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: domestic life in Kohima
medium: articles
location: Kohima
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: Fish was not procurable but beef was available intermittently and of course goat, chickens and eggs. Dal (lentils for curry) came from the plains and milk from a grazing reserve set apart for Nepali graziers. Nagas eat neither dal nor milk. Nagas eat pig but as they lived as village scavengers British people did not eat them. Rice was plentiful. Tinned stores were sold in a Marwari shop in the Kohima bazar. Bread and flour were to be had. Hutton used to have the sons of Sema chiefs staying in his servant quarters where they learned bastard Assamese and got a knowledge of folk other than Semas. They could attend the M.E.School and learn English and eventually go to college if they wished or could attend the Technical School, learning blacksmith work from a Gurkha instructor or carpentry from a Chinese. Semas until the British came had no ironworkers to make their spears and daos. The Semas in pairs waited at table voluntarily. Semas wear a large cloth over the left shoulder and wound round the body leaving the right arm free. They have a narrow girdle round the waist and a narrow piece of cloth about 6 inches wide hangs over the girdle in front, barely providing decency. It went between the legs and its end was tucked below the narrow girdle behind. For waiting at table a broader cloth like a Scottish sporran was worn. This type was used at ceremonial dances. The buttocks were left bare behind. Shell necklets were worn and in the pierced ears were inserted bright feathers of birds. Guests from the plains were astonished by such unusual table attendants. I never entered the servants' quarters but Mills some years later found 23 persons in occupation.
text: Two Naga gardeners looked after my bungalow garden, spending much of their time practising spear throwing. Later I discovered a vegetable garden some little distance away. Hutton had seemingly had it sown and vegetable had come up but were smothered in weeds. I engaged a villager to clear the weeds who took me in triumph to see how thoroughly he had done it. Too thoroughly - as to improve the rather ragged look of the Brussels Sprouts had had picked all the sprouts off the stems. Not willing to lessen his happiness I kept silence.