The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - J.H. Hutton, Diaries of Two Tours in the Unadministered Area East of the Naga Hills', 1926

caption: first tour
caption: to Angfang - difficulties with porters; language; forges; log-drums; effigies for the dead; lack of village organization; jhum agriculture; use of pollarded alter
medium: articlestours
person: Ongli/ of Mokokchung
location: Muksha R. Anphang (Angfang) Yonghong
date: 18.4.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 4.1923-27.4.1923
text: April 18th. - Yonghong to Angfang across the valley of the Muksha ; a rather ticklish march, as the two villages are very much at war, and neither could carry on the land of the other, and each had the greatest reluctance to meeting the men of the other village to exchange loads. The Angfang heralds, who are sacrosanct in Yonghong, had come in to our camp there, and as a matter of fact made an arrangement with the men of Yonghong that the latter should put down their loads at the stream, and that then the Angfang men would come down and fetch them when those of Yonghong had withdrawn, but neither party told us anything about it. Consequently, with great difficulty, we got the Yonghong men to carry our loads half way up the far hill with the Angfang people sheering off as we got higher. Eventually we let the former put down their loads and hurry off, after which the Angfang men came down and took them up.
text: As the Yonghong men turned and went off homewards, each man threw away the stick he was carrying. This was on Angfang land. I could not make out from anyone what the significance of the act was, if indeed it had any.
text: Angfang is a less interesting village than Yonghong, but the men are of finer physique and possibly still more reminiscent of the Angami in appearance. They went up the path with our loads singing " Yonghong shat'nyu," "Piyongkung shat'-nyu," i.e. "(We are) the tigers for Yonghong," " (We are) the tigers for the (villages on the) Piyongkung." As they had hidden all their heads, however, I could not compare their trophies with those of Yonghong.
text: The dialect spoken seems to be virtually identical with that spoken in the administered Konyak villages and Angfang is on friendly terms with Chi and other villages on our borders.
text: I noticed here that as at Yaktu and Yonghong the forge was in the morung. This is in direct contrast to, at any rate the custom of the Lhotas and, I think, of the Angamis, with whom a forge usually if not always, has a building to itself. In fact I do not remember seeing it otherwise in any Naga tribe before. - The drum-logs here were tusked instead of carved into buffaloes' heads and the [Mills tell me that the drum-log at Yehimi one of the three or four Sema villages that have borrowed this instrument from the Sangtams or the Aos, gets the same effect by having a second buffalo head in the reversed position rising out of the usual one: the latter has horns lying back on the log while those of the second head project in the opposite direction.] effigies of the dead, who mostly had their arms fixed on instead of cut out in a piece with the body, had straight skull-horns instead of curved. Those of males had on the head an ornament of some sort, probably representing the brass edition of the buffalo-horn emblem sometimes worn on head-gear (Pl. 3, figs. 6 and 8). In the effigies it was carved from the wood. [SKETCH
text: There is no chief of any sort apparently in this village and no one obeys any orders at all. The village meant to be friendly, but gave a lot of trouble by being without any sort of perceptible organization - so like an Angami village! It came out here that both Yonghong and Angfang had been told by some tripoteur friend of theirs and ours that we were going to blight their crops. We did not discover who it was. Doubtless he hoped to stir up trouble that would end in cheap heads for him from a burnt and scattered village. Ongli, the Mokokchung Head Interpreter re-assured them with the promise of a bumper crop as the result of our visit. As he said to Mills, any fool could see that the millet was promising extremely well. Indeed, the jhuming system of the villages round here is about the finest I have seen. Only millet (setaria and sorghum and Job's tears, coix lachryma) are grown, but the whole hillside, and very steep it is, is most elaborately laid out in ridges and quasi-terraces with logs cut from the pollard alders growing all over the slopes and everywhere most carefully preserved. The sowing too is obviously done with care, so that the plants are evenly distributed, and not, as by some Nagas, with the seed just thrown down anyhow, thickly here, thin there. Unlike the jhums of other tribes, which are used for at least two successive years, the ground is sown for one year only, and then allowed to stay fallow again for three or four years, instead of the more usual ten, and this rotation is continued with apparently admirable results, showing what really can be done with steep and unpromising land by careful preservation of the alder and precautions against denudation. The Angfang people seem to propagate this alder (aldus nepalensis) from cuttings put in about April, but they told us at Chaoha that they grew it there from seed. Experiments in the Sema country have shown that neither method is at all certain of success when tried by amateurs. [SKETCH
text: This use of pollarded alders and more or less terraced millet fields reminded me very forcibly of the Angami terraced jhums of Khonoma and Mezoma, and still more, perhaps of the Nzemi jhums of Pulomi (Kenoma) and Chekwema (Yang Khulen), and the fact that these Konyaks here do not, as the Angami and Nzemi do, grow any rice at all, suggested to me very forcibly that rice must have come to the Angami as a wet crop first of all, when they were already accustomed to the cultivation of millet in dry but partially terraced fields. [Cf. McGovern, Among the Head-hunters of Formosa, pp. 183, 184.] If rice were introduced as a crop that must be grown under irrigation, its obvious superiority as a palatable food would compel the conversion of the partial terraces into finished terraces capable of holding water, and the cultivation of dry rice would follow subsequently as the result of accident or experiment. On the other hand, were rice introduced as a crop that could be grown dry, there would have been no stimulus to the enormous labour of perfecting terraces for irrigation on very steep land.
text: The Wakching Headmen met us here with a letter bag. Height 5,350 ft. in the camp below the village.