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: Kensa: burial customs, architecture, inhabitants
medium: diaries
person: Mills/ J.P.NikrihuChongli khel/ KensaMongsem khel/ KensaBailey/ Dr J.R.
ethnicgroup: MongsemAo <Chongli
location: Khensa (Kensa) Mokokchung Merangkong
date: 30.11.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Thurs. Nov. 30.
text: During the morning I rode Mills's pony, George, to Kensa village (Mongsem and Chongli Ao), about 3 miles away, taking Nikrihu and an Ao dobashi with me. Good bridle-path. Outside the entrance to the village at the Chongli Khel end, are many 'burials' of the typical Ao kind. The bodies in miniature houses of plaited-work and thatch, fitted with bamboo carrying-poles, are placed on machans to which are attached cloths, imitation ornaments, daos and spears, etc. A new burial of a rich man had before it several wooden mithan heads, with
text: The entrance to the village is through a gateway with a large, pin-hinged door (6'5" high and 5' wide) with figure of a tiger in relief on the inside. It must have been cut from a huge tree. The village is a large one, chiefly of the Mongsem khel, but of the Chongli khel at the near end. It is well laid out in 'streets' of varying width & is cleaner & neater than most Naga villages. It runs along a ridge. The richer houses have outside pillars (sometimes under the verandah roof) carved with hornbills (usually paired, or in groups of five), snakes (paired or in groups), mithan-heads (conventionalized) and tigers. Horizontal beams over the door also carved or painted. Rich houses have deeply-overhanging verandah roofs, or verandahs enclosed by angular fronts. Inside there is the verandah, or lobby, with dhan mortars, etc., and a large room, floored with interlaced bamboos with a mud layer upon which the hearth is built. A door at the back leads either directly onto an open-air platform on piles, or into a small store-room which opens onto the platform. I went into three or four houses and sat with the natives, whom I amused with a collapsible camera-tripod, which greatly intrigued them. Many women were weaving or setting up their looms. I visited the 5 morungs, which are rather poor & out of repair, & I sketched two dug-out xylophones (apparently the only two in the village). At about 3 p.m. I had my lunch of sandwiches & oranges on the back platform of a gaonbura's house.
text: I got back to Mokokchung at 4.20 p.m. Some men brought in to Mills a rather small, recently-killed leopard, to claim the reward. I bought a very fine ivory armlet for 85 rupees from an Ao Naga who wished to sell it to help him to purchase a wife. I wrote to Dr. J. Riley Bailey, to thank him for his attendance upon me at Merangkong, & sent a donation (60 rupees) to the Medical Mission.