The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript copy of a letter from J.H. Hutton probably to C.G. Seligmann

caption: haunted Inspection Bungalow at Baimho
medium: letters
person: Mills/ J.P.MeiklejohnBor/ Dr. N.L.
location: Baimho Mokokchung
date: Seligmann/ C.G.1915
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 3, 26
text: Some time in 1915 I built a new inspection bungalow at a village called Baimho on the New Sema Road in the Naga Hills District of Assam. I was warned at [the] time against building on that site by the villagers, who said it was a "bad place". They could give no good reason, but said they were accustomed to make small sacrifices there to the spirit of a man who had been drowned in the near-by Tizu river. As the site had seemed a very good one - on a slight mound, with a handy water supply of its own, near the road and far enough from the village for cleanliness and quiet but not too far for convenience, I took no notice.
text: A few months after the bungalow was finished I went and stayed in it for some local business, but I am not sure whether it was my first visit after its completion of not. Anyhow I occupied the west bedroom and my night was spoilt by a horrifying nightmare in the course of which I saw a creature like a human child with a monstrous big head creeping across the floor; the principal feature of the dream was the quite unreasonable fear which I experienced and which caused me to perspire so freely (the weather was quite cool) that my pyjamas and sheets had to be dried in the sun next day. I thought it was a bad, a very bad dream and put it down to having eaten the roe of some fish they had brought me from the river, and thought no more about it.
text: At the time when I built the inspection bungalow, and had the bad dream, I was subdivisional officer of Mokokchung. Shortly afterwards I was transferred to Kohima to take charge of the district, and was succeeded some months later at Mokokchung by Mr J.P. Mills. A little later Mr Mills had occasion to come to Kohima, some 70 miles, to consult me about come matter, and in the course of his stay he asked me if I had ever had an unpleasant experience in any of the Mokokchung inspection bungalows. I mentioned a scorpion in the bathroom at Nankam, but he explained that he referred to psychic experiences. I said I thought not. He asked me "not at Baimho"? To which I replied then that I had experienced the worst nightmare I remembered since my childhood there, but that was all. When I started to recount it he stopped me and went on. The only difference in our accounts seemed to be that whereas the creature with the big head that I had seen had unkempt hair, he had seen it bald - or it may have been the other way round. We agreed that we would tell no-one of this experience but would find excuses to send people to Baimho and find out later if they had such dreams.
text: Our first victim was a Forest Officer named Meiklejohn. When he left the district on transfer to the Garo Hills we asked him if he had had any sort of uncomfortable psychic experience at Baimho. But he had not had any. Our next was Dr N.L. Bor, also a Forest Officer and till recently Deputy Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. When he left the district we forgot to ask him, but it so happened that he went from us to relieve Meiklejohn in the Garo Hills. Meiklejohn asked him whether he had been to "the haunted bungalow" while in the Naga Hills. He replied that he supposed Baimho was meant. He had gone to sleep in a chair on the verandah after he had arrived, having walked some ten miles from his last halting place, but was so frightened by a dream that instead of sleeping at Baimho as planned he had packed up his kit again and walked on another twelve miles to the next bungalow the same afternoon. But we never succeeded in getting any account of his dream from him other that the oppressive terror which it caused him to feel. I slept several times thereafter at Baimho, and still always in the west bedroom, but though I felt uncomfortable I never had a repetition of the dream. Nor, as far as I know, did Mr Mills, but he told me that he avoided sleeping there if possible, and if he had to do so he always, after his first experience, used the east bedroom. Mr Mills is unfortunately dead, but Dr Bor can confirm my account.