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
caption: house tax collection
medium: articles
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: Villages were on the tops of hills as they were fortresses in the old days of village warfare. One had to climb up to them. Unless there was a case the only official work was a check on the number of houses. Each village had a headman who counted the houses and collected the house tax. The trick was to extend the house at the back and so provide a home for a young couple who would escape tax if the headman liked to turn a blind eye. A bottle or gourd of rice beer or millet beer was always offered on arrival. Bottles of Kukis or Aos were often covered with grime but one had to put one's lips to them. Description of the single roomed huts is not necessary as Hutton and Mills give full details in their books. Interiors were begrimed with soot as there were no chimneys. The large hut called a "morung" was a feature of Sema and Ao villages. Young males slept there before marriage. Morungs existed in Angami villages but were not much used. In all the tribes unmarried youths and girls were unrestrained in their sexual behaviour. Unless a marriage took place later the resultant babies were killed at birth but information on the point was very hard to obtain and my source is the scanty information attainable by Hutton in his book published after my departure. After marriage Angami girls are expected to be faithful to their husbands and are generally so but Ao women are by no means so chaste and divorces are common among them for trivial reasons according to the book of Mills on them published after my time.