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: Phom carvings
medium: diaries
date: 25.9.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: 25 September. Mokokchung.
text: An exciting evening. First an old headman appeared with a basket of wooden Phom carvings. (The Phoms are another Naga tribe living near the frontier to the East.) As he took them out, we grew more and more excited. First there were carvings of blood- red warriors, stiff and fierce, with broad shoulders and curved buttocks. There were white feathers on their heads and white feather tassels on their ears and hands. Red goats' hair sprang from their feet, heads and shoulders. Then there was a line of men and women, rigid and tall, simplified to a pattern of rectangles. They were stained alternately red and blackish purple; the men had feather plumes on their heads and the women woollen tassels on their ears. Then he brought out a number of bamboo tankards, black and red, carved in relief with an intricate pattern of mithan horns and men with heads. The pattern weaves in and out so that as one turns the tankard the forms flow on and curve around the circle. He told us that these are ceremonial tankards to be hung on the grave of a headhunter.
text: Then there was the sunset; gold and slate blue in the west lighting up the fleecy clouds from below and making them look like pieces of delicate brocade. In the east, the sombre hills, outlined with golden slivers of light stood precise against the grey lowering sky as though seen through a stereoscope. Suddenly the rain clouds caught the light and turned an angry red, the colour of a dust storm on the plains. Then the rain caught the light in shafts, like the rays of the sun in a child's drawing. Finally a rainbow arched the sky; a sunset rainbow with all the colours deepened and distorted by the gathering storm.