The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Use of elephants historically and at present; fire-line dispute
medium: tours
person: Chambenthang
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Chipen Lungtsung (Nungtsung) Morakcho Chedi (Chidi) Joboka (Yanha)
date: 30.11.1925
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 16.11.1925-17.12.1925
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 30th November
text: To Chipen - about 7 miles, counting Nungtsung and Morakcho on the way.
text: Not far from Chidi I was shown the "elephant-tying stone" - a sandstone boulder by which the founder of Chidi, ancestor of the present Puthi and of Chambenthang dobashi - tied his elephant. Just above it is the site of the original post built when Chidi was first occupied. The ditch still traceable. Beads (deo mani) and potsherds are dug up when this site is cultivated. On the top of the elephant-tying stone are shown the grooves where the sentries (or mahouts) rubbed the staves of their spears to make them round, and the hollows for the elephants' feed are also shown. There seems no reason to doubt the truth of the tradition, but there must have been a fall in the level of culture since the first occupation, if the first occupiers were owners, and users, of even one elephant. The Konyak chief of Yanha further north kept elephants, of course.
text: At present there is a custom in Nungtsung and Chidi of keeping an 18 feet fire-line between their respective fields to avoid burning one another's jungle (and villages) when firing the jhums. Both villages want this custom abolished. I therefore told them that they need not observe the custom any longer, but that no claims would stand for damage by fire either to jungle, fields or village in consequence of the absence of the usual fire-line, and that if they neglected to protect their villages by an 18 feet fire-line, I would not entertain claims to exemption from revenue when the village got burnt. I think they are making a mistake in abolishing the custom and will probably want it enforced again before long, but presume they know their own business best.