The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

letters from J.P. Mills to Henry Balfour

caption: visit of Governor; process of tattooing using thorns
medium: letters
person: Balfour/ HenryKerrKerr/ LadyHutton/ MrsHutton/ J.H.
ethnicgroup: YachungrChang
location: Kohima Shillong Chuchu Yimlang (Susu)
date: 20.1.1923
person: Mills/ J.P.
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: Mokokchung,
text: Naga Hills,
text: Assam
text: Camp Themokedima
text: Jan 20th 1923
text: My dear Balfour,
text: I am on my way back from a mild few days at Kohima. The Governor and Lady Kerr and an inefficient staff paid us a visit. Mrs. Hutton is just off to Shillong for another baby and was not about much. So I acted as a sort of assistant host for most of the time. H.E. is a cheery bird and all went off well...I saw some girls being tattooed at Susu. The description we had was misleading in one respect. The thorns are not placed on the skin and then tapped. The blows are very quick and the thorn-holder is lifted at each blow and brought down and struck just as it is going to touch the skin - the blow carrying through onto the skin so to speak, just as one sees a stone mason using a chisel and hammer sometimes. The whole performance was most stoical. Neither of the two girls I watched moved a muscle or cried. They just made a few casual remarks such as to ask a friend to spit on some part which was burning rather!...Hutton and I hope to tour in the Yachungr country in April, and see something of the Changs too. But these infernal escorts made anthropology difficult...
text: Yours ever,
text: J.P. Mills