The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: A very detailed description of Tuensang
medium: tours
keywords: musicdancingdresstattoosdogsmorungscarvinghead-huntinginter-khel hostilitiesdefencesburial customsillness
person: Kangsho khel/ TuensangLomao khel/ TuensangBilaeshi khel/ TuensangChongpho khel/ TuensangOngli NgakuUng clan/ TuensangMongko/ of Tuensang
ethnicgroup: ChangAo
location: Tuensang Ninyam Borjan Colliery Naksho
date: 11.11.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 1.11.1923-30.11.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 11th
text: Halted Tuensang. In the morning I visited the village again and saw the rest of it. It must be quite a mile long with a few blank spaces but nearly all one long main street with small and crowded side streets wherever there is room along the ridge.
text: The village had started a dance last night at 9.0 pm and it was still going when we started up to the village at 8.15 pm and though it stopped then, fresh dancing broke out in each khel as we went through.
text: In the Kangsho khel I noticed a dog with one foreleg tied up to the neck as a punishment for theft. The dog didn't seem much inconvenienced. Another dog - a white bitch - was being shaved with a dao, the hair to be dyed scarlet and used for embroidering cloths.
text: In the Lomao khel there was a buffalo headed drum just like those of the Aos, and many morungs had carvings of leopards biting each others' necks, clumsily carved. One of the headmen's houses had a one piece wooden bed which must have been cut from an enormous tree. I saw an old man who had devised for himself a new type of cloth "to keep the cold out". It was a white cloth with lines of cotton fringes in different colours.
text: At the edge of the Lomao khel was a fairly fresh head recently taken from Ninyam and not yet ripe for hanging in the morung in front of the drum. (The morung by the way is not used as a sleeping place by Changs). The eyes of the skull were pierced with bamboo skewers "to give the spirit pain in the next world". Behind it the fingers and toes of the dead man were strung together and hung on another pendant. They were not complete however, as the owner had been some short before his head was taken. In between the Bilaeshi and the Chongpho khels there is a deep ditch digged formally filled with panjis, most of which were pulled up by Ongli Ngaku's orders last time he came here, when he tried to settle the longstanding feud between the Chongpho and the Bilaeshi khels. For the present it is abated, but I saw in the Chongpho khel a long row of hide shields set out as they are put when trouble with the Bilaeshi is toward. I noticed occasional stones erected, but small and apparently not of much importance.
text: There was a dance going on in the Chongpho khel in which a warrior joined stepping into the middle of the circle and shouting out the occasions on which he had proved his valour. He was followed by two witnesses, as required by custom, to testify to the truth of his assertions but these tended to become buffoons, the chief witness repeating "so I have heard" or "indeed I have heard he killed a woman" or something of that sort after each assertion, and the witness No. 2 rarely saying anything but when he did it was "yes, it might be so". Witness No.1 caused great amusement by his remarks and doubtless would in time develop into a stage clown or the humorous relief in a serious drama, for the catalogue of exploits was accompanied by a good deal of acting.
text: I should very much like to have seen the place where the skulls of the dead are put at their second funeral. At the harvest festival each year the previous year's dead are disinterred, or taken from their bamboo platforms as the case may be (for both methods of disposal are used according to the last instructions of the deceased, or failing any by clan custom) and are taken to a spot about a mile away in the ravine of a small stream where there are natural stone shelves formed by the strata in the river. Here the heads are set out in rows on the shelves allotted to each clan, the oldest being thrown away when there is no more room for the new ones. No path may be cleared or kept up to this spot, and no- one may go there except when conducted by the two official buriers, and then no one may look about them or behind them but they go stooping with eyes on the ground. They were most obviously unwilling to take me or to let me go, so I gave up the idea. There are two such places, one for the upper khels and the other for the lower ones of a village, both a long way from the village itself. They could tell me of no other village with the same custom.
text: A lot of the Tuensang people came in for medicine. There was a good deal of sickness as some thirty men had gone down to work at the Borjan Colliery in October and were all ill as a result. The village is far from rich, and sweet potatoes seem to be the staple crop. There is a good deal of Job's tears, but it appears to be very poor this year and is said to be usually like that, I doubt if the poorer households often taste liquor.
text: The women have two face tattoos differing in the chin pattern between the Ung clan and the others. I got Mongko's wife, a pretty girl, to come to the camp and let me paint in her tattoo and photograph her, when I presented her with some red wool, after which I was besieged with people wanting wool, and the perimeter was crowded with women, while the men and boys became a perfect nuisance, and were not at all disposed to be shoo'd off. While halting at Tuensang the Surveyor went up to Naksho a small Chang village high up on the same range as Kudeh and west of the Yangmun. Naksho contained 57 heads in the morung different mens' trophies being strung on different canes. When a man dies the heads he has taken are hung up by the corpse (whether it is buried or exposed on a platform) and left there; at Tobu, on the other hand, they are said to be passed on from father to son. The red goats hair spear shafts so common here are made by Yali and Longtang, Chang villages further west.