The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Burial customs at Zakkho; description of Sangnyu, carvings in Ang's house; historical relations with Ahoms
medium: tours
location: Gako (Zakkho) Sangnyu Zangkam
date: 20.10.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 9.10.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 20th
text: Via Zakkho (Gako, - "Jako" on map). a small village about three miles East of Ngangting and 3050 ft. up, to Sangnyu (Changnoi on map). The map is bad and misleading but the path not so far as it appears on the map.
text: At Zakkho we saw burials which combined the wooden figure of the deceased man (we saw none of women) very nicely carved, with a second burial made some 8 or 10 days later when the head is put into a pot with a stone dolmen - like an altar for offerings - and other offerings in other pots also half-buried alongside. One figure had three hand-arrows stuck into the ground alongside him neatly coloured with a spiral stripe made by twisting round a piece of tangal and then smoking the whole and taking off the tangal to leave the unsmoked strip underneath. The figure has a little house of its own by the machan on which the body rests and the friends of the deceased come to mourn in front of the statue. The pots in which the head is ultimately buried is covered with a flat stone and the skulls of Angs (Chiefs) are painted with the tattoo worn by them during life. A few old skulls in the morung.
text: Sangnyu is about 20 miles from Ngangting and is a fine big village. They had cleared us a big camping ground in a fine site at the edge of a cliff and with our own water and proved very friendly. There are four morungs with from 20 to 50 heads in each mostly taken from Zangkam on the next ridge. The Ang's house was enormous. It had 27 posts supporting the central roof tree and measured 130 longish paces from the front door to the back, the eaves of the gables excluded. It contains a piece of magnificent wood about 20 ft long by 12 ft high at least and it must have been at least six ft. thick at one end originally but the thickness was cut away leaving all sorts of carving in relief, some in high relief, other parts standing on projecting ledges and cut entirely out away from the background but all done in the same piece of wood. There were two big tigers, one broken the other very well and realistically carved, a couple of warriors, and a mother suckling her child, but broken, a man and a woman performing the sexual act, a cock crowing excellently carved, a big snake, a double rainbow, huluks, very natural, human heads, other less striking things and a joppa standing absolutely clear of the main block and carved completely and hollowed inside as a receptacle for odds and ends with a detached lid. There was also a long gadi the size of a bed with a foot-rest along one side like a shelf all carved in one piece of wood, on which the Ang alone may sit, and two smaller thrones of the same pattern but portable also in one piece of wood each. On the platform outside the house was a flat stone, the Ang's particular sitting place, carved with the pattern of a pair of feet like the Manipur stones at Kohima and elsewhere. All this carving was ascribed to a more or less mythical ancestor and must be excessively old, though all but one of the "thrones" are as good as the day they were made. The height of Sangnyu is about 3500 and was a pleasant change from the low hills. Zangkam (Rangkam on map), Longphong (Huru Changnoi on map) and Nyasia (Niassia on map) came in with presents of pig and chicken and goat. Nyasia has recently moved S. of Chakkihua hill and will therefore fall into the control area if my boundary be accepted.
text: The Ang of Sangnyu has an iron cannon, which we saw, and the story of how he came by it is this - the king of Assam invited the Chief of Sangnyu, his son and his daughter to come down and see him under a safe conduct. They came, and the king of Assam then proceeded to behead the Chief, and by way of a little pleasant sport ordered the son to violate his sister in public. The boy refused and was told the alternative was death. He refused again but his sister persuaded him to do it to save his life, and they were then let go, and went back to his village, where the girl hanged herself. To revenge the treatment of the Chief and his family Sangnyu then started to make war on the plains and did it so effectually that the Assamese sued for peace and the king gave Sangnyu a cannon as an indemnity.