The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: to Kiyeshe; problem of mithan - needed for Sema brideprice but causing severe deforestation; superiority of alder for reforestation
medium: tours
person: Bor/ MrKohazu
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Sakhai (Kiyeshe) Satakha
date: 15.2.1926-16.2.1926
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 22.1.1926-22.2.1926
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 15/2/1926 To Kiyeshe, about 7 miles. The acacias planted by Mr Bor have mostly been destroyed by mithan. I think Mr Bor thought the mithan would not eat them but it does, apparently there is no young tree which mithan will not eat. Also acacia is particularly susceptible, they say, to fire. Presumably I am convinced that the thing to do is to concentrate on alder, which is not only a very fast grower, but which when of any size will withstand the burning of the jhums. It is not easy to plant but it must be possible, and if the worst is true, it can be planted out from self seeded beds. The mithan will eat it as they eat anything else, but if it can survive of itself as it does, there is no reason why a good proportion of the plants should not survive when planted out. Mithan are the curse of the Sema country, but I do not know how to mitigate this curse until the Sema themself sees the error of keeping them in large numbers. In two ways I think a small beginning may be made. I fancy it would be sound to pass an order that any mithan found trespassing in paddy fields might be slain on the spot by the owner of the fields. This would reduce numbers. Also I propose to pass an order under which the price recoverable on any Sema marriage will not exceed one mithan for the "life price" ie. for the bride herself plus such mithan or cash etc. as may be paid for their equivalent value in ornament. It is common form of vanity ostentation [sic] to demand and pay huge prices for brides in the Sema country, and since I have known the Sema prices have more than doubled. Everyone suffers, and it is time the tendency was checked, particularly as it necessitates the keeping of great numbers of mithan. Under the proposed order only one mithan plus the equivalent of the ornaments given as dowry would be legal as a marriage price, and any excess agreed upon as the marriage price would be void but the actual marriage agreement would hold good. It will stop people like Kohazu demanding 18 mithan plus cash for a daughter who only brings Rs. 200/- in beads.
text: I punished Satakha for having cut down the alders in their jhums instead of pollarding them as ordered.
text: 16/2/1926 Halted Kiyeshe. Dealt with a dak.