The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on the Nagas from 'Census of India, 1931 - Volume III - Assam Report'

caption: Appendix A. The effect on the tribes of the Naga Hills district of Contacts with civilization, by J.P. Mills, I.C.S
caption: foreign dress
medium: reports
person: Mullan/ C.S.Mills/ J.P.
date: 1931
text: Foreign dress is spreading slowly, but steadily. For this the blame must fall both on certain departments of Government, who allow their employees to wear it, and on Missionaries whose active encouragement has not always as yet been reduced even to connivance. It is certainly definately connected in the Naga mind with education, and a smattering of superficial knowledge is considered to entitle the possessor thereof to a pair of shorts, while a suit complete with watch chain and Trilby hat almost corresponds to doctor's robes. The custom is bad from every point of view. It entails waste of money where money is hard to find. It encourages dirt, since no Naga can afford the changes he ought to have in the damp heat of Assam. It spreads disease in two main ways. Adults become more liable to chills and phthisis since they do not change their wet clothes, and children who are carried against wet "shirt waists" instead of against their mothers' warm backs suffer as a result. From the artistic point of view it is especially and utterly to be condemned. To substitute soiled and poor quality western clothes, or more often a caricature of them, for the exceedingly picturesque Naga dress is an aesthetic crime. More of the body is covered up, but I have yet to find that this leads to stricter morality.