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: Phozami: houses, look-out, livestock, burial, shyness, tattooing, pipe smoking, clothing
medium: diaries
person: Hutton/ J.H.
ethnicgroup: Sangtam
location: Primi Phozami Tizu R. (Tuzu R.)
date: 14.10.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sat. Oct. 14
text: We left PRIMI at 8.45 a.m. to walk to PHOZAMI (c. 11 miles). It was downhill to the Tuzu R., which we crossed by a light iron suspension-bridge, very flexible & jumpy, recently erected alongside of the native cane suspension-bridge, which is of the usual construction. From there it was uphill for several miles, halting 2 or 3 times for 10 minutes. Hutton was off-colour & we went slowly. Arrived at the straw bungalow at PHOZAMI at 1.10 p.m. The bungalow is a poor one, infested with wood-boring beetles & rapidly being eaten away, a thick layer of wood-dust covering everything. Outside the native (SOUTHERN SANGTAM) village is a small look-out hut perched in a tree about 30 feet from the ground, access being given by a long bamboo notched for steps. I went all through the village & took a few photos. Most of the houses are thatched, but a few have stone-slab roofs. They are comparatively low, with ridged gable & have three compartments, the store-room at the back being unusually apsoidal. The wall structure is largely of bamboo (vertical, flat rods lashed together). The houses are fairly well spaced & it is easy to go about, but 'streets' are quite ill-defined. Both buffaloes & mithan are kept, & the forked posts for tying them up are everywhere. Memorial erections to the dead consist of upright bamboos hung with various odds & ends of little value, & stand about the village. They probably bury the dead in the houses & dispose of the bones at a later period, determined by the time of sowing the crops. Many trophies of buffalo & mithan heads adorn the house-fronts; also sambhar (I saw one very fine head) & other wild beasts. These natives rarely see more than one European a year & are shy & reserved & very camera shy. The girls & children bolt on seeing one but become bolder later. The girls are tatued on forehead, chin, arms & legs, some very young ones are tatued. Few of the men exhibit tatuing. All smoke their home-grown tobacco in bamboo pipes, or pipes with black pottery bowls & sometimes fitted with juice-catchers below. The men wear a small lengta gathered up between the legs. The women a loin-cloth, being naked to the waist. The children usually wear nothing at all. All wear cloth blankets over their shoulders if it turns cold. The houses are not carved & no weaving or pottery-making is done in the village. Towards dusk I had a walk by myself along a Naga path & watched mithan grazing in the low jungle. I saw myriads of winged white-ants issuing from ant-hills & flying away.