The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter thirteen. Hgangi
caption: the Christmas mithan
medium: books
person: Paodekumba
date: 12.1940
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (98) I found myself faced that winter with a lone Christmas at Laisong. The Zemi New Year Feast of Hgangi fell directly after; so it looked as though we were in for a riotous time.
text: We were.
text: By dint of a great deal of scraping and stinting I had saved up enough to buy a small mithan. This was brought over from Tolpui, up the valley, killed by the cook and left at the water- point for the village blacksmith to cut up. I had arranged to go down and supervise this, but some domestic crisis intervened at the critical moment, and when I ran down there at last - alas ! for the slate-grey hide I had planned as a bedside rug, for steaks, for sirloins, for any joint whatever ! Hide and all, the carcase had been hacked to pieces with dao and axe, in the purest Naga style; nothing remained but a pile of tripe and a mound of bleeding hunks weighing a pound or so each. The cook and I went gingerly through the heap. After much gruesome Scotland Yard work, we found something which, by a stretch of the imagination, might once have been rather like a roasting piece. So that was chosen; and we sent it back to camp for my Christmas dinner next day.
text: At eleven o'clock on Christmas morning, the cook reported sick with fever. But, he said, he had arranged everything with Paodekumba. I was on no account to spoil my holiday by sweating over a stove myself.
text: When, that evening, Namkia entered the room with a triumphant sweep and my Christmas feast on a tray, he laid before me a sodden bone - a bone wringing, waterlogged; (99) a bone from which depended in places ragged bunches of what seemed to be wet, brown string - my poor joint, warmed in tepid fat some time that morning, laid in a gallon of water, and boiled unremittingly ever since.
text: I opened a tinned tongue.