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: chief of Sakhalu and polygamy
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Sakhalu
date: 13.9.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: At the entrance to the village, we were welcomed by its chief wrapped in a magnificent black and red cloak adorned with cowries. Rows of large white circles indicated the human heads he had taken, while a number of mithan heads were worked along the base. At the corner, where the cloth was thrown over the shoulder, a great plume of scarlet goats' hair came sweeping down.
text: His house is decorated with tier upon tier of mithan heads and warrior feathers, all carved in wood up the huge frontal planks.
text: As I sat inside, my eyes got slowly used to the flickering gloom and the four rooms at length took shape, the husking room with its huge pounders, a smaller room for the unmarried girls, a large centre room with two hearths and a small cubicle for storing liquor. Every rafter was covered with implements, utensils, baskets and cloths while pieces of meat and fish were hanging up to smoke. The house seemed full of beds and we learnt that the chief had ten wives. Formerly there were thirteen but two had died and one had proved unsatisfactory. Like almost every Sema the chief is a Christian but only, I suspect, out of conformity to what is now the majority usage. He had declined baptism and his household is as polygamous as ever. (80)