The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes made by W.G. Archer between 1946 & 1948, and miscellaneous papers and letters

caption: tiger killing
medium: notes
person: HopongkiChuba
ethnicgroup: Sangtam
location: Chongtore (Chungtore)
date: 27.4.1947
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 5:48
text: Tigers.
text: While I was camping at Chungtore (Sangtam) on 27th April 1947, a tigress killed a mithan close to the village. Hopongki who is a Christian Sangtam sat up for it and at about 11p.m. a shot was heard. There was immediately a great commotion. People hurried out of their houses with torches and everyone took it for granted that the tigress had been killed. Shortly afterwards there was a second shot and a little later a third. By that time people were streaming up the hill, the torches moving like great scarlet flares against the black jungle. There was a small moon and the night had a sharp and steely keenness. As the men and boys went up, they uttered shrieks of triumph - at first singly and then a little later in a steady chanted rhythm. At the spot, the Christian Sangtams made a great bier, stuck a shell between the tigress' jaws and hoisted her onto it. Then they formed a long line, lifted the litter and with the torches casting their glow ahead, and everyone loudly chanting, the Christians hurried down the hill. Next morning, excitement was unabated and all the girls and women - both Christian and non-Christian - from the neighbouring khels came to see the carcase. Chuba's wife who is aged about thirty had never seen a tiger before and she stared at it with bewildered delight.
text: Next morning at about midday, the Christians again lifted the bier and took it off to the forest. There they skinned the carcase and some of them cooked the flesh and ate it. This incident was of more than passing interest since this was the first time a tiger had been paraded through a Sangtam village. Tigers, although at one time fairly common in the Ao country, have recently been almost unknown among the Sangtams. Chuba Sangtam told me that until 1943 they were never seen but since then a number have entered the Sangtam country and have been harrying the cattle. During the last few months as many as 50 mithan have been killed. The march through the village was possible only because there are now some Christian houses. If we had not been in camp, only an old tribal Sangtam or a Christian could have shot it and since no Christians or old Sangtams possess guns, the tigress would have gone free. Similarly the women were able to see it only because the carcase was brought to the village. If a tribal Sangtam had killed it, the carcase would have stayed outside the village.