The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: indiscriminate pollarding near Mokokchung; myth about earwigs; beliefs about animals; training of medical assistant
medium: tours
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Mokokchung
date: 17.7.1934
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 9.6.1934-30.7.1934
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 17th. To Mokokchung. The trees by the roadside enough to make one weep. All the oaks have had the tops cut off - I can't conceive why - and the birches have been pollarded and most of them have died in consequence. I understand it was not done by the Sub-Divisional Officer's orders. Anyway it was the act of a knave or a lunatic.
text: The Semas pointed out an earwig as a dangerous insect which gets into children's ears and causes all sorts of trouble by laying eggs there. That is what I used to be told as a child, but later I was told it was a myth and that earwig = earwing because of the shape of the insects' wings. But the Sema word is 'tsihe' which has nothing to do with wings. I fancy the explanation of earwing is even more mythical than the beast's getting into ears. I also picked up a death's head moth caterpillar and was promptly told that it would turn not into a moth but into a mouse. That is also a Kuki belief as well as Sema.
text: At Mokokchung a Sema came to me from the hospital where he has been being trained as a compounder for the Ghukiya hospital at the personal expense of the Sub-Divisional Officer since Government has stopped the training allowances. When he wrote to Kohima asking to be allowed to go there to finish his training the Assistant Surgeon there replied that he couldn't get the Ghukiya post anyhow. I do not know why. It is true that there is another Sema training there - at his own expense, but the one here may be the better man.