The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript copy of extracts from letters from J.P. Mills to Mrs Pamela Mills (in England), 1936

caption: First visit to "new" villages; a Naga's service in France; head-taking; friendly visits and hospitality
medium: letters
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.ChirongchiPukoviSmith/ Mr.
ethnicgroup: SangtamsSemaYimsungrChang
location: Chongtore Holongba Sangsomo Anangba Mokokchung Lirisu
date: 15.11.1936
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 1936
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: (3) Camp Chongtore
text: November 15th, 1936
text: It has been a pleasant morning, and most of the afternoon spent sleeping, reading or writing. The Santangs don't live in large villages but in small "Khels" strung out along the ranges, so that one hardly knows where one village ends and the other begins. I let the Column go straight to camp today. By "straight" meaning they plunged down into the inevitable valley and climbed 2,500 ft. the other side. Meanwhile I took the Baron round the semicircle of hills the Column cut across. We had to climb up about 6,500 ft., but it was pleasantly cool and we saw villages no white man has ever been in before. Their names cannot mean anything to you, but were Holongba, Sangsomo and Anangba, each one consisted of several small "khels". There are plenty of people I know round here including one Chirongchi, a superb- looking specimen who went to France in World War I and came back safe and sound, with a rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition, which I made him give up. I simply couldn't let him go round slugging his enemies with it, he has a good few. I noticed that the exposed side of his house is built with boards so that the causal spear can't go through.
text: We took a photogragh of Chirongchi standing by the skull of Pukovi, a famous Sema rogue that he killed. They hang the heads that they take near the big village log-drums in these parts. Everyone was most hospitable and so many people asked us into their houses that we only just got back in time for lunch, though we started at 7.30 and only did about seven miles.
text: You can imagine how thrilled the Baron was at achieving the anthropologist's ideal, and visiting villages no white man had been to before.
text: Of course most of the men had seen me or some other European at Mokokchung, but the women and children never had, yet they showed no excitement, and didn't even stare rudely. But probably the children will have lots to say later - people of an entirely strange colour wearing entirely strange clothes, must be too much to take in all at once.
text: We stay here tomorrow to give the men and the coolies a rest. I hope to visit this village and another smaller village called Lirisu. It will be my last chance of moving about freely: in the Yimsungr and Chang country I shall have to have an escort all the time, as they are not as reliable as the Sangtams. Here we don't even put our camp into a state of defence.
text: Later on we shall have to have two camps joined together. There are too many coolies to come in with us, so they will be on one side, with a picket to look after them, and we shall be in the other with a perimeter and troops all round us.
text: Every evening I have to receive the presents brought in and distribute the meat. This evening we had one cow, five pigs, four goats and a mass of chickens and eggs.
text: Then the neighbouring chiefs who had come in had to be given drinks - a pretty hard-bitten lot.
text: Smith is going to be far from ideal at Mokokchung. He simply won't demean himself to be friendly with these people. I don't think he knows how to unbend. He is always criticising everyone. He told the Baron he couldn't see the good of paying friendly visits to the transfrontier villages, the proper thing was to burn them!
text: The effect of heights (about 8,000 ft.) and steep hills on the Baron is to give him a furious appetite. He eats everything he can see and seriously depletes our stores! He says," I want meat, meat, meat!". He is looking better already, Attebrin which cured his malaria had turned him bright yellow! But that is wearing off now.