The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Tobacco cultivation; drums and carvings; detailed description of inhabitants and customs of Saoching
medium: tours
person: Woodthorpe
ethnicgroup: Chagyik
location: Saoching Chingchang-Noklang Aopao (Chongvi) Yonghong Anphang (Angfang) Yakthu Santok Yali Ngangching Chen
date: 29.11.1926
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 12.11.1926-11.12.1926
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 29/11/1926 To Saoching or Longchang or Longching being apparently its own name for itself, about 9 miles. On the way we visited Chingchang-Noklang, a biggish village divided into two khels, one of them, the southerly one, only about 40 houses. The road ran between the two and we halted the column and visited first one khel and then the other. This village goes in for sort of allotment gardens within fences not far from village. Tobacco seems to be the principal thing grown in them.
text: I saw on the houses carving which represented a curious development of the usual buffalo-head pattern and looked more like a flying lemur than anything else. I noticed later on in Chongvi that the same pattern has grown into a lizard or a tiger. The process has been one of lengthening the buffalo's ears to balance the horns pointing in the opposite direction and so to get a more or less symmetrical pattern.
text: As in Yonghong there are small buffalo headed drums in or outside the houses of private individuals who are wealthy. The morung "drums" were both of buffalo head and tusked varieties, but with both ends closed, not open. The morung posts had pythons carved on them in some cases, and the heads were kept hung in the morungs and decorated with horns. At one morung there was a new drum waiting outside till a head should be taken for it, it cannot be dragged inside the building. Inside was the drum it was intended to replace, which could then be dragged outside and left there. A third drum, already condemned and extruded in this way was rotting outside the building. It was of quite exceptional size, measuring over 14 ft. 7 inches girth by 21 ft. 5 inches in length. This is very short indeed for a full sized drum, but the girth is huge and it must have been very difficult to drag up to the village.
text: Saoching itself appears to be a mixed village. The women all follow the Chagyik custom of shaving and plucking the head, and the dialect spoken also seems to be Chagyik. Most of the men wear blue lengtas hanging loose in front by a cord which passes over one shoulder from the front and under the other arm. This cord is put sometimes over one shoulder, sometimes over the other and the square of blue cloth which hangs a little sideways is usually but not always kept in place by a narrow waist belt of blue cloth ornamented with a double row of vertical cowries. The men objected very strongly to being photographed, and the women were quite impossible in that respect.
text: I noticed the ingenious anti-rat devices that we saw at Yonghong and Angfang in 1923 - bamboo spathes tied round the posts of the dhan houses with panjis at the bottom for the rat to impale himself, when he fell off the slippery spathes. Bamboo "hand arrows" were also in evidence, as well as bamboo swords used in village riots and kept handy in the morungs. Also, as at Yonghong, there were conical genna erections of bamboo with phallic stones at the foot, cactus growing inside, and stones hanging up to represent heads and promote the taking of heads by imitative magic. Also there were forked posts, carved mostly with buffalo-heads, collected in uncomely groups and bunches as at Yonghong and Yakthu. One of the morung posts was carved with a very realistic buffalo and another with a sort of compromise between a tiger and an elephant - a tusked tiger, such as we also saw on the other range, I think, in 1923. Outside one of the morungs were a number of phallic stones, one having been recently added.
text: We had some difficulty in getting a camping ground here, as Woodthorpe's old camp was a long way from the water, which is only to be had in any quantity or quality in the stream that flows in the valley east of the village. Eventually we camped in a field on the slope between the village and the stream.
text: Since leaving Santok, I think, and certainly since leaving Yali, this was the first village we had entered which had ever been visited before, and this only once, 50 years ago. Woodthorpe recorded that they made guns. They still do, but the report that they make powder is denied. it is now said to be made in Ngangching and in Chen, both a day or two further east.
text: Saoching, like Chingchang-Noklang, bury some of their dead - only the children perhaps - in upright baskets made from a single bamboo split at the top with horizontal strands woven in on the plan of the baskets used all over this part of the world for offering to the dead and to spirits. Close by is put a rail to which taro, maize and similar necessities are hung for the use of the dead, and a small hut is also erected alongside, presumably for the use of the soul. The adult dead seem to be disposed of on the usual machan, placed sometimes on its own legs, sometimes in a tree.