The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database


There are a number of different classes of written records which provide the background documentation for the visual images and are of value in their own right. They make it possible to trace the process of documentation of Naga culture from the first, fairly random, field notes or diary jottings, up to the final, polished, published book.

There are a number of manuscript daily diaries kept by soldiers, surveyors, colonial officials, anthropologists and interested observers.

From the earliest mid-19th century reports and diaries of Woodthorpe, McCulloch, Butler and Godwin-Austen through the illustrated museum curator's diary of Henry Balfour in 1922, and the detailed anthropological diary of von Furer- Haimendorf in 1936-7, to that of Mrs. M. Archer in 1947, there are the equivalent of over a thousand printed pages of diary material. These provide the most intimate and revealing reactions of the visitors to the Naga Hills.

There are extensive field notes taken by anthropologists and colonial officers, describing every aspect of Naga life, from rituals and myths, to genealogies and house lists. These can be cross-referred to the diaries and provide a solid body of ethnographic description and preliminary analysis. The field notes constitute the equivalent of over 750 pages of printed material.

A number of those who visited and worked in this area wrote letters to their family and friends in England. A selection of these letters, for instance those exchanged between J.P. Mills, J.H. Hutton and Henry Balfour, have been included. They describe some of the practical and theoretical problems that lay behind observing and collecting materials.

Colonial officers were required to make detailed reports on their tours of duty through Nagaland. These were then used by the government to provide the background for administration. Over one hundred such tour diaries made by J.H. Hutton, J.P. Mills and others have been transcribed, giving insights into colonial administration and the mentality of the observers. They constitute the equivalent of some 400 pages of printed materials.

A considerable quantity of reports, surveys, gazetteers, and other official records were published by the British administration over this period. Much of this is in the India Office Library, and selections relating to the Nagas have been transcribed and included. This gives a strong impression of the official and secret activities of the British Empire in this corner of its territory.

The final major category is the extensive scholarly materials published as books or articles in learned magazines. Most of the books on the Nagas in this period are now rare, expensive and difficult to obtain.

For this reason they will be put into the textual database when the average store on a micro-computer becomes large enough. Individual monographs by Hutton, Mills, von Furer-Haimendorf, Graham Bower, Hodson, and Smith will be put in the textual database and indexed by paragraph and by topic. They include most of the major Naga subdivisions.

A preliminary list of what we expect to include in the first issue of the data is given here.

Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf:
field diaries, 1936-7; field notes, 1936-7, 1970;

J.P. Mills:
letters, 1919-36; tour diaries, 1927, 1928, 1936;

J.H. Hutton:
letters, 1916-38; tour diaries, 1917-35;

U. Graham Bower:
field diaries, 1937-40; letters and field notes, 1937-47; thesis, 1950;

W.G. Archer:
field notes, 1946-48; tour diary, 1946-47

Mildred Archer:
diary, 1947

Colonel R.G. Woodthorpe:
tour diary, 1875; Report of Survey Operations, 1875-76

H. Balfour:
diary, 1922-23

K. Cantlie:
memoir, 1919-20; tour diary, 1919-20;

H.H. Godwin-Austen:
tour diary, 1872-73

Colonel J. Butler:
tour diary, 1870-73

P.J. Maitland:
Naga Hills Expedition, 1879-80

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