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: Mongsemdi: morungs, pig slaughter, cotton, fire-making, jhuming, dhan
medium: diaries
person: Mills/ J.P.
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Mongsenyimti (Mongsemdi)
date: 5.11.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sun. Nov. 5.
text: We stayed at Mongsemdi all day & a second night. Mills went off to try to bag a Barking deer (muntjak), but without success. I spent most of the morning & afternoon in the village, sketching & photographing. I visited another morung, quite a fine one, in the Ao style, with carved pillar before the angle-bow front. I photo'd this morung from the left side. At the back was a built-up platform, & inside the front entrance there was the characteristic transverse rampart
text: Passing along the main 'street' I came upon a pig-killing operation. The unfortunate beast was tied up to a carrying pole, & having been turned so that the right side was uppermost, it was being despatched by forcing a bamboo skewer into its heart - very deliberately - a most unpleasant sight - and sound. When I returned, not long after, the pig was already partly cooked & was being divided up according to rule. I photo'd part of the main 'street', and also the 'Tortoise Rock', a huge, rounded rock, resembling a tortoise & situated in the main 'street'. Offerings are made to this rock particularly after harvest & when new jhums are being made. Several women were weaving white cotton cloth, cleaning cotton from seeds & flicking it out with a small bow, the string of which was plucked with the fingers.
text: In the gaonbura's house I saw a youth making fire with stick & cane thong. He failed a few times, but eventually he got a spark in 25 seconds. I brought his apparatus away. I went down to some jhum fields before lunch. The crops had been reaped, the long stubble was standing. Small dhan houses were dotted about the fields, with a fenced-off compartment for temporary storing & a roofed-over space in front, open at the sides, used as a threshing floor, the grain being trodden out by women. A horizontal steadying bar is used, & this must never be destroyed. Fences and rough hedges bound the fields. Late into the evening in the village several men were pounding dhan in double wooden mortars with