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: touring
medium: articles
person: AsimoJhandaNihu
location: Wokha
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: Two roomed brick bungalows with servants' quarters and cook house were built along the main paths 10 to 15 miles apart. From these any village within a radius of 10 miles could be reached, by walking or on a pony. The main paths were 9 feet wide and villagers were obliged to maintain them without payment. Villages were compelled to carry the kit of travelling officials but were paid for it and glad to get the cash to pay their 2 rupee house tax. But a protest was made when an Indian doctor from another district came to enquire into an epidemic. He was not of the District Staff, Naga Hills. I used to take as little kit as possible and one servant and a cook. I had two cooks at Kohima, Asimo and Jhanda, both Nagas. They took turns in the touring. The one who had gone on the previous tour always declared he had fever. The formula for a servant wanting leave in the plains districts was a telegram with "Come. Mother serious" on it. This was probably concocted by a single Post Office code word. Except for the ceremonial chicken presented to me on arrival or perhaps a spear or a dao I paid deliberately high prices for my rice, chickens and vegetables. One day in the Lhota country an altercation on the verandah brought me from my room. It was at Wokha where the custom was to make a present of eggs. The dobashi had a bowl and the eggs were put in the water in it. Those which sank were accepted as good; those which floated were rejected. I asked the dobashi what he was saying. He replied "I was saying. So you think the new Sahib is an old man. He is not. He is a young man. These bad eggs are fit to be eaten only by old men whose taste is weak".
text: The Deputy Comr. Kohima and the S.D.O.Mukokchung had to be on tour for at least 4 months in the year and often longer due to urgent visits in the rains. I used to make short visits in the Angami country taking an experienced dobashi. The head dobashi, Nihu, was a great help as besides giving good advice he could at times bring about a settlement even among the litigious Angamis where the cases started in a din of voices as each man in the crowd shouted out his individual opinion.