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: Problems of limiting oil prospectors; head-taking and burial customs
medium: tours
person: Evans/ Mr
ethnicgroup: Nzemi <Merwangmai
location: Laisong Hajaichak Hegokulwa
date: 9.3.1927
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: 9th.
text: Halted. For hours last night I could not sleep for cold. Though repairs have been carried out no effort has been made to see that the window frame fits on the exposed side of the house and the wind whistled through gaps in which I could get my hand. These flimsy bamboo matting bungalows are the acme of discomfort in cold weather. When the Mohorir turned up this morning I spoke my mind to him. No Mohorir here seems to have any particular job. The Overseer seems to be using them as he likes without reference to the Subdivisional Officer, and the result is utter confusion. I have asked the Subdivisional Officer to let me have a report.
text: We went to Hajaichak and back. This is the parent village of Laisong and Hegokulwa. The land is even more over-jhumed than that which I saw yesterday, and the village complains of a serious shortage of food. An interesting (12) feature outside the village was a huge mound of earth with a low wall circling the base, made to commemorate an exceptional harvest gathered by a man in the past.
text: Mr. Evans of the Burmah Oil Company was here in December and January last surveying for oil. The Subdivisional Officer says he remembers giving him permission verbally, but says he cannot remember what was said or for what area permission was asked. I propose making enquiries. Apparently Mr. Evans took the opportunity of slipping through from here into the Naga Hills and doing some prospecting there.
text: A curious custom, which I have not come across else where, obtained among the Merwangmai Nagas of this area. A village which took a head in war buried it when the days of "genna" were over, but if the relations of the dead man, after arranging the visit through a go-between, came and asked for it back they were allowed to come and dig it up and take it away. They would, of course, be expected to grant similar facilities in return, should the occasion ever arise.
text: [UGB: The head was buried, of course, under the take-off stone at the hazoa. When the dead man's relatives came to ransom it and the head was dug up, there was very liable indeed to be further trouble.]