The Enchanted Community: Kaose and Doi (Witchcraft) Among the Kukis of Northeast India

By Jangkhomang Guite

This paper examines the social history of kaose and doi among the Kukis of Northeast India. It begins with a discussion on two recent incidences of kaotom to show how the old belief continued to haunt Kuki society of the present. Then it went on defining kaose and doi, of their mythological origin, their characteristics, and the societal responses. In the final analysis, it discusses whether they exist in reality. From few historical evidences that we could gather here, this paper argues that the kaose and doi are largely the products of social and neighborhood tensions and community conflicts that engulfed the Kuki-Chin world during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In other words, the gaining popularity of kaose and doi during this time was largely centre on the conflicting political and social relationship between different social classes in the village community on the one hand and between different villages/clans/tribes on the other where the powerful utilised them as a tool to dominate, defame, and criminalise the weak. They are merely a civilisational tool in the hands of the powerful who felt they are cultured and civilised against the weak whom they condemned as ‘uncultured’ and ‘uncultivated’. The broad argument is that kose and doi is a mere social construct and does not exist in reality.

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