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: Burial customs at Lakhu, an unfriendly village
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: Ao
location: Mokokchung Lakhuni (Lakhu)
date: 5.12.1922
person: Balfour/ Henry
date: 1922-1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
text: Tues. Dec. 5.
text: I was up before sunrise. Took a last look at the distant Mokokchung & the long ranges of hills, and got started at 8.15 a.m. for Lakhu (Lakholi), a 14 miles march. Going slowly I walked & rode alternately. Fine jungle scenery nearly all the way, & a good deal of the track had easy gradients & was sometimes nearly level, though there were some rough places. I rode on ahead of my men & arrived at Lakhu bungalow at 12.45 p.m. The kitchen joppas not having arrived, I had a latish luncheon of sandwiches & oranges. I strolled about the neighbourhood, looking at the birds etc. I saw many minute, striped squirrels, which are marvellously quick & active, and some larger all-grey squirrels, white underneath & about the size of our Red Squirrel. A large, grey, rather thick-billed bird with very long & stiff tail may have been one of the Cuckoos (?Centropus). There were many birds, about the size of Redwings, grey all over, darker above, with white throat & erectile crest. A Wryneck (or, perhaps, a very small woodpecker) was tapping the trees lustily. The birds were difficult to see clearly in the dense jungle-growth. Barking Deer were calling nearby. Later I walked by myself to Lakhu village, about a mile away along the ridge. Outside the village were the usual Ao burial-machans, but most of them have flat roofs thatched with palm-leaves, instead of gable-roofs, and vertical box-like sides of palm-leaves. Offerings of food and belongings of the deceased were attached to a bamboo frame in front of the machan. Long bamboo panjis fence round the sides, with slender bamboo arches forming a fence in front together with some water or madhu-tubes. There were several of these machan burials, & at the end of the line two Christian graves with names on the tombstones.
text: The village is uninteresting, having been affected by contact with the Plains & by the 'Christian' element. It is typically Ao as far as the houses and their arrangement in 'streets' are concerned. I saw no morung or xylophone. Most of the men were away & the remaining population was unfriendly & very boorish & tiresome. I walked through the village to the far end & back again, but had repeatedly to threaten the mob to keep the people at a distance. It was quite dark when I got back to the bungalow.