The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

colour photographs of Naga artefacts from various sources

letter from Hutton to Balfour

caption: Large cloth with anthropomorphic designs forming a wide band of decoration. They are painted in black on white canvas-like cloth edge with a narrow band of dark cloth with a pink line in it. The designer of this cloth had little idea of the significance of the signs. Rengma, Insuma village.
medium: artefacts
person: Balfour
ethnicgroup: Rengma
location: Insinyu (Insuma)
date: 26.5.1921
size:143cm; width of design 17cm
ethnicgroup: Rengma
location: Insinyu (Insuma)
refnum: 4:109-110
person: Hutton/ J.H.
form: gift
person: Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
date: 1921
refnum: 1923.84.824
note: descriptions derived from original source material unless in square brackets or otherwise stated
text: p.223 of Collections VI, Hutton "1921 - Large cloth similar to the one given in July, 1920; with anthoropomorphic designs forming a wide band of decoration. Made by a comparatively young Rengma man of Insuma village. The designs are modified from the older patterns and the designer knew little about their significance (see letter)".
text: Naga Hills, Assam.
text: May 26th 1921
text: Dear Balfour
text: I enclose a proof of the title page to the Sema Nagas. Do you approve? If not would you mind altering anything you disapprove of and sending it on to Macmillans. If you approve you might forward it.
text: I have got and am sending you another Rengma cloth. In this one, which is by a comparatively young man and of another village (Insuma) there is the beginning of a change in design. The feet are separated from the legs and the designer no longer knows what they are. He could not tell me what they were by said that they were not feet, and that the figure was, he thought, not that of a man except where the hands are shown, and the nose he did not recognize as such. He did not know what it was and suggested a 'modhu' ladle. In a still later cloth by the same man the feet are separated still more widely from the legs and are at right angles to the border, but I could not obtain the cloth.
text: All this maker said in contrary to the statements of the old man in Themokedima who recognised the feet and nose as such and stated quite specifically that all the figures were men except the lizard at each end, but this old man is now dead and I think the Insuma man is the only designer of this cloth left so that if it is handed on by him it will lose it original significance and features.
text: In this Insuma cloth I think the tails are a new feature, also the position of the "tigers' eyes", which should run in a separate line parallel to the line of figures according to the older maker, also the ornament worn on the back across the shoulders (or across the breast) and shown here thus [
text: Did I tell you that I managed to screw out of the Govt. another 16 blocks for the Sema monograph 32 in all? Almost the last thing done before the Reformed council and a policy of increased economy started which would never have sanctioned it...
text: Yours sincerely, J.H. Hutton