Day 4: The Naga Tiger Man
Rupert Winchester is back again! And this time he talks about the legend of the Naga Tiger Man…
Last night, we were lucky to have a distinguished academic visit our camp. He gave us a talk on various aspects of the traditional Naga culture, more specifically the Naga ‘Tiger-man’.
Our speaker was Dr Michael Heniese, an anthropologist currently based in Kohima, after spells in Central and South America and Europe. He runs the Kohima Institute and is the editor of the prestigious South Asianist academic journal. He came to settle in Nagaland after getting married to an Angami Naga, and they have two children.
The Naga ‘tiger-man’ concept is similar to that of a werewolf. Here in Nagaland, specific people believe that their souls can migrate into forest animals, especially the tiger. Known as the tekhumiavi, the tiger-man is not a common phenomenon, but is one that everyone in the region is familiar with.
Dr Heneise told us about one such tiger-man he had encountered. A prominent villager, a traditional healer (and pastor in the local Baptist church) was visited by some travelling medics. He complained of having a sharp pain in his side, and was given some painkillers.
Later, Dr Heneise visited the man’s home to see if the pills had worked. He was told that they had not, because his pain was due to his tiger having been recently shot and wounded in its side, during a hunt by local youths. This story was later confirmed by other villagers. Happily, the man, and we can assume, the tiger, both recovered, and the man, at least, is said to be in robust health.
All of us were fascinated by the subject, and peppered the good doctor with questions, many of which he found difficult to answer. He was particularly delighted at the unanswered ones because they opened up new avenues for his research.‘Does each living tiger has a human?’, ‘Is the number of tigers exactly the same as the number of tekhumiavi?’, ‘What happens if the tiger is caught and put in a zoo?’ (Apparently that’s fine, because no outside harm can come to the tiger. It is know that the tekhumiavi go and visit the tiger).
This session continued as Dr Heneise went on to talk about his life in Nagaland, what it’s like to be the only American living within a hundred miles, how his children miss Edinburgh, and the difficulties of getting good red wine.
The entire experience was fascinating and it gave us a detailed and cultured perspective on Nagaland. Arranged exclusively for us, the session shows how TUTC goes the extra mile to provide its guests with unique experiences.
Reality or just a myth? Uncover the secret of the Naga tiger man only at TUTC. BOOK NOW!