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 Wong's house; description of camp by the Dikhu River
medium: diaries
person: Mills/ J.P.Wong/ of Tamlu
ethnicgroup: KonyaksAo
location: Dikhu R. Tamlu
date: 12.11.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sun. Nov. 12th.
text: Mills went on early to the Dikhu R., to fish, & I stayed behind in Tamlu to sketch & to visit Wong in his house, which is an unusually large one. Wong, who is rather a bad character & some trouble to the administration, was not very keen on my seeing his house, for reasons of his own; but the visit passed off fairly well. I started off for the Dikhu R. at 11 a.m., passing close to the 'Tree of the Dead', in the forked branches of which men's bodies are placed in carved coffins. I got into the carrying chair & was carried downhill through splendid jungle scenery along a Naga path. The six Konyaks carrying me were not as good as the Ao carriers, & their chanting was mostly unmusical grunts. They were all stark naked, the nearest approach to 'garb' being a piece of thin string round the waist of two of them & a piece of orange-peel worn by another in his ear-lobe. The chair broke down about half-way & had to be repaired with cane & bark. I reached the Dikhu R. (5 miles) at 12.30. Camp had been pitched & small palm-leaf huts erected for the cook-house & men's quarters. There was also a small palm-leaf shelter for Mills & me to sit under. The camp was situated at the end of a suspension bridge of government wire and cane, which was under repair, having recently collapsed with the loss of one man's life. Wong had come along with me from Tamlu. He is an amusing character (mostly bad) & has a pigtail of hair, which must be more than six feet long when unwound. The bridge having broken down, the river could only be crossed by fording or by a ramshackle bamboo raft which had been improvised.
text: I had a stroll along the left bank upstream to meet Mills, who was fishing downstream In the sandy tracks I saw spoor of otters; I also saw some White Wagtails, black & white Fork-tails, red-tailed birds (like Redstarts) some larger with white caps, others smaller with blue-grey head & back. I met Mills about a mile above the camp & we came back for tiffin. In the afternoon Mills went shooting. I tried the bamboo raft, but could not pole it above the rapids which were too shallow. So I walked a good way along the left bank upstream again, and came across the spoor of a tiger in the sand, but after following it for some distance I lost it on hard ground. There were foot-prints also of Sambhar, Barking-deer, otters etc., and I saw dozens of red macaques (? M. assamensis) on the opposite bank & watched them for some time. Two had a fight & fell into the river, but they are good swimmers. The river is lovely at this point, with dense jungle on either bank. It was dark when I got back to camp. Very nice peaceful night in camp. We dined off goat chops, not bad.