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: Fertility and virility symbols; monoliths; provision of water; Zemi - Angami hostility and tribute relations; influenza
medium: tours
person: Merhema khel/ Kohema
ethnicgroup: AoNzemiAngami
location: Laisong Hegokulwa Hajaichak (Haijaichak)
date: 8.3.1927
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: It is the custom here to set up monoliths by the side of the path in the name of dead men, with a line of small stones at the side representing the various affairs of the heart in which the hero has succeeded in overcoming the scruples of the girl concerned. The best score I saw was 27, near Hegokulwa. The connection between such stones and fertility is obvious. Another fertility rite which I noticed today is that of digging a round pond by the side of the path in the name of a dead man. Laisong have recently dug one and lined the top with stone. One is reminded of the way-side ponds outside some Ao villages. Both Laisong and Hegokulwa have brought water from a great distance in bamboo pipes right into the middle of the village street, where it runs into a wooden trough. That at Laisong is really fine - a huge hollow log, with an extension at each end ornamented with carved breasts and containing a basin-shaped hollow in which vegetable soap is kneaded. These troughs are, I am told, made and set up by the young men for the women and girls (especially the girls) of the village. No young man may wash at one, though an old man would be allowed to do so.
text: [UGB: There is an even longer row at Haijaichak. The count need not be accurate, as it must be with a certain personal ornament, but is frequently increased in compliment to the deceased. Laisong's water-pipes measured just about a mile, and ours to the camp about a mile and a quarter. For water-troughs, see my Nzemi Naga film and black-and-white photographs. ]
text: Hegokulwa have just recovered from (11) an influenza epidemic and Laisong are in the middle of one. There have been a few deaths. All Naga villages in this area acknowledge the suzerainty of the Merhema khel of Kohema. Meat is killed for Merhema emissaries when they come and a small, and probably irregular, tribute of money is paid. Subscriptions were asked for and obtained for the rebuilding of the Merhema dahu.
text: [ UGB: Fear and hatred of the Angamis was intense. One day two or three Angami traders turned up in my camp in the hope of selling Angami ornaments, very popular among the Nzemi. The whole of my staff instantly turned out, utterly hostile, and surrounded me - considerably disconcerting the Angamis. I do not know whether they attempted to claim tribute from Laisong; that did not come up.]