The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

letters from J.P. Mills to Henry Balfour

caption: Operation of a jungle-cock snare sent to the Pitt-Rivers museum; hair cutting mallet; a double flute
medium: letters
person: Balfour/ Henry
ethnicgroup: SangtamAoKonyak
location: Mangaki
date: 15.10.1923
person: Mills/ J.P.
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: Mokokchung,
text: Naga Hills,
text: Assam.
text: Camp Lapa
text: Oct. 15th 1923
text: My dear Balfour,
text: First about the jungle-cock snare from Mangaki (Sangtam). You set it as follows in a gap in a fence. (1) Fix a switchy stick up right in the ground. This is the spring. (2) Attach the cord to the thin end of the stick. (3) Stick the peg in the ground at the gap, slanting at right angles to the line the string will take when pulled taut, and with it the notch down. Make the bamboo slip at the end of the string into a noose and fix it in the nick in the peg. The stiff end of the bamboo slip holds in the nick against the strain of the string. Is this intelligible with the aid of my sketch?
text: About the hair-cutting mallet; in some villages a boy may not have his hair cut till he has taken part in a raid. Then he has it cut with one of these mallets, by tapping against the edge of a dao. The mallet is then hung up in the 'morung'. I saw some there and got one made. The originals could not be removed. The leaves round the handle are those used in many Naga ceremonies. Aos call them am, and Konyak girls use them for their pig tails. The round things are short-bean creeper seeds. Aos also make a mallet of them for a child's first hair-cut. There is some virtue in the creeper, which is used both for ceremonial tug-of-wars (or is it tugs of war?) and for tethering mithan at the time of sacrifice. You can tie the beast up with anything at other times. Calves when first born wear a necklace of these beans in some tribes... I am touring in the Konyak country - with my eyes open. So far I have got little but some musical instruments, including a double flute which two men can play at once. If my camera has been behaving and the scale is accurate some of my photographs ought to be good....
text: Yours ever,
text: J.P. Mills