men's flesh always pecks said. 



Once upon a time a man had nhie sons. Among them 
was one daughter. ^ One day the girl said to her father and 
mother " Brew liquor against the settlement of the marriage 
price with my husband that is to be." A fairy {kungumi) 

1 The idea contained in the root pho- is not so much that of kindling 
fire as of blowing up into flame and smoke some smouldering substance. 
Semas when in the fields often carry torches of smouldering millet husks 
at which to light their pipes. 

* The Sema idiom is " Among them one girl emerged " ; there were 
ten altogether. 

332 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

had said he would marry her ; that was why the girl kept 
talking just like this every day. Her father and mother 
said to their child, " No one is for marrying you, why do you 
keep talking about settling the price ? " 

One day the girl said, " I am going off to-night. After I 
have made and served the meal I shall go." That night 
she made ready the meal. In the morning when her parents 
had risen they looked but could not find her. But in front 
of the house there were many goats tied. The fairy had 
taken the girl and presented goats. ^ 

When a month had expired the fairy's wife brought a 
man child to which she had given birth to her parents' house. 
Her brethren took the babe to dandle it. All nine handled 
it. As it left the hands of the youngest the babe died. Its 
mother cried. Just after that fire smoked in the heavens 
from a very big star. Having seen this the fairy's wife 
said, " My husband's father and my husband are letting me 
know that they are coming to fetch me by the smoke from 
a fire on the big stone behind our house. I must go." 
Then she applied magic medicine^ to her child's nostrils. 
To her mother, " As I am going up do not look at me ! If 
you do look at me you will die without ever seeing my form 
again." Having given this behest she ascended. Her 
mother, not obeying her behest, parted the thatch, and 
looked on. The fairy came down in a red glow and took 
up his wife and child. Her mother, because she had watched, 
saw her thereafter never again. 

Kaghe timi laki-no kepitimi toku punuke. Tipa 
Formerly man one from males nine born These 

dolo totimi laki epegheke. Aghlo laki ilimi-no apa- 
among girl one emerged. Day one girl father- 

azavile pike, " Akimi-noiye amekeghane azhi 

mother-to said " Husband-to-be price discuss liquor 

beaghile," pike. Kungumi laki - no pa luniapi ; 

brew " said Kungumi one (by) her will take had said 

* To pay goats for a bride is not a Sema custom. 

* Kekhopi. No one could say exactly what this was, but it seems to 
be a sort of charm used medicinally only. Kekhopi also = "philtre," 


inkegheuno ilimi-no aghla-atsutsii tiliki picheke. 

for this reason girl everyday just like this kept saying 

Apa-aza pa'nuvile pike " Kiimo-no o luamono, 

Father-mother their child-to said " No one you not taking 

kiu 'me keghaniye i pichen' kya ? " 

what price for discussing this keep saying eh ? " 

Aghlo laki ilimi-no pi. " Niye itizhi wuniaike. Alikuli 
Day one girl said " I to-night will go am Meal 
shipuzii-no tsiipuzii wuni." Tipazhi alikuli shike. 
having made having given will go " That night meal made 
Thanawuye apu aza ithouno zhu-pahaiveke. 

In the morning father mother having risen look-had lost 
Ilie aki shekolo anyeh kuthomo tsiipaghe ani. 

But house in front of goats many tied up are 

Kungumi-no ilimi lukelono anyeh tsiike. 
The Kungumi girl when taking goats gave. 

Kungumi 'nipfu akhi laki shiketino anu 

Kungumi's wife month one having expired child 
kepitimi punusasii apa-aza aki-lo 

male give birth-brought father-mother house-into 

egheke. Pa'pelimi-no anga kapfezhunnia luke. Toku 

came Her brethren infant to dandle took Nine 

kumtsii pfezhuke. Anupao 'ouluno anga tiveke. 

all handled Youngest from the hand of infant died 

Pazano kaake. Tipathuye atsiitsiilano ayepu akizheo- 

Its mother cried After that from heaven star very big- 

lano ami phoke, Ti itulupuzii Kungumi 'nipfu pike 

from fire smoked This having seen Kungumi's wife said 

" I'kimi pa'po-ngo ikimi-ngo isaluniye 

" My husband his father and my husband me-for taking 

ikisalo athokhu kizhelo amipho ipi- 

my house-behind stone big-on fire smoke is- show! ng- 
ani. Niye wuni-aike." Tipathiu pa'nu anhikikilo 
to-me I will go am " Thereafter her child nostrils 

kekhopi tsiike. Pazavile " Ikukilo 

magic-medecine gave Her-mother-towards " ascending-in 

334 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

ihizhukevelo ! No i hizhuaye allokuthu azhu 

me do not look at You me looking at if for ever shape 

itumlano tiveni." Tipatsa pivepuzii ikuke. 

not having seen will die " This word having said ascended 

Pa'za pa'tsa lumono aghi kiyeno 

Her mother her word not taking thatch having parted 
hizhuveke. Kungumi huchuwi ekeghepuzii 

looked on Heavenly Being red having descended 

pa'nipfu pa'nga sakuveke. Pa'za hizhuke 

his wife her babe took up Her mother looked on 
ghenguno tipathiu kilemo itumlaiveke. 
because of thereafter never did not see. 


THE witch's daughter. 

Once upon a time there was a chieftain named Kholaou. 
When his son was eating fish a fish-bone stuck in his throat. 
A wise-woman^ named Khayi and her daughter named 
Mtsiili were both called in by the chief. " If you two succeed 
in extracting the fish-bone from my son's throat I will 
present you with a mithan," said he. Khayi was unable to 
do so, so Mtsiili said to her mother, " Mother, why don't 
you get it out ?" Khayi answered, " If you can do so, you 
extract it." 

Mtsiili, after extracting it, was going along driving the 
mithan and Kholaou's village-men were lying in wait by 
the path to kill both mother and daughter. Mtsiili was 
aware of them.^ " Enemies are lying in wait to kill us," 
said she. So she sharpened a spear and, having thrust it 
into the ground, went in under the earth. From an eminence 
Khayi said, " We have gone home. Who are you waiting 
to spear, eh ? " With these words, they say, she came 
driving on the mithan (after Mtsiili). 

1 Thumomi. See Part IV, page 2.30 sq. 

* Itiluke usually = " got " (< iti " know " and lu "take"). Sometimes 
also " understood." 


Kaghelomi kekami laki pa 'zhe Kholaou ako. 
Men of old chieftain one his name Kholaou was. 

Panu akha chukelono akha-ghi kupiihaveke. 
His son fish while eating fish-bone stuck-in-the-throat. 

Thumomi pa 'zhe Khayi pa 'nu 'zheno Mtsiili 
Witch her name Khayi her daughter name Mtsiili 

pama aza anuvilo akekaono pike : " Okuzhono 

they two mother daughter- to Chief said " You two 

inu 'ku'ohlo akha-ghi shiphevetsiiaye, avi 

my-son throat-from fish-bone if extract mithan 

laki o-kutsiinia," pike. Khayiyo 

one to you will buy and give " said. Khayi 

itumlaive, Mtsiilino pa 'zavilo pike " I-za, 
was unable to get Mtsiili her mother-to said " My-mother 

noye kushiye shivetsiimoke? " pike. Khayino " Shiaye, 
you why did not get done " said Khayi "If do 

nono shiphevetsiilo," pike. Mtsiili-no shiphetsiipuzii 
you extract " said Mtsiili having extracted 

avi hasasii-wochekelono Kholaou pa 

mithan drive-along-with-while-going-along Kholaou his 

nagamino pama aza anu iveniye alalo 

village men they two mother daughter to kill m the path 

kheakelono, Mtsiilino itiluke. " Aghumino ikuzho 
while lying in wait Mtsiili was aware " Enemies us two 

iveniye kheani " pike. Angu cheghino 

to kill are waiting " said Spear having sharpened 

ayeghilo kusiipuzii ayeghikouno woveke. 

into earth having thrust in under earth went 

Aghiinglono Khayino pike " Niye i-kilao 

From an eminence Khayi said " I my house towards 

woveano, nonguye ku-u yiniaye kheanike-a ? " 
having gone on you whom to kill are waiting, eh ? " 

pipuzii, avi hasasii-egheve pike, 

having said mithan drive-along- with-came said. 

336 THE SEMA NAGAS part 


THE dog's share. 

We Semas have a story of olden time. Listen, please. 

A bitch had given birth to pups. While hunting for 
meat to give her pups, a partridge in a swampy place was 
pinched^ in the foot by a crab. On that the partridge 
flying up in fear brushed against a sambhar's ear. The 
frightened sambhar jumped up to run away. In running 
away he bounded on to the dog and killed^ her. The 
puppies said, " Where has our mother gone ? " and asked 
the man. The man said to them, " Your mother was 
hunting game and the sambhar stamped on her and killed 
her." The pups asked God, saying, " Between the heavens 
and the earth who is the greatest ? " God said to them 
" The Tiger is the greatest." The two (pups) went to the 
tiger's house. The Tiger said to them, " Sleep in my house." 
Having given them cooked rice, and liquor to drink, they 
slept in the house. In the night a breeze came blowing. 
Both pups got up and barked. The Tiger said to them, 
" The Elephant is greater than I; say nothing."^ Since he 
said the Elephant was greater the two of them went to the 
Elephant's house. The Elephant gave them rice (to eat), 
liquor to drinli, and said to them, " Sleep in my house." 
So they slept. In the night a breeze came blowing. They 
put to the proof the Elephant's heart.* The Elephant said 
to them, " The Spirit is greater than I. Say nothing." 
The pups having said " Under heaven the Spirit is the 
greatest," said to the Spirit, " Our mother went hunting 
game to give us meat. As she went the sambhar stamped 

^ The construction in the Sema is not actually passive. The partridge 
is put into the agentive case {agili-no) instead of the crab (achuwo), either 
by an alteration by the teller in the construction of his sentence as he 
spoke or perhaps by an error of mine in recording. Compare No. VIII, 

* The Sema word nekhive — or nekhivetsii — (the latter being, strictly, 
causative) means " to kill by stamping upon." 

* Atsa-pikevelo may simply mean " do not make a noise," or may mean 
" do not tell your story " to me as I am not the greatest in the world. 

* By barking as though there were something else coming beside the 
wind, and therefore some cause for fear. 


on and killed our mother. Under heaven the Spirit is the 
greatest, strike and kill the sambhar." The Spirit said, 
" Sleep in my house " ; he gave them rice, he gave them 
liquor to drink, and told them to sleep. In the night a 
breeze came blowing. The pups proved the Spirit's heart. 
The Spirit said, " The Man is greater than I. Say nothing." 
The puppies, having said that under heaven the Man was 
the greatest, said to the man, " Our mother went hunting 
game to give us meat. The sambhar stamped on and 
killed our mother as she went." Again " Stamp on and 
kill the sambhar " said they to the man. The man agreed 
(to do so) ; he told them to sleep in his house, gave them 
rice to eat and liquor to drmk, and said to them, " Sleep in 
my house." In the night a breeze came blowing. The 
pups put the man's heart to the proof. The man, unafraid 
in spite of the darkness, said to the pups, " Do not be afraid." 
The pups were as glad as could be. The man said to the 
pups, " Pour out and bring water," and the pups poured 
out and brought water. The man sharpened his dao, 
sharpened his spear, cooked rice, made curry, and after 
both of them and the man as well had eaten, the three of 
them went down into the river-bed and sought for deer 
tracks. They met with elephant tracks. " This is not 
it," they said, and met with bison^ tracks. " This is 
not it," they said, and having passed by the tracks of all 
(other) game they met with the slot of a sambhar. The 
pups said, " This is what killed our mother." Then the 
man said to the dogs, " You two drive the deer along." 
Again he said to them, " If the deer comes on the ground 
you two also come on the ground ; if the deer comes on 
the tree-tops you two must come on the tree-tops also," 
said he. Then the man got round in front of his quarry 
in the river-bed. The sambhar came bounding into the 
river-bed. The man quickly transfixed the sambhar with 
the spear. Then they cut up the flesh. As the dogs' share 
he gave the dogs^ two haunches. The dogs were as glad 

^ aviela = the "gaur," bos gaurus. 

* The dogs' share is usually one or both of the hind legs. The whole 
share of both is, more often than not, not claimed ; at any rate, if there 


338 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

as could be. " Who killed my mother now ? " said they, 
and bit the sambhar in the ears. The man took the head ; 
the rest of the flesh he gave to his villagers. ^ 

Now they say that from of old man has kept dogs (for 
this reason) : the dogs after having brought about the death 
of the sambhar in exchange for their mother, dog and man 
consorted, so they say. The man, together with the dogs, 
went to complain to God. God told them to trap the 
partridge in a snare and eat it. He told them to ask the 
huluk for the crab. The huluk was groping for the crab. 
The crab suddenly ^ gave his friend a nip on the hand. The 
huluk pulled out the crab and dashed it to pieces on a stone. 
Thence they say crabs spread into all streams. For this 
reason, they say, every one goes to catch crabs in the streams. 

Now from of old we Semas, after hunting game, do not 
forget the dogs' share. And now, too, we represent to our 
father Sahib ^ that the dogs' share be not forgotten. So now, 
too, give order not to forget the dogs' share. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki ani. Inzhulone ! 

Atsiino ati piti-paake. Ati tsiiniye 

Dog pups had given birth to. (To) pups to give 

ashi hakelono agilino ayeghikilono achuwo 

meat while hunting partridge in a swampy place crab 

apukhulo miki-tsiike. Tilehina agilino musano yewu- 

in the foot bit. Thereon partridge in fear while 

kelono akhuh kinilo vetsUke. Akhuhno musano 

flying off sambhar on the ear touched. Sambhar in fear 

poniye illieithu ; pokelono ilhewo atsii 

to run away jumped up in running away jumped dog 

are more than a very few participators in the hunt. The share is taken 
by the owners of the hunting dogs and not given to the dogs themselves. 

1 It would be genua to eat it himself, though he would hang up the skull 
in his house. 

^ Or perhaps " unwittingly" ; the want of knowledge implied by mtano 
may refer either to the crab or to the huluk. 

^ In this case the Sub -divisional Officer of Mokokchung, who often has 
to decide claims for " the dogs' share " of a deer which has been killed 
by someone who is not of the hunting party chasing the deer, and has 
refused to give up the share due to the dogs that put it up. 


nekhi-veke. Atsiitino " I-za kilao 

stamped-on-and-killed. Puppies " My mother where 
wuvekela ? " ti pino timivilo inzhuke. 

has gone ? " this having said of the man asked. 
Timino pavilo pike " 0-zaye ashi hawuke- 

Man to him said " Your mother game when had gone 
lono akhuhno o-za nekhi-veke," ti 

to hunt sambhar your mother stamped on and killed," this 
pike. Atsiitino " Atsiitsu-ngo ayeghi pamadolo ku 
said. Puppies " Heaven and earth between the two who 
akizheo kela ? " ti pino Alhouvilo inzhuke. 

greatest is ? " this having said God asked. 

Alhouno pamavilo " Angshu akizheo " pike. 

God to the two of them " Tiger greatest " said. 

Pamano angshu 'kilo wuveke. Angshuno pamavilo 
They two tiger house-in went Tiger to them (two) 

" I-kilo ziilo " pike. Ana pama 

" my house in sleep " said cooked rice to them (two) 
tsii.i azhi pama zhino pa 'kilo 

give liquor them having given to drink his house in 
zuake. Puthouno amulliu mulhu-egheke. Atsiiti pamano 
slept. In the night breeze blow-came. Pups they two 
eghathugeke. Angshuno pamavilo ti pike 

got up and barked. Tiger to them (two) this said 

" Ni-ye akaha pa 'zhe ke. Atsa pikevelo ? " pike, 
" I than elephant he big is word do not say ? " said. 
Pamano akaha pa zhe keno pino, akaha 

They two elephant he big having been having said elephant's 

'kilo wuveke, Akahano ana pama 

house to went. Elephant cooked rice to them (two) 

tsiino, azhi zhishino, pamavilo 

having given liquor having given to drink to them (two) 

" I-kilo ziilo " pike, Tilehi ziiake, Puthouno 

" My house-in sleep " said. Then slept. In the night 

1 The postposition -no of zhino qualifies tsii as well as zhi, as often it is 
suffixed to the latter of two such verbs only. 

7 2 

340 THE SEMA NAGAS • part 

amulhu mulhu-egheke. Akaha 'mlo phezheke. 

breeze blow-came Elephant heart put to proof 

Akahano pamavilo " Ni-ye teghami pa zhe ke. Atsa 
Elephant to them " I than spu"it he big is Word 

pikevelo ? " pike. Atsiitino " Atsiitsiikholoye teghami 
do not say ? " said Pups " Under heaven spirit 
akizheo " ti pino, teghamivilo " I-zano ashi 

greatest," this having said to the spirit, " My mother meat 

i-tsiiniye ashi hawuveke. Wukelono akhuhno 

to give me game went hunting While going sambhar 

i-za nekhiveke, Atsiitsiikholoye 

my mother stamped-on-and-killed. Underneath heaven 
teghami pa zhe keno, akhuh hekhivetsiilo " pike. 

spirit he big being sambhar strike-and-kill " said 

Teghamino " I-kilo ziilo " pike ; ana 

Spirit " My house-in sleep " said ; cooked rice 
pama tsii, azhi zhino pama-vilo zii 

(to) them give liquor having given to drink to them sleep 
pike. Puthouno amulhu mulhu-egheke. Atsiitino teghami 
said In night breeze blow came. Pups spirit's 

'mlo phezhuke. Teghamino " Ni-ye timi akizhe ke. 
heart put to proof. Spirit " I than man great is 

Atsa pikevelo ? " pike. Atsiitino atsiitsiikholoye 
word do not say ? " said. Pups underneath heaven 
timi pa zhe keno ti pino, timivilo atsiitino 

man he big being this having said to man pups 
" I-zano ashi i-tsiiniye ashi ha-wuveke. 

" My mother meat to give to me game went hunting 

Wukelono aldiuh-no i-za nekhivetsuke " ; 

while going sambhar my mother stamped-on-and-killed " ; 
timivilo " Akhuh nekhivetsiilo " pike. Timino allopike ; 
to man " Sambhar stamp-kill," said. Man agreed 
pa 'kilo ziipilie, ana tsii azhi zhi- 

his house-in sleep-said cooked rice give liquor having given 

ishino pamavilo " I-kilo ziilo " pike, 

to drink to the two of them " My house-in sleep " said. 


Puthouno amulhu mulhu-egheke. Atsiitino timi 'mlo 
In the night breeze blow-came. Pups man's heart 

phezhuke. Timiye musamono puthouno atsiivilo 
put to proof Man not fearing in the night to pups 
" Musakevelo " ti pike ; atsiitino palo kevi- 

" Do not fear " this said pups their good went on 

shiake. Timino atsiitivilo " Azii lesii-eghelo " 
making good. Man to the pups "Water pour and bring" 

pipuzii, atsiitino azii lesii-egheke. 

having said pups water poured out and brought. 
Timino aztha chighe, angu chigheno, ana 

Man dao sharpen, spear having sharpened, rice 
beno, ayelho ishino, pama ghi timi 

having cooked, curry having made, they two both man 
ghi chupuziino, pana kiithu aghokilo ilono 

and having eaten they three river-bed having entered 
ashipa sheke. Akaha-pa sholuke. " Ihi 

tracks sought. Elephant-tracks met with " This 
kumoke," ti pino, avielapa sholuke. " Ihi 

is not (it) " this having said bison -tracks met with. " This 
kumoke," ti pino, ashi kumtsii 'nyepa 

is not (it) " this having said game all tracks 

piyepahano akhuh 'nyepa sholuke. Atsiitino pi 

having discarded sambhar tracks met with pups said 
" Ihino i-za nekhiveke." Tilehino timino 

" This my mother killed (by stamping) " Thereon man 
atsiivilo " Okuzhono akhuh ha-eghelo." Ti 

to pups " You two sambhar drive-come." This 

pino timino pamavilo " Akhuhno ayeghilono 
having said man to them (two) " Sambhar on the earth 
egheaye nokuzho ghi ayeghilono eghelo ; akhuhno 
if come you two also on the earth come sambhar 

asiilono egheaye nokuzho ghi asiilono 

from on tree come-if you two also tree-from-on 
eghelone," pike. Tilehino timino aghokilono ashi 
come please " said. Thereon man in the river-bed game 

342 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

thawuke. Akhuhno aghokilo ilheilo-egheke. 

got round in front of. Sambhar in river-bed jumped came 

Timino mtazii anguno akhuh chekhike. Tilehino 
Man quickly with spear sambhar transfixed. Thereon 

ashi phuke. Atsii sala apukhu kini atsii tsiike. 
meat cut up dogs' share legs two (to) dogs gave 
Atsiino palo kevishi " Kinono i-za nekhi- 

dogs rejoiced-exceedingly who my mother stamped on 
veke la ? " ti pino akhuh kinilo 

and killed eh ? " this having said sambhar in the ear 
miki- tsiike. Akutsii timino luke. Ashi ketao agami 

bit head man took flesh remaining villagers 

Eno kagheye timino atsii pegheno p'ani. Atsii 

So of old man dog having kept they say dog 
pa 'za zukhu akhuh ivetsiiketeno 

his mother in exchange for sambhar having caused to kill 
atsii-ngo timi pama awuve p'ani. Timino atsii 
dog and man they two consorted they say Man dog 
sasii Alhouvilo atsa keghawuke. Alhouno 

take with to God word went to complain God 

agiliye akusulono mechulo pike. Achuwoye akuhuvilo 
partridge in snare trap -eat said. Crab huluk-towards 

khupelo pike. Akuhuno achuwo khuake. Achuwuno 
ask for said " Huluk " (for) crab was scraping crab 

mtano pa 'shou aoulo miki-tsiike. Akuhuno achuwo 
suddenly his friend in hand bit-gave. Huluk crab 

siizosu epegheno athulo vephoveke. 

pull having extracted on a stone dashed to pieces. 
Tilehino achuwo aghoki kumtsii iloveke p'ani. 
Thereon crab streams all entered they say. 

Tighenguno kumtsiino aghokilo achuwo kucheni 

Therefore everyone in the streams crab go to catch 

they say. 




Eno kagheno ni Simino ashi ha-kelono 

And so from of old we Semas game when hunting 

atsiisa pahamoke. Itahe ghi atsiisa 

the dogs' share do not forget. Now too dogs' share 

pahamokeye, i-pu Shahavilo 

while not having forgotten my father Sahib-near 

keghacheni. Itahemu atsiisa pahakevelo 

will represent. Even now dogs' share do not forget 

give order. 



Once upon a time there was a man. His name was 
Khwonhyetsii. At the top of a tree at the edge of his field ^ 
a woodpecker had hatched out young. A tigress at the 
foot of that tree had borne and was rearing cubs. When 
their mother was away Khwonhyetsii- thrust spines of the 
khwoghe tree right in' to the hearts of the tiger-cubs and so 
did them to death. The tigress mother came back. " My 
babes — why have they died ! " she cried. " I have eaten 
no yechuye^ and I have eaten no aghiye^ and I have eaten 
no ashebagJiiye ! '' Since I have not done so why have my 
babes died ! " Saying this and without detecting Khwo- 
nhyetsii's trick, the tigress sung this lament, " Alas ! alas ! 
for the woodpecker's corner ! ^ Alas ! alas ! for Khwo- 

^ Aluha lit.= "field dung" and means the wasted strip that must be 
cut along the edge of the jungle to let sun and air to the field, but which 
cannot be itself cultivated owing to its nearness to the high growth of the 
jungle. Big trees in this strip are not felled, but merely stripped of their 
leaves ; the lower growths are not carefully cleared, but roughly cut and 
laid. An aluba is, no doubt, what Omar was referring to in his 
" Strip of Herbage strown 
That just d vides the desert from the sown." 

"^ Khwo-nhyetsii. The root nyetsii, means " to poke," and there may 
be some connection, though this root is usually limited to an obscene sense. 

2 The precise meaning of khuda is that the thorn was thrust in so that 
no part remained above the level of the skin. * ? A polygonum. 

* Hydrococtyle javanica. Aahebaghiye (= deer's "aghiyo" — ashe pa 
'ghiye) is probably a similar plant. It is not known why the tigress 
might not cat these herb^. 

344 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

nhyetsii's comer ! " With this dirge she fled. And so for 
this reason any of us Semas who has killed a tiger, as 
long as he lives, goes without eating these plants. 

Kaghelomi timi laki, pa'zhe Khwonhyetsii, ake. 

Men of old man one his name Khwonhyetsii was 

Pa'lubalo asushuno asiibokungu ati ati- 

his field-waste-in woodpecker at the top of a tree young had 

khoa. Angshuno tipa 'siibolo aphelo ati 

hatched out tiger that tree at near under young 

piti-sasiiake. Angshu aza kaha- 

give-birth-was-accompanying tiger mother is-not-after- 
thilono Khwonhyetsiino khwoghesahu khuda angshu- 
while-in Khwonhyetsii hhwogJie spine flush tiger- 

ti 'melolo khusiivetsiipuzii pitiiveke. Angshu 

cubs heart in having thrust in did to death tiger 
aza egheno. " I-ngaye ku-ughenguno 

mother having come " My babes for what reason 
tiake-a ? " i pipuzii, " Ino yechuye chumo, 

have died " This having said " I yechuye did not eat 
ino aghiye ghi chumo, ino ashebaghiye ghi 

I aghiye too did not eat I deer's aghiye too 
chumo ! I shimono ku-ughenguno i-nga 

did not eat This not having done for what reason my babes 
tianike-a ? " Ishi ti piakelono Khwonhyetsiino 

have died eh ? " Thus this while saying Khwonhyetsii 

mikiakelono, angshuno ale pheke " He-e, 

continuing to deceive tiger song lamented " alas 
he-e, asushu 'luba ? He-e, he-e, Khwonhyetsii 

alas woodpecker's field-refuse alas alas Khwonhyetsii 's 

'luba ? " ishi phepuzii poveke. Ike 

field-refuse " thus having lamented fled. And so 

tighenguno ni Simiye angshu ikemiye timokelo 
for this reason we Semas tiger killer as long as not die 
hipa yeye chumono cheni. 

these plants not having eaten proceed. 




We Semas have a story of olden time. I will tell it. 
Listen, please. 

To one father, a Yepothomi, and from one womb, six sons 
were born. Counting the father it made seven. After 
buying six ivory armlets^ to share among them, but having 
been unable to buy an armlet for the youngest, the father 
died in the meantime. ^ The youngest took his father's 
ivory armlet. On the youngest's arm it was loose. The 
youngest said to his elder brother, " My brother, ^ take 
father's armlet and give me yours." His elder brother took 
this saying ill and, raising his dao, cut down his younger 
brother. Then the others said to him, " You have killed 
your younger brother. Go hence." For this he went to 
the Sema side, and of the four, one'^ fled to the village 
of the Yachumi,'' and another* entered the village 
of the Lophomi,^ another^ went to the Muchomi"^ side, and 
another^ went to the Tukomi^ side. For this reason our 
Yepothomi clan became most numerous among Tushomi,'' 
and among Semas, being from one womb, it is small. Among 
the Semas the Yepothomi are said to be few. Over there 
among Tushomi the Yepothomi clan is said to be numerous. 

^ The ivory armlet — Akahaghi — consists of a slice from a thick part of 
an elephant's tusk, the arm being put through the central hollow. 

* Khunilano-aphilono — c/. No. XXII, note 1. 

' In the Sema I-mu — " my elder brother." The distinction of seniority 
among brothers is very carefiilly observed in forms of address ; a younger 
brother wovdd never say " brother " simply, or use the personal name 
without prefixing " my elder brother." 

■• In the Sema hamino = " some." It may refer to their descendants, 
but appears to be used of the brothers themselves. 

^ The Yachungr tribe. 

^ The northern part of the Sangtam tribe. 

" The Chang tribe. 

* The southern Sangtams. In the Sangtam and Yachungr tribes there 
are clans believed to be identical with the Yepothomi. See Part III, 
pp. 123, 124, 134. 

** The word Tushomi is vaguely used by Semas for tribes east of them 
and uatH recently mainly hostile and having little communication with 
them. The word might almost be rendered " Barbarians."' 

346 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa lake ani. Ino ti pini, inzhulone ! 

Apu laki Yepothomino apfo lakilono anu tsoghoh 
Father one Yepothomi womb one-from child six 

punuke, Apu phino tsini shike. Aka- 

born. Father having counted seven made Ivory arm- 

haghi tsoghoh sala khulono panondolo anipao 

lets six share having bought them among youngest's 

'kahaghi khumlano-aphilono 

ivory armlet in the time during which he was unable to buy 

apu tiuveke. Anipao apu 'kahaghi luke. 

father died. Youngest father's ivory armlet took. 

Anipao 'ouloye kukushikeke. Anipaono amuvilo 
Youngest arm on shook about. Youngest to elder brother 

" " I-mu, i-pu 'kahaghi nono 

" My elder brother, my father's ivory armlet you 

luno o-kahaghi i-tsiilo," pike, 

having taken your ivory armlet to me give " said. 

Amuno tipa 'tsa alhokesa keghashino 

The elder brother this word bad having estimated 

azhta pfe aitiu kiveghile. Tilehino panoii 

dao lift younger brother cut down. Thereon they 

pavilo " Nono aitiu ghikhiveke. Hilao 

to him " You younger brother have killed From here 

awuve " pipeke. Tighengu pano Similao awuveke, 
go away " ordered. Therefore he Sema side went along 

eno pano' bidiye hamino Yachumi pfulo poveke, 

and they four some Yachungr village-into fled 

eno hamino Lophomi pfulo iloveke, eno hamino 

and some Pirr village into entered and some 

Muchomi kilao woveke, eno hamino Tukomi kilao 

Chang direction went and some Isa-chanr direction 

woveke. Tighenguno ni Yepothomi 'yeh Tushomi 

went. For this reason we Yepothomi clan Tushomi 

kilao kutomo shiuveke, eno Simiye apfo lakino 

direction many became and Sema womb one-from 



kitla shiuveke. Simi kilaoye Yepothomi kitla nhi 
few became. Sema direction in Yepothomi few do 
pike. Hulao Tusliomi kilaoye Yepothomi yeh 

said. On that side Tushomi direction-in Yepothomi clan 
kutomo ani pike, 
many is said. 



Now I will tell you a story. Listen, please. 

Of old the Ayemi and we the Yepothomi were, it is said, 
one clan. Of one father six sons were born. While the 
eldest brother 1 had no substance, ^ the youngest brother 
had. The eldest could not bear the sight of the youngest. 
He said to the younger, " My brother, let us go and sacrifice 
a fowl in our fields." ^ On that the youngest assented. The 
youngest had his fields at the edge of the village ; the eldest 
had his fields afar off. Then the other brothers'* said to 
both of them, " For fear of enemies, do not go." But they 
went, not heeding their saying. The eldest said, " Brother,'^ 
as you are going in front, please break off leaves and put 
them (in the path) for a sign.^ (Then) he himself without 
making it known (to his younger brother) went (back). 
Then came enemies and took the head of the youngest. 
Then the other four brothers said to the eldest, " Why has 
not the youngest come ? " The eldest answered, " We did 

* Amu akicheo = lit. the first elder brother. 

* Akuchupfu = the whorewithal to oat. 

' The fowl is killed in tlie fields, plucked, and singed there, but brought 
back and eaten afterwards. 

* Amthaonoko = Ut. " the in between ones." 

' I-tiikuzu — " my younger brother." See note No. 3 to the preceding 

* Referring to the common practice of breaking off a bough a twig 
and placing it at cross roads across the path which is not to bo followed. 
An enemy seeing fresh twigs placed in this way would know someone 
had just gone Vjy, while the younger brother would assume from being asked 
to do this that the elder meant to follow and overtake him. 

348 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

not go together." Then the four came to see. Enemies 
had taken his head. The body they found. After that 
they spoke words ; they told (the eldest) to go by himself. 
For this reason the Yepothomi became more than the 
Ayemi,^ and the Ayemi, they say, planted in their fields 
the jungle plant naruho. And we Yepothomi, for fear of 
enemies, always perform the field ceremony in our 
houses. 2 

Eno ino atsa laki ovUo pini. Inzhulone. 

Now I word one to you will tell. Listen (please) ! 

Kagheye Ayemi niun Yepothomi ayeh laki pike. 
In olden time Ayemi we Yepothomi clan one said. 

Apu lakino anu lakino anu tsogho punuke. 

Father one-from mother one-from child six born. 

Amu akicheono akuchupfu kahano anipaono 

Elder brother first sustinence not being youngest 

akuchupfu acheke. Akicheono anipao zhuni- 

sustinence continued to be. Eldest youngest did not 

shimokeke. Anipaovilo " I-tiikuzu, alulo 

wish to behold. To youngest " My younger brother in field 

awu ghewuni," pike. Tilehino anipaono aUopike. 
fowl will sacrifice " said. Then youngest agreed. 

1 The Yepothomi being descended from the four middle brothers and 
the Ayemi from the eldest. 

- Different plants are used by different clans. Thus the Yepothomi 
and the Chophimi use a little plant with a white flower, calling it alulabo, 
a name which refers to its use, and is probably used by each clan alike 
for its own plant. The ordinary method is to search for the plant vised, 
dig it up with the root, and take it to the place where reaping is to begin. 
Then a little rice, meat, and liquor are placed on the plant, which is set 
down by the crop to be reaped, probably to afiord a living dwelling for 
the rice spirit which is to be deprived of its home, though this intention 
seems to have been forgotten by most if it was ever known to the 
commonalty. The Ayemi, however, plant the narubo at the edge of the 
crop, so that it grows there ready, and the rice, liquor, etc., are placed 
by the plant where it grows. The Yepothomi, on the other hand, take 
their plant to their houses and, having performed the ceremony there, 
take it to the fields. It may be noted that the word used in this connec- 
tion for plant, aye, is probably the same as that for custom and also for 


Anipaono akubalala alucheke ; akicheono 

Youngest at edge of village was cultivating eldest 

aghacheu alucheke. Tilehino amthaonokono 

afar ofiE was cultivating. Then the (brothers) in between 

pamavilo " Aghiimi musano wukevilo " pike, 

to the two " Enemies having feared do not go " said. 

Panon 'tsa lumono wuveke. Akicheono pi 

Their word not having taken went. Eldest said 

" I-tiikuzu, opagheno gwovemu alalo 

" my younger brother first though going in path 

amichishi atsiini siitaki-vetsiilone." 

making signification leaves pluck and place (please)." 

Pano piyemono wuveke. Tilehino aghiimi 

He without informing went. Then enemies 

egheno anipao ipfuve. Tilehino amthao- 

having come youngest beheaded. Then the (brothers) 

kono pana bidino akicheovilo " Anipao eghe- 

in between they four to eldest " youngest not having 

mono kushia ? " pike. Akicheono " Ikuzho wumpi," 
come why " said. Eldest " we two did not go " 

pike. Tilehino pana bidino zhu-egheke. Aghiimino 
said. Then they four came to look. Enemies 

ipfuwuve-agheke. Akumo ituluke. Tilehino atsa 

had beheaded and gone. Corpse found. Then words 

pike ; pano pa keta shiwuve pike. Tighenguno 
said ; he his different make-go said. For this reason 

Ayemiye Yepothomi pachike ; eno Ayemiye 

Ayemi-than Yepothomi became more and Ayemi 

aghala tsiini narubo alulo shuwuye pike. Eno 

jungle plant narubo in field went to plant said. And 

niye Yepothomiye aghiimi musano akilono 

we Yepothomi enemy having feared in house 

aluye shiluvecheni. 

field-custom (or " field leaf ") always-make-take. 

350 THE SEMA NAGAS part 



Let me tell of our Sema clans. Listen, please. 

The Yeputhomi were called Yeputhomi by reason of their 
deep {tlio) hearts/ and the Ayemi were called Ayemi for 
their chattering (yeye). And the Awomi, not using fair speech 
towards men, always speak contentious (awou) words : for 
this reason they were called Awomi. And a Chishilimi stole 
from a man's house. The man said to him, " Why did you 
steal from my house ? " and on his replying " I stole not " 
smote 2 him in the mouth. For this reason his clan was 
called Chishilimi. And the Kibalimi,^ through fear, defec- 
ated within their houses, therefore their clan was called 
Kibalimi. And the Tsiikomi when struggling with a man 
were gripped {tsiikil) by him by the throat (ku'oh). For that 
reason they were called Tsiikomi. And when the men of 
other clans were comparing their exploits in hunting and 
war, the Wokhami having fattened their pigs (awo) measured 
their girth (khakimhe) to see whose was the biggest. For 
this reason they were called Wokhami. And the Kinimi* 
were rich in grain and rich in cattle. Therefore they were 
called Kinimi. And a Wotzami having killed an enemy was 
catching a pig (aivo) for sacrifice^ when the pig bit {tsa) him 

* ' Fc = clan, tho = deep ; the sense being rather bad than good. The 
derivations are sufficiently far-fetched. It is impossible to reproduce the 
play upon words in the translation, but a reference to the Sema text will 
in most cases make the point obvious. Where this is not the case notes 
have been given. 

* Chishi — to strike with the fist held with the back of the hand upwards, 
the thumb straight, not bent as with us, and the first joint of the finger 
being accordingly more nearly in the line with the back of the hand than 
is the case with the fist as we double it, so that the blow is delivered with 
the middle joints of the fingers rather than those at the base of them. 

' ^Ki = house, '6a = dung {bai = defecate). The idea is that they were 
afraid to go out in the early morning, whicli is a favourite time for raids 
by head-hunters. 

* Kinimi = " rich man," as well as being the name of a clan. In the 
latter sense there is an alternative interpretation which makes Kinimi a 
patronymic = descendants of one Kini. 

^ AghUpu is the ceremony performed after taking a head. The pig 
killed at it is therefore called aglmpu'wo, the sacrificed pig. See also 
Part III, page 12(; sq., for Zumomi, etc. 


in the hand. Therefore they were called Wotzami. And 
because the women of the Shohemi kept craning forward 
(shohe) their necks they were called Shohemi. And the 
Chophimi by reason of their neck remaining sticking up 
(chophe) out of a deep pool were called Chophimi. And the 
Achumi for the eating (chu) of much cooked rice (ana) were 
called Achumi. 

Ni Simi'yeh pinine, 

Of us Semas clans will tell (with your permission), 
inzhulone ! 
listen (please). 

Yeputhomino amelo tholoye Yeputhomi shitsiipike, 
Yeputhomi in heart deep-being Yeputhomi made call 

eno Ayemiye atsa yeyeshiye Ayemi shitsiike. Eno 
and Ayemi words in chattering Ayemi made and 

Awomi timivilo atsa akevi pimono atsa 

Awomi to men words good not having spoken words 

awou picheni ; tighenguno Awomi shitsiike. Eno 
contentious keep saying for this reason Awomi made and 

Chishilimi lakino timi 'kilo pukake. Timino pavilo 
Chishilimi one man's house-in stole. Man to liim 

" Noye kushiye i-kilo pukake ? " ti pike, pano 

" You why my house-in stole " this said he 

" Pukamo " pilce-ghenguno pa 'kichi chishike. Tighengu- 
not steal said-because of his mouth punched. For this 

no pan' ayeh Chishilimi kutsiike. Eno Kibalimino 
reason their clan Chishilimi made call and Kibalimi 

musano aki seleku baiveke-ghenguno, pan' ayeh 

having feared house within defecated because of their clan 
Kibalimi shitsiike. Eno Tsiikomiye timino kiche- 

Kibahmi made and Tsiikomi with a man while 
ghikelono pano 'ku'oh tsiikuke. Tighenguno Tsiikomi 
struggling he gullet seized. For this reason Tsiikomi 
shitsiike. Eno ayeh ketamino ashi aghu kuA7ui- 
made and clan other men's game war while com- 

352 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

akelo, Wokhamino awo pulhono ku 

paring and reckoning Wokhami pig having fed whose 

'wo pa zhe la khakimheke. Tighenguno Wokhami 
pig it big eh ? measured. For this reason Wokhami 

shits like, Eno Kinimino athi kutomo amishi kutomo 
made and Kinimi grain much cattle much 

pegheye, tighenguno Kinimi shitsiike. Eno Wotsamino 
in fostering for this reason Kinimi made and Wotsami 

aghiimi ikelono aghiipu'wo keghanikelono awono 

enemy having killed sacrificed pig while catching a pig 

aou tsavetsiike. Tighenguno Wotsami shitsiike. Eno 
hand bit. For this reason Wotsami made and 

Shohemi totimino aku'oh shohe-shoheke-ghenguno, 

Shohemi women necks stretch out-stretched out because of 

Shohemi shitsiike. Eno Chophimiye aiziilono aku'oh 
Shohemi made and Chophimi in deep pool neck 

chophe agheye Chophimi shitsiike. Eno Achumino 
stick out in remaining Chophimi made and Achumi 

ana kutomo chukeghenguno Achumi shitsiike. 
rice much ate-because of Achumi made. 



They do say^ that of old the Foreigners, Angamis, Aos, 
Lhotas, and we Semas had the same ancestor, ^ and the 
same mother they say. When they separated their father 
killed a bull ^ and gave it to them. " Who will eat the head ? " 

^ Pikema. It is difficult to render this form in English. The suffix -too 
gives a sort of concessive or indefinite effect to the more ordinary pike, 
perhaps intended here to be apologetic. 

* Apu-asii, = lit. " father-grandfather." 

' Muru. This word for a bull is probably not of genuine Sema origin. 
It is unknown to most Semas. Perhaps it is merely obsolete. 


said he. The Foreigner, that he might become the 
Foreigner, said, " As for the head I will eat it." " Who will 
eat the shin ? " said (the father). The Angami, that he 
might become the Angami, said, " I will eat the shin." 
And then " Who will eat the hoof ? " said (the father). 
The Lhota, to become the Lhota, said, "I will eat it." 
" The heart— who will eat that ? " said (the father). The 
Ao, to become the Ao, said, " I will eat it." " Who will eat 
the fore-leg ? " said (the father). The Sema, to become the 
Sema, said, " I will eat the fore-leg." 

The Kolami, because he had eaten the head, became the 
greatest. The Angami, because he had eaten the shin, 
became great in the calf.^ The Ao, because he had eaten 
the heart, even in the face of an enemy, keeps a great heart 
and calls on his father's name, when men are spearing (him) 
and shouting, and does not call on his mother. ^ The Lhota, 
because he had eaten the foot, is a great walker when 
travelling, they say. And we Semas, because we had eaten 
the fore-leg, are light-fingered,^ they say, and in hunting 
game, too, we Semas are clever to strike, they say, and we 
Semas in making war, too, are quick of hand to kill, they 

Foreigners, we Semas, Angamis, Lhotas, and Aos were 
thus of one ancestry. (Their father) divided clothing. Then 
the Foreigner, to become the Foreigner, took the hat, boots, 
and from that day many cloths. To the Angami ^ after 
the Foreigner his parents gave three cloths, and they made 
him put on a kilt ^ too. After the Angami his parents wove 

^ The Angami is known for the size of his calves. 

- The Sema in distress or in extremis always calls out iza, iza, " mother, 
mother." The Ao calls " father, father," but the Soma notion that this 
indicates bravery is fallacious. 

3 Alluding to the Sema propensity for picking and stealing. 

* Tsungumi-no. There is break in the construction. The relator has 
begun to say what the Angami took, hence the agentive case, but has 
ended by saying what his parents gave to him. 

' Amini really =" petticoat," used of the Angami kilt, a black cloth 
wrapped round the loins starting at the back and ending in the front, 
and covering the body from the waist to halfway down the thigh, one 
comer being pulled between the legs from behind and fastened by a cord 
running up to the waist. 

A A 

354 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

three cloths for the Ao and wove him a loin-cloth as well. 
Two cloths and a loin-cloth ^ they wove the Lhota. For our 
Sema they wove one cloth only. And as there was no 
thread left they wove him a little flap.^ For this reason 
even now Semas wear a little flap about their loins. 

Kagheye Kolami-ngo Tsungumi-ngo Cholimi-ngo 
In old time Foreigners and Angamis and Aos and 
Choemi-ngo ni Simi-ngo ishi apu-asii laki 

Lhotas and we Semas too thus father-grandfather one 
pikema, aza laki pike. Panon kiituta shinikelo 

suggested mother one said. They separate when making 
apuno muru hekhino panoii tsiike. " Kuno akutsu 

father bull having killed to them gave. " Who head 
chuni ? " pike. Kolamino Kolami shinikeuno " Akutsii 
will eat " said. Foreigner Foreigner for doing " Head 
ino chuni " pike. " Kuno apite chuni ? " pike. 

I will eat " said. " Who calf will eat " said. 
Tsungumino Tsungumi shinikeuno " Ino apite chuni " pike. 
Angami Angami fordoing "I calf will eat" said 
Eno " Kuno apukhu chuni ? " pike. Choemino Choemi 
and " Who foot will eat " said. Lhota Lhota 
shikeuno " Ino chuni " pike. " Amlokuno chuni ? " pike, 
fordoing " I will eat " said. " Heart who will eat " said. 
Cholimino Cholimi shikeuno " Ino chuni " pike. " Kuno 
Ao Ao for doing " I will eat " said. " Who 

abi chuni ? " pike. Ni Simino Simi shikeuno " Ino abi 
arm will oat " said. We Semas Sema fordoing "I arm 

chuni " pike, 
will eat " said. 

^ Ashola is the word used for the Ao and Lhota " lengta," a garment 
consisting of a strip of cloth running round the waist and down between 
the legs from behind and up in front, where the end passes under the girdle 
part and hangs over, having expanded into a square or oblong flap. 

'^ Akichekeka. The tribal loin-cloth of the Sema is a single flap, about 
9 inches by 3, either depending from the girdle or formed from one end 
of it. It is not fastened between the legs in any way. It is, however, 
rapidly giving place to a form of the ashola. 


Kolamino akutsii chukegheiino akizheo shiwuvekc. 
Foreigner head ate-because of biggest became (do-went) 

Tsungumino apitc chukeghaono apitc-kizhekemi shiwuveke. 
Angami calf ate-because of big-calf-men became 

Cholimino amlo chukegheuno aghiimino ikelo 

Ao heart ate-because of enemies (by) when killing 

ghi amlo kizhe shino apu zhe kukethiuno 

even heart big having made father's name after calling on 
timi yikeghoye aza zhe kumoi. 

man in spearing and shouting mother's name do not call 
Choemi apukhu chukeghaono apukhuno izuwukeloye 
Lhotas foot ate-because of a-foot in journeying 
alache'tikemi pike. Eno ni Simino abi 

men-who-know-to-walk-the-road said and we Semas arm 
chukeghaono aou papashi puka pike, eno ashi 
ate-because of hand quick steal said and game 
hakelo ghi ni Simino ashi cheti pike, eno ni 

while hunting too we Semas game know-to-hit said and we 
Simino aghiishikelo ghi aou papashi aghii ie pike. 
Semas while making war too hand quick war kill said. 
Kolami-ngo, ni Simi-ngo, Tsungumi-ngo, Choemi-ngo, 
Foreigners and we Semas and Angamis and Lhotas and 
Cholimi-ngo ishi apu-asii lakikeke. Api-nhyemoga 
Aos too thus forefather one was. Cloth-articles 
kizhepike. Tilehino Kolamino Kolami shikeuno akutsii- 
divided. Then Foreigner Foreigner for doing head- 
kokho, apukhukokho, isheno api kutomo luke. 

covering boots from that day cloths many took. 

Tsungumino Kolami sheloke api kiithu tsiino 

Angami Foreigner after cloths three having given 
apu-azano amini ghi shotslike. Tsungumi sheloke 
father-mother, kilt too made to put on. Angami after 

apu-azano api kiithu Cholimi ghotsiino 

father-mother cloths three (to) Ao having weave-given 

ashola ghi ghotsiike. Api kini Choemi 

loin cloth too weave-gave. Cloths two (to) Lhota 

A A 2 

356 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

ghotsiino ashola laki ghi ghotsiike. Ni 

having weave-given loin cloth one too weave-gave. We 

Simiye api laki liki ghotsiike. Eno aye 

Semas as for cloth one only weave-gave and thread 

kahakeghenguno akichekeka kitila ghotsiike. 

was not-because of flap little weave-gave. 

Tighenguno itahe ghi Simino akichekeka kitila 

For this reason now too Semas flap little 




Once upon a time Arkha had driven out (of the village)^ 
the brothers Hocheli and Amiche. Therefore the two of 
them, when Arkha was asleep, got fire to burn Arkha to 
death by setting light to his house. While they were getting 
the fire Arkha woke up and made a song — " Woe is me," so 
he sang, " Amiche ! Hocheli ! while you remained in 
my village we were rivals ; now that you have gone the 
village is cold." Such were the words he kept singing. For 
this reason the two pitied him. " He is the boy to keep 
thinking of us," they said, and did not put fire to (his house), 
they say. 

Kaghelomi Arkhano Hocheli-ngo Amiche pama 
Men of old Arkha (by) Hocheli and Amiche they two 

atazii hapu-poveke-keghenguno, puthouno Arkhano 
brothers had driven to flee-because of by night Arkha 

ziiakelono Arkha 'kilo ami siipuzii 

while continued to sleep Arkha's house to fire having applied 

Arkha piti-kheveniye pamano ami kulake. 

Arkha for burning to death they two fire obtained-by-asking. 

^ Yezami. Hocheli and Amiche went eventually to Sotoemi. 


Ami kulaakelono, Arkhano ziiida ithou 

Fire while obtaining (by asking) Arkha from sleep rise 
ale shike, " Oishehe ! " i pipuzii, " Amiche ! O 
song made " Woe is me " this having said " O Amiche O 

Hocheliye ! Anicheno ni-pfu^ kuMomino 

Hocheli while remaining my village rivals 

haye^ apfu mukho ani " ti pi ale shiagheke. 

in not being village cold is" this say song do remained. 

Tighenguno kimieye pamano " Ni kumsu 

For this reason in pitying they two (of) us thought 

luchekemi," i pipuzii ami siitsiimoive 

one-who continues to take this having said fire did not apply 


1 Ni-pfu rather archaic ; the ordinary form would be ipfu. 
^ Haye also archaic and now only in songs. In common speech kaha-no 
or kahakeno or perhaps kahaye would be used. 



There is a story of olden time which we Semas have. It is 
the story of Muchiipile of old. A man had married a pretty 
girl. Muchiipile caused her death. Muchiipile loved the 
man and lived with him. From the girl's body, thrown out 
in the forest, a bamboo shoot sprang up. When the top 
was picked and boiled it kept gurgling " Muchiipile pfo pfo."^ 
As it bubbled " Muchiipile " she threw away the potful. 
After that (the bamboo shoot) became an orange ^ tree. At 
the top of the orange- tree was one beautiful fruit. The 
husband, saying " It reminds me of my former wife," 
plucked it and put it away in a basket. When her husband 
had gone to the fields, she came out of the basket and did 
the house-work. And when her husband was coming 
(home) she used to go back again into the basket. Both 
Muchiipile and her husband said, " Who always gets the 

358 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

work done like this ? I would give him to eat though there 
were nothing left for myself." ^ One day her husband, having 
said that he was going to the fields, came back, hid, and 
watched. He caught her. " Where have you come from ? " 
said he. " We two were (happy) together before " (she 
answered) " Muchiipile killed me and threw (my body) into 
the forest. After that I became a bamboo shoot. She 
picked and cooked me and having cooked me threw me 
away. Next I became an orange tree, and when you 
gathered me and put me in the basket I regained my human 
form." Thereon her husband became wroth, killed Muchii- 
pile and threw her body away, for when Muchiipile came 
back from the fields she said, " Help me off with my load," 
and her husband went and cut her down and threw her 
away. He and his former wife lived together. Both of them 
in coming and going touched Muchiipile's bones. For this 
cause their limbs swelled and they died.^ 

The " lived happily ever after " ending is conspicuous 
by its absence in Naga stories. There are several versions 
of the ending of this story, none of them satisfactory from a 
sentimental point of view. Cf. Angami Monograph, Part V, 
" Hunchibm." 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Kaghe Muchiipile 
Men of old we Semas story one is. Formerly Muchiipile 
'tsa anike. Kepatimi lakiye totimi akivi luake. 
story is. Male man one woman good married. 
Muchiipileno totimi tiuvepiyeke. Muchiipileno tiyepa 
Muchiipile woman caused to die. Muchiipile that man 
alio awuveke. Totimi hekipfe aghalono 

good associated with. Woman kUled thrown in jungle 

akutu epegheke. Akutu soh-lhokeloye 

bamboo-shoot came out. Bamboo shoot pluck-boUed when 

" Muchiipile pfo pf o " ^ mukhoake ! " Muchiipile " 

Muchiipile pfo pfo continued gurgling. Muchiipile 

mukhoakeaye kulholi 

when continued to keep gurgling pot of comestible 


pheveke, Kutoughi mishitibo^ shike. Mishitibolono 
threw away. After that orange-tree did. On the orange tree 

akeolo akhati laki akivi akimino " Kaghe i-nipfu toi " 
at top fruit one good husband " formerly my wife like " 

pino Mosohno akholo paake. Mishitino 

having said having gathered in basket put-kept. The orange 

timi shiuveke. Pa 'kimono alulo huveaye 

human became. Her husband to field when was going down 

akholono epegheno akilo akumla shike. Eno pa 

from basket having emerged in house work did and her 

'kimi egheaye kutoughi akholo 

husband when was coming after that into basket 

ilovecheke. Muchiipile-ngo pa 'kimi pamaye "Kuno 
always entered. Muchiipile and her husband both " Who 
ishi akumla shitsiichenike la ? Niye chumomu 
thus work always gets done eh I although not eat 

pa tsii pike.^ Aghlo lakiye pa 'kimino alulo huni 
to him give said day one on her husband to field will go 

pipuziino ileo mekheake ; Pano ituluke ; " Noye 
having said return hid watched He caught " You 
kilehino egheke ? " pike. " Kaghe ikuzho acheke. 
whence came " said. "Formerly we two lived together 
Muchiipileno i-hekhipfe aghalo pheveke. Tilehino 

Muchiipile we killed in jungle threw. Then 

akutu shike ; soh-lho Ihopuziino pheveke. 

bamboo-shoot made pluck boil having boiled threw away 
Tilehino mishitibo shi ; nono i-^/topfe akholo 

Then orange-tree did you me gather in basket 

pavekelo, niye timi shike." Tilehino pa 'kimino 
in keeping I human did." Then her husband 

kuloghuke ; Muchiipile hekhipfe pheveke. Muchiipile 
was angry Muchiipile killed threw away. Muchiipile 
alulo egheno " I-khoh pfekhitsiilo ! " pike ; pa 

from field having come my load pick up give said her 
'kimmo wuvepuzuno pa ghiikhu pheveke. 
husband having gone her cut down threw away. 

36o THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Kaghe-nipfu pama ake. Pamano hulao-hilao 
Former wife they two remained. Both this way that way 

wuveaye Muehiipile asaghiino pama khuke. 

in continuing to go Muehiipile bones both touched. 

Tighenguno api-aou* inguno tiuveke.^ 
Therefore limbs having swelled died. 

^ " PJo pjo " represents the sound made by the bubbling water, which 
also kept repeating Muchiipile's name. In the Lhota version the water 
says " Hunchibili la-la, la-la, Hunchibili la-la, la-la," according to the 
lady's name in that version. 

* Mishiti also = "lime" or "lemon," being generic. There is only 
one Sema village in the Sema country where oranges grow, but the Lhota 
version gives the fruit as an orange. The Khasis have a similar story 
in which a girl comes out of an orange to do the ho\ise-work. For the 
same motif in a Kachari story see Soppitt, op. cit., p. 61. 

3 There is a break in the Sema construction. The sentence starts by 
giving the words of Muehiipile and her husband in oratio recta and ends 
with pa tsii pike, an oblique construction, instead of pa tsilni pike. 

* Api-aou means the body with all the limbs ; c/. the expression api- 
ampiu for the whole body. Aou = " hand " or " arm." 

' They would be liable to swell up and die as a result of the husband's 
touching again the bones of a person he had killed, apart from any power 
the contact might have of enabling Muchiipile's ill-will to affect the objects 
of it directly. 


THE twins' HUNTING. 

We Semas have a story of old. Once upon a time there 
was a man and his wife. Before their child was born^ a 
tiger carried off the father. After that twin sons were born. 
They asked their mother, " Where is our father ? " Their 
mother said to them, " Your father was carried off by a 
tiger." Thereon the two brothers took some cold lunch, ^ 
went into the jungle, and followed up the tiger's tracks. 

1 Punu-mo-philono, literally " in the reckoning before birth," i.e., during 

2 Alhe is the cold rice (and curry or other comestible) cooked before- 
hand and taken to the fields or on the march to eat in the raidd}e of the 


They found him. Then they got up into a tree and threw 
their spears at the tiger and killed him. But when they 
had done so the two of them ran away, and for this reason 
tigers still exist, they say. And moreover, since after this 
the pair sang the Aphi^ dancing song, we Semas still sing 
the Aphi song. 

Kaghelomi ni Simi atsa laki anike. Kaghe akimi 
Men of old we Semas story a is. Formerly husband 

anipfu ake. Anu punu-mo-philono apu angshuno 

wife were. Child born not reckoning in father tiger 

tsuveke. Tipa-thiuno kepatimi mi kini punuke. 
devoured. That after male men two were born. 

Aza-vilo " I-pu kilao ake la ? " ti pike. Azano 
Mother to " My father where is eh " this said. Mother 

pamavilo ti pike " 0-puye angshuno tsuveke." 
to both this said " Your father tiger (by) devoured." 

Tilehino pama ataziino alhe shipuzii aghalo 

Then both brothers cold food having made into jungle 

wupuziino angshu 'nyepa zhuwuke ; ituluke. 
having gone tiger track see went found. 

Tilehino asiilo ikupuzlino angshu khuke. 

Then in tree having got up tiger threw-spear-at. 

Tilehino pamano angshu hekhikhavepuziino kinino 

Then both tiger having completely killed the two 

poveke-ghenguno hishi angshu acheni pike. Eno 
fled because of thus tiger still exist said and 

ipuziino pamano aphile ghi pikeghenguno, ni Simino 
after this both Aphi song too said because of we Semas 

aphile pichenike. 
Aphi song keep saying. 

1 The aphi-le is sung at the dancing which follows tho slaughter 
of mithan in ceremonies performed for the erection of aghiiza^ 
cf. pp. 115, 227. 

362 THE SEMA NAGAS part 


The songs which follow are fairly typical of Sema songs 
in general. Examples are given of Lezu'le — songs sung in 
the house, e.g., at a feast, and of Alu'kumla'le — songs sung 
while at work in the fields. The fact that a song belongs 
to one of these classes does not prevent its being sung on 
other occasions ; e.g., a Lezu'le might be sung in the fields, 
Alu'kumla'le are often sung in the house. The difference 
seems to be based on the music, the latter class being much 
easier to sing and therefore better suited to singing while at 
work. Probably, too, the tunes belong traditionally to one 
class or another. 

As will be gathered from the footnotes to the songs, the 
language used in songs is often archaic, and sometimes the 
meaning has been entirely forgotten. Where it is remem- 
bered the meaning of the song as a whole is often obscure, 
as the composer of a song uses disconnected words which 
mean much to him but convey little to those who cannot 
follow his thought and do not know to what he is alluding. 

Even newly-composed songs often need their composer 
to explain exactly what it is all about, and trying to translate 
them with the aid of someone who does not happen to know 
is rather like trying to disentangle a difficult chorus of 

Of the songs given here the first is an example of a stereo- 
typed form already described in which the song has been 
reduced to a mere formula. Both it and the second Lezu'le 
which follows are of recent composition. The third, an 
Alu'kumla'le, is old and nearly forgotten, and the fourth, 
though the words are well known, is obscure in places, as 
the circumstances to which it alludes are entirely forgotten. 
Both the Alu'kumla'le given here go to the same tune. No 
attempt has been made to render in English the meaningless 
syllables necessitated by the singing {iho, uno, u, etc.), which 
have no more meaning than " Tra-la-la " or " Hey- 

Songs are ordinarily referred to by their first line. 



Inato-no Likelio (Lezu'le). 

Inato killed and brought back the head of a girl of Lik6.i 
Vikeshe^ put her hair in his ear, put the Like girl's hair in 
his ear. Khakuli^ made glad. Khakuli made glad. 

Inato-no Likelio ipfughe 

Inato girl of Like killed and took the head 

iho, iho, iho, i. 
O Vikeshe asa li-kyeghe 
Vikeshe hair put-in-his-ear 

iho, iho, iho, i. 
O li-kyeghe, Likeli 'sa ILkyeghe 

put-in-his-ear, the Like girl's hair put-in-his-ear 

iho, iho, iho, i. 
Khakuli allove 
Khakuli made glad 

iho, iho, iho, i. 
O Khakuli allove-o 
Khakuli made glad 

iho, iho, iho, i 
iho, iho, iho. 

11. . 

A song of the Kuhi war (Lezu'le). 

Kekheche, my father, Kekheche, ray father, when you go 
to raid, when you go to raid in the country of the Kukis, in 
the country of the Kukis, take heed lest you be wounded. 

Ere anyone else pluck a Kuki flower, pluck and take a Kuki 

1 Likemi — the men of the village of Lik6, i.e., the Ao village of Lung- 
khung, better known as " Nankam." Inato did not really ever kill a 
Nankam girl, though he did take the head of a Chang warrior at Tuensang 
(" Mozungjami "). 

2 Vikeshe was the son of Inato's elder brother. 

3 Khakuli was Inato's wife. Not his first wife, who was one of hia 
father's widows, but a later one, and the only one who bore him a child. 

364 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

Kuhimi^ Lakuhu 'Le. 
I hoi 

I-pu Kekheche^ I-pii Kekheche ihoi ihoi 

My father Kekheche My father Kekheche 
Kukimi lao-o — iho Kukimi lao-o iho 

Kuki side (towards) Kuki side 

I hoi ihoi 

Lakuhu-lono lakuhu-lono ihoi ihoi 

When going on the war path when going on the war path 
Uno zaniiiku u kutolo u-o-iho 

mishap beware 

Ihoi ihoi 

Akhamunu' u kiitami u khomoye 

Flower another while not plucking 

Akhamunu u Kukimi u kholuye* 

Flower Kuki pluck and take 

Ihoi ihoi. 


Ishi no ghi sholu (Alu'kumla'le). 

(A girl addresses her lover.) 

To-day we have met again. To-day I am adorned as a 
damseP should be. When not adorned they looked upon 
one another, Hocheli® and a man,^ a man of some other 

^ Kukimi. The Semas usually use Kotsomi, borrowed from the Angami 
word for Kuki, " Kotsoma," which is probably derived from the Manipuri 
word " Khonjai," but some have adopted our word Kuki and given it a 
Sema form. 

2 Kekheche was a Sema interpreter who went in charge of coolies with 
one of the columns that operated from the Naga Hills against the rebel 
Kukis in 1918. 

^ Plucking a flower is a metaphor for killing an enemy. 

'• Not the ordinary imperative form, but really a participle. 

■* Akheono timi is vised, in singing only, to mean a girl who is of marriage- 
able age. Akheo is a person of either sex who is of marriageable age but is 
Btill unmarried. 

* Hocheli, here a woman's name, is the girl who is speaking. 

' The man who is addressed. She is being provocative ; she could not 
look on a man of her own clan with anythmg but indifference. 


clan — of my own clan (I forget which). At tlio cldor'a 
words of rebuke 1 I was troubled my father ! - 

0. o. o. o 
0. o. o. o 
0. o. o. o 
O. o. o. o 
O. o. o. o 

Ishi no ghi sholu 
To-day you too met 

Ishi akheono timi kiye ^ yepfu 
To-day damsel like adorned 

Yepfumoye hoche 

When not adorned looked upon 

Hocheli ngo timi 
Hocheli and a man 

Timiyelo niyelo 

Of other man's clan of my clan 

^ Asiighakuwo. The real meaning is very doubtful. No one seemed 
able to say for certain, and it might be approbation or it might be rebuke. 
It seems to be a forgotten word which has only survived in this song. This 
song itself had almost been forgotten, and there were only a few who knew 
it all when I took it down from a man of Sheyepu. I obtained another 
version from a man of Moemi which I give below, but the moaning has 
been long forgotten, and as only a word or two here and there is intelligible 
even to the singers, I attempt no translation. It apparently introduces 
Hocheli (Hokali) and her father, and is also a song of the Zumomi clan, so 
that it probably has the same origin as the version already given. 

Ishi no ghi sholu 

Akheono timi kiye yepfu 

Hokali pa'puno 


Akukhuno ni 'ghami 

Mayeghii laye 

ikapapu sikipe 


awudu nil 

lakoko pukecheshia 

ini suluyo. 

* I-shiapuno apparently merely singing for i-pu, " my fatlier," perhaps 
lit. = " the one who treats me as a father does." 

* Kiye only used in this sense in singing. 

366 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

O. o. o. o 

0. o. o, o 

O. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

Akechimi 'tsa na 
Elders' words by 

Asiighakuwo min'losiye 
(?) of rebuke I was sorry 

Ishiapuno hei 
my father 

0. o. o. o 0. o. o. o. 


Ateelao Shimonaye (Alu'kumla'le). 

(A man soliloquises.) 

Though I wish not to grow old, while I say it it has befallen 
indeed. My suns are counted, my tale of years ^ is growing 
full. I have begun to pass away. When going down ^to 
Thoilalapi^ there were damsels such as wear bracelets on 
their wrists. The night before last when going on the path, 
when going to look upon my beloved, as I was arriving I saw 
a stranger ^ girl's mother and was troubled thereat. 

The moon rose and made bright the sward * before my 
house. (On one side they said) " I am one who sleeps in 

^ Siyepi is really " reckoning of jhums," the method by which count of 
years is kept being by recalling the land freshly cut in each year. The 
ordinary method is to take the land last cleared, name and count the lands 
cleared before it backwards until the land first named again recurs, and 
then to count how many times one can remember that clearing of that 
land and multiply the number of years in the cycle by the number of times 
that the clearing of the particular land taken can be remembered. This, 
of course, is far from accurate, as the cycle of jhums cleared is apt to 
contract or expand in accordance as the population of the village grows 
or decreases, the difference being often very considerable. 

^ Thoilalapi is the name of a field. 

^ Ina, i.e., from another village. 

* In front of every house is a piece of flat ground cleared and levelled. 
I have used " sward " as the nearest English word, but no grass grows on it. 


Laza's house " ^ ; (on the other side they cried) " 1 am one 
who sleeps in Ahota's house." The young men who sleep 
in other houses when they go to war, when they cross over 
the hill-top, 2 those men who sleep in other houses, they are 
such as meet with misadventure and are troubled thereat. 

0. o. o. o 

Ateelao shimonaye 

Elderly not wishing to become 

Piaye eghu kucho 
while saying come true 

Atsala pio 
suns are counted 

Siyepi wo-chayeo 

tale of jhums has become full 

I in beginning to pass 

Thoilalapi lakhohulo-na 

Thoilalapi while going down the road of 

Lozhitimi •• ulo 
young girls on hand 

Kumlapfu m'chekolumi 

brass bracelet one who is seen wearing 

1 The young men sleep in the front part of the house of the chief or any 
other rich man. The allusion seems to bo to a faction fight between two 
of these dormitories. The sequence of thought is obscure, and the circum- 
stances of the composition of the song forgotten, but apparently the com- 
poser laments that when he went forth for daUiance he met with strangers 
instead of his beloved, and then got mixed up in a squabble between two 
sets of yoimg bucks, for which he was not in the mood, leading him to 
dismiss the subject with a contemptuous estimate of all the bucks except 
his own set ; altogether a disgruntled songster. 

2 Aghothu — " a boundary " — hero used in what was probably its original 
sense of the top of a range of hills. 

O. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0, o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

368 THE SEMA NAGAS part 

0. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

O. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. o. o 

kazhe ala chelo 

night before last road in going 

'Lozhilio ohowunaye 

Beloved when going to look upon 

when arriving 

Ina 'lio pa 'zanana 
Stranger girl her mother 

Ituliye allomoghani 
when seeing was troubled 

Akhino epen'ke akah veloaye 
moon (-by) came out level in lighting up 

Isheni Laza kipfumi 

I am one who sleeps in Laza's house 

Isheni Ahota kipfumi 

I am one who sleeps in Ahota's house 

Timi kipfumina 

The younger men who sleep in the houses 
of others 

Aghoha shilo 

when they go to make war 

Aghotu kapelonikechelono 
the range when crossing over 

Timi kipfumina 

The young men who sleep in the houses of 


0. 0. 0. o 

Akesa sho-mulekinimi 

evil meet and be troubled men 

0. o. o. o 

0. o. 0. o 0, o. o. o. 



Lezule (composed in France by Sema labourers). 

you young bloods go and search for Shiyihe, mine elder 
brother, and you colleens for darling Losheli his sweetheart. 
Tell what he went forth to do ; tell (her) that he went forth 
to pluck a flower ; tell (her) that he went forth to pluck a 
flower, a flower of the Germans he went to pluck, went forth 
to pluck and take. In going, in going fare thee well. 

Hiyelo ashopumino imu Shiyihe 

young bucks my elder brother Shiyihe 
Hiyelo asholimino^ 
Hiyelo anga^ Losheli 'Uomi hiwulo 
Losheli lover go seek 
Hiyelo ku shiwuniye chenike pilo 
what to do went say 
Hiyelo akhamunu Mowuniye chenike pilo 
flower to pluck went say 
Hiyelo 'khamunu Mowuniye chenike pilo 
flower to pluck went say 
Hiyelo Jermalimi 
Hiyelo Mowunike 

to pluck 
Hiyelo yfc^oluniye chenike 

to pluck and take went 
Gwolo-gwolono ilili gwolo. 
in going-in going well go. 

1 AshoUmi is a difficult word to translate. It is tho feminine cqviivaient 
of ashopumi, the nearest translation of which is the public-scliool expression 
a " blood." Perhaps " peach " would render asholimi better than any 
other expression. 

2 Anga usually = an infant. It is also used for the pupil of the eye 
(no doubt its original meaning), and here apparently as a term of endear- 
ment. CJ. the Greek use of K6p-n. 

B B 




Note. — As an example of Sema music I give the notation of two songs 
(No. I and No. Ill), showing as nearly as possible the different parts, which 
are sung simultaneously (see p. 114), as sung in Kiyeshe village. 

I. — Inato-no. 




O In-a-toiioLik-e- lie i-pfu-ghe i-ho-i i-ho i-ho. 
Alto. ^ 

Bass. ^ — ^ ^ 







III. — Islii no fjJii sholu. 

D Major. 




- he o - he 

I - shi no gbi she - lu 





O o o o 

o o o o 

o o o o 




O o o 

o o o o 

O o o 







No. IV ia sung to the same tune as No. III. I am indebted to my wife 
for recording both the above tunes. 


I. Bibliography. 
II. Sema Migrations and Affinities. 

III. Reciprocal Table op the Names op Relations. 

IV. Extract from a Letter on the Subject of the 
Relations between a Sema Chief and his Dependants. 

V. The Semas and Mb. Perry's " Megalithic 
Culture of Indonesia." 

VI. Sema Vocabularies. 

VII. Glossary. 

B b 2 




1. "Gazetteer of the Naga Hills and Manipur " ; containing 
some geographical information and historical details of 
British occupation, 

2. Assam Census Reports of 1891 and 1911 ; containing 
a little general information. 

3. Col. L. A. Waddell, "Tribes of the Brahmaputra 
Valley," Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Part 3, No. 1, 
of 1900 ; containing a note on the " Siima " tribe which is 
meagre and quite inaccurate. The Semas have never worn 
a " flap of wood " by way of a garment, and the unmarried 
girls do not sleep in separate houses. 

4. Miss G. M. Godden, " Naga and Other Tribes of N.E. 
India," Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxvi ; 
containing a resume of information collected from other 
sources, with very little regarding the Semas in particular, 
and that by no means always accurate. 

5. W. H. Furness, " Ethnography of the Nagas of Eastern 
Assam," Journal of the Anthropological Institute for 1902, 
vol. xxxii, July to December ; containing little as to the 
Semas, and making one bad mistake in confusing the Konyaks 
of Chima with the Sema tribe — a mistake probably due to an 
Assamese interpreter, as English-speaking Assamese often 
speak of the people of Chima or Sima as " Semas," the 
resemblance of the two words being entirely fortuitous. 

6. J. H. Hutton, " The Angami Nagas " (Macmillan, 1921) 
contains a few notes on the Sema tribe in particular, and a 
bibliography of the books relating to the various Naga 
tribes of the Naga Hills District. 



7. J. H. Hutton, " Leopard-men of the Naga Hills," 
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1920. Deals 
with lycanthropy. 

N.B. — Authorities for the Sema tongue, such as there are, 
have been mentioned in Part V when dealing with the 

For definitely Bodo tribes in Assam the following may 
be referred to : — 

(a) Major A. Playfair, " The Garos " (Nutt, 1909). 

(b) C. A. Soppitt, " Historical and Descriptive Account 
of the Kachari Tribes in the North Cachar Hills " (Shillong, 
1885). Reprinted, with an Introduction by E. C. Stuart 
Baker, in 1901. 

(c) Rev. S. Endle, "The Kacharis " (Macmillan, 1911). 
(f/) W. C. M. Dundas, " Outline Grammar and Dictionary 

of the Kachari (Dimasa) Language " (Shillong, 1908). 

(e) J. D. Anderson, " Kachari Folk-tales and Rhymes " 
(Shillong, 1895). 

For Burma tribes mentioned the authority consulted is 
the " Gazetteer of Upper Burmah and the Shan States." 
Part I. Rangoon, 1900. 



The accompanying chart shows the migrations of the 
Sema tribe. North of the line of, say, Cheshalimi the 
chart is not only approximately correct but approximately 
complete. South of Cheshalimi the chart is probably 
correct as far as it goes, but in this area, in which the settle- 
ments that remain are of longer standing than in the north 
of the Sema country, there have probably been many move- 
ments that have been forgotten. Thus there is no informa- 
tion to account adequately for the curious case of the village 
of Swemi near Khezabama, a genuine Sema village left 
surrounded by Angamis. The village of Khezakenoma has 
been shown as a Sema settlement. It is possible that the 
tradition which tells of the ancestor of the Semas having 
come from that village is merely connected with the present 
village of Khezakenoma owing to that village being able 
to point to a stone as the actual stone spoken of in the legend 
on which the paddy set to dry doubled itself by nightfall. 
No doubt this story is much older than the cracked dolmen 
exhibited by Khezakenoma. At the same time the 
linguistic connection between the Khezami Angamis and 
the Semas is close enough to warrant the assumption that 
they have at some time in the past been more intimately 
connected than they are now. 

The origin of the legendary connection with the mountain 
of Tukahu (Japvo) is obvious enough. Any Sema almost 
who wished to indicate the south as the direction from which 
his ancestors came could most easily do so by pointing to 
the highest peak in the Barail range and saying " We came 
from near there." This would be particularly the case 



with Semas settled up the Dayang Valley, which is dominated 
for a long way by Japvo C^.Dzupfu — " Mother of waters"), 
where the river has its source. 

The probable location of the tribe before it reached its 
known habitations and sojourning places in the Naga Hills 
district has been shown as the country of the Khoirao tribe 
in the Manipur State. This tribe is a small one wedged in 
between the quasi- Angamis of Maram^ to the west, the 
Tangkhuls to the north and east, and Kacha Nagas and 
Kukis to the south. The Khoirao tribe's villages, few in 
number, speak dialects which vary acutely, and the villages 
near Maram such as Purun and Khoite (I give them the 
names by which they are known in the Manipur State) have 
clearly close affinities to Maram and probably a very large ad- 
mixture of Angami blood. Their culture is very much closer 
to Angami culture than to Sema. Further north, however, in 
Khongde and Raime, this is less marked, and in the little 
village of Ngari, which again speaks its own dialect, the 
affinity to the Sema tribe is most pronounced. This is the 
case with both the speech and the physiognomy of the 
people. It struck me most forcibly as soon as I saw the 
headmen of the village, and the appearance of their fellow 
villagers, made the more obvious in some by a similar method 
of hair-dressing, confirmed it ; as did also their speech 
and vocabulary. And this though I had gone to Ngari — 
the first Khoirao village I went to — without any idea of such 
a thing in my mind and without even knowing the name of 
the tribe that inhabited the village. I had expected to find 
Tangkhuls there. 

Ngari is the most northerly village of the Khoirao tribe, 
and somewhat to the north of it comes the Tangkhul village 
of Chingjaroi, known to the Angamis as " Swemi," though 
this name appears to be unknown in the village or its 
immediate locality. A name like this is not without signifi- 
cance, and it may be fairly assumed that this village was 
also at one time occupied by the Sema tribe, and hence was 
given this name by the Angamis that traded with it. Indeed 

* The people of Maram use the first personal possessive i- of the Seraas, 
at any rate with the names of relations, e.g., i-po = " my father." 





it is very likely that it was actually the village or the site 
from which the Seraas of Swemi (which is, of course, the same 
word as Sema, Semi, Siimi, or Simi) near Khozabama 
migrated to that place. But liowever that may be, one 
may fairly assume, in view of the obvious Sema affinities 
in Ngari, that Swemi (Chingjaroi) is another stage soutliwards 
in the migrations of the Sema tribe. 

The language of Ngari is probably nowhere recorded. The 
Khoirao recorded by Sir George Grierson in the linguistic 
survey of India is probably that of another Khoirao village, 
and the dialect of these villages varies enormously. Of 
several through which I passed I found only Ngari which 
retained that very marked Sema characteristic the initial a- 
for nouns. In Ngari, too, the Sema physiognomy was more 
marked than in Khoite, though the latter have a truly 
Sema propensity for snapping up unconsidered trifles. I give, 
at the end of this Appendix, a parallel table of a few words 
used in Ngari and their Sema equivalents. Unfortunately, I 
only had a very short time in Ngari itself, and was unable 
to revisit the village, but I am convinced that in the 
descent of its inhabitants the ancestors of the Sema 
tribe are well represented. It may be noted that 
they mark the performance of certain gennas by the 
erection of a tree in a manner very similar to the Aghiiza 
or Akedu. 

It is also curious that one should find in Khoirao villages 
clans of the same name as Sema clans. Thus I learn from 
Colonel Shakespear that there are in Khoite clans called 
Chonamei and Kinamei, in Meheme (" Purul ") KuTUimei 
(cf. Sema Chunimi and Kinimi), while the head of the clan, 
though in some clans called Viyeh (? " the good one "), is 
in the others called Same, Viyeh and Sume having been the 
names of the two brothers, elder and younger respectively, 
from whom the clans claim descent. The Viyeh or Sume 
gets a leg of every animal killed by his people whether wild 
or tame, very much like a Sema chief. The Khoiraos of 
Purun trace their more immediate origin to Mekrima 
(Maikel) like the Angamis, but their ultimate origin to two 
gods, Lappo and his wife Raru, who came from a place or 


a god called Deamo ^ in the west, " where the western 
sky meets the earth," and the spirits of the dead go 
west to a hill called Kapura, the locality of which is 

The chart of the Sema migrations omits certain villages 
to the west, near the plains, which have been planted out 
artificially by the Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills 
or the Sub-divisional Officer of Mokokchung to relieve 
pr-essure of population in parts of the Sema country. As 
these villages are not the result of natural migrations in 
any degree, they have not been shown in the chart, though 
some have been marked in the map of the Naga tribes which 
accompanies the monograph on the Angamis. These 
villages — there are five or six — are too far west to appear 
in the map of the Semas and their neighbours published in 
this volume. 

The Khoiraos of Purun place their origin in the west, 
and though this may refer to some place as far west merely 
as Mekrima (Maikel), it is to be noticed that there are 
marked similarities between the Semas and some of the Bodo 
tribes to be found in other parts of Assam. The paper 
referred to in Appendix I, No. 7, dealt with the question of 
lycanthropy and tiger clans. ^ It also mentioned the Y-shaped 
posts which the Garo uses, as does the Sema, ^ and which the 
Kachari apparently used to erect in stone, to judge from 
the carved stones of similar shape still to be seen at Dimapur. 
There are also certain linguistic affinities to be traced 
between Sema, Kachari, and Garo (see note at end of this 
Appendix), while some similarity seems to obtain between 
Semas and Garos in the matter of their views on female 
chastity, which are noticeably strict as compared with 
those of their neighbours. A few similar resemblances may 
also perhaps be traced between the Semas and the Karen 

^ Deamo ? = Dima {doima), the river Dima or Dhansiri, the home of the 
Dima8a(Kacharis), whose capital was Dimapur. 

^ Apropos of the Zumomi story of the descent of their ancestor from 
a squirrel, it is worth noting that the Kacharis have a definite squirrel clan 
(Endle, " The Kacharis," p. 27). 

^ Also the Wa of Burma (" Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan 
States," Part I, vol. i, p. 505) and the Khawtlang clan of Kukis. 


tribes known in Burma as the Mano and the Southern Bre, 
who, like the Semas,^ reap their rice by stripping the ears 
by hand into a basket instead of using a reaping hook. The 
identity of the name given by Kacharis and Semas to their 
Creator has been ah*eady pointed out ; also the common use 
by the Sema and the Kacha Naga of a certain type of 
stone circle to commemorate rich men, the only memorial 
made with stones by Semas, Hill Kacharis allow Kacha 
Nagas to eat in their houses on the ground of relationship, 
admitting that they and the Nagas are descended from the 
elder and younger of two brothers respectively. Kukis 
they will not allow to enter their houses on the ground 
that they are strangers entirely. 

My general conclusion is that the Semas are a composite 
tribe containing a larger proportion of Mongolian and Bodo 
blood from the direction of the north or north-west than 
their Angami neighbours. There have been immigrations 
into Assam from the north, whence came the 
Singphos, Kacharis, and the Garos ; from China or the 
north-east, whence came the Shan and the Tai races 
generally (the Tamans of the upper Chindwin Valley in 
Burma clearly came across the Irawadi from China and 
for a time lived in the hills between the plains of Burma 
and Assam before they went back again to their present 
location in Burma) ; and from the south, whence came 
apparently the people of Maram, the Angamis and the Kuki 
tribes (though, of course, these later migrations may well 
have come from the east and perhaps the north-east 
originally, subsequently turning north again). One would 
therefore expect to find a considerable variety of culture 
in the Naga tribes, though indeed this is clearly the case 
with Indonesia generally, and it is undoubtedly not merely 
coincidence that we find a system of terraced cultivation 
in the Philippines, for instance, identical with that of the 
Angami Nagas combined with what seems to be a very 
similar village polity. Many other points of contact arise 
between Naga tribes and such peoples as the Dusun of 

1 So, too, the Garos (Playfair, op. cit., p. 34^ Bhois, and Lynngam 
(Gurdon, "The Khasis," p. 40, 2nd ed.). 



British North Borneo, or theToradjas of the Celebes,' whose 
beliefs with regard to the soul seem to be very much the 
same as those of the Semas. If the Semas be in the main 
of a northern stock, like the Kacharis, they have certainly 
absorbed much of the culture of the immigrants from the 
south, represented by the Angamis, who in their turn must, 
of course, have absorbed much of the north-western stock. 
It was possibly under the influence of the immigration from 
the south that the former immigrants from the north-west 
changed to a patrilineal system from the matrilineal system 
still adhered to by the Garos. 

Note. — The Garo numerals are at least as near those of the IQioiraos 
as the Sema, and the Garos came from north of the Brahmaputra, so it 
may be that the IChoiraos and Semas contain an element of some common 
stock which, having come south, turned eastwards, thus accounting for 
the Khoirao account of the western origin ; the Sema accotint of a southern 
origin would not be affected, as it only refers to Japvo and the country 
in the neighbourhood of the present location of the Khoiraos, whence it 
is virtually certain that the progenitors of the Sema tribe migrated to 
the present Sema country. 

List of numerals, etc., as foimd in Khoirao, Sema, Kachari (Dimasa), 
and Garo : — 



{of Khongde) 

(of Ngari) 







laki, khe 












































^ It has already been pointed out that the Sema story of the inter- 
change of functions between the sun and moon is reported also from 
Mexico. A comparison of the Kachari legend of the re-creation of the 
earth after the Flood (Soppitt, op. cit., p. 32) is most decidedly reminiscent 
of the Algonquin legend so widely distributed in N. America (Frazer, " Folk- 
Lore in the Old Testament," vol. i, p. 295 et sqq.) in which the muskrat 
brings up grains of earth from below the sea, for the Creator to fashion 
the land from, as the crabs do in the Kachari story. The Kachari account 
of the creation of man (Soppitt, loc. cit.) is also obviously intimately con- 
nected with that given by the Khasis (Frazer, op. cit., vol. i, p. 18), while 
the story from the Bila-an of the Philippine Islands of the people who were 
created with their noses upside down so that they could not go out in the 
rain (Frazer, op. cit., i, p. 16) is also found in the Naga Hills among 
Semas, and among the Changs. 





(0/ Khowjde) 

(of Ngari) 





























my father 














It may also be noticed that the enclitic -ne, = " please," is common to 
Sema and Garo, while the use of the particle -ve to indicate past time in the 
verb seems to be common to tlie Somas and to the Khoiraos of Ngari. 

The Garo list is taken from Col. Playfair's book, the other lists from 
my own notes. 


















" ^ 
































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.2 .2 

• 00 



brother's ( 
sister ... 
sister's hu 



father . . . 
mother . . . 
father ... 


to m 

to 00 




U ti 

U t-( tl 



O O 








CO ■'d? 

U5 CO t--^ 


C5 O — < IM CO 


-H 1—1 

-H 1— 1 

p— 1 1— 1 -H 


^ <M <M M S^ 


^ -*^ 


^ o 

0, j3 

s a 




to to 








* eS 









Tj< ic CO I> 00 

(N C^ <N (M <M 


«« © -« 

JD J2 

P W) 

5t ? 

00 ^ 


? 5 





Vi to (h O h 

"O '? X "co tiD 


jband's el 
f a husban 
called by 
1 whether 
s) or youn 




r is 
Id a 


.« fe © § o 



er. The 
;er broth 
or amuk 
er (or as 

















^ ^^ O CS ,. 








■^ >o 













G ** 

C6 OQ 








^ -*^ 






^ CO 






m r^ 



00 S 




§ g 




w ^w 


CO rt 


.^s a 


O '-t 




boi (or bawi) system referred to is that which 


... I KNOW of no independent tribes in regular com- 
munication with the administered district to the south of 
the Phom country which commonly practise any form of 
genuine slavery, the test of which I should regard as the 
buying and selling of human beings, and there is no practice 
in the administered area which even a warped imagination 
and a distorted mind could regard as such. There are, 
however, relations between chiefs and their subjects in the 
Sema country, both administered and independent, which 
present certain superficial similarities to the Boi system in 
the Lushai Hills ... A somewhat similar system in a 
modified form exists in the Chang country, but it will 
probably be enough to examine in detail the relations 
existing between the Sema Chief (Kekami) and the villager 
{Miighemi), and it is necessary to a proper understanding 
of this to explain how these relations have arisen . , . 

The vast majority of the villages of the Sema tribe have 
either just emerged from, or are still governed by, migratory 
conditions, as the tribe has during the last and the present 
generation grown and extended at a great rate and over a 
large area, and is yearly extending eastward at the expense 
of less warlike tribes. It is still the custom, wherever 
circumstances permit, for the elder sons of a Sema chief to 
leave the paternal village and make villages of their own. A 
chief's son taking a colony of this sort is given by his father 
as many of the households willing to go with him as his 

385 c c 


father can spare, and to his nucleus is frequently added a 
small number of broken men, thieves, debtors and such. 
It is significant that the real meaning of the word Miighemi 
is " orphan," whence it has been applied in a more general 
sense to the ordinary villager who adopts the chief as his 
" father " and protector. Such a community would occupy 
and hold its village and land by force and in the face of 
opposition from some previously established and more 
numerous community. Almost the whole of the present 
Sema country, at any rate north of Satakha and east of 
the Tizu, was occupied by Aos and Sangtams, who were 
driven out during the last and the preceding generations. 
Under such circumstances the desertion of a single house- 
hold or a single fighting man is obviously a serious matter. 
In addition to this, the land occupied by the new village is 
regarded as belonging not to the community but to the 
chief, who has led the colony and by whose favour and pro- 
tection the other members of it accompany him, for the 
Sema chiefs are on the whole an aristocracy in the literal 
sense of the word, being (perhaps owing to better feeding) 
morally, physically, and intellectually the best men of the 

These conditions have led to the establishment of recog- 
nised rights and duties between the chief and his subjects, 
which are at a stage between patriarchal and quasi-feudal, 
and which, even in villages where the conditions which 
gave rise to them no longer exist, are so much in accord with 
local sentiment that the punishment of their breach is no 
more regarded as unjust than the punishment, say, of theft. 

The system is one of family adoption and of land tenure 
combined, but its important principle is that the chief 
himself distributes his land among his villagers, reserving 
certain portions for his own cultivation, and a recognised 
right with its corresponding duty has grown up on both 
sides, so that while the villager ^ is entitled to have land 
allotted to him by the chief, the chief is likewise entitled 
to a certain number of days' work in the year from each 
villager cultivating his land. The number of days' work 

' That is, from the time he marries. 


given varies from five days to in some cases as much as 
thirty, but is normally from about ten to fifteen days in 
the year. 

In addition to this the chief provides his " orphans " 
with wives, with food in times of scarcity, and with seed 
if necessary, as well as general protection, which frequently 
includes the payment of fines incurred for misdemeanours 
committed in or against other villages. It is true that the 
chief usually expects loans and payment of this sort to be 
paid back, and, in the case of ordinary loans of paddy, with 
interest, but he does not object to waiting a very long time 
for repayment, repayment of paddy often being made in 
the next generation. 

On the other hand, the villager pays a form of homage to 
the chief who protects him, addressing him as " Father," 
giving him shares of meat killed in hunting or sacrificed at 
gennas, and being under the obligation of not removing from 
the chief's village, since this would deprive the chief of the 
persons who cultivate the land, and impair his prestige 
and, in the case of an independent chief, his fighting force. 
The " orphan," in fact, adopts the chief as a father, and the 
latter inherits the former's property in preference to any 
male relations who are not on the same footing with regard 
to him . . . 

This system must not, of course, be regarded as inflexibly 
adhering to one pattern, but has been subjected to modifica- 
tions effected by the purchase of land by villagers, by the 
division of a chief's land between brothers at his death, 
by varying local customs, so that in some cases a man may 
owe merely nominal homage to the chief and cultivate his 
own land or that of some other villager, who is himself 
independent of the chief in all but name, though in most 
villages all members owe a few days' work to the principal 
chief, whatever their other relations to him may be. 

When a man living in the administered area wishes to 
leave his village and make his home somewhere else and 
the chief is unwilling to let him go, he is allowed to go after 
payment of a small sum to the chief. Cases are treated on 
their merits, but the usual payment is from Rs.5/- to Rs.l5/-, 

c c 2 


according to the degree of vassalage in which he stands, 
Rs.l5/- as a general rule being the highest amount at present 
paid in discharge of all a man's obligations to his chief other 
than actual debts. When such a person goes to another 
village he ordinarily places himself under the protection of 
the chief of that village, who frequently pays for him the 
sum due to his last chief. 

On the whole the " orphan " probably gets . . . the 
best of the bargain, and it is only some system of this sort 
which makes life possible to many of the inhabitants of the 
average Sema village. The poor, the old, the crippled and 
the mentally deficient turn to their " Father " the chief 
when they are in need. He helps them as a matter of course, 
for his reputation is involved, but his only security for 
payment in the future is that he and they stand in the 
hereditary relations of " father " and " orphan " ; if these 
relations were abolished, those of the latter unable to main- 
tain themselves would have to starve or steal or be supported 
by Government. Nor is this the only way in which the 
system is valuable under present conditions. Cash in the 
Sema country is a scarce commodity, much of the trade 
being still carried on by barter, and many persons only 
handling rupees at the time when they go away from the 
village to work on the cart-road or elsewhere in order to 
earn the Rs.2/- which Government requires as house-tax. 
But the " orphan " system again provides credit. A man 
who wishes to marry but cannot collect the necessary sum 
goes to his chief, who provides it for him, getting in return 
a reversionary title to the marriage prices of the bride- 
groom's daughters if he should have any in the future, and 
if he should die before they marry, and if he has no male 
heirs among the " orphans " of the same father, on the whole 
a biggish " if." ^ Here again the hereditary relations between 
the chief and the subject give security that the obligation 
can be repaid, if not to the chief, at any rate to his successors. 
It must also be remembered that almost all the chief's 

^ If a chief brings up the daughter of an "orphan" in his own house, 
as he often does, he is entitled to claim a return for having done so when 
the girl marries, and it is usual to pay this out of the marriage price. 


influence is bound up with this system, and it is on the 
chief's influence that . . . depend , . . the general good 
behaviour of the Sema country, and . . . the settlement of 
innumerable petty disputes . . . Moreover, the obligations 
entailed by this system and the consequence of breaches of 
it are thoroughly understood and entirely conform to tribal 
sentiment and the inherent conception of society that 
prevails in the Sema country both among the chief and the 
ordinary villagers. 

If any proposal were made to abolish the " orphan " 
system among the Semas or the corresponding and similar 
system among the Changs, it would have to be borne in 
mind that such an abolition would have the effect of under- 
mining the authority of the chief, seriously disturbing the 
whole tribe, and causing a vast increase of petty litigation, 
and would probably tend to make disputes over land much 
more liable to end in violence, as it is a long way to court, 
and the chief might be unable to stop affrays. It would 
further necessitate provision for a large number of paupers, 
and would probably give rise to a difficult land question, 
as the majority of Semas are dependent on the chief, who 
is " father " to them, for land to cultivate. It would, 
moreover, make the trans-frontier chiefs exceedingly averse 
to the extension of British administration, and they would 
probably jeer at the chiefs of the administered villages as 
having lost their position and reputation. On the other 
hand, even if exception be taken to certain features of the 
system, there is much to be said for leaving it to die a more 
or less natural death in the course of time, as it is already 
showing signs of decay in many villages in the Dayang Valley. 
That interference with long-established custom, however 
reasonable on the face of it, has unlooked-for consequences, 
may be gathered from the effect of an attempt made a few 
years ago to enforce a three years' limitation order for debt 
in the Mokokchung Sub-division. ... A Standing Order 
had recently been passed limiting the time for claiming 
repayment of any debt to three years after it had been 
incurred. This order was applicable to debts of paddy as 
well as of cash. After I had enforced the Order in several 


cases of old claims, I found a steady increase in the number 
of persons produced for punishment for having stolen paddy 
from the granaries of their neighbours, than which 
nothing is easier, as granaries are built away from the 
village for fear of fire, are made of bamboos, the only avail- 
able material, and have no locks. I found out eventually 
that these thefts were due to the thieves having been unable 
to get any loans, as there was no prospect whatever of their 
repaying in three years, and so no one would give them paddy 
and they were forced to steal. When the Order was cancelled 
as regards loans in kind, this epidemic of thefts stopped at 

It may perhaps be worth while indicating one or two 
points in which the Sema " orphan " system seems to differ 
from the *' 6o* " system. In the first place it is a system 
of land tenure, almost a manorial system, and not one of 
domestic service, for the " orphan " does not necessarily 
or ordinarily become an inmate of the chief's house or owe 
him any labour except a very small and fixed amount in 
the fields. In the second place, he does not lose or acquire 
any particular social status ; he cannot become chief, 
because the office is hereditary, but he becomes a village 
elder {Clmchomi) in his turn, and may have " orphans " 
of his own. Thirdly, the marriage price ^ of an "orphan's" 
daughter is only paid to his " father " in case the real father 
of the girl dies before her marriage and without male rela- 
tions who are " orphans " of the same " father," the adopted 
" father " being then the nearest heir. Fourthly, the sum 
needed to discharge obligations to the chief is very small 
indeed. . . . 

' As distinct, that is, from any expenses the chief may have directly 
incurred on the girl's upbringing. 



In a paper which I read before the Oxford Anthropological 
Society in 1919 I drew attention to a number of points 
in which the evidence available from Naga tribes seemed to 
run counter to the conclusions arrived at by Mr. Perry, 
who definitely includes the Naga Hills in the area of which 
he treats. 

Without wishing to detract in any way from the value 
of the general trend of Mr. Perry's researches, or to re- 
capitulate all the points of my paper referred to, I think it 
worth noticing here a few of these points which more par- 
ticularly touch the Semas. 

Mr. Perry's conclusions contain among others the 
following : — 

(1) That hereditary chiefs in Indonesia claim descent 
from a sky-spirit. 

(2) That the use of stone in general is " associated with 
the presence of hereditary chiefs." 

(3) That the use of stone graves and stone seats is 
specially connected with hereditary chiefs. 

(4) That the use of seats at ail is foreign to the civilisation 
of Indonesian people, who " habitually sit on mats or squat 
on the ground." 

(5) That materials used for building probably do not 
depend on local conditions. 

(6) That working in stone is roughly co-extensive with 
a cult of sacred stones. 

(7) That the existence of certain food tabus shows that 



the soul-substance of man is regarded as identical with 
that of the animals whose flesh is tabued. 

The Sema Tribe ^ is a direct contradiction of conclusions 
(1), (2), (3) and (4), though (in connection with No. (1)) 
stories of the Kungumi — sky-spirits — are plentiful enough. 
Indeed the general conclusion on these points from the 
Naga Hills is that the use of stone and descent from sky- 
spirits is found primarily where there are democratic 
institutions, while the assumption that the use of seats 
generally is foreign to Indonesian culture would seem to 
be entirely unfounded as regards the Naga areas. 

All Nagas and Kukis habitually sit on seats, and not on 
the ground if they can help it. 

With regard to the fifth conclusion mentioned, aU evidence 
from the Naga tribes suggests that materials used in building 
are dependent on those locally available. Thus while the 
majority of tribes use thatching grass for roofing, the Aos 
use palm-leaves, " Tokupat," where thatching grass is 
scarce and the palm is common, while the Kacha Nagas 
and Kukis where thatch is scarce use bamboo and cane 
leaves. So, too, the Kalyo-Kengu, who are able to obtain 
slate, use that either instead of thatch or to eke out what 
thatch they can get. When it comes to building we find 
the Angamis, who have timber in plenty, but little bamboo, 
use hewn planks to build with. The Semas, with little 
timber but plenty of bamboo in their country, use the 
latter. Stone is used in building by the Angami partly, 
no doubt, because, in order to get his houses into the limited 
village sites available, a great deal of stone must be dug out 
and disposed of in the process of levelling the ground for 

The sixth conclusion mentioned does not hold good of 
the Naga Hills, where the cult of sacred stones is on the 
whole as strong among the tribes that do not use stonework 
and have no megalithic customs as it is among those that 

In this connection I would draw attention to the origin 

^ And the same probably ajiplies to the Thado Kukis as well, though 
thoy are a very different tribe from the Semas. 


myth of the Aos ; Mr. Perry's conclusion that myths 
ascribing the source of a tribe to a hole in the ground are 
*' due to the adoption of the culture associated with the use 
of stone and of the practice of interment " fails here. The 
Aos all ascribe their origin to a hole in the ground at the 
place called Lungtrok — " Six Stones " — on Chongliemdi 
Hill, but they neither use stone nor practise interment. 

As regards the seventh of these conclusions, we find 
that in the Sema as in most other Naga tribes the vast 
majority of food tabus originate in the fear of the trans- 
ference of the characteristics of the animal eaten to the 
person eating it. While it is likely that most Nagas see 
no distinction between the soul-substance of men and 
animals (in so far, that is, as they are able to think at all 
of the substance of the soul apart from the soul itself, for 
they do not grasp abstractions), the reasons for food tabus 
are physical, not psychical. The flesh of tigers, leopards, 
and here and there of some other animals is certainly avoided 
on the ground of relationship with men, but this relationship 
is material and physical and not based on identity of soul 
with some animals to the exclusion of others. 

Mr. Perry is perhaps a little too prone to jump at con- 
clusions. Colonel Gurdon ("The Khasis," p. 40) mentions 
that by the Khasis " the bottoms of valleys are divided into 
little compartments by means of fairly high banks " into 
which the water is let in "by means of skilfully contrived 
irrigation channels." Mr. Perry (" MegaUthic Culture of 
Indonesia," p. 136), quoting this, says : " The Khasis have 
irrigated terraces." But this is just what they have not got. 
They commonly irrigate the flat or almost flat bottoms of 
the valleys. 1 When an attempt to introduce terraced culti- 
vation was made in the Khasia Hills in 1917-18 it was 
necessary to send for Angamis from the Naga Hills to show 
how it was done. It is therefore not possible to accept 

1 I shovild, however, add that Mr. L. O. Clarke tells me that while he 
was Deputy Commissioner of the Khasia and Jaintia Hills in 1910-11 
he observed that a Jaintia village started to make terraces of some sort 
on the lower slopes of a valley, the bottom of which was irrigated, appa- 
rently under pressure of population which necessitated the extension of 
the irrigated area. 


Mr. Perry's statement (p. 137) that although " accounts 
sometimes only state that irrigation is carried on and make 
no mention of terraces," yet " there need not be any 
hesitation in including all the irrigation systems of Indonesia 
under the heading of terraced irrigation," One hesitates 
after that to accept such a statement as that in Indonesia 
" no signs exist of any beliefs in a world in the sky or in 
beings connected with it previous to the arrival of the stone- 
using immigrants." At any rate the heavenly bodies must 
have been there to rouse the natural imagination of men. 



Alien People. 




. . Cholimi. 

Chang ... 

. . Mochumi. 




. . Kolami. 


Minyumonagami {i.e. naked, lit 

" petticoatless," village men). 


.. Kotsomi, Kukimi. 

Lhota ... 



.. Aphimi. 



Sangtam (Pirr) 

. . Lophomi. 

,, (Isa-chanre) 


N.B. — Mochumi, Minyumonagami, Lophomi, and Tukomi and other 
tribes to the East of the Sema country are also called indiscriminately 



... azhi. 

" Pitha modhu " 

. . . azhichoh. 

" Saka modhu " 

... akiiza. 

" Kachari modhu " . 

... azoghii. 


... akuputsii 

Angami modhu 

. . . dmukizhi 

Water ... 

... azii. 





... di. 


. . . gwomishi. 

Vegetables ... 

... ayekulho. 


... ashi. 

Meat and vegetables 

... ashikulho. 

Little fish 

. . . akhamusa 


... amti. 

Rice ... 

. . . atikishi. 

Cooked rice ... 

... ana. 

Hen's eggs ... 

... awukhu. 


7T'" rA ) '11 


amishi kechizii = Cow's milk. 

akhi kechizii = Bees' milk, i.e. honey. 

(kechizii lit. = breast water.) 


Rupee 1 ... 

... ghaka,aurang (laki) ;apa, 

aghapa (=Re.l/-),i 

Annas 8 ... 

... aduli, atuli. 

„ 4 ... 

siki, hiki. 

„ 2 ... 

... miya. 

„ 1 ... 

... paisa hidhi. 

Pies 3 ... 

... paisa laki. 


... amuno (small coins). 

The Dayang 
The Dikhu 
The Tita 
The Tizu 



Nanga, Langa. 

^ Re. 2/- using this word = agha kini. Aghapa is confined to the neigh- 
bourliood of Litami and Phusiimi. Oliaka is commonest among the 
southern Semas, being taken frona the Angami raka ; aurang (from the 
Lhota) is usually used among the northern Semas. 




Chicken-pox ... 

... athogha. 


... ghathoga. 


... aghapeh. 


. . . amishe. 


. . . kilegJia. 

Fever ... 

. . . agakimiki. 


j ghachogha. 
'" \ mussala. 


... kolagha. 


... azhiba. 


... tiziiba. 

Itching, irritation 

. . . apikumuthoh. 

Itch, scabies ... 

... missala. 

Goitre ... 

... akole. 

Cold in the head 

... mukoglia. 

Cough ... 

ikki, ichi. 

Elephantiasis ... 

... kwolagha 

Parts of the Body. 


... ashi, ape-ampiyu 


... akutsii. 

Hair of the head 

... akutsii' sa, asa.^ 


... aghi. 


... akishe. 


. . . anhyekiki-mhi. 


. . . anhyeti-mhi. 


. . . anhyeti-ke. 


... anga. 


... anhyeti. 


... akini. 


... anki, anhiki. 


. . . anhikiki. 


... anamchu. 


... akichi. 


. . . akichi-mhi. 


. . . amtsil. 

1 N.B. — Hair of the head = " am 

" but hair of any other part 

body = amhi. 





.. amkuglii. 


.. ahu. 

Tongue ... 

,. amill. 


.. amkJm. 

Beard ... 

. . amhhu-mhi. 


. . aziipo. 


. . aku'oh. 


.. amla. 

Breast ... 

. . akechi. 


. . aou. 


,. aberinka, abieghi. 

Armpit ... 

. . achishekoJi. 

Upper arm 

.. aoumlo. 


. . aounnhye. 


.. aouchi. 


. . aounhye. 

Hand ... 

. . aoumzi. 


.. aoumza. 


. . aolati. 


.. akiikukh (the bent 

finger), aou-thokil, 



.. aoloku. 


.. aoumtsu. 


.. akiche. 


.. apfolah. 


.. apfo. 

Bowels ... 

. . akeghi. 

Liver ... 

.. apheh. 


. ameloti (=mind fruit) 

Lungs ... 

. . athuthu-kisheki. 


. . akeluh. 


. . asilboki. 


. . asilbo. 

Private parts (of the male) . 

. . acJiokoghoti. 


. . achoh. 

Vulva ... 

. amoh. 


. achogholati. 


. akupu, apuku. 






Shin, calf 




Big toe I 











akupuloti (lit. " fruit 

on the legs "). 
akupuloku, apkulohi. 

asheghii, aghii. 







Dun, drab 



Thatching grass ... 


Maize ... 

Millet (Italian) 

Job's tears 

Sorghum (" Menitessa ") 

A crop like very tall, black, small 

and close-seeded millet. 
A crop resembhng Italian millet, 

but with the heads in clusters. 

Kachu (taro) ... 


mietsoghi, metsogho'i. 

dzubui, tsoboi. 

huchuhi (also " brown "), 


tsogokhu, tsilabli. 


aghu {Chenopodivm 









Spade (pJiarua) ... 
Earth -breaking hammer 



( akuwo (the " necktie 
) hoe "). 
( tafuchi (Yachumi hoe). 






ahuwa, achaka. 

Fishes, etc. 



Mahseer . . . 


Miller's thumb 



Shrimp, prawn 

akha, aka. 
achuwoh, atsugho. 

dida, duda, chuda. 
keghenipu (in slang also 
" achokha," sens. obsc). 
atsukoh [akha). 

Domestic Animals (tikishi). 



Mithan {bos frontalis — gayal) 

Mithan-cow hybrid 







amishi (also used for 
cattle generally, includ- 
ing mithan). 



any eh. 



^ But others use akaghi and use amke for an adze-shaped implement for 
digging holes, graves, etc. 











Green locust 

Red locust 

Wasp, bee 




Snail, slug 
Scorpion . 




. alapu. 

. aiveh. 

. ahi. 

. akuhu. 

. akaomi. 

. ammii. 

. amilhu. 

. amimi. 

. asiiglmo, saghu, hemlala. 

. ayelakhu. 

. tlhaku. 

. kiitsiipvu. 

. akhi (generic). 

. leotsii. 

. talhakhu. 

. kitimi nodu (lit. = " dead- 

man's earring "), kiti- 

lala, alaza. 

... tenhaku. 

... achuwoh 'pa'za (lit. = " the 

crab's mother ").i 

alhache (generic). 

ashukhu (black ants). 

. atisii (small red ants). 

alhakhu (white ants). 

alhu (white ants winged). 

Wild Animals (teghashi). 

Bengal monkey {Macacus pelops) ashuki. 
Hill monkey {Macacus assa- 

mensis) ... ... ... asii. 

Brown stump -tailed monkey 

(Macacus arctoides) ... ... amthuh. 

Huluk (Hylobates hool lick) ... akuhu. 
Langur (" Hanuman " — Pres- 

bytes entellus) 2... ... ... angu. 

1 The Kuki word for scorpion, ai-pi, has the same meaning. 
* Or Pithecus brahma. 

D D 



Monkey (generic) 

Leopard tiger (generic) ... 
Tiger (as distinct from leopard) . . . 
Lynx ( ? Felis caracal) 
Wild cat (grey — ? Felis chaus) ... 
Golden cat {Felis aurata) 
Leopard cat {Felis bengalensis)... 
Civet cat ( Viverra Zibetha) 
Small civet cat {Viverra malac- 


Wild dog 

Elephant ... 

Wild buffalo 

Wild mithan or Gaur {Bos gaurus) 

Wild boar 



Marten {Mustela flavigula) 
Sambhar ... 

Barking deer {Cervulus muntjac) 
Serau {Capricornis sumalrensis 



Jungle rat {Rattus fulvescens) . . . 
Bamboo rat {Rhizomys) . . . 
Rattus mackenzi ... 



shukuthungu ['^. {a)shu{ki), 
{a)ku{hu), {am)thu{h), 
{a)ngu ?]. 







akii, aku. 










kitimi'cheku {i.e. " dead 

man's porcupine "). 

acJiui (l.p.). 

achegeh, atsiigJioh. 



azhuye, azhichu ( = 

" edible rat "). 
kJMuwo, awosho. 

^ Some also use angshu-aheghu for tiger, though this usually means a 
small reddish cat. The Semas are not very clear in their own minds as 
to the distinction between tigers and leopards ; thus angshu-allo usually 
means a real leopard as opposed to a were-leopard (angshu-amiki), but 
both terms may be heard also apj^lied to tigers. 



Squirrel' ... 

Ground squirrel ... 

Flying squirrel (greater) {Petau- 

rista yunnanensis) 
Flying squirrel (less) {Pleromys 

aboniger ... ... 

Black squirrel {ratufa gigantea) . . . 


Pangolin {Manis aurita) 


Jungle fowl {Gallus ferrugineus) 
Bamboo partridge {bmnbusicola 

fytchii) ... 
Arakan hill partridge {arboricola 

" Kalij " pheasant {gennceus 

Tragopan pheasant {iragopan 

blythi'i) ... 
Peacock pheasant {polyplectron 


Woodcock, snipe 
Dove {turtur suratensis) ... 
Rufous turtle dove {streptopelia 

turtur) ... 
Bar-tailed cuckoo dove {macro- 

pygia tusalia) ... 
Green pigeon 
Imperial pigeon (" poguma " — 

ducula) ... 









alisil. 2 



kutuli, tukuli, achu'i. 


^ Tomeutes lokroides (Assam squirrel) and Callosciurus erythraeus 
nagarum (Red-bellied squirrel) and Dremomys macmillani (yoUow-bellied 
squirrel). The Sema does not draw fine distinctions between species. If 
he recognises them they do not interest him. 

* I have been given chepatsungg for woodcock, but it seems really to 
mean a button quail. The ancestor of the quails is believed to have con- 
sorted with the field-mouse, and to have thus acquired the habit of running 
about in the fields. 

D D 2 



Great hornbill {DicJioceros bicornis 

— " wongsorai ") 
Rufous-necked hornbill {Aceros 

Malayan wreathed hornbill {Rhy- 

tidoceros undulatus) 
Pied hornbill {anthracoceros albi- 

rostris) ... 
? Goodwin Austen's hornbill ... 


" Bulbul " (Molpastes bengal- 

Himalayan Pied Kingfisher 

{Ceryle lugubris) 
Brain Fever bird {Hierococcyx 

sparverioides) ... 

Swallow, Martin ... 


Wagtail (generic) 

Eagle (Rufous-bellied Hawk- 
eagle — Lophotriorchis Jcieneri ) 







ashushu, gaseghe. 


kuti, guti. 

alhakii, awoleh. 



... apeghi, apoghii. 

... aithu. 

... azhi-shukesdp oghii. ^ 

... atakheh (used in particular for 
the " blood-sucker " lizard 
which changes colour like 
a chameleon). 

... aniza. 

... wuheh. 

... achu'i (h.p.). 

^ I.e., "liquor-drink-bad-snake," because if you kill it your drink goes 
bad on you. 


Sand lizard . 
Flying lizard 











Clots of blood 

Huntsman . . . 

Hunting dog 

Go a-hunting 


Hit (with spear) 

Miss (with spear) 

Hit (with gun) 
Miss (with gun) 


Bird lime 


Gun ... 
Bow ... 
Bowstring ... 


Dao ... 
Dao with curved back 

. . . thoghopu , pog opu . 

... atoinhyeh [assiihu], 

... kodela, yemoghwo. 


... ashi. 

... anyipa. 

... aikiho. 

... ahuh. 

... azhi. 

. . . aikichehmokoh. 

... ashihami. 

... ashihatsu^ 

... ashihawolo (imperative). 

... muna. 

... chelu anni, cJiev'ai (vb.). 

... chezilve (vb.) {chemoi = not 


... kaku anni, kakuv'ai (vb,). 

... kaziive (vb.). 

... ashu. 

. . . akhwo. 

... aitho. 

... akessiih, awufu. 

. . . gJwghotah. 


... mashehu-ti, alika-li {i.e. "gun 

fruit "). 

... musheho, mashehu, alika. 

... alilca. 
... alika-keghi. 
. . . aliwoh. 
. . . aliwokuh. 
... aziho, azhto. 
... angu [anyi]. 
... aztJm, azJita. 
. . . akyekeh. 

^ A dog which won't hunt is called atsiizii (? = "dog-water") 


Dao handle ... 

. . . aztha-lagi. 

Dao sling 

... asuki. 

Wooden-hafted axe 

... aztha kohl. 

Iron-hafted axe 

. . . ailagi. 

Iron-hafted spear ... 

. . . aiyingussiih. 

Hairy-handled spear 

... angsa kumagha, angussah 

Musical Instruments. 


. . . fululu. 

Jews' harp ... 

. . . ahewo. 


... sheku. 

Bell, rattle (wooden) 


Dress and Ornaments. 

Hornbill feathers . . . 

. . . aghachomhi. 

Cotton for the ears 

. . . akinsupJia. 

Hair wig 

. . . avabo. 

White beads... 

... asJwghi. 

Pig-tusk necklet 

. . . aminihu. 

Hair sash 

... amlaka. 

Ivory armlet 

... akahaghi. 

Cowrie gauntlet 

... aouka as'uka. 

Hair fringe to gauntlet 

... samogho. 

Brass bracelet 

. . . asapu. 

Waist-belt containing pui 

[■se ghakabo. 

Waist-belt for dao sling 

... asuchikheki. 

Sema apron ... 

. . . amini. 

Large apron ornament 


with cowries in rows 

. . . aminikedah. 

Small apron with a cow 



... lapucho. 

Horizontal tail 

. . . avikisaphu. 

Hanging tail 

... asaphu. 

Cane leggings 

. . . apkuki. 


... api. 

Red cloth 

... akuhu'pi. 

Cowrie cloth... 

. . . asenukedapi. 

Woman's armlet 

. . . aksa. 




The world ... 

... tilsukholo ; (in oaths " atsiitsii 

ayeghi jpama dolo "— that 

which is between heaven 

and earth). 


... atsiitsii. 


... ayeghi. 


... az'ii. 


... ami. 


... amulhu. 




... akhi. 


... aiyeh. 

Falling stars... 

... ai?/e6a (lit. "star excrement"). 


... amulhu. 


... pasapagha. 

Rain ... 

... tsiltsiighu, mutsil ; mutsiisala 

(" rainy season "). 


... apilghi. 


... 7nulasil, morasii. 

Ice, frost 

... avu. 


... kunkusil. 

Mist {from river) 

... aziithothu. 


... atsiitsiisii (lit. = heaven tear- 

ing), tsiitsUkiissH. 

Lightning {sheety 

Iki'zhta kukulo (= the flashing 

of Iki's dao). 

Lightning (forked) 

... amusuh, aghashu. 


... avezil, aghaghil (as opposed to 

" aghasa," light jungle). 


... naguto. 

Cliff, boulder 

... athokhu. 


... aboku, akuthoku. 


... aghoki, awoki. 


... awokiti. 

Waterfall, rapids 

... aziipapa. 


... milesii. 

1 The verb used with 

Iki'zhta is kululo or kukulo, the verb used of forked 

lightning is keghalo. 



Trees, plants, and fruit (tree, wood, plant 

fruit = ati). 

asil, abo ; 

Alder tree ... 

... littisil {Aldus nepalensis). 

Birch tree ... 

. . . yepasil. 

Oak tree 

. . . apisii. 


. . . apiti. 

Walnut tree 

J ghakutisii. 
' ' \ gliakutibo. 


... ghakuti. 


.. assahu, assahu-bo, assahu-sii. 

Giant bamboo 

... aphobo. 

Large bamboo 

... apicheh. 

Common bamboo . . . 

. . . api. 

Tying bamboo (" tangal 

") akau. 

Little bamboo 

.. aiyichi (the single bamboo). 

Little bamboo 

. . . amah. 

Cotton tree (simal) . . . 

. . . punyosil. 

Sago palm ... 

. . aithobo. 

Fig tree 

. . koghobo. 


. . koghoti. 

Tree fern 

. . sapunadi-bo. 

Hair-brush palm 

. . amuwoh. 

Wormwood ... 

.. khokhu-bo, kopu-bo. 



(Soap [the bark] 

.. thopi-'ko-iko.) 


.. asalu-bo. 

Bird lime tree 

. . ghoghotah-bo. 


.. pahakupvu-sii {-bo). 

Elephant apple 

.. aghatsati {-bo) (the Assamese 

" o-thenga "). 

Wild strawberry 

.. agauu lozhe-ti. 

Blackberry ... 

.. yevui-ti-bo. 

Yellow raspberry . . . 

. . suliti-bo. 

Crimson raspberry . . . 

. . avichokoghwo-ti-bo. 

Wild peach tree 

.. yekuti-bo {theirmt=yekuti). 

Cactus (EupJwrbia) ... 

. . kohpi. 

Lime, Orange (etc. generi 

c) mushoti, mishiti (the tree = 




Wild quince tree 

Cane ... 
Willow tree ... 

pukweti-sii (the fruit — pu- 








Cup . 

Man ... 

Man (male) 




Boy ... 

Young man 

Middle-aged man 

Elderly man 

Old man 

Girl (young) 

Young woman 

Middle-aged woman 

Elderly woman 

Old woman ... 




abi (about three maunds). 

azzuhu (" chunga "). 


apvu (" lao "). 












kitemi (too old to work). 


ilimi, alimi. 




Verbs of Motion. 

{Imperative forms.) 
Go ... ... ... ... gwovelo, guvelo, wulo. 

Go in ... ... ... ghulo, ilulo. 

Go out ... ... ... pavelo, ipavelo. 

^ Strictly, aoku=: the two hands full. 



Go up 

... kivovilo, ekwovilo. 

Go down 

... kevilo, ekevelo. 

Go back 



... gwoghelo, eghelo, 'ghelo. 

Come in 

... gwologhilo, eloghilo, ileghelo. 

Come out 

... paghilo, ipeghilo. 

Come up 

... koghilo, ekoghilo, khwoghelo. 

Come down ... 

... keghilo, ekeghilo. 

Come back ... 

... ily eghelo. 

Go along the level . 

... phivelo. 

Go for a walk 

... ilulo, ilyulo. 

Go on a tour 

... izuwulo. 

Go to the fields 

... hulo. 


... chelo (used of coming rather 

than of going). 

Run ... 

povelo (used of going rather 

than of coming). 


... tohlo. 


... agutilo. 

Jump up 

. . . ikulo. 

Jump down ... 

. . . ilheikikevelo. 

Jump into ... 

... khaiilhelulo. 

Verbs of Perception. 

{Root forms.) 


... iti. 


... itu [zu] (get = itulu). 



Look, look at 

... hizhu. 

Hear ... 

... n'zhu, inzhu. 

Feel (with hand) . 

... kunhuzhu. 


... kumserril. 



... accursed (somewhat strong). 


... burier of corpses (somewhat 





Awokhu-toh ... 

No nhapitivelo ! 
No kefseshe-shi-tilo ! 


worthless fellow. 

fool, feckless, incapable and 

idiot, lunatic, 
sow-like (used of one who is 

lazy or can't walk), 
die in child-birth ! (to women), 
die " apotia." 

There are two forms of symbolical abuse which are called 
(1) anhyeba-sealsii, in which the speaker pulls down his 
cheek so as to show the inside of the lower lid and white of 
the lower part of his eye. This is equivalent to telling a 
man to eat anhye-ba — " eye-excrement." (2) Asuho-kutsu, 
in which the speaker turns his rump towards the person 
abused and smacks it — -the equivalent of a vulgar expres- 
sion not unknown in England. 


Are you well ? 

I am quite well (replying to 

Farewell (to one departing) 
Keep well (to one remaining) 

akevishi an'kya ? 

akevishi wulo. 

English-Sema Vocabulary. 

For the sake of convenience in pronouncing, " kh," 
where a very marked aspirate and pronounced somewhat 
like ch in the Scotch " loch," has been written kh or kh ; 
long and short vowels have also been marked here and there 
for the same reason, and where there is a marked accentua- 
tion without which the word cannot be understood, the accent 
is noted in brackets. In a few cases where a word differs 
from similar words in tone only, and where the difference 
in tone is very marked, " l.p." (low pitch) or " h.p." (high 
pitch) follows the word in brackets. 



Verbs are all given in the imperative form for the sake of 
convenience even where no imperative is ordinarily used ; 
the present or other tense may be formed by cutting off the 
" -Zo " of the imperative termination and adding that of the 
tense required. The " -re-" which sometimes precedes 
the" -Zo " of the imperative is often omitted in other tenses. 

Where a word implies relationship, and is only used with 
a possessive pronoun preceding it, the entonic " a " is 
replaced by an apostrophe. 

To avoid unnecessary repetitions most words which have 
appeared already in the lists of adverbs, etc., or in the 
subject vocabularies have been omitted. 


I. Sema. 


A, an 



... phevelo. 


... ngulo. 

About (adv.) 

... hulao-hilao. 

Abreast ... 

... akkemmi (lit. = men of equal age). 


... povelo. 

Abuse (n.) 

... atsa alhokesah. 

Accept ... 



... mthano. 


kumtsa gwolo. 


... kucho kucho. 


... ghapio {primarily used of a chicken released in the 

jungle as a " scape-goat ^' by a sick man). 


... atsa kegegha, atsa keghra. 

Accuse . . . 


Ache (vb.) 

... siilo {is aching = siianni, sanni). 

Acid (adj.) 



... nikitoimi (= neighbour). 

Acquire ... 

... itululo. 

Active . . . 

taikemi (n.). 


... kiitsiilo. 

Adult ... 

... see " young.^* 


... atgghgshilo. 


... kekesiih, kekesii-kechemi. 


... alakusua. 


... kukukye, akukukhu. 


... aghime. 

Affray . . . 

... kicheghi. 


... alacheno {alache = road-go). 

Afraid . . . 

... miisa. 


... amonha. 


... avelao. 





Again ... 


Against ... 

mongupfe, lao kumoi (= not of your aide). 

Agent ... 




Aim (vb.) 

meghezhulo, megalulo. 

Alarm ... 


Alien (n.) 

ainakitami, inami. 






akuchopu, kumtsii. 


'likhi, 'liki. 







Always ... 



akiigotsii, itsii. 

Among ... 





kaghe-kichimi, apo-asii. 

Ancient ... 




Animal ... 

akenu, tikitiva. 





Apart ... 



kalaobo (outer room), amphokibo (middle room). 

akusaobo (back room). 

Apiece ... 

laki laki. 




alhokevishilo, aou kukulo ( = clap). 



Around (adv.) ... 

aho (in compounds " ho " ; e.g. /w eghelo = come 


Around (post-position).. 

. 'ho. 

Arouse ... 

. kedalo. 

Arrest ... 

. keghalulo. 

Arrive ... 

toUo, tohlo. 


amkukinimi (noun) ( = man rich in unles). 

Article ... 

. a'u, anhyemogha. 

Ascend ... 

. kwolo, ek'.vovelo. 





Ask for ... 

. kiJlo. 

Aslant ... 

. kughoh. 

Asleep ... 

ziiavii, ziiani (vb.). 

Assault (n.) 

. kichegi. 



At once ... 

. ghotolaki. 

Attention, pay (u6.) .. 

. inyululo. 





... tekheghulo. 


. . . kutsiikichemi 

Await ... 

... khelo. 

Awake ... 

... kedalo. 


. . . miisa. 


Back (n.) 
Back door 
Bacon . . . 


Bar {vb.) 
Bar (».) 
Barber . . , 

Bark (of tree) 
Bark (vb.) 
Bashful . 
Basket , 









Bear (a child) 









itimi, anga. 


akiissa, akiissao. 


alhokesah, akesah {accent ultimate in both cases). 



ala {remainder). 

akiitsiimhikaha, mhiphai or akishe mhiphai 

( = bald in front). 
akao {generic). 

akvikuzhomi (n.). 

tsukinyhe {or ami) poghalo. 
ashwege, abi {big duli), asli {little duli), akwoh 

(" ka7ig "), aka'u {" jappa "). 
azii kuchulo. 

aghao-kechi, aghao-hu. 
aketsu, akivi (cross beam). 
bulo ; helo. 
hizhukia alhoi. 
alipa, azii 'a. 





Before ... 

... azou. 


... tsoholo. 


... kutsohomi. 


... ashenyelo. 

Begone ... 

... povelo. 

Behead ... 

akiitsii lulo. 

Behind ... 



... zhulo, hizhulo. 



Bellow {vb.) 


Bellows ... 

... akufupu. 


... apfo, apvo. 


... apvosiiani (vb.= is aching). 


... akukukhumi, kukukyemi (71.). 

Bent, crooked ... 

. . . akuwohoh. 


... akiveo, allokeo. 


... thapUo. 

Betray ... 

... akliaono pana saphulo {lit.= secretly go and help 

the other side). 

Better ... 

-ye kevi. 

Beware ... 



... kizhe, akizhe. 


... tsiighalo. 






. . . aghaopusii. 


... anga punuke (= babe born). 








... akighekemi, akiyekemi. 



Blame (vb.) 

atsa 'kesah pilo. 





Bleat (vb.) 

... anyehghashilo (0/ a goat itself anyehghalo). 


... anyeti kerichemi (n.) 

Blister ... 

... ingu. 


... ta keghvizumi {= a little crazy). 


azhi (l.p.). 

Bloom (flower) ... 

akupu, akupfu, akuphu. 

Blow (n.) 

... he. 


... kumsumu (vb. kumsumu va). 


... tsogamoi. 

Blush (r6.) 

... hochuhi valo (= turn red). 

Boast (vb.) 

akekeza shilo. 




ashuka peghemi. 


... api-ampiu. 





Boil water {vb.) 

... azii pululo. 

Boil (n.) 

... amishe (small), upah (large), mishtsa. 


... miisamokemi (n.). 


. . . ashogho. 


. . . kaku. 

Borrow ... 

... nalulo. 


... timipikupvumi. 



Bother (v6.) 

alhomoghatsiilo, 'ghimetaiilo. 

Bottom ... 

... asiibo. 


. . . aghothu. 

Bowels ... 

. . . akheghi. 


... itimi, apumi (see " young "). 


... asu'ukekah, asapu. 

Brains ... 

... akhoh (literal), amelo (metaphorical). 


... asahu (= thorn). 


asapui, asapu' i. 

Brave ... 

... pamelo'kizhe (= his heart great). 

Breeze ... 

. . . amulhu. 

Brew (vb.) 

. . . beaghilo. 

Bridge ... 

... akupu (of wood), ayikupu (of iron), akkekupu 

(of cane). 


. . . seghelo (of a thing carried), saghelo (of a thing led). 

Broad ... 

. . . kizhe. 


... azukiimla. 


... akishilo. 

Burden ... 

... akwo, apfe (N.B. — " apfe" is not used alone, but 

" apfe laki " = one load). 


akumokukho . 

Burier ... 

... akumokeshu, amushoh. 

Bum (vb.) 

... pitilo (intr.), pitivetsiilo (tr.). 


... khwoivelo. 


. . . asiikegha. 


... " akumla kuthom'ani " ( = " work much is "). 


... kulo, khiilo. 


... itoimo. 


. . . alilula. 

Call (vb.) 
Call away 
Capture (vb.) . 
Carcass ... 
Care, take (vb.). 









pfulo, pulo (on the back), pfelo, pelo (in the hands). 



Catch (fish) 


Certain ... 



Change {vb. tr.)... 

Change {small coin) 



Charm {n.) 

Chaee {vb.) 

Cheap ... 

Cheat (n.) 


Chest (0/ body) ... 


Chief {n.) 






Clap {hands), {vb.) 


Close {vb.) 


Cobweb ... 


Cohabit ... 


Comet ... 
Confine ... 
Conflict {n.) 
Contemporary (».) 
Converse {vb.) ... 


Corpse ... 


(akha) mussiilo. 

akilopeghiu ( = domestic animals). 
kekami, akekao {the former refers to the rank or 

class, the second to the single individual). 

itimilo, itilo {locative form). 
ayeh, ayah, 
aou kukulo. 


api {red cloth = akuhupi), ananupfo (= clothes). 


akesammi {of males), apami {of females). 
kimiyeh. • 

atsa kekegha, atsa keghra. 
alapu, aveka {pieces of shell). 
kighi, ki'i. 

belulo {of rice), Iholulo {of curry, etc.). 
saziilo, amou nyatsiilo. 

E E 



English. Sema. 

Cotton ... ... ... asvipa. 

Countenance ... ... aghi, agi, adi, ayi, ani. 

Country ... ... aluza {district, region), aphu (= village). 

Courageous ... ... amelo-kevi {= heart good). 

Cover (vb.) ... ... bevelo. 

Coward ... ... ... inamomi, amelo-ke-kaha-mi. 

Cowherd ... ... amishikikhemi. 

Crawl ... ... ... ippuchelo. 

Crazy ... ... ... keghiizumi (n.). 

Creeper ... ... ... sukkasii. 

Cripple ... ... ... apukuketimi, apukukoghwohomi. 

Crooked ... ... akuwoho. 

Cruel ... ... ... kimiyeiao (= not pity). 

Cry (vb.) ... ... kaalo. 

Cubit ... ... ... aou laki. 

CuS {vb.) ... ... daihelo, duhalo. 

Cultivate ... ... (alu) chichelo. 

Cup ... ... ... azuku. 

Cure {vb.) shipivilo. 

Curl (n.) ... ... asaichegeh, asayegekeh. 

Custom ... ... ... aghiili-ayeh, nipuasiye, niye, nige, ayeh, ayah. 

Cut ... ... ... michevelo. 




Dam {n.) (of water) 
Dam {vb.) 
Damp ... 
Dance {vb.) 




Day and night ... 


Dear {costly) 


Decked {with oriiaments) 


Delay ... 


Deliver ... 


keghiizumi {n.). 

aghulo atsiitsii, aghlo achi. 

azii keputhu. 




kokalo, apilewolo. 

zumoive {= do not see, did not see). 

tsiitoye, thanaii. 


potho pochou. 


atsalaviaye (= sunlight being good). 


akinipo, aldiiikowopomi {n.). 

(pame) chile ; pane shuani ( = its price is high). 

ipfughelo (= take a head in a raid). 




aghamiki-izu (lit. = fever-wandering). 

kupunulo (0/ aid given to a woman at child-birth). 

yekelo, ekelo. 





Desire (n.) 

. khu, akukukhu, kukukye. 

Destiny ... 

. aghau {l.p.). 


. . shiposa. 

Detour ... 

, . alavekoho. 


. atsiizii. 


,. tivelo, tiuvelo. 


. akushoh. 


. chulo. 




akheni, mithemoi, akliei/teh {of persons). 

Discord ... 

.. ki'i, kighi. 


,. ali, akhu, asiikhu. 

Disobedient (is) 


Dispute (vb. tr.) 

.. kishilo. 

Distant ... 

.. kushoh, kushuwa, ala-kuauwa. 


.. ketao. 


. . kizhiilulo. 


. . amgazulaki. 


aziilo ilulo. 

Divide ... 

. . kizhululo. 

Divorce {vb.) 

.. hapevelo, ikhavelo. 


.. shilo, mulalo. 



Donaestic animals 

.. akilopeghiu, akilakipeghi, tikishi. 


. . akikha, alyuwo {of a village fence). 


. . akhii. 


.. siinhyelo. 

Dream ... 

. . amou. 


.. api. 


.. shvilo {of fermented liquor only), yelo {of drinks 

other than fermented liquor). 


.. azuizhii keghalo, aziikegiizhipelo. 


.. halo. 


. . ghava. 

Drop (n.) (of water) . 

aziikegiizhi {accent on last syllable). 

Drown {vb. intr.) 

. . aziilo ilulovelo ( = sink in water). 

Drunk ... 

shomzu v'a. 


. . akithi. 

Dumb ... 

.. amlitsukemi (n.). 


. . aba. 


. . ayeghemoku {accent on ultimate), ayeghe-ghoghu. 




. . amchu {red), akutsiipi {blue, black), aone {yellow). 


Each {distributive) ... laki laki. 
Early ... ... ... inakhe. 

E E 2 










EcUpse ... 




Elbow ... 



Embankment {of a field) 
Embrace {vb.) ... 
Employment ... 
Empty ... 


Endeavour (vZ>.) 
Enemy ... 
Enlarge ... 
Enough ... 
Enter ... 
Entice ... 
Entire ... 
Equal ... 


Escape (vb.) 








Except {post-postn.) ... 

Excess ... 

Exchange {vb.) 

Exercise, take ... 

Expend ... 



ayekhamonu, akliamonu {ear ornament), akin- 

supha {ear cotton). 
ayeghi, ayeghe. 
tsutsukogholu, tsutsilii. 

mulomo, akumlah {accent on ultimate). 
ilhulo {take food), chulo {act of eating), 6echulo 

{eat with hand), hachulo {eat with spoon). 

tsildnhyehaou {of sun), akhihaou {of moon). 
akechegela, apfeyii ; {of river or precipice) 

amukii ; {of cup or utensil) amutsii. 

-khu, -khuh, awukluih (= hen's egg). 

veholevelo, suhulevelo. 
asiibo {latter end), akichu {fore-end). 
aghumi, aghuemi. 
ta ! thai ! ivelo ! 

ziilulo, ziisaghelo. 

kupvulo, alloko (= quite). 

anyipfu lulo {of the man), nhilo {of the woman). 

kumtsiilalo, kumtsiila. 
akesao 'tsa, 
peveno, iveno. 
she, chilo. 
akililo, kililulo. 

kamaUchelo, amulhu kutofu iluchelo. 
kiitsilo, ketsiilo. 





asiiboki (lit. = fu7idanient). 


... kaghalomi'tsa (word of men of old time). 


. . . aghi, agi, ayi, adi, ani. 

Faint (vb.) 

... izuvuvelo, or use tiuvenchin (=: is beginning to 




Fall {vb.) 



... ekyeke. 



Family ... 


Famine ... 

,.. pokkii, pokkiiltye. 


. . pa zhe vi (lit. = his name good). 


amikof upu. 



Farewell ! 

.. akevishialo (to one wJiom you are leaving), 

akevishi wolo (to one who is leaving you). 

Fasten ... 

. . tsoghavelo. 


. . akukizhe. 

Fat (w.) 



,.. aghau (l.p.). 

Fatigue ... 


Fault, commit {vb.) 

alhokesah shilo. 

Favour ... 

. . kimiye. 

Fear (vb.) 

. . miisalo. 

Feather ... 

. . amhi. 


.. apekeveki, apekii. 


.. tsiilo. 





Fence ... 

. . aghothu. 


.. seghelo (of thing carried), saghelo (of person or 

animal led). 


.. aghakimiki, aghaiiiiki. 


kitila, kitla. 



Fierce ... 

.. kichi. 

Fight (u6.) 

.. aghueshilo, aghushilo. 


. . akuchopu shilo. 


.. asakhu (dorsal), akiehibo, achishibo (pectoral). 

Find (vb.) 

.. itululo. 

Fine (vb.) 


Finger ... 

. . aolati. 


.. tov'ai, thaiv'ai (past tense of vb.). 






.. ami. 

Five (vb.) 

. . pitivetsiilo. 

Fire {of a gun) {vb.) 

. . phelo. 




.. atigheshi, atheghiu. 

Fish (n.) 

. . akha. 

Fish {vb.) 

.. akha musselo. 


.. akha kemussemi. 


.. akha kemussei. 


akha kemusse shuhi. 


.. ami-mill (lit. "_/ire-tongfMe"). 


.. ipeUeh, moduni, apashi. 


. . Ihalo. 


.. povelo. 

Fleet (ad!;.) 

. . polimani {vb. = can flee). 


. . ashi. 


.. svikuhoikye. 


.. (azii) koiilo, (azii) uvelo. 


akupu {when put in the ear, akhamiinu). 


.. aghyela, amuthu {horse-fly). 


... yauvelo, yevelo. 


, . . aziikumla. 

Fold {vb.) 

... kekano sutsiilo. 


.. athiu wolo {go after), athiu eghilo {come after). 


... akuchupfu. 


... keghiizumi. 


,.. apuku apa, apuku mizhi. 


. . . ala. 


. . . apuku'nyepa, anyepa, apa. 


, . . apuku'nyepa. 


.. lakavelo, kaivelo. 


... ighono. 


... apo-asii. 


. . . aolati anoghu. 


. . . kumsuma velo . 

Forgive ... 


Fork {of trees) . . . 

. . . akiiba. 


... kaghe. 


phevelo, ivelo. 


. . . apuki. 


... aMenhyeh, akikhimya. 


. . . alhokuthu. 


. . . akughonu. 

Friend ... 

... 'shou, 'sho ; aparm {betweenwomen). 


. . . pikumusalo. 

Front {in front of) 

. . . 'velo. 


... aziikumla. 


... akhati, 'ti. 

Fruit -stone 

... ati. 






Full moon 





amthu, amuthu. 


alah, isheluki. 


amulhu, pasapagha. 

Gamble {vb.) 

atsiipusho kikivelo. 

Game, play (r6. ) 

. . ghavashilo, idiokalo. 


akuwu, akugho. 

Garden ... 

. . atu. 



Gather ... 

kiohukumkholo . 




.. cliini {it is genua = chinikc). 




. . itululo. 


. . kitimi 'ngongu {dead man's wraith). 


. auwi {gijt to distinguished guest), kumsa ( = gratis) . 


. ihmi, alimi. 


, . tsiilo. 


, . aUoshishi. 

Gloom {literal) ... 

, . zagughii, chegughii. 


, . ammih 


.. mm-yhelo {accent penultimate). 


.. guvelo, gwolo, gulo, wulo. 


,. Timilhou, Alhou {the Creator). 


.. ai. 


. akevi, aUo, alho. 

Good fortime ... 



. anhyemoga. 


. ahoghi, apvu. 

Govern (0/ chief, etc.).. 

.. akeka michilo. 


., alleh. 


. atilimi. 


. aghii {thatching grass), aghasa {grass jungle). 

Gratis ... 

. kumsa. 

Grave ... 

. ak\mao kukhoh. 

Graze {vb. trans.) 

amishi kyelo. 

Grease (w.) 

. atha. 


. kizhe. 

Green ... 

. tsogokhui. 

^ Anguvia < angu lit. = " dizziness " caused by a rush of blood to the 

1 1 -»«,,;^,„l^r.+'a t.n " frifoT-irvarl " " fslf.P -" Htld 111. " POod. 

temples, hence equivalent here to "forehead,' 
a "remain. 

fate," and vi, " good,' 






. . amelussah. 

Grind {corn) 

. . . (a'o, aghu) shilo. 

Gromid ... 

. . . ayeghi. 

Grow {vb. trans.) 

. . . pukalo. 

Growl (n.) 

. . . aghagha. 

Growl (vb.) 




Guide («.) 





.. musheho, alika, mashehu. 


.. amichu, amitsu. 



... apasiyeh, ayeh. 


.. apfoghi, apoghii. 


. . amhi, akutsii 'sa (0/ the head only) 


. . thiikha. 

Halt (vb.) 

. . ngvdo. 

Hammer (n.) ... 

. . chishethulu. 



Handle (n.) 

. . alaghi. 




. . ameloshile. 


.. akusho ; mukamughai. 


.. imeke, immike. 

Harelip ... 

. . akechiizhi. 


. . ghilehu. 

Harvest-time ... 

. . ghilekii. 


akutsii kekhoh. 


.. zhunishimo. 


.. pa. 


.. aldiutsii siiani {vb.). 


.. apiallo, ampiwallo (= body-well). 


. . inzhulo. 

Heart ... 

.. amlo, amelo. 

Hearth ... 

.. amiphokibo. 


. . liivwi. 

Heaven ... 


Heavy ... 


Hedge ... 

.. aghutu. 


. . apitsu. 


. . alagha. 




.. awu-khu. 


. . awu-kacheh. 

Hence ... 


Herdsman {of kine) 

.. amishikheo. 


. . hilau. 






... hipathiu. 

Hiccup ... 

... muchuka. 

Hide (vb.) 

kiisivelo {tr.), itsiivelo (intr.). 


... chukumoghai ; ahilG {of price). 


... athoh. 


. . . aiku. 

Hoe (n.)... 

. . . akuphu. 


. . . tsiikepialo. 

Hole (in clothes) 

alihi...ipiani (the simple verb "ani^^ is not 

used with " akhi^\- piani or ''ipiani^' must 

be used). 

Honest ... 

... mizucho. 

Honey ... 

aklii kechizii. 




ihoshu, ihoghwi. 


. . . akibo. 

Hornet ... 

akliighii, akhighi. 

Horse ... 

kuru (< Hindi gl/ora). 


... akfisiiki, akesiiki. 


... liivwi. 

Hot season 

... tokutsala. 

House ... 

. . . aki. 


. . . kishine. 

How long 

. . . ketxihe. 

How often 

. . . kitohila. 

Hunger ... 

... muziiti, kelarau (starvation). 

Bxait (vb.) 

... halo, ashihalo ("hunt meat'''). 








. . . ayepika. 


... avu, avuchekuthoh (accent on ultimate). 


... keghiizumi. 


aldpichi, kokonana. 


. . . -aye (enclitic). 

Ignite ... 

... amisulo. 

Ill, be 

... siilo, siiani > sani (present tense). 

Immediately . . . 



... ktizhomokimi (n.). 


akuwushipaalo . 


... lo. 

Indian com 

. . . kolakiti. 

Indigo ... 

. . . akiitsiipibo. 

Infancy ... 

... itUo. 

Infant ... 

. . . anga. 

Inform ... 

... pile. 





Insane ... 

keghiizumi (n.). 

Insect ... 


Inside ... 



amelo {the heart is regarded as the seat of feeling 

and intelligence). 

Interest {on loans) 

akiighushela, akiegeshe. 


akive {the large intestine), akkeghii {the small). 


seleku, lo. 

Invert ... 






Isolate ... 

ketashi katavelo {tised of villages and persons). 



Japvo ... 


Tukahu, Tukave. 



Join (vb.) 



ghava (shilo). 


aMatizii {of fruit). 

Jump {vb.) 


Jungle ... 

avezii {virgin forest), aghaghii {tree jungle). 

aghasa {low jungle). 




Kernel ... 



asah {division of a village) ; ayah {clan). 

Kick {vb.) 





amichikuchopuloti, akelu. 


kakilo {with gun) ; yilo, yivelo {loith spear) ; 

ghokhelo, ghikelo {with dao). 

Kind, be {vb.) 


Kiss {vb.) 


Kitten ... 






Knock {as on a door) {vb. ) 


Knot {vb.) 





Kabu, Kozii. 







apumi {vide infra "young"). 

Ladder ... 





Lame man 
Last {adj.) 

Laugh (vb.) 
Lay {place) {vb.) 


Lead (n.) 


Lean (adj.) 

Learn ... 

Left hand (side) 


Length ... 

Letter ... 



Lick {vb.) 



Lift {vb.) 
, Light {adj.) 
Liquor ... 
Listen ... 
Little ... 
Little -finger 
Living . . . 
Load (n.) 
Look {vb.) 
Loose {vb.) 
Loot (n.) 
Loot {vb.) 

Loudly ... 
Love {n.) 
Lovely . . . 


apukliu-kogechemi, ayekhuko-ghopami. 
ayeghi, ayeghii, ayeghe. 

ashokao ; athekau (of numbers). 
monuv'ai {vb.). 

atsa kekegha, atsa keghra. 

akipichi, kokonana. 

akimiklmi, kemiklmi. 
akukhu ; alaga (0/ lives given in oaths) ; asho- 

lokimii {do. referring to the persons whose Uvea 

are given). 
pfekelo, pekelo. 
azhi {h.p.). 
inzhulo, chelulo. 

aolati amvighu. 
khuani {vb.). 
akhoh, akhwoh. 

aghongu-kuyu, timi-kuzhapu. 

akukukhu, kukukye. 
zhukela alho. 





. . . chilini. 


aghao (l.p.). 


. . . anyhemoga. 







Mango (wild) 






Marriage, arrange for (o/ 

a chief arranging a wife 

for a subject) 
Marriage, ask in {vb.) 
Marriage, give in {vb.) 
Marrow ... 
Marry . . . 





Meet (vb.) 

Meeting (n.) 



Merciful, be (vb.) 

Messenger, herald 


Meteor ... 
Midday, at 


Midnight, at 


Milk (vb.) 
Mind (w.) 



aghiizumi {epileptic) ; alloko keghuzumi {=quite 

illimi, ililhoteh. 

kepitimi, piketimi. 
timi ; -mi {in compounds). 
muzhobo {tree), muzhoiti {fruit). 
ay eh. 

aba ; abazii {liquid). 
alhi-kekegha, alhi-pogulo. 





Idlaolo {see also " espo7.fse "), lulo {of the man )» 

{'kilo) gulo {of the woman). 

amihebo (= "fire-strike-stick"). 
aghulo, ailikuli. 

pukholo ; (akhi) khusselo {of a thatched roof). 
kicheghiizumi, aghuzumi. 

ayeba ( = star dung). 
amtalo {adv.). 

akechizu sulo. 

anyihohoh, aaniba. 

anokhikye ; nhapitilo {death in child-birth). 







Miss {vb.) 



. . . cheziivelo {tuith spear), kaziivelo {with gun). 
... aziithothu {from river), kunkusii {cloud). 
... sukkalo, kekavelo. 

Moan {vb.) 
Mock (u6.) 

. . . cghalo. 


Mole {on skin) . . . 
Money ... 

... putsaive {vb.) 

. . . tichiphu. 

... wurang, aurang, ghaka, apa. 

... akhi, akii. 


akhi, akii ; akiitheh {new moon), akii'akichilo 




{full mooji), akiiliaw'uncha {waning moon). 
.... inakhe {adv.). 
... ikikekhyelo, ikikekhyevelo. 
... kuthomo ; hizhehi {so mtich). 


aani, aaniba. 

Murder {vb.) 

... atsalisliilo. 


. . . atsalishikemi. 

Muzzle (of gun) 

... apliu, apvu. 

... alikakichi, musheho-kichi. 


Naked . . . 



Needle . . . 
Needy . . . 
Net {fishing) 

Night ... 

Nipple . . . 
Nipple of gun 

Nod {vb.) 





minyumokimi (n.). 


avile, akupunulo ; (avilokami = person sitting 

ala {string of beads). 

apu {of bamboo), ayipu {steel needle). 





akiteh ; phutemi {used of new villages as opposed 
to the original collection of houses). 

pothoh ; ziibulo {midnight), izhi {last night), 
tohuh {to-night, tised during daylight), itizhi 
{to-night, used after dusk), thozhiu {to-morrow 
night), inn, pothoh = just before dawn. 



kumokaha {there is nobody) ; kahami (a 

akutsii kvingulo. 



akumo'tsa (lit. "corpse's word"). 




North ... 

aboulao (lit. downwards, towards the plmru). 
etadolo, ishitogholo. 

Oath, hear (vb.) 
Oath, take {vb.) 
Obey ... 
Obtain . . . 
Odour . . . 
Offence ... 
Often ... 

Omen, take {vb.) 








Oppose ... 

Order {vb.) 


Orphan ... 


Outside ... 




Owing to {post-'pn.) 

Own {adj.) 

Own {vb.) 

Owner ... 




(atsa) inyilo. 



B,kho, mna, mnashusho. 




atha {fat), amizii {kerosine, lit. "fire-water"). 

aka {l.p. ) ; phuyemi {old village as opposed to new 

settlements) ; kitemi {old man or woman) ; 

older {of brothers, etc.) = akichiu. 
(asii) keaghelo. 
'so, 'shou. 
ohto laki. 

laki, khe {in counting). 
liki, aUki. 

'khokolo ; kakevelo {of doors). 
miighemi, meghemi. 
ketao ; ketami (w.). 
'shou, 'hu. 

bidelaono khelo (= turn upside down). 
'ghengnuo, 'ghe'uno. 
'liki, kuthutha {collective). 

Pain ... ... ... aghimeh, agheme ; (vb. siUo). 

Pair ... ... ... athena. 

Palatable ... ... chuvike. 

Pale {from fear) ... palai {you turn pale I = oghi palaive I). 






aithobo {sago palm), kithiichobo (plantain). 

aochobo {wild plantain), amea {umbrella palm). 

amugho {hair-brush palm). 

Paper ... ^ . . . 
Paradise \... 

. . . kaku. 

... kungumipfu {gods' village). 


. . . alozhilio. 


... Ihavelo, ajrukoza Ihavelo. 

Parents ... 

. . . apa'aza. 

Part (n.) 

... alyeki, alyekhe, asazhe. 


. . . ala. 

Pattern ... 

... ayfishi. 

Pauper ... 

... kumulhomi, miighemi. 


. . . akheme {daily wage), atha {monthly wage). 


. . . kakukihepfu. 

People ... 

... timikomi. 


. . . zhulo. 


. . . shilo. 


. . . ahotsonkwui. 


... kye ; tishin'ani (= "it may be") ; kyeni. 


. . . kitila. 

Pewter ... 

... aktisaiyi {i.e. the iron used /or a/rmlets — akiiea). 

Phlegm {literal) 

. . . agheho. 

Picture ... 

. . . aghongu kolhuki. 


. . . alyekhe. 

Pierce ... 

. . . khuphelo. 

Pigeon ... 

... akewo, ake'o. 

Pillage {vb.) 

... atsaokebachulo. 


... yiilo. 


. . . afcfethu. 

Pit, pitfall 


Place (n.) 

. . . aa. 

Place {vb.) 

... pavelo. 

Plains ... 

. . . abou. 

Planet ... 

... ayepu {used for any large star). 


. . . alipa. 




... kithuoho-ti, ketiucho-ti. 


. . . aih. 

Play {v6.) 

. . . ghavashilo. 

Please oneself . . . 

. . . akshishilo. 

Pleased ... 

. . . allove. 


... zholabo (prob. < " jola," a foreign word = 



... mutsiisi ; angu-mli {of a spear).^ 

Point out {vb.) ... 

. . . piyelo. 

Poison ... 

... thiigha ; aichi {for stupefying fish). 


. . . aketsu. 

1 mli here probably = " tongue." 






Poor (n.) 


Portion ... 


Post (wooden) .. 




Pregnant, be (vb 

Prepare ... 

Pretty ... 





Prick {vb.) 

Prison . . . 

Profit ... 

Prop {vb.) 




Pull {vb.) 


Punch {vb.) 

Punish (n.) 

Puppy ... 

Purchase {vb.) 


Pursue . . . 

Pvish {vb.) 


Put on (0/ clothes) 

Putrefy ... 

Putrid ... 


kumulhomi, miighami. 

aghongu kolhuke. 
atsii, aketsu. 
alii, ali. 

(azii) lesiilo, liusiilo. 
zhuke akevi. 
see "shuffle.'''' 

kwalo, kwulo. 

chevelo, cholo. 

anhyemoga, paghake-nyhemoga. 

kuthokalimi, asalhami, kusalhami. 

ghemetsilo, "saza" tsiilo.^ 
khiilo, kiilo. 
ghaka-bo, wurang-bo. 

tvihapelo, tupovelo. 

Quake {vb.) 
Quarrel ... 
Quench {by water) 



kighi, ki'i, kiyi. 

(azii) itsiivelo, itsivelo. 

^ The Sema has no exact equivalent, as there are no professional prosti- 
tutes in the Sema country. 

^ Saza is a Hindustani word in common use now. 



Quick, be (vb.) .. 
Quickly ... 
Quietly ... 
Quite {adv.) 


teeyamoshimo, tsiighumoshimono. 



... akhu; akhetsii (roof-tree). 




... pfekelo, pekelo. 


. . . akuwii. 

Ramble {vb.) 

... ilyulo. 


... alika kekhepvu. 


. . kukuzhu. 

Rape {vb.) 

... tsiimomo saziilo. 


.. akuMu, akiihuh {oj meat) ; akupusho {of fruit 

Razor ... 

Reach {vb.) 

.. ao chopolo (= reach and take). 

Reach ... 

.. philo. 

Ready ... 

. . shiloa. 


.. wolo {tuith a sickle), lusulo {in Sema fashion. 

stripping the ears by hand). 


. . akhekeza. 

Rebuke {vb.) 

. . alomipilo. 

Receive ... 

.. lulo. 


. . etadolo. 


. . philo. 


.. zii'alo. 


. . itilo. 


.. 'melo pogozhulo. 


. . alaehivetsiilo. 

Reconciled, be {vb.) 

. . alashilo. 


'melo nizhulo. 

Refusal ... 

.. (inyiimoke = / don't consent). 

Release {vb.) 

. . pevelo. 

Remain ... 

. . ngulo ; alo {in compounds). 

Remake ... * . 





. . kushoh. 


. . ekekevetsiilo. 


.. ayegheme"^ {what is the rent = ayegheme kije teii 

kya ?). 

Heat {vb.) 

.. (alu) mishichichelo. 

Repair {vb.) 

.. shikithelo ; shikithevetsilo {of some absent object). 

Repeat {of speech) 

.. etaghe pikithelo. 

1 I.e., "land-price." 

F F 





Report (0/ a 



Repose (w.) 


Reprimand {vb.) 


Reptile ... 






Rest {vb.) 



Return ... 


ilyovelo, ilyeghelo. 



Reward . . . 

awogh, aghoh. 


atikishi ; ana {cooked rice). 

Rich man 


Ride (vb.) 

kurushou ikulo. 



kolami'lika {i.e., "foreigners'' gun''). 

Right hand 

{of direction) 


Ring (n.) 




Rise (vb.) 

ikulo, ithoulo. 


ala {Naga path) ; potila {bridle path) ; thogula 
{cart road). 

Roar (vb.) 



Rock ... 



akuhuh {accent on ultimate). 




Rotten . . . 


Round . . . 


Rub {vb.) 


Rule {vb.) 

akeka michilo. 

Rule {n.) 



Run {vb.) 

polo ; povelo {run away). 




Sacking . . . 
Salary . . . 
Saliva . . . 

Salute {vb.) 

Scald {vb.) 

Scold {vb.) 
Scratch {vb.) 
Scream {vb.) 
Scream (n.) 

yekhepi {accent on penultimate). 









aziikumokhono vipiyetsilo 








English. Sema. 

Search (vb.) 

... phuzhulo. 


... alaku. 

Second ... 

amithao {of three), pashelo {of more than three). 


... itulo. 


... atipithi. 


... keghalo. 


'liki, aliki. 


... zhelo, zhevelo. 


tsiipulo {of an object), pulo {of a person only). 


... amelo. 



Separate {vb.) 

... kiithuthashilo. 

Servant ... 

akkemi, timikemi. 


... timikelo. 


... (api) tsoghulo. 

Shade ... 

... akichekoh. 

Shadow . . . 

... aghongu. 

Shake {vb.) 




Shame . . . 


Share (n.) 

... asazhe, akikizhe. 


... tsiigha, tsogha. 

Shave . . . 


Shelf ... 


Shield ... 

... aztho. 

Shiver (n.) 

... sitikokokwoi. 

Shoe ... 

... apukukukwoh {accent on ante-penultimate). 

Shoot . . . 

... (aUkano) kalo. 

Short ... 

yikwonhe, ikwonhei. 

Shout {vb.) 

... kiitsilo. 

Shuffle {vb.) 

... kopho-nyepolo, ophoh-nyepolo {lit. stamp out 

earth for floors > to mark time ; to bent about 

the biish, prevaricate). 

Shut {vb.) 

... khalo ; miilo, imilo (of eyes) 

Sick, be {vb.) 

... siilo (is sick = sani, siiani). 


... tekhao. 

Silence . . . 

... kammmii. 


aurang-i (= rupee metal) 

Similar ... 

toina, toh. 


... aleshilo. 

Single . . . 

'liki, aliki. 

Sink {vb. intr.) 

... (aziilo) ilulovelo. 


... ikalo. 

Site {of house) 


Skin (n.) 

... ayikwo, ayukoza. 

Skin {vb.) 


SkuU ... 

... akiitsu paghe. 


... atsiitsii. 

Slander ... 

'zhe shipiisatselo. 

F F 2 






... akughu (?) ; akkemi, akhemi (= servant). 

Slap (v&.) 

... dahelo, daihelo. 


. . . Ivelo. 

Sleep (vb.) 

... ziialo, zealo. 


. . . aghwxmgu. 

Sleepy, be {vb.)... 

... ingulo. 




. . . kitla kitla. 


... vhekevelo. 


... pepepeh, pevepeh. 


... chozhoi, kohuiya. 


. . . asheshi. 

Slowly ... 

. . . asheshino. 

Smack {vb.) 

... dahelo, daihelo. 


... kitila, kithiti. 


. . . akhokumna. 

Smile {vb.) 

... nvdo. 


. . . nuketoi. 

Smoke (n.) 

... amkhi, amchi. 

Smoke {vb.) 

. . . ai/iutuhu tsilo (o/ tobacco). 


... tenhakubo. 

Snake ... 

... apeghi, apeghii. 

Snare {vb.) 

... aUcheshilo, akussiishilo. 


. . . mukhallo. 

Sneeze (n.) 

... hachi. 

Snore {vb.) 

... nhizflo. 


morusii, mulasii. 


... akutsiikukuchupho {generic) 



Soil (n.) 

... ayeghi. 

SoU {vb.) 

. . . afcteneshivelo. 


. . . nu, nvmu. 


... ale. 


... kepaiye, kei. 

Sorrow ... 

... amelussah ( < om^Zo-sii-o). 


. . . aghongu. 


... ahulao {lit. = upwards). 


... khammvo. 

Sow (n.) 

... awokhu. 

Sow {vb.) 

... (atipithi) sholo {sow carefully in Sema fasiiion) ; 

(atipithi) hulo, pfulo {sow broadcast in the Ao 

or Sangtam manner). 


amikumf a. 

Speak ... 

. . . pilo. 

Spear (n.) 

. . . angu. 

Spear {vb.) 

... angulo ivelo. 


. i . anyeti-kokwopfu. 

No precise equivalent, as slavery is not practised by the Semas. 




Spittle ... 
Spleen . . . 
Spoil {vb.) 
Spoon (n.) 
Spring (n.) 
Squat (vb.) 
Stand {vb.) 
Stand up 

Starve . . . 
Steal ... 

Steep (adj.) 
Stick (n.) 
Sting (n.) 
Sting (vb.) 
Stop (vb.) 
Storm . . . 
Stream ... 
Strike ... 
String . . . 
Strong . . . 
Subject (n.) 

Suckle . . . 

Sunrise, at 
Sunset, at 
Suicide ... 

Suspect {vb.) 

SwaUow (n.) 
Swear ... 
Sweep . . . 


alhokesah shitsixlo. 

ithoulo, putugwolo. 
ay eh, ayestih. 
akke, akewu. 

akhiichoh {of bees, etc.). 
(akhino) kwolo {of bees). 

kheagetsilo (tr.), kliealo {intr.). 

kaghelom'tsa, Idchim'tsa. 
aghokiti, awokiti. 
helo, bulo. 

chobbo, chobboL 
meghemi, miighemi. 
azokwo, azzokwuh. 

(akechi) nyilo {of a suckling)) ; mutzulo. 

tsikinhye, ketsinhye. 
tsikinhihmi kechelo 
pa no kishishi pa ivike, panaliki pa iviko {killed 

himself on purpose). 
kucho kucho. 
'gelitoi k\imsiilulo (/ 

gelitoi kumsiXluani). 

atispect Mm = niye pa 



English. Sema. 

Sweetheart ... ... 'Ihozhilepfu (speoHngr q/ </ie /cwioie), 'Ihozhipu'u 

{speaking oj the male). 
Swim ... ... ... aziighalo. 

Swoon {vb.) ... ... izuvuvulo. 


Tailor ... 


Take away 





Teach ... 

Tear (n.) 

Tear {vb.) 



Thief ... 


Thing . . . 

Think ... 

Thirst ... 

Thorn . . . 

Thread ... 

Thrifty man 


Throw {vb.) 

Throw away 

Thrust ... 

Thumb ... 



Tie {vb.) 


Tigress ... 

Tipsy ... 


Tomb ... 



Top {the toy) 


Torch ... 

Touch {vb.) 

Track ... 




luvelo, siivelo. 

pialo, atsa pilo. 


apoghou, apeghiu. 








ipumihei {of things), adumekhekhiu {oJ persons). 


kumserriilo, kimniizhulo. 




akiikiitsimi, akutsiikichemi. 






atsiitsusii, tstitsukiissiih. 

ishi, nahi. 


siikutsii kweshilo. 









asuteh {lit. = millet husk). 





Trade (n.) 
Trade («&.) 
Trader ... 
Trance, go into {vb.) 
Trap (literal) ... 
Travel (v6.) 


Trigger ... 




Turns, by 


akessiih, awufu. 
izuwulo {primarily for trade). 
aghiizumi {primarily for trade). 
asii, abo. 

pulolo, pulozhulo. 


Unbusinesslike man . 

.. khwoshemi {a man who is too stupid or ignorant 

to trade). 


akheni, akekheni. 

Under ... 

. . chilu, apeo. 






.. akemikumo. 

Unripe ... 

.. akupusho. 


.. khakevetsilo. 

Untrue ... 

.. miki. 


. . kungu. 

Up, get {vb.) 

.. ithoulo. 


. . puzho. 



... pokimi. 

Valley ... 

... akita. 




. . . amunhii. 

Venom {of snakes) 

. . . athiti, apeghi'tliiti. 


. . . alloko. 


. . . 'ghimetsiilo. 

Village ... 

apfu, agana. 

Virgin ... 

. . . ililotheh. 


. . . asiitsa. 

Vomit (n.) 

. . . mughupaake. 

Vomit {vb.) 

mughuvelo. _ 


... alluamishikumukemeghu ( 

[= cow-corpse-pecking 





Wages ... 



Wake (vb. trans.) 
Walk {vb.) 


Want (vb.) 


War, make (vb.) 

Wann ... 



Watch (t;6.) 

Water ... 




Wear (o/ clothes, vb.) 


Weave ... 

Weed (».) 


Weigh ... 




Westwards, west 

Wet (vb.) 




Whisper (n.) 
Whistle (w.) 


Wicked man 


Widow, widower 


Wild animals ... 


Wind (w.) 
Wink (n.) 
Winter ... 















azii kuchuvelo ; (aghi) pavelo {wash the face). 

aghiizhulo {of village sentinels) ; mekezhulo 

{watch secretly). 

ala {path). 


megezhiilo, meghezhulo. 
akhiih {h.p.) 



amelotsa {lit. = heart-word). 
atsaUkeshimi . 
akizhela, akuzhulao. 
siisiitsala {lit. = shivering time). 



Wish {vb.) 
Witch ... 
With ... 
Within ... 
Woman . . . 

Wood ... 
Word ... 
Work (n.) 
Work (vb.) 
World ... 
Worry {vb.) 
Wound (tc.) 
Wrestle ... 
Write ... 
Wrong . . . 


thumimi, thumfimi. 


'kualonoke, azhepfeki. 
totimi ; ilimi {girl), topfumi {trnddle-aged), 

kitemi {old). See " young." 

akumla shilo ; mulalo. 

(teghami, kungumi) putsalo. 
akliiih (l.p.). 
kaku helo. 
achipishimo {accent ultimate) ; miki {untrue). 

Yawn {vb.) 

Yearly, year by year 




ampeh, amphe ; kanyeku {last year), kashi {this 

year), thooku {next year). 
amphe ampho. 

Male. Female. 

'apulotimi {up to about 14 


apumi (15 to 25 or 30) 
...■{ ahclo (30 to 40) ^^ 
awolelo (40 to 50) J "■ 
muchonai (50 /o 60) ... 
, kitemi {too old to work) 




Ahelo and awolelo are also called muchuhelo. 




(<Assaraese dpadiya = " accidental " or " causing 
misfortune " ; Bengali dpdd = a calamity) applied 
to death by certain particular misadventures, 
e.g., death in childbirth, killing by a tiger, loss 
in the jungle, drowning, killing by the fall of a 
tree or by a fall from a tree, death by snake-bite. 
These are not all regarded as " Apodia " deaths 
by aU tribes, but the first three seem to be in- 
variably so regarded. 



i.e. the wild mithan, Bos gaurtis. 



A form of currency formerly used in the Ao 
country and consisting of a narrow strip of 
iron from 6 to 8 inches long with a triangular 
projection at one end. Probably it represents 
a conventionaUsed spear. 

Chabili 1<chabi — a key, pronovmced Sablll. 

A section of bamboo used as a drinking vessel 
or for carrying water. In the latter case a 
length of 3 or 4 feet is used, the nodes being 
pierced to admit the water down to the 



deJca chang 

A sort of bill of varying shape used both for wood- 
cutting and as a weapon by the tribes of N.E. 
India and Burmah. Sometimes spelt dah. 

V. " morung.'' 

(lit. " god-poison "). A very powerful and destructive 
fish poison made from the root of a plant growing 
at low altitudes. 





dhuli .. 

dull . . . 



genna ... 


jhum ... 

{lit. "god-bead"). A variety of bead made from a 
reddish - brown stone flecked with black. The 
stone seems to be found in Nepal and beads matle 
from it are very highly prized by Nagas. Possibly 
dug from ancient graves. 

The Bengal Asiatic Society's Journal, volume 
xvi, p. 713, contains a notice by H. Piddington 
of the " Doo-Monnees or Sacred Beads of Assam." 

The iinhusked grain of the rice plant, commonly 
called " jaaddy." 

Loin-cloth. A strip of broad muslin cloth wrapped 
round the waist, drawn between the legs and 
tucked in in front. It forms the ordinary nether 
garment of Assam and Bengal. 

See dhoti. 

" One who speaks two languages," an interpreter. 

A large basket averaging about 5 feet in height 
and 2^ feet in diameter with a pointed cover . 
Used for storing grain by the Angamis. 


A tall grass (probably an andropogon) with a stiff 
stem and sharp -edged leaves. 


(lit. = village elder). The head man of a village 
or of a " khel " holding his appointment from 

See p. 220. 

{lit. = genna elder). A Naga-Assamese term used 
more or less indiscriminately for the four religious 
officials of the Angami village and for the cor- 
responding functionaries in other Naga tribes. 

A black gibbon, hylobates huluk. 

A four-footed carrying basket with a pointed lid 
narrower at the bottom than the middle. It 
is made of two thicknesses of split bamboo or 
cane, with a lining of bamboo leaves in between 
to keep out the wet. Generally from 3 to 34 feet 
in height and 18 to 20 inches in diameter. 

Land cultivated by " jhuming." 

A form of ext<>nsive cultivation in which an area 
is cleared of jungle (which is burnt, the ashes 
being dug into the ground), and sown for two 
successive years. At the end of this period 
weeds come up too thickly for convenient cultiva- 
tion, and the fertility of the soil is to some extent 
diminished. The land is then allowed to remain 
uncultivated for from five to fifteen years, at 
the end of which time there is a fresh deposit of 
leaf mould and the growth of tall vegetation has 
killed off the small weeds that interfere with 
cultivation. In jhuming only one crop is sown 
in the year, rice in the first year being followed 
by millet in the second where this cereal is 





kaivg . 

khel . 

or " cutcherry," the magistrate's court. 

The arum, Colocasia antiquorum, grown largely 
as food by the more northern and eastern Naga 

A basket wide at the top and pointed at the bottom 
used for carrying. 

See kang. 

The word for an exogamous group among the 
Ahoms. Hence applied to the Angami thino, 
and as the different thino in an Angami village 
usually live in separate quarters, the word has 
consequently been applied to a subdivision of a 
Naga village regardless of exogamy, to which, 
as in the case of the Semas for instance, it has 
frequently no reference at all. v. p. 121n. 

Lao , 

Gourd used for carrying and storing liquor. 

A narrow strip of cloth tied round the waist, passing 
between the legs from behind and up to the waist 
again in front, whence it falls down again in a 
square flap. 


Machdn A raised platform made of bamboos split and 

interwoven, of simple bamboos, or of wood. 

mddhu V. " mddhu." 

menitessa A cereal used in the concoction of fermented liquor — 

the great millet {? sorghum vulgare). 

mlthdn The domesticated variety of Bos frontalis, one of 

the species of Indian bison. 

mddhu Fermented liquor brewed from rice, of which there 

are three or four varieties known to Nagas, viz.: — 
pita modhu, made from uncooked rice and fer- 
mented after the addition of water, a very mild 
drink ; kachdri modhu and rohi, made from rice 
boiled and subsequently fermented ; and sdkd 
modhu, made by infusion, boiUng water being 
poured through previously steeped and fermented 
rice, like the first a mild concoction. 

mfk'ung (or deka chdng) The house in which the bachelors of the clan sleep. 
Also used as a centre for clan ceremonies and a 
sort of men's club generally. 



A female Naga. 

Paddy Rice growing or in the husk. 

pdnikhets (K<. " water-fields "). Irrigated and flooded terraces 

for growing wet rice. 






Spikes of hardened bamboo used to impede the 
passage of ein enemy, impale wild animals in 
pits, etc. They vary from eight inches to four 
feet in length, and when well seasoned by exposure 
to the weather are sharp enough to pierce the sole 
of a boot. 

An implement used for hoeing and digging and 
made like a spade with the blade at right angles 
to the handle. The term is also applied to Naga 

A small coin roughly equivalent to a farthing. 


serow . 


The British Government. 

Nemorhhoedus rubida, a species of antelope allied 
to the goat and living on jungle-clad precipices. 
The variety alluded to in this monograph is the 
Burmese or red serow. The Assamese call it 
deochaguli (= "god-goat"), probably owing to 
its extraordinary elusiveness. 

A tracker, hunter of game. 

Tez patta 

lit. " sharp leaf," so called from its acid and 
aromatic taste, the laurus cassia. 

Fermented liquor. (Zu is an Angami word ) 




c/. ... 

. . compare. 
. . clan. 

ped. . . . 

. . . pedigree (following 
p. 144). 



.. ' genna.' 
. . illustrated. 



. . . river. 
... tribe. 


.. footnote. 


... refer to. 

vil. ... 

... village. 

Abidela, 40, 41, 46 

Aboimi, cl., 126 

aboshou, 241 

aboshu, V. ' pounding tables ' 

abosuhu, g., 225 

Achunii, cl., 121, 122, 126, 135, 351 

aghacho, v. ' hombill ' 

aghao-pticho, 15 

aghasho, 138 

aghau, 64, 193, 199 

aghiye, 96, 343 

aghongu, 199 sq., 205, 210 ; cf. 

' soul ' 
aghu, 98, 180, 182, 214 
aghttcho, 174, 175, 253 
aghuhu, 16«., 48 ; illstd. 12, 37, 48 
aghilza, 36, 115, 361n., 377; illstd. 

Aghilza, g., 223 
Ahota, 367 
aichi, 83 sq. 

Aichikuchumi, vil., 25, 163 
Aichisagami, vil., 8/i., 33, 205, 266, 

297, 298 
Aina, 107 
aitho, 78, 81 
akawoku-pfu, 241 
akedu, 115, 22 7w., 377 
akekao, v. ' chief ' 
akeshou, 240, 241 
Akhape-kumtha, g., 223 
akini, 61, 243 

akiniu, 222 

akishekhoh, 40, 41, 46, 228, 234 
akumokeshu, v. ' lapu ' 
akutsu-kegheheo, 175, 176, 179 
Alapfumi, vil., 33, 113, 157, 226, 

252, 256 ; ped. I ; illstd. 64 
alau, 73, 106, 160, 244 
Alhou, 191, 194, 212, 328, 336 
aluba, 343n. 
AlucUke, g., 222 
alulabo, 348n. 
aluzhitoemi, 241 
aluzhu, V. ' gang ' 
Ainiche, 356 

amiphoki, v. ' hearth,' cf. ' room ' 
amoshu, v. ' lapu ' 
amthao, 216, 217, 221 
amukeshiu, 138, 141, 382, 383 
amushou, v. ' lapu ' 
Amuza, g., 222 
unagha, 253, 254 
anga, 138, 369/^. 
angulimi, 131, 138, 143 
anisii, 238 sq. 
anivu, g., 235 
aniza, 237, 313 
Ann, g., V. ' Anyi ' 
anukeshiu, 145n. 
anulikeshimi, 145n., 148 
Anyegheni, g., 223 
Anyi, g., 45, 223, 225 
Aochagalimi, vil., 187, 243n. 




Aokhuni, g., 222 

apasiibo, v. ' akishekhoh ' 

aphile, 115, 361 

apikesa, g., 218 

Apikhimthe, g., 224 

Apikukho, g., 218»., 229 sq. 

Apisa, g., 227, 228 

Apitekhu, g., 222 

Apitomi, vil., 37 

Arkha, 135 

ariizhu, g., 222 

asah, 121 

ashebaghiye, 96, 343 

ashegha, 253, 25 

ashepu, 79 

asAipM, 216, 219 

Ashonumi (phratry), 125 

Ashyeghetii, g., 223 

Asimi, cl., 65, 113, 121, 122, 123, 

124, 126, 217n., 234, 235, 236, 

244; illstd. 8 
asukesalo, 262 
Asiikokhwomi, vil., 169 
asukuchu, g., 217 
asiimtsazu, 216 
asii-pusuke, 109 ; illstd. 100 
Asuyekhiphe, g., 221 
Asicza, g., 223 
atheghwo, 246 ; iUstd. 245 
atsughiikulhau, 228 
atsunakhi, 61, 219 
atsiinigha, 232w. 
atsiipi, V. ' post ' 
Auhiikiti, g., 222 
Awohomi, vil., 5 
Awo-Kinimi, cl., 123 
Awomi, cl., 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 

126, 129, 130, 266, 350 
Awonakuchu, g., 225 
awou, 150, 151, 198, 216 sq., 224 
awupishektichu, 44 
awutsa, 93, 124, 312 ; c/. ' hombill ' 
ayeh, 125, 348n. ; v. ' clan ' 
Ayemi, cl., 122, 123, 126, 129, 130, 

134, 135, 211n., 238, 266, 303, 

347, 348, 350 ; peds. II, VII 
ayeshu, in medicine, 101 ; in oaths, 

azazhunala, 240 
Azekakemi, vil., 149n, 
azhichoh, 98, 99, 223, 226 
Azhomi, 4 

Baimho, vil., 34, 169, 170 ; pad. V. 

Champimi, vil., 253n. 
Chekemi, cl., 122, 129 

Chekiye (of Sagami), 205 ; (of 

Lukammi), 206, 207 
Chesha, I25n., 126, 127 
CheshaUmi, vil., 5, 375 ; cl., 122, 

124, 125, 126, 130, 131 
chini, 220, v. ' genna ' 
Chipoketami, vil., 205 
Chishi, 125n., 126, 127 
ChishiUmi, vil., 5, 258; cl., 122, 

124, 125, 126, 130, 350 ; peds. 

Cholimi (Ao tr.), 123 ; v. ' Aos ' 
Choliphuo, 219, 220 
Chonomi (Sangtam vil.), 169 
Chophi-Choli-tsa, 123 
Chvinimi, cl., 122, 124, 126, 377 
Chuoka, 130 

Emilomi, vil., 43, 128 

fululu, V. ' flute ' 

Ghabomi, 4 

ghapiu, 262, 410, 412 ; c/. 197, 255 

Ghokwi (of Kulhopu), 204 

Ghukiya, 128, 185 ; ped. IX 

Ghukwi, vil., ped. IX 

Ghulhoshe, 163 

Gwovishe, 9, 170, 173, 205, 206 

Hebulimi, vil., 5, 59 

Hekshe (of Seromi), 71 

Hezekhu (of Sheyepu), 194 ; ped. 

IV; viii; illstd. 14 
Hocheli, 356, 364 
Hohe, 106 

Hoishe (of Yehimi), 71 
Hoito (of Sakhalu), 262 ; ped. Ill ; 

HokaH, 365n. 
Hoshomu, 123 
Hotoi (of Sakhalu), 182, 249 
Hovishe (of Yezami), 170 
Hozeshe (of Tsukohomi), 9 

Iganumi, vil., 178n., 235 

Ikashe (of Sheyepu), 81 

Iki, 252, 315, 407 

nheU, 177 

Inache (of Baimho), 170 

Inaho (of Melahomi), 27, 205, 206 

(of Liunitsami), 157, 166 
Inami-kusa, g., 227, 228 ; v 

' aghuza ' 


Inato, 29, 41, 116, 157, 159, 161, 
178, 186, 203, 206, 211, 363; 
ped. I ; viii 

Ivihe (of Aochagalimi), 187 

Ivikhu, viii 

Izhihe, 163 

Kaka, 126 

Kakhu (of Sapotimi), ped. VIII 

Kamli, 11 8n. 

kasupapo, 62, 220, 260 

Katenimi, cl., 122, 129 

fee, 279n., 292 sq. 

kekami, 152, 185 

Kekheche, 363, 364n. 

ketseshe, 73, 262 

Khakho, 126 

Elhakholimi (or Khakhomi), cl., 

122, 126, 131, 132 
Khakuli, 363 
Khayi, 334 

Khekuvi (of Shevekhe), 182 
Khoghamo, 126, 127 
Kholaou, 334 

Khowakhu (of Shevekhe), 48 
K/i-ozhiimo (of Kukishe), 205 
Khmvi, vil., 204 
KJiupu, 28, 29, viii 
Khuzhomi, cl., 122, 129 
KhwonhyetsLi, 96, 343 
Kibalimi, cl., 122, 127, 129, 131, 

218, 350 
Kichihmi, vil., 131 
Kichimiya, 195 sq., '2bl ; g., 221 
Kileki, r., 7, 51, 59, 267 
Kilomi, vil., illstd. 34 
Kini-Chmiimi, cl., 124 
Kinimi, cl., 122, 123, 124, 125, 126 

350, 377 ; ped. I 
Kinishe, 126 
kitike, v. ' kick-fighting ' 
Kitila, 212 
kitimi, 107, 198, 210, 259; v. 

' ghost ' 
Kivikhu, vil.. In. 
Kivilho (of Seromi), 130 
Kiyelho (of Alapfiimi), 157, 158; 

ped. (of Seromi), 130 
Kjyeshe (or Sakhai), vil., 10, 33, 

63n., 128, 243n.., 270 
Kiyei^ha, vil., 57 
Kiyezu, 204 

Kocheke (of Sakhalu), 198 
Kohazu (of Sakhalu), 164, 177 
Kohii, ped. XI 

kohkohpfoh, 57, 58 ; illstd. 52, 66 
Kohoto, ped. X 


kolami, 353 

Kolavo, 197, 212, 244 

Kukihe (of Emilomi), 43 

Kukishe, vil., 205; illstd. 176 

Kukwobolito7ni, 198 

Kulhopu, vil., 204 

Kumishe, vil., 25. 169 

Kumtsa (of Emilomi), 43 

Kumtsii, 48 

Kungiilimi, 132, 329 

Kungumi. 191, 194 sq., 212, 230, 

331, 392 
Kupvuhe, ped. XI 
Kusheli (of Litsammi), 205, 206 
Kutathu, 130 

Laghcpini, g., 223 

Lakheokhu, g., 223 

Lakomi (Sangtam vil.), 170 

lapii (or aijiushou), 71, 176, 179, 

180, 214, 215, 216, 217 sq., 226 
Latsapa, v. ' Litsaba ' 
Laza, 367 
Lazemi, vil., 5, 6, 8, 14, 29, 34n., 

35, 69, 121, 124, 133, 176, 183, 

236, 255, 256, 266, 268, 282, 

283, 284, 285 
Lhoshepu, vil., 10 
li, 131 sq. 

Like, LiA;emi, = " Nankam,' q.v. 
Litami, vil., 29, 34, 35. 173 
Litsaba, 195 sq., 223 ; g., 221 
Litsami, vil., 4, 19, 47 
Litsammi, vil., 14, 205, 206 
Litsowo, V. ' Kolavo ' 
Lizotomi, vil , 205 
Lochomi, vil., 121 
Lohatha (of Azekakomi), 149r'. 
Lophomi (Sangtam vil.), 4, 345 
Loselonitomi, 198 
Losheli, 369 
Lotesami, vil., 123, 206 
Lumami, vil., 256 
Lumitsarai, vil., 29, 157, 159, 178, 

252, 256; illstd. 116; ped. I; 

cf. ' Inato ' 
Lumtami (=Luin£j£ami, Sangtam 

vil.), 169 
Luwunyi, g., 221 
Luziikhu (of Baimho), 249 ; ped. V 

Maghromi, vil., 172, 173 
Melahonii, vil., 27 
michikedu, 227n. 
michisii, 165, 227 
miki, 201 

G G 


MishiUmi, vil., 5, 6, 15, 18, 124, 

131, 132 
Mishilitha, 216 

Mithihe (of Vekohomi), 303, viii 
Miti, g., 222 
Moemi, vil., 365 
Molimi, cL, 130 
Mtsiili, 334 
Muchomi, v. ' Chang ' 
Muchupile, 357 
mughemi, 144, 145 sq., 385 sq. 
Mukalimi, vil., 131 
Muromi, cl., 122, 123, 129 
Muro-sipomi, cl. (luilucky), 123 
Murromi, vil., 96, 207, 259 
Muza, g., 222 
Muzamuza, 197 

narubo, 348n. ; cf. 64, 125, 225 

Naruto (Hill), 208, 211 

Natami, vil., 121 

Natsimi, vil., 6, 254, 255, 256 

Nikashe (of Aichagachumi), 25, 170 

Nikhoga, 125, 126, 135 

Nikhui, 170 

Nikiye (of Sakhalu), 248, viii 

Nivikhu, ped. X 

Nivishe, 157 

Nizukhu, ped. VII 

Nunomi, vil., 77 ; cl., 122, ped. Iln. 

Pakavi, 25, 169 

Philimi, vil., 149, 174, 200 ; iUstd. 

38, 245 
Phvisumi, vil., 149, 173, 206 
Phuyemi, vil., 34 
pini, 220 ; v. ' genna ' 
Povilho (of Sheyepu), 81 
Putheli, 127, 128, 144 ; peds. IX, X 
Puzi, 253n. 

RoTOMi, vil., 149 ; illstd. 34 

Sagami, v. ' Aichisagami ' 

Sage, g., v. ' Saghu ' 

Saiyi, 205 

Sakhai, v. ' Kiyeshe ' 

Sakhalu, 71, 110, 164, 177, 182, 
204w., 205, 248 ; (vil.) 33, 102, 
149, 198, 204n., 218, 248 ; 
ped. Ill ; illstd. 36 

Sakhuto (of Khuim), 204, 205 

Sanakesami, vil., 266 

Sapotimi, vil., 168 ; ped. VIII 

Satami, vil., 33, 57, 113n. 

Seromi, vil., 6, 7, 33, 34, 34n., 43, 
60, 71, 105, 121, 168, 169, 257, 
266, 298»., 303 ; ped. II 

Shahapfumi, vil., ped. X 

shefu, 320 

Shehoshe (of Litsami), 19, 20, 47, 51 

Shevekhe, vil., 48, 214 

Sheyepu, vil., 81, 102, 169, 194, 
204n., 218, 219, 249, 365 ; 
ped. IV 

Shietz, vil., 169 

Shikuli (of Iganumi), 178n. . 

Shikusho, g., 219, 227, 228 

Shikyepu, 197 

Shipvomi (Sangtam vil.), 173 

Shisho, g., V. ' Shikusho ' 

Shitzimi, vil., 50n. 

Shiyihe (of Litsammi), 369 

Shochumi, cl., 122n. 

Shoghopii (of Litami), 29 

Shohemi, cl., 122, 123, 350 

shohosu, 321 

shonumi, 217 

Sichimi, vil., 113 

Simi, 126, 219 

Sishimi (or Shisimi), vil., 121 

Sisilimi (or ShishiUmi), vil., 131 

Sotoemi, vil., 181, 218, 356 

sugotsa, 80 

Sukheli, 205 

Sukomi, vil., 77, 128 ; ped. IX 

Siimi, 219 

Suphuo, 219, 220 

Swemi (vil. = Semi, Swema), 5, 36n., 
59, 375, 376, 377 

tafuchi, 67 ; illstd. 66, 254 

Taloli, 197 

Tapu, r., = ' Dayang,' q.v. 

Tegha-aghuzuwu, 198 

Tegha-kesa, 198 

Tegha-kusa, g., 219, 226 

teghami, 192 sq., 195 sq., 259, 340 ; 

V. ' spirits ' 
Tekhekhi, g., 223 
thoghopu, V. ' toad ' 
Thoilalapi, 366 
thopftighabo, 22, 102 
Thumoli, 106 
thumomi, 178w., 213, 214, 230 sq.^ 

247, 334 
thumsii, 52, 221, 321 
Tichipami (or Tichimi), vil., 257 
Timilhou, v. ' Alhou ' 
Tokikehimi, vil., 58, 181 
Toti-ina, vil., 259 
Tsakalu, 135 
tsitsogho-pini, g., 214, 222 


Tsivikaputomi, vil., ped. VI 

Tsukohomi, vil., 169, 205 

Tsiikomi, cl.. 122, 129, 218, 350 

Tsunimi, cl., 126 

Tilghaki, 128 

Tukahu, 5, 124, 253n., 375 

Tukhemmi, tr., 17, 19, 21 ; v. 
' Kalyo-Keng5m ' 

Tiokhepu (of Sheyepu), 102 

Tukomi ( = Sans;tam, q.v.), tr., 4, 5, 
8, 11, 13, 15, 17, 58, 112, 122, 
124, 170, 181, 207, 219, 345 

Tukophuo, 219, 220 

Tushomi, 124tc., 345, 395 

Tiitsa, r., = ' Tita,' q.v. 

Tuzii, T., V. ' Tizu ' 

Vedami, vil., 33 ; illstd. 38 
Vekohomi, vil., 124, 303 ; ped. VII 
Viheshe (of Yezami), 170 
Vikeshe (of Lvunitsami), 157, 159, 

303 ; ped. I 
Vikhepu, 206n., 303 ; ped. II : 

viii, and v. Frontispiece 
Vikhyeke (of Tsivikaputomi), ped. 

Vikihe (of Emilomi), 43 
Vikoto (of Kiimishe), 25 
Visavela, g., 221 
Vutahe (of Sakhalu), 198 

WoKHAMi. cl., 122, 135, 350 
Woremi, cl., 130 

Wotzami, cl., 122, 126, 127, 129, 
135. 350 

Yachtjmi, tr., 4, 5, 7, 8, 15, 21, 23, 
25, 49, 58, 71, 99, 104, 112, 134, 
176, 210w., 345 ; (hoe) 66 

Yatsimi, vil., r. ' Yet.simi ' 

yechuye, 61/1., 343 

Yehimi, vil., 57, 71, 257, 266 

yemale, v. ' paean ' 

Yemithi (of Lizotomi), 205 

" Yemoli's Houae," 105 

Yemunga (of Litsanuni), 206 

Yepothoini, cl., 121, 122, 123, 124, 
125, 130, 134, 217)1., 218, 234, 
236, 238, 266, 267, 303, 345, 
347, 348, 350 ; peds. Ill, V 

yeshuye, 101 

Yetsimi (Sangtam vil.), 112, 123, 
130, 181 

Yevetha, 181 

Yezami, vil., 82, 135, 170, 356 

Yezetha, illstd. 8 

Yiicho, 219 

Yiipu, 228 

Zalepu (of Kumishe), 25 

Zhekiya, vil., 197n. 

Zhetoi (of Sheyepu), 204n. 

Zivihe, vil., 170 

Zukiya (of Kulhopu), 204 

Zumethi, vil., 205 

Zumomi (or Ziimomi), cl., 10, 48, 
71, 77, 121, 122, 127, 128, 195, 
197, 217n., 218, 219, 234, 235, 
236, 238, 243n., 246, 261, 266, 
267, 365, 378?i. ; peds. IV, IX, 

G G 2 



Abor, tr., 20, 77 

abuse, terms of, 92, 480 : sym- 
bolical, 411 

accent, in., 271 

address, 137, 238 

adjective, 276 

adoption, 145, 162 sq. ; cf. 388n. 

adultery, 183, 186, 242 

adverbs, 289 sq. 

adze, 66 

affinities, 4, 375 

afterbirth, 233 

age, 409 ; in genna, 90 sq., 234, 237, 
239 ; reckoned, 260n., 366n ; 
grades of, v. 409, 441, and c/. 
' gang ' 

agricult\ire, 59 sq. ; implements of, 
63s^., 66s^. 

Ahoms, tr., 121 

Algonquins, 380 

Almighty, v. ' Alhou ' 

alphabet, 268 sq. 

Amazons, 96, 259 

America, North, 380n. 

Anderson, J. D., 374 

Angami, tr., 3, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12, 17, 18, 
19, 20, 28, 34w., 35, 36, 37, 38, 
40, 41, 43, 48, 49. 59, 67, 74, 77. 
78, 89, 99n., 110, 121, 123w., 

133, 138, 139, 143, 151, 164, 
193, 196, 208, 212, 216n., 235, 
244n., 251n., 253n., 257, 260, 
284, 285, 352, 373, 379, 380, 
392, vii, xvi 

animals, 213, 258 sq., 400 sq. 

animatism (of fii-e), 43 ; cf. ' stones ' 

animism, 191 

ants, 124, 259, 320, 338 

Ao, tr., 4, 5, 7, 13, 14, 18, 19, 24, 26, 
34n., 58, 67, 71, 77, 78, 85, 87, 
96n., 105, 113, 123, 130, 133, 

134, 139, 141, 168, 172, 173, 

187, 195n., 197, 203n., 219, 220, 

229, 253n., 251n., 258, 352. 

354n., 386, 392, 393, xvi 
ape, 43 ; as aghau, 193 ; clan, 127 ; 

and V. ' huluk ' 
' apodia,' 73, 262 
appearance, 8 
a.pxvy^''"ns, 216n. 
aristocracy, 150, 386 
armlet, 11, 12, 18, 345 
arrow, 23, 107 
art, 47 
ashes, in genna, 70, 234 ; imbibed, 

100 ; in pottery, 53 
aspirate, 263, 269 
Assamese, 87, 121n., 266 
Athenians, v. ' Greeks ' 
authorities, 373 
axe, 66 ; battle-, 21, 181, illstd 22 ; 

stone, 196, 257, illstd. 254 

Bait, 82 

Baker, E. C. S., 374 

Balfour, H., Idn., 42n., 67». 

bamboo, erected, 36, 227 ; for 

heads, 165, 176 ; pickle, 52 ; 

as property, 68 ; tabued, 221, 

222, 223 
Barail, 375 
Barnes, H. C, viii 
barter, v. ' sale ' 
baskets, 55 sq., 67 ; bride's, 241 ; 

panji, 16, 17, 24, 266 
bats, 258, 259, 315 
beads, 11, 17 ; genna, 18 ; brass, 

58, 110; tabued, 221, 223; 

buried, 244 
beans, buried, 244 ; celts and, 257 ; 

eaten, 219 ; game, 106 ; grown, 

61 ; on mithan, 73 ; payments 

of, 217, 241 ; tabued, 73, 217 ; 

as tally, 160 



beard, 9 

bed, 39, 77, 117, 201, 243 

beer (rice), 97 sq. 

bees, 72, 259; tabued, 217; medi- 
cine, 103 

bellows, 52 

bells, 12 ; cow-, 57, 58 

betrothal, 184, 239 

Bhoi, tr., 64n., 379n.. 

Bila-an (Philippine tr.), 380n. 

birds, 48 ; battle of, 312 ; scaring 
of, 52 (illstn.) ; and cf. ' hawk ' 

birth, 183, 233 sg. ; of animals, 78, 

Bizerta, xvi 

blacksmithy, 51 sg. 

blindness, 180 

blister, lOln., 104 

Bodo, (m., 64??., 374, 378, 379 

boi (or bawi), 385, 390 

booby-traps, 171, 172 

books, 232n. 

Borneo, 106, 380 

bow, 21 sg., 24, 107, 171 

Brahmaputra, r., 380n. 

brain (of enemy), 214 

brass, 11, 12, 53, 58, 110 

Br^ (Burma tr.), 63n., 379 

bridges, 35, 36 ; genna for, 35 ; 
offerings at, 253, 256n. 

brine, in tempering, 52 ; in cooking, 

Brown, R. Grant, 268w. 

building (gennas at), 44, 45 

Burier, v. ' lapu ' 

Burma, 49, 63w., 96n., 374, 377n., 
378n., 379 

Butler, S. G., viii 

butterflies, 211 

Calendak, 260 sq. 

cancer, 180, 181 ; cf. 358 

cane, property in, 68, 227n. ; 
weapons, 113n. 

cannibals, 96 ; cf. 174 

Carter, Dr., viii 

carving, 48 

castration, 71 

cats, 69, 70 

cattle, 37, 69, 73 ; damage by, 74 ; 
flesh tabued, 65, 224 ; keep of, 
75 ; payments in, 162, 240 ; 
-trespass, 74 ; sacrificed, 227, 
245; in war, 173, 174, 182 

Celebes, 380 

celts, 196, 252, 256 sg. 

Census, of Assam, 25, 90u., 133n., 
135JI., 187, 373 ; of India, 191 

centenarian, v. ' Kiyelho ' 

centipede, 259 

' chabili,' 58 

Chakrima (or Chekrama), 4, 5, 6, 
18, 20, 21, 48 

challenge, 84, 168 

Chang, tr., 4, 5, 20, 25, 43. 44, 49n., 
58n., 63n., 65n., 77, 81, 82n., 
89, 102, 106, 107, 127, 134, 138, 
139, 171, 208, 2lOn., 211n., 
212n., 249, 256n., 258, 262n., 
273>i., 345, 363, 380n.., 385, 389 

Changchang, Ao vil., 253n. 

Changki, Ao vi!., 207n. 

character, 25 sg., 154n. 

charm, 252, 329, 332; -stone, 174, 
253 sg., 321, 328 

chastisement (with nettles), 28 

chastity, 183 ; for bees, 72 ; at 
gennas, 176, 179, 182, 183, 223, 
224 ; for hunting, 77 ; for 
omens, 76 ; in war, 183 ; of 
widows. 211 

Chatongbong (Sangtam vil.), 206 

" Cherama," vil., v. ' Natsimi ' 

Cherechima, Angami cl., I23n. 

chicken, v. ' fowl ' 

chief, 8, 26, 33, 37, 45, 46, 110, 121, 
122, 136, 143. 144, 145 sg., 150, 
153, 158, 163, 185, 216, 219, 
222, 236, 239n., 303, 377, 385 sg. 

chieftainship (inheritance of), 148, 

children, treatment of, 28, 153, 186; 
number of, 45, 46 ; affected by 
parents' food, 90 sg. ; suckled, 
234 ; susceptible to spirits, 
237. 239, 242 ; ped. Xn. 

chillies, 61, 77, 89, 96, 267 ; medicine, 
103; smoke of, 108; sym- 
bolic, 265; as wages, 117 

China, 379; Cocliin-, 196 

Chindwin, r., 3 

Chingiarei (Tangkhul vil.), 376 

Chipoketami, vil., 205 

Chisang (Sangtam vil,), 169 

Chongliemdi, 393 

Christianity, 191n., 192, 203n., 213 

Christian Science, 232 

'chimga,' 41, 207n., 224, 320, 321 ; 
illstd. 166 

Churangchu (of Chisang), 169 

chvu-l, V. ' mughemi ' 

cicada, 257?j. 

clairvoyance, 231, 232, 247, 248 



clan, 108, 121, 122 sq., 350; list, 
122 ; inter-tribal, 134 ; as 
providing lapu, 217 ; Khoirao, 

clappers, 57 

Clarke, Dr. E. W., 195n. 

Clarke, L. O., 393n. 

cloths, 14: sq. ; tabu, 18 ; red, 211 ; 
buried, 244 

coiffure, 9, 10 

colonies, 8, 144. 148, 154, 216n., 
385, 386 

colom-, 47, 49, 51 

comets, 250 

compensation, 74, 108 

complexion, 6, 8, dn. 

conception, 183 

conjunctions, 292 

consanguinity, 131, 134 ; peds. 
II, X 

consonants, 270 

constellations, 62, 250 sq. 

cornelian, 11, 17, 18 

cottou-wool (in ear), 8, 10 ; illstd. 

cough, 231 

counting, 272n., 273«. 

couvade, 138 

crab, food, 65 ; medicine, 102 ; 
tabued, 74; dispei-sod, 315, 
336, 338 ; in Creation. 380((. ; 
mother of, 401 

Creation, 380». 

Creator, v. ' Alhou ' 

credit, 388 

crops, 60 sq., 195, 216, 251, 399. 
and cf. ' grain ' ; ctiarm for, 
253, 254 ; injured by other 
pm-suils, 55/t., 57, 73, lOti, 
107, and cf. 103 ; protection 
of, 65 sq., 74 

crossbow, V. ' bow ' 

cultivation (reciprocal), 154 ; v. 
' gang ' 

cui'rency, 58 

cm-se, 216n., 262 

custom (genua for not observing), 
35, 37 

Daily life, 116 sq. 

Sai^iwv, 193 

Dalton, Colonel E. T., 107 

dancing. 111 sq., 227 

' dao,' 20 sq., 47, 66 ; in burial, 
244 ; as cui-rency, 58 ; in 
cursing, 262 ; in dancing, 
112, 113; edge of, 257; 

genna at making, 52 ; in 
harvest, 63 ; sat on, etc., 180, 
181 ; in weddings, 240 

Davis, A. W., 25, 2iin. 

Dayang, r., 3, 5. 164, 212, 256. 
260, 261 : Valley, 6, 8, 15, 18. 
33, 51, 84, 87, 149, 161, 176, 
183, 266, 267, 268, 274 

Dead, v. ' kitimi ' and ' ghosts ' : 
abode of, 211 sq., 235n. ; anger 
of, 181, 182, 358, 360 ; dis- 
posal of, 217, 218; Hill of, 
208, 209, 211 ; Path of, 212 

Deamo, 378 

death, cause of, 209, 242 ; customs 
at, 209, 234, 262 ; report of, 

debt, 160 sq., 389 

decency (ideas on), 9, 13 

decoration, 39, 47 

deer, 75, 78, 79, 81, 124; and v. 
' sambhar ' 

defence, 34 

deities, 191 sq. ; cheated, 244 

democratic (institutions), 392 

digits, 273n. 

Dikhu, r., 17, 51 

Dimapur, 378/i. 

Dimasa, tr., 378rt., 380, and v. 
' Kachari ' 

diphthongs, 271 

"dirt" (extracted), 213, 214, 231 

disease, treated, 100 sq., 213, 214. 
218, 229 sq. ; cattle-, 104 sq.. 
168 ; cause of, 200 ; leopard, 
etc., 202 ; resulting from recon- 
ciliation, 180 sq. (and cf. 358. 
360) ; words for, 397 

dishes, 41 

disinfection, 104 

disputes (settlement of), 163 sq., 

divining, 232«.. 

division (of land), 156 

divorce, 184, 186, 187, 242 

docking, 71 ; reason for, 72 

dogs, 70, 405h. ; buried, 71, 246; 
bit« of, 74, 101 ; docked, etc., 
71 ; eaten, 104, 123 ; at 
marriage, 239 ; ornaments put 
on, 11 ; share of (in hiuvting), 
75, 76, 337 ; tabued, 123, 217, 
224 ; as tonic, 104 ; wild, 224 ; 
writing eaten by, 299 

dowry, 184, 240 

draughts (game), 110, 111 

dreams, 247 •■>•(/. 

dress, 10 sq. 



drink, 97 sq.. 395 ; spirits blown 
from, 99, 193 

drowning, 262 

drum, 57 

Duilong, 253n. 

Dundas, W. C. M., 374 

dving, clan tested by, 125 ; as 
disinfectant, 104 ; of field, 
343n. ; as medicine, 102, 103, 
203 ; as missile, 108 ; of stars, 

Dusun (Borneo tr.), 379 

dye, 51 ; tabued, 65 

Eae, ornaments, 10, II, 17, 53. 

235, 244, ("dead man's") 

259; pierced, 11, 234 sq., 

(pigs, etc.) 71, 72 
earth, paths on, 164 ; origin from, 

124, 125n. 
earthquake, 252 
eating, 97 
eclipses, 250 
eels (avoided, etc.), 94 
eggs, in medicine, 102, 218, 230; 

as offerings, 221, 222, 228, 255 ; 

shells preserved, 73 
' ekra,' 52, 65, 91, 102, 108 
elders, Sema, v. ' Chochomi ' ; Ao. 

V. ' Tatar ' 
elephant, 113)i., 336; dance, 113 
elision, 267 
emetic, 103, 203 
Endle, Rev. S., 374, 378n. 
epilepsy, 247 
eschatology, 181, 211 sq. 
etiquette, 97, 137, 237, 243, 247 
exogamy, 122 sq., 129, 130, 131, 

133, 134, 183 
expiation, 130, 137, 180, 181 
eye (disease of), 103, 180, 23 In. 
"eye-excrement," 411 

Fainting, 209 

fairies, 192, 329, 331 

family (affections), 29 

fan (winnowing), 67 

fasting, 241 

fat (appUed to charm -stones), 254, 

321, 331 
fibres (in weaving), 49 
fields (tabued to owner), 233 
fines, 108, 145, 163, 184, 186, 229, 

239, 242 
fire, -making, -stick, etc., buried, 

245 ; death by, 262 ; at dances, 

112; at harvest, 65 ; at 
irrigation, 226; matchefl 

tabued, 65. 180 ; new, 43, 
179, 182, 226 ; in omens. 247 : 
at peace-making, 179 sq. : 
personified, 43 ; precautions 
against, 39, 64, 68 ; tabu to 
put out, 43 ; in sickness, 
lOln., 218, 230; smoke, .329, 
332 ; source of, 43 

fish, 89, 94, 305 ; names of, 400 

fishing, 81 sq., 214, 215 

flesh (oath on own), 165 

Flood, 380n. 

flower, pluck (metaphor), 363, 364, 

flute, 56, 57 ; tabued, 55n., 57, 106 

flying-fox, v. ' bat ' 

flying-squirrel, 9 In. 

food, 89 sq., 396 ; buried, 224 ; 
cold, 360n. ; for ghosts, 175, 
176, 210, 243; in new \nl.. 
155 ; tabued, 90 sq., 124, 129, 
(at harvest) 65 

fowl, 39, 46, 72, 73 ; at births, etc., 
233, 234 ; buried, 245 ; as 
fine, 108 ; in medicine (gall of), 
101, (skin of) 102, 235 ; plucked 
alive, 218; presented, 241; 
sacrificed, 44, 73, 175, 200, 218, 
221, 222, 234, 241, 2.55, 347 

France, 173, 248, 369 ; ped. X : 
viii, xvi 

Frazer, Sir J., 191, 251n., 380h., and 
V. infra " Golden Bough " 

friendship, 29, 228, 229 

frogs, eaten, 89 ; repugnant, 28 ; 
tabued, 65, 94 

fuel, 44, 56, 67, 68 ; gathered, 1 1 6 

fumigation, 76, 104, 181, 245 

fungi, 124 ; eaten, 90, 117 

Fumess, W. H., 244n., 373 

Gall, fowl's as medicine, 101 ; pig's 

as offering, 230 
game, 75, 76 ; shared, 75, 273, and 

cf. 179 ; tabued, 77, 328n.. 
gamas, 105 sq. 

gang, working, 116, 152 sq., 183, 241 
garlic, 199n. 
Garo, tr., 6n., 64n., 132n., 21 In., 

262, 374. 378, 379, 380, 381, vii 
gender, 275 
genealogies, 144 sg. 
genna, 220 ; 29, 37 ; of agricultural 

year, 220 sq. ; amthou, 217 ; 

ants, 124 ; anyi, 45 ; apes, 9 L, 



127 ; ashipu, 219 ; asiikuchu, 
217; awou, 216; awutsa, 93, 
124, 128; beans, 73; bees, 
72 ; birth, 73, 183, 233, 234 ; 
boar's tushes, 11, 78 ; bridges, 
35 ; broken spoon, 95, pot, 
96 ; building, 38, 44, 45 ; 
calendar, 260, 262n. ; cat, 69, 
70 ; crops, 66, and v. 'harvest' ; 
dao-making, 52 ; death, 234, 
242 sq., 262 ; dress, 11, 18; 
dye, 51, 65 ; ear-piercing, 11, 
234 sq. ; entertainment, 227 ; 
exogamy, 130 ; fire, 43 ; fish- 
ing, 82n., 88 ; flesh, 124 ; 
flute, 106 ; food, 90 sg., and v. 
' vegetables (tabued) ' ; fuel, 
44 ; fungus, 124 ; with hair, 
174 ; head-taking, 174 sq., 
(against) 178, 182 : hvmting, 
76, 77, 338n. ; irrigation, 226 ; 
land, 156 ; marriage, 238 sq. ; 
matches, 65, 180 ; migration, 
154 ; neglect of custom, 35, 37, 
198, 199 ; oath, 226, 227 ; ob- 
servance of g., 117, 220 ; peace, 
179 ; pigs, 71 ; portent, 209, 
226 ; pots, 54, 55, 96 ; g. 
proclaimed, 150, 151 ; rain, 
214, 215; sage, 150n., 198; 
sickness, 218, 230 ; sign of g., 
230 ; snaring, 80, 81 ; suicidal 
fowl, 96 ; tigers, etc., 77, 90, 
208 ; tops, 106 

gentians (medicine), 104w. 

Geographical Society, Royal, 268n. 

Germans, 369 

ghost, 175, 176, 178n., 198, 210, and 
c/. ' kitimi ' ; of tigers, 71 ; of 
hawks, 94 ; fed, 176, 210, 243 

ginger, 199n., 201, 202, 201n. 

ginning, 49 

goats, 69, 332 

go-between, 184 

God, V. ' Alhou ' 

Godden, Miss G. M., 373 

gods, 191, 194 59-. 

goitre, 8, 104 

" Golden Bough, The," 28, 106, 
136, 143, 191, 196n., 237n., 
243n., 251n., 256n. 

Golgotha, 176 

gongs, 259 

gourd, oath on, 165, 166 ; for heads, 
176. illstd. 179; vessel, 66 

grain, fall of, due to jvunping of 
frogs, 65 ; extravagance with. 

due to foods, 95, 96 ; as offer- 
ing, 232 

granaries, 36, 64, 69, 225 ; tabued, 
233 ; iUstd., 34 

graves, 37, 243 sq. ; in oath, 165 ; 
illstd., 245, 246 

Greeks, 46, 216n., 251, (Athenians) 

Grierson, Sir George, 268, 377, xvii 

guardianship, 147 ; of children, 186 

gun, 18, 75, 171, 172 

Gurdon, Colonel P. R. T., 64w., 379n, 

Habitat, 3 

hair, 8, 9, 10, 180n. ; shaved, 183 ; 
in tradition, 43 ; in magic, 174, 
178, 259 ; in medicine, 101 ; 
cf. ' beard ' ; in ornament, 16, 
134, 178 ; of dogs, (in orna- 
ment) 13, 47, (in medicine) 101, 
213 ; of goats (scarlet), 12, 15, 
16, 19, 20, 21 

Hakluyt, 8, 99, 131, 187, 304 

hammer (stone), 52, 424 

harvest, 64 sq., 196. 217, 224, 225, 

hawk, 94, 208 

head, 180 ; bored and hung, 175, 
176, 218; substitute for, 173, 
174 ; taken, 178, 179, 363, 364, 
369 ; taking tabued, 178, 182 ; 
of tiger, etc., 77 

head-gear, 10, 16, 18, 24 

head-hunting, v. ' warfare,' ' head ' 

hearth, 39, 42, 70, illstd. 48 ; in 
fire-making, q.v., 42 (illstn.) 

Heaven, 212, and v. ' sky ' 

Herodotus, 265 

hierarchy, 216 

Hodson, T. C, 178n. 

hoe, 63, 66, 67 ; given to bride's 
mother, 66, 241 

" hog's rub," 108 

horn bill, 404 ; aghacho, 16, 92, 129, 
312 ; awutsa, 93, 124n., 312 ; 
shefu, 320, 328 

horns (house-), 38, 48, 227, 228; 
illstd. 40 

hospitality, 26, 97 

house, 36, 38 sq. ; plans of, 40, 41 

household, 45 

huluk (ape), 315, 338 ; cl., 127 ; 
eaten, 91 ; in rain-making, 
214, 215 ; tabued, 91, 127 

hunting, 27, 75 sq., 338w. ; charm 
for, 254 ; dogs, 70 ; rights, 80 



husband, 138, 140 
Hutton, J. H., 167n., 174n., 268, 
373, 374 

Ill-treatment (in divorce), 242 

impiety (consequences of), 130, 137 ; 
c/. 180 

implements, agricultural, 63, 66, 
400 ; household, 40, 41, illstd. 
66 ; shouldered, 67, 257 ; stone, 
196, 252, 256 sq. 

Imtong-lippa (Ao), 207n. 

incest, 131, 133 

Indonesia, 379, 391 sq., xvii 

inheritance, 136, 145 sg., 155 .sg. 

insects, as food, 94 ; soul in, 211 

interest, 161 

interjections, 286 

interrogative, 278, 287 

Irawadi, r., 379 

Ireland (parallels from), 73, 103, 
(Donegal) 174n., (Galway) 194 

Iron, for bums, 103 ; in genna, 180, 
181, 240 ; for striking light, 
180n. ; oath on, 165 ; ob- 
tained, 53 ; value, 258 

irrigation, v. ' terraced cultivation ' 

isolation, 104 

ivory, 11, 56, 99n., 107 

Japvo, 3, 5, 375, 376, 380n. 
Jevons, Dr., 233n. 
Jew's harp, 56, 57 

' jhum,' 59 sq., 150, 216 ; in reckon- 
ing, 260, 366n.. 
Job's tears, 60 ; brewed, 98 
joke (practical), 108 
j\jmping, 109, 113 

Kacha Naga, tr., 246w., 258n., 376, 

379, 392 

Kachari, tr., 6n., 48n., 87n., 88n., 
127n., 374, 378, 379, 380, vii 

Kalyo-kengyu, tr., 17, 19, 259, 392, 
and V. ' Tukhemmi ' 

Karen (Burma tr.), 63n., 378 

Kayan (Borneo tr.), 19n., 106 

keen".ng, 246 

Kemovo, 151 

kestrel, 208 

Keza-, V. Kheza- 

Khabza (Ao vil.), 96n. 

Khasi, tr., 64n., 253, 360, 379n., 

380, 393 
Khawtlang (Kuki cl.), 378n. 

' khel,' 121n., and v. ' asah ' 
Khezakenoma, vil., 5, 375 
Khezami, 4, 6, 20, 21, 138n. 
Khoirao, tr., 4n., 6?i., 376, 377, 

381, 386n. 
Khoite (Khoirao vil.), 376, 377 
Khongdo (Khoirao vil.), 376, 380 
kick-fighting, 13, 109; illstd. 110 
Kingdon-Ward, Capt., viii 
Kitsa (Yachungr vil.), 170 
Koio (Lhota vil.), 212 
Konyak, tr., 13, 20, 49, 100, 171, 

172, 257n. 
k6pv, 369n. 

Kudamji (Chang cl.), 127 
Kuki, tr., 25071., 251n., 252n. 

257n., 258u., 265n., 376, 378n. 

379, vii ; operations against 

I75n., 248, 364, 392 

Labour, due to Chief, 147, 148, 
149, 222; to awou, 151, 216; 
to killers of pigs at Saghii, 224 

land, rights in, etc., 144 sq., 150, 
155 sq. ; in oaths, 164 ; in 
natural produce of, 68, 227n. 

language (Sema), 266 sq. ; 123 ; 
pronunciation of, 4?i., 266 

Lania, r., 3, 6 

' lao ' illstd. 66 

Lappo, 377 

leaves, as platters, 69 ; sign of 
genna, 230, and cf. 265, 347 

leech, 256 

'lengta,' 12, 13, 14, 16, 238, 269, 

leopard, v. ' tiger ' 

leopard-cat, 308, 309, 310, 319 

leopard-men, 200 sq., 374 

levirate, 136, 137 ; ped. I 

Lhota, tr., 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, 17, 
26, 34, 37, 45, 60, 65, 67, 75, 
77, 85, 102, 105, 135, 161, 173, 
175, 193n., 197, 212n., 231n., 
253n., 256, 257, 258, 259, 352, 
3.54n., xvi 

liaison, 246 

Hce, 244 

life (daily), 116 

Hghtning, 252, 257, 262 ; in oath, 
70 ; spot struck by, 221 

Linguistic Survey (of India), 268, 

Hver, 69, 70, 73, 175, 230 

livestock, 69 

Lizaba (Ao deity), 195n. 

hzard, 66, 237, 312 



loans, 160 sq., 390 

Longjang (Ao vil.)- 172 

Longsa (Ao vil.), 7, 24, 34n., 123, 

loom, 49 ■•>q. 

" Lozema," v. ' Lazemi ' 
Lungkamr (Ao cl. ), 134 
Lungtang, v. ' Litami ' 
Lungtrok, 393 
Lushais, 385, vii 

lycanthropy, 28, 97, 104, 200 sq. 
Lyimgam, tr., 64n., 379n. 

Magic, 174, 178n., 213 sq., 233 

magician, 192, and v. ' thumomi ' 

Maikel, v. ' Mekrima ' 

Mandeville, Sir J., 89, Uln. 

Manipur, 6, 49, 107, 376 

Mano (Burma tr.), 63n., 377 

manor, 144, 145 sq. 

fiavTis. 247 

Maram, 376, 379 

marriage, 238 sq. ; 28, 44, 66, 130, 
133, 134, 145, 183, 184, 185, 
234, 331, 388, 390 ; bride's 
mother at, 66, 133, 241 ; 
mother's brother at, 137 ; with 
step-mother, 136 ; by ex- 
change, V. ped. Ill 

masquerade, 106 

matches, v. ' fire ' 

matrilineal system, 96n., 127, 128, 
129, 131 sq., 137 

M'Culloch, Col. W. J., 107 

measurements, 409 ; of animals, 
1 62 ; and v. ' time ' 

Mech, tr., 251n. 

medicine, 27, 91, 100 sq. ; cf. 
' disease ' 

medium, 247 

Meheme (Khoirao vil.), 377 

Mekrima (Memi-Angami vil.), 377, 

Memi, 123n. 

Mesetsii (Angami vil.), 59 

messages (symbohc), 168, 265 

metal work, 51 sq. 

Mexico, 250n., 380n. 

Mezhamibagwe, vil.. In. 

middle (voice), 281n. 

migration, 4, 8, 154, 193, 200, 
2l6n., and v. 'colonies' 

Mikir, tr., 37n. 

milk, 69 ; human (as medicine), 103 

Milky Way, 251 

millet, 61, 217 ; fermented, 98 ; 
carried, 64 (illstn.) 

Mills, J. P., 172TO., 17on., 193n., 
231w., 246n., 248n., 249n.., viii 

Mishmi, tr., 20 

mi than, 64 sq. ; ear cut, 182 ; 
counted as head, 174, 175 ; 
flesh given to bride's mother, 
133 ; tabued, 224 ; how killed, 
229 ; measured, 162 ; sacri- 
ficed, 218, 227, 228; soul of, 
211 ; tail cut, 173, 182 

' modhu,' 97 

Mokokchung, 7, 96, 170, 206, 207n., 
249, 256, 378 

money, 58, 59, 396 

Mongmethang (Ao vil.), 133n. 

monkey (fire got from), 43 

monoliths, 36 

Montesinos, Fernando, 254n. 

months, 260, 261 ; intercalary, 
260, 262w. 

moon, 202, 249, 250, 262w. ; in 
art, 48 ; in agriculture, 62/i., 
220, 224; in oaths, 249; 
phenomenal, 226, 252 

' morung ' (or ' deka chang '), 37. 
45, 199; iUstd. 38 

mother, 131w., 185, 353n. ; brother 
of, 137 ; of bride, 66, 133, 241, 
(tabued) 130 ; step-, 29, 136 

mouse, 196, 253, 258, and v. ' rat ' ; 
field-, 403n. 

movable property, 158 sq. 

" Mozungjami," v. ' Tuensang ' 

mud-pies, 105 

music, 56 sq., 114, 370 ; v. ' flute,' 

Naklig, 262n. 

names, 236 sq. ; 132 ; of clans, 126, 
350 ; of dogs, 70 ; for rela- 
tives, 138 sq. ; reluctance to 
mention, 143, 237 ; connected 
with sonl, 209, 237 

Nankam (Ao vil.), 34w., 132, 133n., 
172, 173, 179, 363 

narcotics, 99 sq. 

nature, 249 sq., 407 

necklace, 11, 17 ; tabu of, II, 18 

negation, 279 

nets, 82 

Ngari (Khoirao vil.), 376, 377, 380, 

nicotine (imbibed), 100 

night- jar, 309 

Nihu, 205 

notation, 370 

noun, 274 

numerals, 271 sq. 



Oaths, 164 sq. ; 26, 249, 250, 262 ; 

cf. 427 ' life ' ; of cats, 70 
offerings, to railway, 253 ; to 

stones, 256 
officials, religiovis, 216 sq. ; secular, 

144 sq., 150 -sq., 216. 338, 

385 sq. 
Ogle, Mr., 258 
oil-seed, 61, 243 
old men, 117, 163, 239, 260 
omens, 42, 76, 179, 194, 195, 236. 

247 sq. ; birds, 260 ; eclipse, 

250 ; rainbow, 252 ; stone. 255 
orange, 357, 360 
oratio obliqua., 295 
orchid-stalk, 9, 12, 16, 20n., 184 
orientation, 211, 229 ; of dead, 247 ; 

of house, V. plans, pp. 40, 41 
origin, 5, 375 sq. ; of clans, 124 sq., 

127, 350 
Orion, 62, 220, 251 
ornamentation, 47, 49 
ornaments, 10 sq. ; as insignia, 178 ; 

in divorce, 187 ; in burial. 244, 

245, 246 
orphan, v. ' mughemi ' 
otter, 310 

Ourangkong (Phom vil.), 9n. 
owl, 143n. 
ownership (joint), of cattle, 74, 75 ; 

of land, 156 

Pacific, xvii 

paddy, v. ' rice ' 

paean, 115, 175, 176, 177, 248, 313, 

panji, 16, 17, 24, 78, 168, 171 ; 

in burial, 245, 246 ; symbolic, 

paralysis, 81 

parents, 139, 262 ; and v. ' children ' 
partridge, 315, 336; -song, 112; 

tabued, 217 
parturition, 233 
paths, 35 ; barred, 265. 347 ; 

cleared, 223; tabued, 154, 179 
patriarchate, 130 
patrician (cl.), 125 
patterns, 47, 49, 56 
peace -making, 81, 179 s^. 
Peale. S. E., 133, 134, xvii 
pedigrees, 144 
Perry, W. J., 391 sq. 
Peru, 254». 

petticoat, 17, 18, 241, 353n. 
Pettigrew, Rev. W., 268n. 
pheasant, 72 ; tabued, 217 

Philippine Islands, 53rj., 143n., 37!), 

philtre, 332 

Phom, tr., 9, 172, 192n., 258, 273n. 

phonetics, 268n. 

photography (objected to), 199, 

physique, 6, 8 

pig, 46, 71, 72, 77, 98, 160, 163, 216 ; 
carried, 321, 328 ; eating com- 
pulsory, 223 ; as fine, 108 ; 
given to amthao, 221 ; sacri- 
ficed, 34, 35, 45, 155, 157, 175, 
176, 217, 221, 223, 227, 228, 
230, 233, 235, 239, 240, 242. 
245, 255, 350; wild, 11, 61, 66 

pipe, 43, 51, 100 ; buried, 244 ; of 
enemy, 180 

pitfalls, 78, 171 

' pitha modhu,' 97 

pixies, 192 

planet, 251, 252 

Piano Carpini, Johannes de, 131n. 

plantain (tree), 304 

play, 105 sq., 108 

Playfair, Col. A., 64?t., 132/i., 211»i., 
262, 374, 381 

plebeian (clans), 125 

Pleiades, 250, 251 

Pleione, 251 

poison, 232 ; arrow-, 23 ; for fish, 
83 sq., 215 ; magical, 232n. 

polyandry, 135 

polygyny, 135, 143, 185 

polytheism, 191 

post-positions, 288 

posts, erected, 36, 227, illstd. 176 ; 
forked, 37, 228, 229, 378. 
illstd. 37. 116; of house 
(gennas for). 44. 45, 223, 224 ; 
king-, 40, 41, illstd. 48 ; to 
mark property, 69 ; must not 
sprout, 38 

pots, made, 5i sq., 117 ; washed, 97 

poultice, 102 

pounding tables, 37, 38, 40 ; illstd. 

pregnancy (tabu during), 90/i. 

priest, V. ' awou ' 

pronoun, 276 

pronunciation, 4n., and v. ' lan- 
guage ' 

property, 155 sq. ; in trees, etc., 67, 
68, 227n. ; in cattle (joint), 74, 
75 ; in game, 80, 81 ; division 
of, 136, \5Q sq. ; inheritance of. 

propriety, 9, 13, 183, 184 



puberty, 183, 238, 239 

purchase, v. ' sale ' 

Purun (Khoirao vil.), 376, 377 

puzzles, 107 

python, 129, 197, 231, 312 

QxJAiL, 306, 403n. 
quantity, 4n., 271 

Railway (track propitiated), 253, 

Raime (Khoirao vil.), 376 
rain, caused, 214, 215; made, 

21S sq., 222 
rainbow, 195, 252 
rake, 67 
Raru, 377 
rats, eaten, 91 ; tabued, 217 ; and 

V. ' mouse ' 
raven, 143n. 
reaper (first), 216 

reaping, 63, 64, 224, 225 ; illstd. 64 
red, 47; cloth, 211; earth, 127, 

221 ; water, 221 
relationship (terms of), 138 sq., 

382, 384 
relative (pronoun), 278 
religion. 191 sq. ; officials of, 216 
Rengma, tr., 3, 5, 6, 7n., 18, 19, 

253w., 255; Naked, 4 
reptiles, 28, 94 ; battle of, 312 
repulsion (instinct of), 28, 90, 103 
Resopu, 205 
rheumatism, 81 
rice, 60, 219, 222, 240 ; -beer, 98 ; 

tabued, 224 
riot, 182 
rites, 219 
river, v. ' water ' 
Rivers, Dr. W. H., 143«. 
' rohi,' 97 
rooms, 38 sq., 46 
ropfii, 193 
Russia, 99 

' Saka modhu,' 97 
sale (customs governing), 160 
salt, 58, and v. ' brine ' ; as cur- 
rency, 58 ; at marriage, 239 ; 
as medicine, 104 
sambhar, 21, 305, 315, 336 
Sangtam, tr., 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 
25, 5ln., 57, 58, 112, 123, 124, 
134, 169, 170, 180n., 181, 196, 

207, 219, 220, 231n., 258n., 

345, 386 
Sangtamla (women's village), 96n. 
Sapor (Yachvmgr vil.), 265 
scape -chicken, 262, and c/. 197, 

scorpion, 401 
Scythians, 265 

second-sight, v. ' clairvoyance ' 
Sema, pronunciation of, v. ' lan- 
guage ' ; typical, 64 (illstn.) 
sentiment, 29 
sex, in birth ceremony, etc., 233, 

234 ; relations of sexes, 28, 

117, 133, 183, 237, 239 
Shakespear, Col. J., 377 
Shans, 379 

share ("the dogs' sh."), 75, 336 
sheaf (last), 64 
shells, as ornaments, 11, 12, 13, 16, 

17, 18, 47, 56, 244 ; as stakes, 

shield, 24 sq. ; in burial, 245 
Shitri (Lhota cl.), 135 
shrine (of com spirit), 64 
sickness, v. ' disease ' 
sieve, 67 

signals (smoke), 84, 332 
signs, of direction, 265, 347 ; of 

genua, 230 ; of possession, 69 
singing, v. ' songs ' 
Singpho, tr., 259, 379, vii 
sitting-place, 36 ; illstd. 37 
skulls, of cattle, game, etc., 39, 

245, 338n. ; human, v. ' head ' 
sky, 191, 211, 230, 329, 332, 394 
slang, 296 sq. 
sleep, 200, 202 
smells (olDnoxious to spirits). 65, 

92, 104w., 199 
smith, 51 sq. 
snake, 313, and v. ' python ' ; -bite, 

101 ; killing tabued, 90n. ; 

repugnance for, 28 ; venerated, 

snares, 78 sq. ; buried, 244 ; rights 

in, 80, 81 
sneezing, 209 
songs, 114 sq., 117, 154, 361, 

362 sq., 370 
Sophocles, 2]6n. 
Soppitt, C. A., 87w., 127n., 194n., 

374, 380n. 
sorghvun, v. atsunahhi 
sororate, v. ped. X, and c/. I, II 
Sotogorr (Yachvmgr vil.), 265 
soul, 159, 194, 199 sq., 208 sq., 

242 sq., and cf. aghongu ; 



called, 209, and cf. 237 ; as 
hawk, 208, 209 ; of mithan, 
194, 211 ; posthumous dangers 
to, 71, 94, 212, 244 
sowing, 220 fsq., 260 
spear, 19 fsq. ; abstracted, 182 ; 
in burial, 212, 244, 245; in 
dancing, 112, 113; first (share 
of), 75, 179 ; ornamented, 47 ; 
tempered with nettle-juice, 52 

spell, 329 

spider, 259 ; as food, 94 

spindle, 49, 241 

spinning, 48 ; tabued, 221, 223, 
241 ; illstd., 50 

spirits, 191 S(2. ; of earth, 192, 336 ; 
of crops, 64, 348n. ; familiar, 
64, 193, 194, 199; of forest, 
192 ; of sky, 191, 257n., 329, 
331 ; in snakes, 256 ; in stones, 
174, 253 sq. ; -sqmrrel, 128, 
378n. ; in water, 253 ; blown 
off drink, 99, 193 ; cheated, 
150n., 198 ; children attacked 
by, 237, 239 ; communicated 
with, 230, 232 ; defied, 84 ; 
deterred, (by smells) 65, 92, 
104n., 199, (by smoke) 76, 
104 ; enticed, 193 : frightened, 
154 ; inferiority of, 192n., 337 ; 
in migration, 155, 193, 200 ; 
propitiated, 99, 192, 198, 199, 
213, 253, 256 ; pursue man, 
259 ; teacher of gennas, 226 ; 
akin to man, 128, 192, 199. 
226, 317 

spitting, 216n., 262 

spittle, 262 ; of fish, 87, 88 ; of 
trees, 216 

spring, V. ' water ' 

squirrel, 128, 306, 308, 378n. 

Stack, E., 37w. 

stake, slaughter of mithan with, 
229 ; in games, 110 

stars, 250 sq., 332 

statue, 246 

statvire, 6, 8 

step-mother, 29, 136 

stick, cut to releeise life, 246 ; 
-kicking, 109 ; for killing, 72, 

stitch (caused), 95 

stone, axes, 196, 252, 256 sq. 
breeding, 174, 175, 253, 255 
buried, 255 , -chute, 1 72 
fighting, 253n. ; hearth, 39 
killed, 258; offering to, of 
256 ; pebble in genna, 234 

putting, 109 ; in sacrifice, 
229 ; Uf,c of, 391 aq. ; vener- 
ated, 174, 175. 253 aq. ; in 
war, 169, 172 

stool (as substitute for owner), 

suggestibility, 27 

suicide, 202 

Sumc, 377 

sun, 249, 250, 262n. ; in art, 48 ; at 
births, 233 ; double, 226, 252 ; 
in eschatology, 211 ; in oathf, 
166, 249 

Swemi, vil., 5, 36n., 59, 375, 376, 377 

symbolism, in messages, 168, 265 ; 
in abuse, 411 

syntax, 294 

Tai, 379 ; vii 

tail, docked, 71, 72 ; ornamental, 
16, 17 ; as trophy (of leopard, 
etc.), 77 

tally, of beans, 160 ; for heads, 176, 
246 ; of knots, 187 ; of notches. 

Taman (Burma tr.), 379 

Tangkhul, tr., 21, 26, 90n., 268n., 

Tartans, 89, 13 In. 

tdtar (Ao elder), 96n., 203n. 

tattoo (absent), 10 

tea, 97 

teeth (loss of), 180, 181 

tempering, 52 

Tengima, 5, 6, 11 

terraced cultivation, 7, 59, 214n., 

' Terufima," v. ' Mishilimi ' 

Thado, V. ' Kuki ' 

theft, 26, 64, 65, 80, 81, 182, 377, 
390 ; detected, 231 

Thevmukukwu (Angami genna), 196 

thread, 58, 65, 241 

thunderbolt, 196, 256 

tiger, 317, 319, 336, 360 ; clans, 
378 ; eclipse caused by, 250 ; 
fire discovered by, 43 ; flesh of, 
65, 90, 208; game, 110 sq. ; 
ghost of, 71, 210»i. ; hunted, 
75 sq. ; kills of, 65, 208 ; re- 
lated to man, 128, 208, 226, 
317 ; -men, 200 sq. ; oaths on, 
26, 165 ; tabu, (at harvest) 65, 
(on killer of) 77, 96, 344 

tigress, 207n., 315, 343 

Ti-Ho, r., 3 

time, 220 ; measured, 260n., 366n. 



Tita, r., 4 

Tizu, r., 3, 13, 33, 212, 282, 38G : 

Valley, 18, 36, 46, 59, 81, 88, 

122, 202, 2li, 241, 261, 266, 

267, 272n. 
toad, 196, 256, 257 
tobacco, 99 ; btiried, 244 ; as 

medicine, 101 ; -water imbibed, 

tone, 267 
tops (peg-), 105 ; buried, 244 ; 

tabued, 106 
Toradjas (Celebes tr.), 380 
torch, 42, 65, 331 
totemism, 128, 129 ; c/. 124, 127 
" touching meat," 173, 179, 235 ; 

c/. ' flower ' 
toys, 105 sg. 
trade, 58, 160, 167 
transfer (of property), v. ' sale,' 

' debt ' 
traps (for game), 78 sq. 
trees, death by, 262 ; in oath, 105 ; 

property in, 67, 68 ; sap of, 

216 ; in war, 172 
tribes (origin of), 352 
tribute (of meat), 76, 145, 377 ; <•/. 

' labour ' 
Tuensang (Chang vil.), 363n. 
tune, 370 
Tuzu, r., = ' Ti-Ho,' q.v.,a\so ' Tizu,' 

twins, 262, 360 ; ped. Ill 
Tylor, Sir E., 191 

Ungma (Ao vil.), 7, 203n., 206 
" Ungoma," vil., v. ' Iganumi ' 
urine, in genua, 230 ; in medicine, 

103 ; in play, 105 
utensils, 40 sq. ; illstd. 66 

Vachell, H. a., 248n. 

vegetables, 61 ; collected, 96, 117; 
medicinal, 101 ; tabued, Qln., 
73, 216, 217, 233, 238, 243, 252, 

venereal disease, 105 

verb, 281 

vermin, 9, 39, 83n., 117, 244 

village, 33 sq. 

vitality, 27 

Viyeh, 377 

vocabularies, 395 sq. 

vowels, 269 sq. 

Wa (Biumatr.), 371 n. 

Waddell, Col. L. A., 373 

wages, 58, 117, 154 

Wakching (Konyak vil.), 257?;.. 

war, 167 sq. ; 26, 27, 150, 386, 387 ; 
game. 111 ; learnt from ants, 
259 ; mimic, 108, and cf. 153, 

warrior, 167 sq. ; in building, 45 ; 
tabued, 175 ; ghost of victim 
fed by, 210 ; in weddings, 240 

washing, 116 ; ceremonial, 182, 224, 
243 ; of dishes, 97 

water (drinking, etc.), 38, 116 ; 
crossed, 155 ; lifted in sieve, 
201 ; in oaths, 164, 253 ; ofier- 
ings to, 222, 226, 253 ; per- 
sonified, 253 ; in connection 
with rain, 214 ; stolen, 155 ; 
in new village, 155, 218 

weapons, 12, 18 sq., 47, 178, 405 ; 
rendered ineffective, 18 ; 
washed, 224 ; and cf. ' dao,' 
' spear,' etc. 

weaving, 49, 50, 117 ; tabued, 221, 
223, 241 

weeding, 222 

weight putting, 109 

weirs, 81 

well, V. ' water ' 

were-leopard, 200 sq. 

whistle, 57 

white (protecting crops), 66 

widow, 136, 169, 186, 186; mar- 
riage of, 136, 185 ; mourning 
by, 210, 211 ; price of, 184, 
185 ; share of, 158 

wife, 138, 143, 184, 185; position 
of, 186, 187 ; qualifications of, 

wig, 10 

Williamson, N., 9n. 

wills, 159 

wind, 57, 106, 196 

witch, V. ' thumami ' 

Wokha, 204 ; Hill, 208 

womeU; appearance, 8, 28 ; dis- 
position, 28 ; dress, 17 ; at 
fishing, 85 ; food of, 95 ; heads 
of, 177, 178, 363 ; position of, 
28, 46, 183 sq. ; rights in 
property, 156, 158 sq. : first to 
rise, 117; singing, etc., 114; 
iron stafi of, 240, 244 ; tabued 
at peace-making, 179 ; village 
of, 96n., 259 ; in war, 168, 
172 ; as were-leopards, 203, 
205, 206 



wood, birds, 48; utensils, etc., 41 wraiths, 249 

wood-louse, 259 
woodpecker, 343 
Woodthoi-pe, Col. R, G., xvii 
work, V. ' labour ' 
working party (aluzhi), v. ' gang ' 
wormwood, 104n., 108, 199 
wounds, sympathetic, 204, 205 
treated, 101, 102, 2?,5 

writing, 209, 299 

Yaohungr. tr., V. ' Yachuini 
yeast, 98, 102 

ZoGAZUMi (Angami vil.), 48 
Zubza (i.e. Dziidza), r., 6 





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