The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - J.H. Hutton's tour diary in the Naga Hills

caption: suicide of women by drinking poison at Chopo; decline in Lhota villages; failure to find a replacement gaonbura at Chopo
medium: tours
location: Mesangpi Tsobo (Chopo)
date: 23.6.1922
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 15.6.1922-7.7.1922
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 23rd
text: Halted to visit Mesangpi and Chopo. The longer I stay in this Inspection Bungalow the madder I get. It is impossible to open a door or shut a window without filling one's hands with a detestable mixture of earth oil and tar. I have already rubbed the Muharrir's nose in it - literally, and if I could at the moment lay hands on the Overseer, I should certainly do the same by him, and in addition to having made all the wood work as abhorrent as himself he has allowed all the windows to remain without hooks so that they won't stay open in the wind.
text: I walked to Mesangpi - about 2 miles, counted it and went on to Chopo, about two miles further on and counted that. In Chopo I found the old Gaonbura so ill that he could not leave his bed and apparently dying of no illness at all, he said, as he did not care to eat. No one would take his place as Gaonbura, the most eligible person producing his wife as an obstacle. She said that life was hard enough without having husband gadding off to Kohima at irregular intervals, and that if he was made Gaonbura she should drink poison - and she meant it. There is a regular craze in Chopo for drinking poison, particularly among the women. It appears to be a painless and pleasant way out of a dull life too full of drudgery, and I am not sure that in their place I should not do the same. It helps one to understand the steady decline in the population of Lhota villages, Mesangpi and Chopo being far from exceptions to this rule. The very obvious decay of these Lhota villages forcibly makes me recall and reflect on an essay of the late Doctor River's "On the Government of Subject Races" in Cambridge University Press publication of 1917 called "Science and the Nation". It is an essay which ought to be in the hands of every officer in Assam who has to deal with hill-tribes - not to mention Members of Government.