The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

letter from H.G. Dennehy to J.H. Hutton

caption: camera; second sight; stones
medium: letters
person: Hutton/ J.H.
person: Dennehy/ H.G.
date: 20.9.1922
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 331
text: South Sylhet,
text: 20/9/1922
text: Dear Hutton,
text: Many thanks for sending me the copy of "Man". The photographs have reproduced very well indeed. Do you want it back, by the way? I am very pleased with my new camera, but haven't used it yet, as I haven't a book to guide me about such matters as focus, on which I am hazy. I am going to Calcutta to get my teeth seen to in the pujas and shall get a handbook then. Many thanks for putting me up to this camera.
text: I went down the local river by boat today to hold cases. On the way my bench clerk insisted on my going to see his Goswami, a Brishnob. who has a great reputation for second sight and healing. The Goswami's father is buried (being a Brishnob mahapurush), in the compound, and my bench clerk firmly believes, like the other disciples, that his spirit is active at night, and "things" are seen in the graveyard. By the tomb is a tree, of the banyan variety and at the base of the tree I found two stones - stones are unknown in South Sylhet - one a rough oblong 3"x2.5"x1.5" of ordinary red sandstone, but the other is an obvious part of a building, of some different and much harder stone. It was roughly seven inches long and two and a half or three inches thick, the top bevelled off to a flattish rounded cone. The bottom was broken but at the cleavage a raised circle showed that it had fitted on to something else SKETCH. These stones according to the Brishnobs are Mahadeb and Kali (I think). They were found when excavating the tank, and are clearly traces of a former building, probably sacred. The shape of the bigger stone suggests the Dimapur stones. The curious thing is that they should be deliberately placed at the roots of a sacred tree, (like the Lhota oha). I am told that in two places a few miles from Manbi Bazaar, stones, which were subsequently identified with Kali and Durga were found at the roots of trees when they fell, and where the dead wood was cut away. I shall try to see them.
text: H.G. Dennehy