The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript, J.P. Mills, Tour Diary, March 1927, with comments by Ursula Betts, 1986

caption: Architecture, talismans and daos in Thalorami; Khonoma's area of tribute; monoliths and their ritual connections
medium: tours
person: Kobile/ of KhonomaGaidiliu
ethnicgroup: MerwangmaiKabuiKacchaNzemi
location: Jaluwa (Thalorami) Guilong
date: 5.3.1927
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: The Nagas are of the Merwangmai sub-tribe, as are all the Nagas in this Subdivision. Over the outer doors of the "Dekachang" were pointed slats of wood marked with transverse lines in black. They are called "weaving swords" which they resemble. I have seen exactly similar slats, but smaller and made of bamboo, over the inner doors of magh houses, the maghs call them "crocodile's teeth". They keep out evil spirits. Here every "dekachang" must have three outer doors in front. Over the inner doors were wooden models of a spear and a dao with a curled tip of the Kabui dancing dao type. I was shown an ancient dao of this type here.
text: From Thalorami we went up to Guilong, a flourishing village of over forty houses. The "Deka Changs" were (5) fine. By the ceremonial fire stick is kept a long pole notched for every head of game brought in. The only carved posts are the king-posts at the back. On them there is a spiral pattern. Plumb in the middle of the village street is a monolith set up three years ago by the orders of Kobile of the Merhema khel of Khonoma to record his claim that the village is tributary to him and his clan. A good example of the distance to which Khonoma claim sovereignty - and by no means the limit. No Government orders can affect the claim, as the Kachha Nagas will go on paying tribute whatever we say. Their invariable argument is "If we offend Khonoma what will happen to us if Sircar ever goes?" The other monoliths were so old that no one could remember who had put them or why. The present-day custom is for rich men to build round stone sitting-out places. Another curious feature was a long heap of earth onto which men jump from a sloping stone after the harvest is in.
text: [UGB: At that time these monoliths occurred in many North Cachar Nzemi villages. These were destroyed at the instance of Gaidiliu - I'll say that for her! The 'long heap of earth' is, of course the hazoa, the ritual centre of the village, and the stone that under which heads taken in war were buried - but they were hardly likely to tell Mills that. The term Merwangmai or Maruongmai is used of the Central Nzemi by the Kabui, and not by themselves.]