The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Detailed description of the Manipur-Naga Hills boundary and the rationale for its choice
medium: tours
keywords: salt
person: StreetPorteous
ethnicgroup: ManipuriKuki
location: Wahong (Vahong) Riokhong Stream Jessami Kanjang Somra Tract Ther R. (Thetsa-ru R.)
date: 4.2.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 25.1.1923-22.2.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 4th
text: Halted Vahong to discuss with the Political Agent the question of the boundary between the Naga Hills and Manipur. There is of course, only one possible boundary, and this was spotted long ago by Mr. Street of the Upper Chindwin District when he prepared the map showing the northern boundary of the cross hatched area as the "Riokhong" stream. It has been accepted as the provisional boundary, since that map was printed, but the Political Agent very conscientiously attempting to do his duty by the Manipur State, tried hard to find one further north - in vain. The point was that long ago the Manipuris bagged some salt wells belonging to Jessami east of the Lania river and put an armed guard over them and compelled the neighbouring villages to make salt there by forced (and unpaid) labour. Mr. Porteous in one of his printed diaries not only records this but mentions that he warned the Manipuris off as trespassing outside the boundary of their state. However, this "thana" was named Wanghkaikul after the Manipur Jemadar in charge, and the present Political Agent regarded this as giving them a claim to have it included in the State, though it falls some 5,6 or even 7 miles north of the area cross hatched on the map. To include it, however, would have meant giving a boundary of irregular broken, and unnamed spurs and tilas, which are not shown, or are shown wrongly, on any existing map, and would also have meant a serious injustice to the new Kuki village of Kanjang and which I should therefore have had to protect in any case. On the other hand the "Riokhong" known locally as the Chingai or Thingai river is an absolutely unequivocal and ideal boundary. It is a considerable tributary of the Thetsa-ru rising almost at the top of the high range which forms the western boundary of Burma (the Somra Tract) and flows down a deep and precipitous gorge of two or three thousand feet in depth. An obvious boundary which it would be almost criminal to discard for a vague and wandering line along the crests of unmapped and unnamable hills. Moreover it is already recognized locally. Its acceptance will leave Vahong with panikhets and a saltwell on the Naga Hills side of the line, but this is entirely in accordance with the position elsewhere on the borders of the State, and except for occasional attempts of inexperienced officers to make the boundaries of private ownership coincide with the Political boundary, it has always been an understood thing that villages in the Manipur State may own land or water rights in the Naga Hills and vice versa: where attempts to make the boundaries of ownership and administration coincide they have usually been ignored tacitly by the villages concerned, or vitiated by subsequent sales or migration.