The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - 'Diary of a Tour in the Naga Hills, 1922-1923' by Henry Balfour

caption: Description of countryside, wildlife and villages on journey to Imphal
medium: diaries
person: Gimson/ Mr
ethnicgroup: AngamiTangkhulKoiraoKukiManipuri
location: Dimapur Kigwema (Kegwema) Viswema Mao Maram Barak R. Karong (Koirang) Imphal
date: 27.9.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Wed. Sept. 27th
text: Packed for the fourth time for Manipur. This time the Fates were with us, as a car from Dimapur turned up, & we started at 10.40 a.m. in fine weather. The car, another ancient Ford, did not run well, but did not break down. The road, up hill for 20 or 30 miles, was good, except where landslips have overwhelmed it & it was being repaired. There have been several bad land-slides & we had to bump & jolt over the roughest of 'corduroy'-roads at these places. Scenery lovely all the way. Jungle, jhum & panikhets succeeded one another giving endless variety. We passed KEGWEMA & VISWEMA (Angami villages) & pulled up for a short while at MAO, on the top of the pass (c.6000 feet). We visited this Angami village which has several good carved & painted house-fronts & at least one carved village door, as well as some well-built circular stone sitting-out places. We then ran on to MARAM, mostly down-hill. & had lunch at the stone-built Inspection bungalow, which is quite a substantial building. There are many huge monoliths (genna stones) standing like menhirs near the bungalow in seeming allignment. Some must be 13 feet high & of great girth. The present native village is a good distance from the bungalow. After leaving MARAM we passed in sight of a very long avenue of menhirs, leading from the valley to the Naga village of MARAM. We ran along the valley of the Barak R. to KOIRANG, where we reached the flat Manipur plain. The scenery had changed since MAO, the jungle was much less high & more broken up with grassy expanses. Panikhets became fewer & more confined to the valleys & the population was scantier. Very beautiful all round. The plain became a dead level, though bounded by hills on either side. Extensive cultivated fields. Very large herds of humped cattle & quantities of water-buffaloes (some of them ridden by quite small boys. Manipuri ponies abundant. A somewhat different type of native is seen, though nearly related to the Nagas - Tangkhuls, Koiraos, Kukis and Manipuris (Meitheis). Small villages along the road with booths, quite picturesque. Birds became more numerous & of the regular plains types - Paddy egrets, White Egrets (large & small), many of these standing on the backs of cattle, Black Drongos, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Black Crows, various raptorials (including a handsome white-headed grey Kite (?) [sic]), mynahs, White Wagtails (Yellow Wagtails had been abundant in the hills around Mao), many vultures, smoke-coloured doves very abundant everywhere along the road; Snipe (both Fan-tail & Pin-tail), Greenshanks. We reached IMPHAL (the capital of Manipur) & pulled up at the Residency at 5.45p.m., after a run of 88 miles (fortunately, though oddly enough, without a breakdown). Mr. Gimson, the Resident, was not in, so we went to our rooms, cleaned up & then had tea. Gimson turned up soon after. The Residency is beautifully situated in a very nice garden with small lakes ('tanks'). It rained after 7p.m. Flying-foxes & other bats flying around in numbers after dusk. I had a very jolly room, opening out onto a verandah & the garden.