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 Sakhalu
caption: jhuming
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Sakhalu
date: 13.9.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: 13 September. Sakalu.
text: All today the road lay along an open hillside running parallel to the frontier. The view was open and unbroken as all the hillsides had been heavily 'jhumed'. 'Jhuming', or shifting cultivation, is the normal method of agriculture in the Naga Hills and only the Angamis terrace rice fields on a large scale. The other tribes grow their rice on the open hillsides and in the wet fields in the valleys. When they clear the jungle, the villagers cut all the trees in the winter and leave them on the ground to dry. Then one day in the spring, they set fire to them and this is a great day for the village. Everyone goes out with his spear and as the flames roar up the hillside, the villagers bring down the terrified jungle fowl and deer. The clearings are cultivated for two years and then allowed to return to jungle for seven to fifteen years.
text: There was a dramatic moment this morning as we walked through a silent stretch of maize. One of the interpreters went to pick a few dobs from a field belonging to his brother. The moment he cracked a stem, a female voice rose from the maize, 'Whose cobs are you taking?' It was as if the maize (79) itself had eyes and the huge empty fields were crawling with girls.