The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: administration in the Naga Hills
caption: dobashis
medium: articles
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: For example official interpreters (dobashis) wore a red cloth as a symbol of office but nobody else was permitted to do so. The penalty for a breach of this order would be under section 188. Decisions on civil as distinct from criminal cases were to be made according to justice, equity and good conscience. There were a number of tribes, all differing from each other in language and customs. Angamis, Semas, Aos and Lhotas were the main ones in the centre, but Kukis, Rengmas, Kacha Nagas etc. inhabited their own areas. The Kacha Nagas had three languages. Administration was made possible by a staff of interpreters called dobashis (two language men - who were able to converse with the Deputy Commissioner in a bastard Assamese). For each language there was an interpreter or more than one. For the large Angami group there were several. The senior ones acquired much knowledge of custom. I took them, in all cases on which I might make mistakes owing to ignorance of custom, with me on tour in the cold weather so that the general opinion of the elders could be ascertained.