The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: difficulty with coolies at Pansat; buffalo sacrifice; near-accident in pit-trap; Phoakungri village's dispute over restrictions on trade in Burma
medium: tours
keywords: maize leafgame
ethnicgroup: Tangkhul
location: Pensat (Pansat) Phokhungri (Phoakungri) Mol Len Mt. (Mollen Mt.) Shiloi valley Phokhungri (Phoakungri) Layshi (Leishi) Tamanthi
date: 4.3.1935
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 21.2.1935-26.3.1935
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 4th. The village had been very hospitable the night before and given me rice and a pig for my servants and readily agreed to produce 13 coolies the next day and said they would carry me to Phoakungri which I did not ask for. This excess of zeal should have made me suspicious. I had all my stuff packed and was ready to start at 8.0 but only seven coolies turned up and one of these decamped later. I sent several messages to the village and waited till nearly 9.0 and then went to the village. There was no one about at first but ultimately I found a few people who had put up a new carved post in front of a house and had tied a buffalo to it and were apparently torturing it to death by cutting pieces off its hind quarters. At the rate they were going it is probably dead at the time of writing up this diary - 8.45 pm or possibly even by mid-day. The sight made me too sick to stay in the village but I managed to catch a gaonbura there. All I could get out of him was that the coolies arranged had gone off no one knew where and if I would only have patience they would no doubt turn up some time and anyhow I need not worry as my loads would be sent on after me in due season. As this was little [blank] I asked for some head-straps for carrying but could get none, - the village hadn't got any or something of that kind. So I and my dobashis entered houses and abstracted seven headstraps and by getting my two personal servants, four interpreters and a Kuki litigant to carry loads. I was able to make a start at 9.15 am. The path was long and difficult, going down into the valley below Pansat and then up the far side of it to the pass east of Mollen peak at 8500 feet, where I had lunch at 1.0, then down the other side and along and over the spur of Mollen into the top of the Shiloi valley where I camped among pine trees and rhododendrons at 4.0 pm - 18 miles. The way was not without event. Before reaching the pass I left the path for a yard or two and narrowly escaped a very nasty accident if not a sticky finish; the ground gave way suddenly under me and I was thrown violently forward, luckily, so that I managed with my outstretched arms to hang on my armpits on the far side of the pitfall and stay there balanced. I had gone through the leaves covering and concealing a trap which consisted in a deep hole about 10 ft. down with sides like a well. I was afraid of slipping in and being horribly spitted on panjis, but could not pull myself out and dare not move for fear of slipping back. I was a long way ahead of the coolies but luckily one dobashi was following pretty close and he came and pulled me out when he heard me singing murder, and then told me how a man of Setuho fell into such a pit he had digged himself and was killed transfixed on his own panjis. The path after this was studded with such pits, but they had been recently uncovered as far as the Burma boundary at the top of the pass. After that I found many covered ones close to the path and four new ones in the course of construction altogether at least a dozen on the Naga Hills side of the boundary but constructed by Pansat. In fact one of the Pansat villagers told one of my dobashi that they had traps and pitfalls as far as Lacham lake - i.e. for two marches from their village, and far the most of these are in the Shiloi Reserve, where Pansat had specifically denied any claim to hunt and any practice of hunting only a day or two earlier at the Somra meeting. Seventeen years ago the Shiloi valley was full of game, but there is nothing like that plenty now and we saw hardly any tracks at all and heard but one distant barking deer.
text: Phoakungri complain that every year when they go down to sell maize leaf in Burma the men of Leishi stop them until they have come back from selling their own and so have got the best of the market. They say that Tsera is treated in the same way. If Phoakungri go through without asking leave of Leishi their property is confiscated, and apart from this they have been compelled for both the past two years to pay a dao as a toll for using the bridle path. If their property is taken it is taken on the way back from Tamanthi, not on the way down. It would be easy to retaliate on Tangkhuls coming to Kohima to buy iron etc. or on men of Pansat trading in Melomi and Primi, but the practice is a bad one, and throughout this district no obstruction is allowed on bridle paths, though villages are allowed to close their private paths at times when the village is tabu.
text: Buffalo sacrifices like those of Pansat used to be practised in parts of the Naga Hills, but this has been put a stop to in the administered areas though it probably still goes on in the unadministered, eg. in the Phom country.