The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: information about deadly arrow poison
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Chang
location: Chingmei
date: 30.11.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 28.11.1936-11.2.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: In the evening our mail comes and with it a letter and evaluation from the School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta, concerning the poison of the Pangsha arrows of which Smith had sent in some samples prior to our tour. It could not be identified nor had they found an antidote. Experiments with cats and toads have shown that the poison attacks both heart and respiratory system. First the blood pressure rises, then it gets irregular, breathing difficulties occur and a sudden collapse of blood pressure causes death. At first the poison seemed identical to Antiaris Toxicaris ('from the Upas tree' translator's note) but the experiments have shown that it is not identical and about ten times as toxic. We do not know which plant it comes from. No Naga admits to having gathered it himself but all claim to have bought it. Apparently it is the sap or the resin of a tree which is allowed to drip into chungas on the wind protected side. Birds who sit on this tree are supposed to die.