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: Funeral customs; visit to Yangsutso; riverside march and camp
medium: diaries
person: Mills/ J.P.
location: Sanis Wokha Mt. Yanchuchu (Yangsutso) Chubi R. (Chebi R.) Diyung R. (Doyang R.)
date: 22.11.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Wed. Nov. 22nd.
text: It was cold in the early morning with a keen wind, but turned quite hot later, a solid sea of cotton-wool clouds filled the valleys, till the sun gained strength & lifted the mist. We walked through Sanis & I took some photos. Outside the village, by the trackside (the way by which the spirits of dead people go to Wokha Mountain) are several small shrines upon which are placed the last offerings to the dead. Little bamboo stands with oranges & other foods upon them, & miniature spears, daos etc., which have been placed there for each dead man; with simpler offerings for female dead. I photo'd one of the shrines, which stand in a long row along the path. Close by is a wide track, a clearing through the jungle-scrub, which is the route along which great stones are dragged from the river-valley below, for erecting in the village. Before long we reached the village of Yangsutso & spent a short time in it. Two large sandstone slabs had been erected two days before to commemorate sacrifices performed. Attached to them were a green bamboo water-tube (with scraped wriggly designs upon it), some ceremonial madhu cups of banana leaf with long, notched handles, and some branches of trees. These specially made madhu cups of leaf are used during the ceremonies attending the mithan sacrifices.
text: I collected a split-bamboo thatching-comb (used for straightening out the reeds when being laid as thatch), a weeding-hoe with X-shaped handle & the ends braced together (4 annas), 2 cupping-horns from a morung (2 annas) & two of the ceremonial banana-leaf cups. From Yangsutso I was carried in the chair along a very steep & rough Naga path. It was often impossible to get the chair along in the narrower parts & I was tilted at all angles & had a most thrilling and uncomfortable ride. So I walked part of the way down to the Chebi River. We waded a few hundred yards up this river to see a fish-weir erected across the river. It consisted of bamboo fences leading to transverse barricades with small outlets in which conical fish-traps were fixed. At the end of each 'run' there was also a bamboo ledge onto which the larger fish often jump in endeavouring to escape from the enclosure. Then we waded back & further down the Chebi R. & took to a small path through thick jungle to reach the Doyang R. We found some wild tea growing here. We went up the Doyang, partly scrambling along the bank, which was very hard going, & partly wading. We had to ford the river 7 or 8 times, often waist-deep & as the river was running strongly in the shallows, it was very difficult to keep one's balance & escape a ducking. We saw some Spur-winged Plovers, very handsome birds. At last we reached our camp-site &, as the coolies had arrived with the loads, tents were pitched & the camp set going on a very picturesque spot on the river bank. We had come about 10 miles from Sanis. After lunch I had a walk up-stream along the left bank, partly over a boulder-strewn bed of the river, now dry, and partly wading. There was much spoor of Sambhar & Muntjaks in the mud and sand-patches. I also came across fresh spoor of tiger and leopard about 1.5 miles from the camp. Spur-winged Plovers, Cormorants, drongos, a green Barbet, a Redstart with grey head & body & white ring round the eye, a flock of green parakeets, a very small owl, small sandpipers, pied wagtails, a large dull-coloured Kingfisher etc. were seen, and a Jungle-cock flew across the river near me. I found Mills fishing; he had caught 2 mahseer of 2 and 2.5lbs, and we returned to camp together. Quite near the camp we had a very good view of a Barking deer, which had come down to the river. After a time it became suspicious & 'barked' loudly & then swam over to the other bank. There was a very heavy dew at night & everything became wringing wet. It was very chilly.