The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Opium eating; efforts to cure opium eaters; stonework and burial customs at Merangkong
medium: tours
person: Shopen/ of Tangsa
ethnicgroup: AoKonyak
location: Merangkong
date: 15.6.1925
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 29.5.1925-29.6.1925
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 15th
text: To Merangkong. This village used to have about 40 houses of opium eaters at one time, of whom more than half were genuine kanias, when we introduced the Naga Hills Opium orders when I was S.D.O. At that time I segregated some 23 houses of habitues who refused to give up the habit. There are now only two houses in the village which contain opium eaters. Some have died; some have been cured (given plenty of modhu, cures are not only possible but frequent), and public opinion and the ration tickets have prevented the habits spreading.
text: Merangkong will soon be able to be struck off the listed Ao villages in which opium eating does not entail expulsion from the village. In 1923 this village built itself a very fine stone stairway from the bridle path to the village, flanked by occasional monoliths and with crude carvings on some of the steps. I doubt if this would have been possible when so many of the village were occasional opium eaters. This use of stone, together with other things, suggests that Merangkong is as much Konyak as Ao, though externally Ao to all seeming. One of the Morungs had what was admittedly a wooden phallus outside it. They tell me that for the last year or two burial has entirely superseded exposure for the disposal of the dead, although the Christians do not appear to be particularly strong in the village. The reason given is the dislike of the smell of corpses. Most Aos seem undisturbed by such weakling sensibility.
text: There is a big hole in the corner of the Inspection Bungalow bath room. As a result the whole Inspection Bungalow is full of centipedes within and without.
text: That hoary villain Shopen of Tangsa turned up with a chicken and a plaint, he was rather shocked to find it was I that had come along and not the S.D.O. I told him to come on to Tamlu as I had much to say to him.