The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Head-taking dispute leading to war between Phesami and Cheshorr; lycanthropy discussed
medium: tours
keywords: land seizurestone
person: WozingaKhuvetha/ of ShothumiZukishe/ of PhesamiSittobungHezekhuGwovisheHovokhuZhetoiKhuzhokhu
ethnicgroup: SemasYimtsung
location: Shothumi Shothurr Honronre Cheshorr Phesami Yazuthu Kyutsu-Kilong (Kyutsukilong)
date: 21.11.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 1.11.1923-30.11.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 21st
text: To Shothumi about 7 miles, water bad. No trouble with transport as the coolies turned up very promptly being half Semas from Shothumi itself about 7 miles away. Camped again at over 7000 feet, and very cold. The old quarrel between the khels of Shothumi is on. Wozinga refuses to pay the customary leg of animals killed to Khuvetha, who in turn refuses to admit Wozinga's right to any land of his own. It is as much Wozinga's fault as Khuzhokhu's I fancy, and any way all their land was grabbed from Shothurr and Honronre.
text: A case came up of a head-taking dispute between Zukishe of Phesami and the village of Cheshorr. Two men of Cheshorr went to join some Phesami friends in sneaking a head from Honronre. Apparently it was not an official Phesami raid and was concocted privately. The two men of Cheshorr in fighting kit - shields, spears, panjis etc. fell in with some other men of Phesami who thought it was someone coming to raid them and turned out to cut them off. Yazuthu, Honronre and other villages about joined in the pursuit and decapitated one. The other too exhausted to speak happened to run into Zukishe's son, whose companions were for killing him at once, but the young man prevented them and took the survivor home and let him go. In return for this Zukishe claimed, and got, a mithan from the man of Cheshorr. Now, however, Cheshorr have come forward with a claim against Zukishe for having treacherously enticed two of their men to be killed by his village, and demand the mithan back. Their statement that Zukishe himself invited them is based on alleged statements made in his village by the dead man only, and I do not think they fit in with the fact that one man was saved. Anyway they are incapable of proof, and even if the statements were made they may not have been true. Sittobung and Hezekhu tried to settle the case on the lines that the two men of Cheshorr went out for war and got what they were looking for; the mithan was rightly paid as the price of preservation and the matter should end there. Cheshorr refused this solution absolutely and referred to me saying that they had a casus belli and wished for war and intended war. I said that they had better have what they wanted but that the war was to be limited to Cheshorr on the one side (about 500 houses) and the four Gwovishe brothers (about 400 houses I fancy) on the other, and that Kyutsukilong and other inoffensive villages were to be left alone unless they joined in of their own accord. Kyutsukilong is to flag the boundaries of its fields while march [sic] with Cheshorr this year. Both sides agreed to this, and I said there must be 10 days truce before the katakati started but that it was open from the December 2nd. I doubt if anything more will come of it than a state of war and perhaps a few odd heads. Anyhow I fancy the only proper way of ending head hunting, if it is to be ended, is by very gradually limiting its scope until it gets rarer and rarer and the taste for it dies a natural death. Zukishe, I understand, is very unhappy about the fine he paid last year. It was a very heavy one and has, as he put it, "taken all the meat off his bones". I noticed at Shothumi a smallish erect stone put up by a Yimtsung inhabitant "because the stone was a nice one". People had sharpened their daos on the top of it.
text: I managed to get Zukishe, Hovokhu and Zhetoi - all notorious lycanthropists - to talk about the subject in Khuzhokhu's house. Zukishe, to a chorus of assents, stated quite definitely that the peregrinations en tigre always took place during sleep, and that more often than not the country was strange and distant from their own village, but that sometimes they happened to kill near home and then only were able to indicate to others the locality of the kill after awaking. Some are better at this than others, and I gather Zhetoi has achieved notoriety that way.