The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: methods of clearing the jungle and making fields
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
date: 30.12.1936
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: (130) Wakching 30/12/1936
text: Now is the time when the jungle is cleared for the new fields. Most of the old fields are already cleared and last year's weeds and stubble are now being burnt. For the new fields the gentle slope on the south-east facing side of the ridge between Wakching and Wanching, have been chosen, so for the most part the fields will not be too far from the village, those farthest away only about half an hour, at least that is how it seems to me. Yet Chinyang said that his new field was very far. Now I have to discover where it actually is. Anyway I decided to watch the clearing of the jungle today.
text: The first clearings are immediately next to the path to Wanching. At the end of the jhum which has only a few trees left standing on it I see two girls cutting away the tall grass and reed. A bit further towards Wanching I come to a place where several Angban boys and one girl are cutting the thicket. They have started at the lower end of the planned field and now work themselves up the slope in a line. (131) The tall reed-like grass and cane are cut off a good bit above the base and it now covers the ground in a tall pile. The boys climb the trees which are growing in the jungle, all rather young, and they cut off branches and tops until they sit on the bare trunk. The remaining trees in general stay alive and once the period of cultivation is completed, they enhance the reformation of the jungle. The boys labour is hard in this thick underbrush which is full of all sorts of prickly plants, and now at noon the hot sun burns down on their naked backs. The girl who is probably the owner's daughter, hardly works less than the boys although she does not climb onto the trees.