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: Description of objects collected in Yakao; provision of supplies; Burmese administration
medium: letters
person: LambertSmith/ Mr.
location: Panso Yakao Pangsha Noko (Nokhu) Chindwin R.
date: 3.12.1936
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 1936
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: (21) Camp Panso
text: December 3rd, 1936
text: We had a most gentlemanly march of about five miles, ending up in a camp of Vice-regal dimensions all ready for us. We began with a climb of almost an hour, with one very narrow long bridge in the path. As it was sloping up I managed it all right, but how I shall ever return over it on the downward slope I can't imagine. These damned log bridges are the bane of my life. Everyone seems good at them but me. I hate going over a single log, roughly level on the top and no hand rail!
text: At the top of our climb was Yakao village, a place of about 50 houses in which no white face had ever been seen before. They were a little sore at having lost a head by treachery a few days ago, but were most friendly to us.
text: I collected one or two things I wanted, including a real "crash helmet", a huge thing of cane with rope coiled round it, and padded inside with a filthy rag! They use them in village fights when it is "genna" to use steel, but you may hit the other fellow on the head with a club, as hard as you like! Also a very fine drum in the village of the curious type one gets round here. I also collected a set of ladies' combs. One for the scalp has fine teeth, and the other one has a long handle and blunt bamboo teeth. This is used for twisting the back hair when it is being done in the morning.
text: Then we came down a long spur here to a huge powerful village, never before visited. I haven't actually seen it yet, as it is further down the slope over a bump and out of sight. They are all very pleased with us for burning Pangsha. This year Pangsha visited them and returned home with 12 Panso heads.
text: But they are not prepared to go too far. They don't want us near the village, so we have made our camp well up on the spur where water is a great difficulty. They have brought us pigs and chickens, but their baskets of rice had a thin layer of rice on the top of Job's Tears underneath - this is a very inferior sort of grain. All our effort to get big bamboos for carrying water have been in vain.
text: They just sit about, and I don't want a quarrel. Tomorrow I am going into the village (with a strong escort). I have always wanted to see it and I hope to get some things for the Pitt-Rivers Museum.
text: Till we got here no one knew how far anything was from anywhere. Here the views are magnificent. The ridge down which Pangsha attacked us is plainly visible down and across the valley. One can even see the piece of jungle behind which the Pangsha people massed there.
text: What is more important at the moment, we can see what the hell of a long way Nokhu is from here. We could never get there in the day. But I hope we don't have to go. Panso confirm that all the slaves were returned when the news came that we had really started, that is to say, all slaves but one, who has been sold in Burma. It will be for the Burmese people to send her back if they can. I do wish they would look after their people, their D.C.'s sit down on the Chindwin surrounded by Courts and know absolutely nothing about their Hill Tribes. Lambert talked to one and was amazed at his ignorance. I'm inclined to believe Panso about the slaves. They long for us to go and burn the powerful Nokhu and would be ready to rake up anything against them that they could.
text: I've never seen such a village as this for ceremonial slowness. An enormous procession of men has just brought firewood and water-bamboos. Most people carried nothing, and no one more than one stick of firewood or one bamboo! It took an immense time to get this very small result for the procession had to move very slowly and chant all the time!
text: Smith is having a better day! I really think 5 miles is about as much as he can do without getting tired and cross. Anyhow, having a dog I refuse to bark myself! And he has really done quite a lot of work. I gave him direct orders not to go to bed in the afternoon as he loves to do, and I told him he might be wanted at any time.