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 Chingmei
medium: tours
keywords: architectureclothmarriageburial customsmythologycattlehead-huntingsymbolismrainbow
person: Pawsey/ MrWoodthorpe
ethnicgroup: ChangKalyo-KengnyuYimtsungrrSemasKacha Naga
location: Chingmei Wokyung R. Poupu Range Zungki R. Langyok Noko Sanglao Panso
date: 15.11.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 1.11.1923-30.11.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 15th
text: Halted Chingmei. Mr. Pawsey and the Surveyor went down to the Wokyung below the village, and thence up the range called Poupu (8000 ft) east of that in order to map the sources of the Zungki, here called the Langnyu, at least from the junction of the Wokyung coming from the Yimpang end of the valley with the Tiekyung coming from the southern end towards Chentang. Unfortunately the day was very cloudy and they were unable to see much. I went to the village (a mile away) and then up to the top of the range behind, (the former site of Chingmei) from where I could see into the next valley a little, and was shown the villages of Langyok, Noko and Sanglao. Clearly the map is wrong and there is a range splitting off from the Patkoi and joining up with the Saramati range and forming the watershed between the Namzalein and the Zungki. It is along this range, I think, that the Assam-Burma boundary will ultimately have to go, and I am not sure that the boundary of the control area should not include Chingmei and so take in the whole of the Chang tribe, leaving all the Kalyo-Kengnyu outside.
text: I saw a Khamti dao again, here, bought by a Chingmei man from Noklok further east. One of the houses in Chingmei had plank walls, and in general the side walls were a good deal higher than is usual in Naga houses, adding much to the space inside. They make a lot of fibre cloth here, using the bark of a prickly shrub which bears small berries like miniature double raspberries along the stem of it. It is called leikin by the Changs. I noticed plank sitting places, and a small drumlog hollow at both ends. Also a house half slated in the Kalyo-Kengnyu fashion. A considerable part of the population of Chingmei is Kalyo-Kengnyu by origin, and there is a tendency to take wives from that tribe, as they regard it as improper to ask for any marriage price. The dead here are buried inside the house under a stone. Later the skull is disinterred, cleaned, and reburied at a little distance from the body, a custom which I believe is generally followed by the Yimtsungrr. In Chingmei persons killed in war and decapitated are thrown into the jungle and their property is put out for them nine days later. I also saw the "inverted chevron" memorial mentioned by Woodthorpe as seen by him somewhere else in 1875-6. It is said to represent a rainbow, and to be symbolical of the rain that always falls when a really great man died. It was accompanied by a great array of cloths and ornaments and by a long row of shaped posts and the skulls of slaughtered cattle all in memory of the recently dead chief. The chevron does not really look a bit like a rainbow, being angular and the two sides crossing at the top, and having a sort of foot sticking up at each end, but it struck me that it may have something to do with the passage of the soul to the next world, as I think the rainbow is called "the spirits bridge" by some Naga tribe and the Semas also call it Kungum pukhu which they translate as "sky spirit's leg", but I think that a pukhu means bridge as well, and the latter is a much more reasonable translation.
text: Shields of the bark of the sagopalm (the edible variety) are common here, and I remember to have seen them also at Yungya, in the Konyak country, and at Wilong in the Kacha Naga country. I have seen them somewhere else in the Chang country on this tour, either at Tuensang or at Hakchang.
text: The Changs of Chingmei are great cattle owners, and the land has the jhumed out appearance of the Tizu valley largely as a result of the great number of mithan and buffaloes kept. These are always being shot with poisoned arrows by raiders from "Aoshed" ie. Panso, a Kalyo-Kengnyu village to the east reputed most formidable in war.
text: They had a head off Chingmei only 10 days ago, taken in the fields 300 yards from the village, and we were given all sorts of warnings against them and had several broad hints as to the desirablility of our going and slaying them and burning their village. One of the Chingmei chiefs apologized for his mean house on the ground that as Aoshed had burned him out three times already it was not worth building anything better.