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: head-taking at Tuensang, skull houses and log-drums
medium: notes
keywords: ha-chong
person: HuttonLomao khelBilaishi khelChongpho khelKangsho khel
ethnicgroup: ChangSangtam
location: Tuensang Shamnyu Chare
person: Archer/ W.G.
date: 1946-1948
refnum: 16:42
seealso: Hutton, 'Diaries' p. 48
text: Chang. Tuensang. Headtaking.
text: Return with the head - go to the morung - rest a bit - then pierce the head with a stick - take it in triumph round the village - a procession but not a dance - put the head on the head of the drum - beat the drum (women cannot beat it) - take it to the ha-chong - headtree - heads tied to bamboo poles - with grass skirts - then back to the drum - beat it again - feet and hands also taken - and also hung up - [dance at festivals and at mithan feasts - no dancing on return from a raid.] Did not wear their ceremonial dress either on or after the raid to Shamnyu - the dress is only for show occasions - the day after installing the head on the head tree, the slayer (first striker) kills a pig - if man is killed but head not got, a gourd is put up in its place - [for 3 days the slayer is required to eat meat only, nothing else - therefore a pig is killed] - genna to take anything else - no puja to the head - no solicitation asking it to bring its family.
text: The drum houses are known not as morungs (Assamese - places where men gather) but as 'skull houses' (places where the heads of enemies are kept) - their first function is to be skull depositories - I noticed in one 'skull house' in the Lomao Khel some dhan baskets hanging up in the roof and the 3 stones of a hearth
text: Bilaishi Khel - a skull house has various men with vertically erect organs SKETCH
text: I did not notice any skull houses with figures of women (Hutton noted a figure of 'a man in a condition of sexual excitement in a Bilaishi morung while a morung in the Kangsho Khel had figures of women similarly made' 48.) Mithan heads - hornbills, on posts and also little ones suspended as if in flight - leopards - wooden heads. In the drum houses a separate string for each warrior - the basket balls on a string signify the number of corpses he has touched with his spear - a skull = the skull the particular warrior took - SKETCH
text: Between the Chongpho and Bilaishi khels 3 menhirs - hearts buried under them.
text: Conventions re basket balls in private houses.
text: 1. Denotes number of heads got in a raid by whole khel after the house owner had sacrificed a cock (one house 3, one house 7) - or
text: 2. Denotes total number of heads taken by the house owner ie. when he has taken 15 or more (one house 30).
text: The dangling line is based on a hornbill - sometimes fully carved - sometimes a blade-like head.
text: The Chare Sangtam house is under Ao influence - not a Sangtam custom to have wooden heads in the houses.
text: Kangsho Khel - hired by Mom to attack Monyakchi - more fresh heads - 3 heads got.
text: In Tuensang a Chang said 'You and Hutton Sahib come from the same village'. 'Hutton Sahib was a thorough Naga. He was always fooling about'.
text: (Chang carvings and morungs photographed - Tuensang - Bilaishi, Lomao, Chungfo?)