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: A welcome at Mokokchung; houses, morungs, musical instruments and dancing
medium: diaries
person: Hutton/ J.H.Nihu/ of KohimaNakhu/ of MokokchungNoksangbah/ of MokokchungMongsem khel/ MokokchungMills/ J.P.Chongli khel/ MokokchungHazel/ Dr
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Mokokchung Longsa Laruri (Kerami)
date: 30.10.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Monday, Oct. 30th.
text: I went down to the Court House, where a murder trial was to be conducted by Hutton. An Ao man was accused of murdering his son & trying to murder his mother. The latter, whom I saw, had a very deep scar on the back of her neck, a very near thing! The accused was led with a rope by a sergeant from the gaol to the Court House. I did not stop for the trial, but went on by myself to visit the Ao village, about a mile from the station. Nihu (of Kohima) and Nakhu (head-man of Mokokchung) overtook me & I went on with them. We visited Noksangbah's house & drank madhu with him. He gave me a shield-plume of dyed goats' hair, also a pump-drill and an iron looped-hoe. The houses are in 'streets' & resemble those at Longsa, with high platforms at the back. We went on to one of the gaonburas' houses (Mongsem Khel). This is pretentious, of wood with corrugated iron roof & a staircase inside, too modernised to be interesting. A number of men were congregated there, & we drank madhu. I also had to eat some boiled hornet maggots, not as good as those I was regaled with at Kerami. This man's mithan-sacrifice posts numbered 45, a very large number, indicating a great many gennas performed. While walking about the village, I heard the sounds of a primitive clarinet being played some way off &, after chasing around, I found the small boy musician & promply purchased his instrument, which was of a type hitherto unrecorded from the Naga Hills. It was unknown to Hutton & Mills, & I was delighted to get it. In the afternoon I returned to the village to see the huge village hollow-log gongs. One stands in the Chongli Khel section & the other in that of the Mongsem Khel. They are about 30ft & 32ft long respectively, each carved at one end with a huge figure-head. They lie under shelter roofs & have enormous hinged strikers as well as many dumb-bell shaped beaters. The morungs are built with sloping roofs, high in front. The front wall is bowed & has a vertical decorative panel of mat-work. Inside are several pillars of wood, carved with elephants, tigers, hornbills & human figures. I went into one house where a lot of women were singing & dancing in honour of the owner. The dance was simply a slow circling round the hearth, taking a side-step with the left foot & then stamping with the right foot. An old woman sang a few words & the chorus sang a monotonous refrain of a few notes, and so on ad lib. The room was packed & full of smoke. The general refrain