The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Notes on Synteng dynasty of Nartiang; Khasi legends and burial customs; comparison with Nagas
medium: tours
person: O'Callaghan/ MrPhillipson/ MrWilliams/ MajorRynjah/ Mr
ethnicgroup: SyntengKhasisChang
location: Gauhati Shillong Nartiang Laitlyngkot Jowai Jaintia Hills Jaintiapur Sylhet
date: 9.10.1925-15.10.1925
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 7.10.1925-29.10.1925
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 8th October
text: I left by the early morning train for Gauhati and went up to Shillong by No.1 service.
text: 9th to 15th October
text: Halted Shillong. Killed a number of files and cleared up the mystery of the Survey of the Namsang and Borduria area. Apparently Mr. O'Callaghan, Mr. Phillipson and myself each disclaimed responsibility in turn. Major Williams then went to Inspector General of Police who gave him escorts for the area from the 3rd Assam Rifles. I therefore wired to S.D.O. Mokokchung recommending him to visit Namsang, Borduria and Lungto with those escorts although they are not within the area for which I am responsible.
text: In October 1925 I visited the Jaintia Hills in Assam with the object of seeing some of the megalithic work left by the Synteng dynasty of Nartiang in the Jaintia Hills and Jaintiapur in the plains of Sylhet at their foot. There were two branches of this family, Nartiang being the original capital and Jaintiapur apparently that of a cadet branch, the two branches being later amalgamated. Succession, in accordance with Synteng custom wasn't always through the female line, the reigning prince's heir being normally his sister's son. The dynasty was defused and its territory annexed in 1835 as a result of its too obstinate persistence in the vexatious habit of kidnapping British subjects for human sacrifices at Jaintiapur and Phuljar. The names of known rulers are 22 or 23 in number of which the last six Siems reigned between 1731 and 1835. Their dates are known with sufficient accuracy. If six reigns may be taken as the average for a century, it would take the name of the first remembered Siem (Man Gossain, Gossain being a Hindu title)to about 1450 A.D., but there are traditions of prominent individuals of the dynasty which certainly date back much further, including Lot Ryndi who caught the ancestors of the Nartiang and Jaintia lines in the form of a fish which he took home and mislaid. The fish of course turned into a beautiful girl who swept up the house in his absence, and ultimately gave birth to two daughters, Ka Raputong and Ka Rapunga from whom the two Siem families were descended. I give in notes taken at the time in the diary form in which Ka Raputong and Ka Rapunga irrelevant details being largely omitted.
text: On the Wednesday I went with His Excellency to Laitlyngkot and attempted to find the caves reported to be there, but all that the Chaukidar could show me was as long valley full of crannies and holes among the enormous piles of boulders with which it is strewn. In the war with the British the Khasis took refuge there and one British officer was killed by an arrow in the face. To find the real caves (if there) would take far too long to be done in an afternoon, and it raining.
text: I saw a cromlech in which the bones of the dead were buried - males to the right, females to the left. It had male stones standing behind it and other cromlechs - merely memorial female stones - nearby.
text: The Khasi with me said that he could not tell whether the Khasi tribe came to their present land from the East or from the West, but they came from the land of great fish, which it is still tabu for them to eat. He called it katao mah. I take it he meant the guriya mah, which is tabu to the Changs and, I fancy, to some other Naga tribe. (I was told later by Mr. Rynjah in Jowai that different clans tabu different fish - at least several do - regarding themselves as descended from that fish, as do or did the representatives of the Jaintiapur family.)