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: Visit to Swemi: carvings, houses, traps, graves, smoking
medium: diaries
person: Hutton/ J.H.NihuCortot
ethnicgroup: SemaAngami
location: Swemi Chizami (Kezobami)
date: 8.10.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sun. Oct. 8 (
text: Hutton & I with Nihu, the Gaonbura of Kezobami and Cortot (H's Sema boy) visited the SEMA village of SWEMI (an isolated Sema village amid Angami surroundings). The villagers still talk Sema, but have largely adopted Angami customs & intermarry with Angami. There are numerous carved house-fronts (the carvings chiefly of mithan heads & boar's heads in bold relief. We went all round the village & to the gaonbura's house where we drank zu from banana-leaf cups, neatly rolled up with handles. The gaonbura was badly afflicted with bleeding at the nose, & at intervals scraped that organ with a chip picked up from the ground. The village is cleaner than the Angami ones. The houses are divided into two with a transverse partition, the dhan-pounding board & granary-baskets in the front portion; cooking, sleeping & store accomodation in the back compartment. No carved doors to the village entrances, but some houses have slightly-carved doors. The large spring noose-traps (for catching wild-cats etc) were also seen here. A live mouse is tied up on the far side of the trap, when set. At one house a door-post was deeply notched, as a tally of gennas performed. I obtained an ingeniously modelled toy 'percussion' gun, which was given by one of the men. Bamboo threshing-bats, resembling polydactylous hands are used here.
text: In the afternoon I had a jungle walk by myself & photo'd a grave with 70 small upright boulders on the stone platform; a tally of deceased's love affairs. It came on to rain heavily, & after standing up under a bamboo clump, I returned to the bungalow. Hutton tried cases on the verandah until it was quite dark. A large crowd of natives attended the 'court'. It was difficult to make them keep silence. Many were smoking reeking pipes with bamboo