The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: description of Choemi village - drums, skulls, salt; Choemi man's house destroyed as punishment for damage to Laruri fields
medium: tours
keywords: Makware Expedition
ethnicgroup: Yimtsung
location: Chomi (Choemi) Laruri Zhumkiri
date: 16.3.1935
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 21.2.1935-26.3.1935
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 16th. To Choemi - about 11 miles and an easier march than most on this tour. There are two well established villages side by side, each with two or three morungs - about 200 houses in all - many of them with slate rooves. The morungs have a spreadeagled cock in front of the fore gable, as if flying out from the crescent which crowns every Yimtsung morung. Their drums consist of hollow tree trunks open at both ends but without any slit - which are sounded by means of a great stone rolled from side to side from one end. Two of the morungs had old skulls in rows on planks, or hanging up from the roof. Some cut canes suggested that the more recent skulls had been removed for the occasion of our visit. The houses in the old khel expected to be burnt, and the one the headman invited us into had all the furniture removed. Salt is kept in pots close to the hearth to prevent delignescence. I do not remember to have seen this before and it is probably indication of the comparatively high value of salt across the frontier. Another practice new to me was that of tethering a row of [bovines?] (bought elsewhere) by one heel along the wall inside the house until they got to regard it as their proper home. The granaries all had anti-rat shields in slate.
text: The damage to the Laruri fields three of which were entirely destroyed was done by men of the old village, and when I asked for the leader he was said to have run away two days before our arrival. I then asked for his house. It was certainly empty but I found a spear and shield by the door and a recently used dish. I made his fellow villagers destroy the building entirely. The three Laruri cultivators were compensated with a small mithun apiece and about Rs. 50/- worth of cloths. One buffalo was sold for Rs.15/- and two calves thrown in as make weights were given to the two chiefs of Purotomi who had acted as our guides throughout and had been of the greatest use in warning the villagers we visited and maintaining friendly relations with them. Throughout our dealings with the two Choemi headmen the latter both showed extreme nervousness, and one of them was literally leaking with pure funk while we were in the village. Choemi was visited in the Makware expedition in 1911, but the other villages which we saw had never been in contact with Government before. Apparently there were no villages other than Choemi and Zhumakiri in this valley until comparatively recently.