The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Journey to Nagaland', by Mildred Archer. An account of six months spent in the Naga Hills in 1947

caption: visit to Chungtia
caption: walk to Mokokchung
caption: log drums
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Chungtia Aliba
date: 12.7.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: But the most exciting things in Chungtia and its neighbour, Aliba, are the log drums. They are carved and hollowed from an enormous tree trunk, about five feet in diameter. The front is carved into the most beautiful flowing forms which remind one of Graham Sutherland's trees. Originally, the villagers say, the front was carved to represent a buffalo head. The basic form is still there, but the horns have grown larger and larger until they fold back and flow into the body of the drum. The nose is flattened, the tongue has turned into a human head and the whole looks like a magnificent figurehead surging from a galleon.
text: The drum is beaten with great wooden strikers and two levers and its hollow boom reverberates through the hills. (8) The rhythm of the beat proclaims its purpose. It used to be beaten when an enemy approached or when a head had been taken, but now it is used chiefly at festivals or as a fire alarm.