The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Pansat's over-use of game-pits for animals, and to supply human heads; remains of extinct village; to Phoakungri
medium: tours
ethnicgroup: Tangkhul
location: Phokhungri (Phoakungri) Somra Tract Nazipfugung Tsewakung Laruri Pensat (Pansat)
date: 5.3.1935
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 21.2.1935-26.3.1935
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 5th. Within the first five miles or so of leaving camp I counted 27 game pits by or actually in the path. Obviously something drastic must be done to stop this practice, which is a new development here as a result of peace and administration. There were no pits like this in 1917, or later when I was here. Some of the pits were in the process of being newly dug. They all appear to be made by Pansat or by some other Tangkhuls of the Somra Tract, as enquiries show that the Phoakungri people do not practice this method of taking games, and in any case there were no pits when I got nearer Phoakungri. One of my Nagas suggested that they were intended to trap men, as the Somra Tangkhuls had no other source of supply of heads to keep in their houses and feed with baked meats. I have written to the Asst. Superintendant of the Somra Tract asking him to warn all his Tangkhuls that any use of the path from Pansat to Phoakungri through the Shiloi Reserve is absolutely prohibited from the pass just east of Mollen which is the provincial boundary. No doubt that prohibition will have little effect, but my next move will to be offer a reward for every Tangkhul caught in the Reserve (whatever he professes to be doing) and brought into Kohima. If I can get hold of one or two and punish them it will at least discourage the practice. The Shiloi valley used to be full of game, but it is almost empty of it now as a result of this beastly method of trapping. The labour of digging these well-like pits in such enormous numbers and of visiting them all, suggests that some persons do nothing else at all by way of a livelihood but dig game pits and collect from them. Besides the 40 pits or so that that I saw there must be a vast number I did not see and I dare say a total of 400 would not be an exaggerated estimate of the number of Pansat pits in Assam. If other methods fail the only thing to be done is to settle in one corner of the Reserve on the Pansat border a small forest village of Takrari Semas or Kukis and give them a cultivating limit and exemption from revenue on condition of keeping poachers out of the forest. They should have no gun and probably the head man should be a paid Forest Guard. The village should be located just on the Naga Hills side of the top of the Nazipfugung range at the head of the small tila north east of that which divides the head waters of the Shiloi streams and is known as the Tsewakung.
text: Passed on the way a rock shelter where I found fragments of pottery such as is made by Laruri only nowadays and a human jaw bone. Probably the place was used for the disposal of the heads of great men when there was a village in the Shiloi valley. This was at least three generations ago. The village was hunted out by Somra Tangkhuls. I passed another relic of this village later on in some rather unusual looking stones grouped together and apparently kept clear of jungle. The Phoakungri gaonbura, whose ancestors lived in Shiloi, said that in his grandfather's time some men had left their cooked rice there, and when they came back it had turned to the stones.
text: Reached Phoakungri at 2.0, - about 13 miles, a tiring march with much climbing up and down. I explained at Phoakungri that henceforward no claims would be entertained against men of Burma if they arose from trading on credit, so that all transactions with Burma nationals whether this side of the boundary or that, must be carried on on a cash basis.