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: Mokokchung, a centre of Colonial Administration
caption: District Officer's bungalow
medium: diaries
location: Mokokchung
date: 14.7.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: Our bungalow is on the top of a hill with vast views of mountain ranges and deep valleys. This evening we seemed poised above the world. A rainbow arched from side to side and below us were wastes of pink cotton-wool clouds.
text: The whole hillside is our garden. Round the house is a lawn with a few huge chestnut trees and a fernery full of orchids. In front is a terrace of roses and below that a wood. Behind the house are the vegetable garden and the orchard, with bananas, chestnuts and pineapples as well as maize and cape gooseberries. In the orchard are pear, plum and peach trees all laden with fruit. Below the house on one side is a pond and a small tea-garden, while on the opposite side is a large clump of cypress trees. A little further are the 131 stone steps which lead slowly and relentlessly up from the little fort, the treasury and the office. (9)
text: Until that hot afternoon when I toiled up the steps, I had never seen the house or garden, yet as I walked the lawn it was as if something at least was persistently familiar. That night I looked again at the illustrations in the Assam monographs - The Sema Nagas, The Ao Nagas, The Angami Nagas. Then at last I knew. It was the neat darunta hedge rimming the compound like a line of privet, squat, cosy and suburban. Of all the natural beauties in the Naga Hills, it is the hedge which has been most lovingly and regularly photographed! Sometimes it provides the romantic background for a set of witchcraft figures. Sometimes its well-clipped outlines provide a decorous setting to a warrior's glory. Sometimes it looms dim but visible beneath the compound clothes- line while Naga cloths dangle their differences in the glum light. Even when Sema boys wrestle and a chief stands proudly to attention, the hedge remains neat and gentle, a pointer to another land where the Nagas are huddled in museums and the head-taker is only a specimen.