The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript tour diary of W.G. Archer, S.D.O. Mokokchung 1947

caption: new gate at Kohima and mithan carving
medium: tours
person: Krusihu
ethnicgroup: Angami
location: Kohima
date: 13.1.1947
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 31.12.1946-14.2.1947
text: 13 January
text: This morning Krusihu D.C.'s pandit and the head dobashi came to see me and we discussed the new gate which the Khel of Kohima is shortly installing.
text: The tree for the new gate, they told me has already been cut but there was a great discussion in the Khel concerning who was qualified to fell it. It was at last decided that who had performed the [] gennas was the only proper person and the Khel ruled that he must do it. He was warned however that he must have no sexual intercourse for []. If he does, the whole Khel will be blighted and he and his family will be cursed. A gate as I had already realised is very far from being a merely incidental part of village defences. It is in actual fact the pivot of the village. The village sacred stones are kept near it , and it is charged with magic or pseudo-magic powers. In earlier days, villagers always avoided going through it and if one did, he offered a branch of wormwood in case 'the gate seized and struck him'. (22)
text: There is in fact a 'spirit' of the gate and it is on the health or 'State' of this spirit that village welfare depends. In another sense the gate could be regarded as the life index of the Khel. On the occasion of visits by friendly Khels, all the visitors have to exercise the greatest caution in going through the gate lest any spear should touch it. If the gate is touched by a spear, disaster may fall not only on the Khel but on the visitors.
text: So far as mithan carvings are concerned, there is no standard practice. In Kohima itself all ten gennas must be performed and only then can the carvings be executed. In other villages far fewer gennas are needed and in some cases only two or three. In view of its strict standards there is now only one house in the whole of Kohima village which possesses such carvings.
text: Both Krusihu and the head dobashi lamented the decay of Angami culture. Various attempts, they said had been made by Nagas to record the tribal ritual poetry and folk-tales and before the war a number of manuscripts existed. But with the invasion of Kohima, all were burnt. Now if anything is to be done they must start entirely afresh.