The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Loss of accommodation due to fire - a drastic way to kill vermin
medium: tours
ethnicgroup: Angami
location: Kohima Rekzoma (Rekroma) Nerhema (Nerhama)
date: 17.12.1925
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 16.11.1925-17.12.1925
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 17th December
text: To Kohima via Rekroma which I counted. About 12 miles. As I left the compound the servants' lines went up in flames - a hot but very gratifying spectacle. These lines have been a source of intensive irritation, both direct and indirect for a number of years, being infested with legions of bugs to such an extent that no Naga will sleep in them, toughened though he be by a lifelong contest with vermin. It was whispered by a malicious onlooker that these bugs dated from the "Sobha" of Angami Christians held at Nerhama - the same which spread a measles epidemic, and in that case perhaps holy hymns or the proper rite of exorcism might have been effective. As it was, everything else had been tried, from Kerosine oil, phesyle and boiling water to Mantras, potent herbs, charms and spells. All these availed nothing and I cannot hold it impossible but that some minion of the Civil Works tired of futile remedies and fresh complaints - my dobashis slept out in the cold yesterday - murmured [], and placed fire in such contiguity to the structure that conflagration was inevitable. However, by violent efforts, the godown and Chaukidar's house were saved, which I was sorry to see, as they are sure to be infected also. The Overseer's quarters were never in much danger, and the fire was limited to the lines and stables and Muharrir's shed all of which were old and would have had to be reroofed anyhow. The trouble will be to keep the new quarters from being re-infected. It would be expensive to burn them annually, though doubtless effective.
text: The last three miles into Kohima were along the bridle path. Exactly these three miles were being dressed "by orders of the Overseer". If the new Overseer thinks that eye dust of that kind is going to be much use here, he will doubtless learn better in time.