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 Chaoha; Saoching making guns and gunpowder; field houses; language; tattooing; Chaoha at war with Chin; head-taking; euphorbia head trees; house-projecting roof poles; carving of a bear; log-drums
medium: articlestours
person: WoodthorpePeal
location: Choha (Chaoha) Saoching
date: 19.4.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 4.1923-27.4.1923
text: April 19th. - To Chaoha (or Choha, or, apparently correctly according to the village itself, for no one else can say the word, Chohra, [N.B. ra= 'village' in Angami, and is the real termination of all Angami village names.] the " Towha" of the map. This village, never before visited, has a powerful chief, and closely resembles in general appearance the administered villages in the Wakching area. In going from Angfang to Chaoha we deviated eastwards from Woodthorpe's route, which we had followed, from Yanching, since the 15th. I was sorry to miss Saoching, a village of much repute, which is stated to manufacture guns, and where at any rate people who break the locks of their Tower muskets can get them repaired. Saoching is also said to make gunpowder, no doubt by the same rather unsavoury methods as are used by the Thado Kukis and the Chins [Carey and Tuck Chin Hills Gazetteer, p. 225 ; Reid, Chin-Lushai Land, p. 232.] and also by the Karens. [McMahon, The Karens of the Golden Chersonese, p. 371, sqq.] Saoching are moreover reported to dispose of their dead in trees or on precipices in the erect posture, having smoked them stiff first.
text: We were exceptionally well received in Chaoha, the villagers falling over one another to supply palm leaves, thatch and bamboos, and to help in clearing a site.
text: The field-houses here are roofed with bamboo spathes, a material I have not seen used before, but which is said to be most effective and to last for years. The walls of the field-houses, as often in the Angami and Nzemi country, were built of rough stone-work.
text: The names of the streams here all end in -am, apparently the same word as the Khasi word for ' stream ' and the Palaung (Burma) word for 'water' and quite unlike any of the usual Naga words for ' water.' Mills tells me the Ahom is nam. I suppose it is the Mon-Khmer element shewing up again, and after all it is not so far from the country in which Peal found the square-shouldered hoes. [S. E. Peal On some traces of the Kol-Mon-Anaam in the Eastern Naga Hills. J.A.S.B. No. I of 1896.]
text: The chief of Chaoha had more tattooing on him than any Naga I have ever seen. Besides the face, arms and chest, the front of each thigh was tattooed, the shoulder-blades on the back, and the throat, the patterns mostly consisting of pairs of shallow arcs composed of two lines with a row of spots in between and arranged with the concave side of one pair facing the concave side of another.
text: Chaoha is at war with Chen across the valley. The chief, when asked whether he was also at war with Yonghong, Yaktu and Ukha, said no, he was at peace with them - the better to take their heads, an attitude typical of this locality. For these people treachery is the only diplomacy. With Chen no doubt a state of war exists because Chen is a very big village indeed, and so strong that there is every reason not to take heads from it and so incur its active hostility ; hence a state of war with Chen, and no risks taken unnecessarily. The enemy heads here are hung in a cactus-like (euphorbia) tree, which is in some sort sacred among the Kacharis [Endle, The Kacharis, pp. 30 and 36. Cf. Frazer Golden Bough III. p. 155.] instead of in a ficus, as I should have expected in the Naga Hills. [Konyaks as a rule hang them in their houses or morungs and not in a tree at all, putting their own dead in a ficus.] One may observe that both trees have one, and only one property in common. They exude a white milk-like juice and it may be noted that the juice of the wild fig-tree was sacrificed to Juno Caprotina at a fertility festival in ancient Italy, while in Africa the Akikuyu apply the same milky juice to the body of a woman wishful to become a mother, and attribute to it the power of fertilization as do the Baganda, [Ibid. II- pp. 313 to 318.] so that one may perhaps infer here an association between the milky juice and the fertilizing powers of the enemy dead. For the exposure of enemy heads when brought into the village Chaoha use a big globular stone like a Lhota oha, [Mills The Lhota Nagas pp. 108 166.] instead of the usual flat stone or stoneheap [J.R.A.I. LII, p. 243 Hodson, Naga Tribes of Manipur p.117.] They put up dolmens in front of their morungs. Enemies' heads, when cooked to clean off the flesh, are boiled with chillies and other ingredients calculated to make the foe smart.
text: Pandanus-fibre rain-coats, another link with the Angami, [The Angami Nagas pp. 26 78 386.] are worn rather longer and fuller than I have seen elsewhere, and men working in them tie them at the waist. We had reached the country where the poles that support the roof-tree project for several feet through the roof and are thatched over (Pl. 9, fig. 5
text: One of the Chaoha morung posts was carved with a bear eating a snake; the bear is rarely represented in the Konyak country, I think, though a common subject for carving in some Eastern Angami villages, where, however, it is very conventionally depicted, not, as here, naturalistically. As at Angfang, the drum-logs were tusked.