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: trip to Kohima
caption: visit to Lungkham
medium: diaries
person: Sankalemba/ of Lungkham
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Lungkam (Lungkham)
date: 9.8.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: 9 August. Lungkham.
text: Today we set off on the first stage of our trek to Kohima. Across the valley rain clouds were moving parallel to the path and, as we went through the dripping trees, it was as if the clouds were wreathing the hilltops like the smoke of volcanoes. For almost all the way the rain held off, but in the last two miles the clouds broke and we plodded uphill in a drenching downpour. Lungkham, a sprawling Ao village barred our way and we slipped and slithered on the muddy stones of the village street.
text: During the last twelve years this village has been burnt five times and its inhabitants have now made dug-outs in front (35) of every door into which grain and valuables can be thrown as the fire sweeps down. Even in the rain I noticed the gnarled head-tree bearing its solitary skull. In the past every Ao village had such a tree on which the skulls of its enemies were hung, but now the trees are dying out. The skull in Lungkham was a complimentary one presented by the Sub-Divisional Officer after a punitive expedition to a truculent head-hunting village. The Sub-Divisional Officer knows that on an expedition of this sort, the porters usually contrive to get hold of a head, so if some hostile villagers are killed he divides their heads among the carriers.
text: Sankalemba, the chief interpreter of Mokokchung, comes from this village. As we look at his head tree, he is in Delhi with the Naga delegation and perhaps he has already asked Pundit Nehru for independence.