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: Ceremonies to mark erection of genna stones and rebuilding of morung
medium: diaries
person: Mills/ J.P.Tsonsemo/ of Okotso
ethnicgroup: LhotaAo
location: Pangti Okotso
date: 26.11.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Sun. Nov. 26th.
text: We had late breakfast (8 a.m.) for a change. I went off to Pangti (c. 1.5 miles) to sketch & photo. I visited four morungs (a fifth had been destroyed & was not yet rebuilt). They are all very small & on similar plan & the carvings (hornbills) vary little. I photo'd a woman & man laying the warp on a loom. The heddle-string was looped round the alternate warp threads as these were laid. I also photo'd a woman spinning, a view of the village, morungs, genna stones & the base of the head-tree showing the skulls in the recess. I came in for a dance & ceremony connected with the erection of the genna stones yesterday. Some men danced slowly round a bamboo erection with offerings & ceremonial zu cups upon it, chanting with long-sustained bass note and answering drawled higher-pitched notes. Some bundles of short lengths of bamboo were then thrown on the ground & stamped upon to smash them (this to drive away bad spirits). Then the Puthi and Yenga, standing opposite two baskets through which rice-beer had been strained into wooden tubs, on which the baskets stood, made a long harangue, holding ceremonial leaf-cups in the left hand & spears in the right. They invoked the spirits to avert ill-luck & to take away sins, making horizontal forward stabs with their spears. At the end the leaf-cups were thrown down, the baskets were pushed over with the spears & the bamboo erection was rapidly dismantled. I drank zu in several houses & was presented with a lot of spring-traps, a couple of 'bismars', a lot of oranges and 2 eggs.
text: I hurried back to the bungalow for lunch & then Mills & I went to Okotso, where the morung celebrations were still going on (3rd day). I sketched some ancient iron daos, used only ceremonially. I got some Lhota hoes which were made in the village, & was given an Ao pipe of sheet-iron. We visited Tsonsemo's house & saw his young wife & baby, & also went into some other houses. Then Mills went back & I stayed on to sketch, etc. The dancing was much as yesterday's. Soloists performed warriors' dances independently, while the rest did their solemn side-stepping and chanting. They were dancing & chanting just outside the small Christian church, inside which the 'christianized' Lhotas were singing hymns. The contrast and clashing of rituals seemed to disturb no one, but it was an odd melange of motivs & a pretty discordant mix-up.