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 seventeen. Fire, Fire!
caption: danger of fire
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (130) The camp's position on an open spur, with a grassy cliff below it and an open valley in front, had certain very obvious advantages from the point of view of light, air and space; but it had one major disadvantage - the danger from grass fires. We found this out our very first spring there.
text: Much of the Zemi country, whose natural vegetation was certainly forest, had, by over-cultivation, been reduced to grass; and not for nothing did every village on an exposed site have a thick belt of woodland round it. In the late spring, tinder-dry weather combined with high winds to make deadly danger, and it was no uncommon thing then to see a whole village's possessions, most of them shut up in stout cane jappas, standing or heaped in some comparatively safe place on the edge of the site for days on end.
text: The risk was first borne in on us when Laisong had a scare. The drums were beaten - the emergency signal, to call the men back from the fields - and, in a fever of ant-like activity, men cut firebelts in the ravine below, women and girls ran scurrying down with water, old men evacuated the valuables and livestock, and the most complete alarm and confusion reigned for the rest of the afternoon. I inquired, a little tentatively, whether our spur was safe.
text: " Oh ! " said the headman cheerfully. " The flames go sweeping right over it every year ! "