The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

letters from J.P. Mills to Henry Balfour

caption: Monoliths; collection increasing; wrist guards, celts, firemaking implements, drinking vessels
medium: letters
person: Balfour/ Henry
ethnicgroup: Rhangkol TipperaKukiKachari
location: Haflong
date: 26.1.1928
person: Mills/ J.P.
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: Silchar,
text: Cachar,
text: Assam
text: Camp Paijac
text: Jan. 26th 1928
text: My dear Balfour,
text: It is only in these outlandish places that I get any time to write letters, and even here my time is short. But I am very much in the "look what I've found" mood, and I must share it with you. Just turning my face towards home after a trip which has surpassed my wildest hopes. I only hope all my loot reaches you some time and in safety. Let us take things quietly.
text: (1) I came on an unreported group of over 180 phallic (?) monoliths! I must send a note to Man. The smallest (and most perfect) I am having sent to Haflong (H.Q. of the Subdivision). I might be able to send it to you - it depends on the cost.
text: (2) I have got 2 old archer's wrist guards - one ivory and one wooden.
text: (3) I have two shouldered celts, one a type new to me, with curved edge and shoulders.
text: (4) I have woman's and man's fire-making things (Rhangkol Tippera).
text: (5) Lastly, I am not mad, I seem to have struck the ancestor of the tea pot. You know the common form of gourd [SKETCH] with a hole in the top and the stem pierced. It can be filled quickly through the hole, and you can drink or pour out through the stem. Well today I bought, at an awful price, a very fine old Kuki silver alloy vessel modelled exactly on a gourd [illustration] with the hole in the top. A unique specimen. Clearly developed from this is the old Kachari drinking vessel, of which I am by way of getting a specimen. Roughly like this - I haven't one in front of me [SKETCH]. You drink from the spout (i.e. the stalk).
text: Tea pots are oriental. Could not this be their origin? You have my bronze Kuki bottle. If I send you often old metal vessels - all very [] and valuable - will you make a case of them? Will you let me know if you have any spare specimens of the brass wrist ornament of which I sent you one in the making long ago to show cire perdu process? I think it is derived from the archer's wrist guard.
text: Excuse huddled writing. I'm shivering with cold in a tent and must go to bed and get warm.
text: Yours ever,
text: J.P.M