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 Chingtang; mat weaving frame; dancing boards in morung with carving of a frog and moon; eclipses; head-stones in front of Ang's house; tattoo
medium: articlestours
location: Chingtang
date: 22.4.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 4.1923-27.4.1923
text: April 22nd - To Chingtang, crossing the Yangnyu into administered territory by a bridge slung on wire ropes. At Chingtang we noticed an ingenious implement for mat weaving, a sort of frame round which the mat is rolled up as the weaving progresses keeping it out of the way instead of making a greater hindrance of it the larger it gets. [SKETCH
text: On the dancing boards (squared logs hollowed underneath, which reverberate when stamped upon) of one morung I saw a carving of a frog with a crescent in close juxtaposition to its nose. This crescent, they told me, was the moon. I have never seen the moon represented in anything less than the full circle in the Naga Hills before, and I cannot remember having ever seen a carving of a frog. I could get nothing more out of the Chingtang people, but I suspect that what is represented is an eclipse, and that the frog is eating the moon, as in the Khasi story of Ka Nam. [Rafy, Folk Tales of the Khasis I. where hynroh is translated "toad" according to a reliable Khasi informant of mine hynroh is used for "frog" or 'toad' indiscriminately.] The Kachins also regard an eclipse as being caused by a giant frog's eating the moon (or sun), [Hanson, The Kachins, p. 119.] the more common account in Assam being that some monster or dragon is the offender, to which parallels could be cited from as far east as Kambodia and as far west as South America, not to mention Europe and the Pacific. The Miris and Akas of the North bank of the Brahmaputra impute it to a god, and the Lushais to the soul of a Chin chief, and the universal method of averting the calamity is to make a horrid clamour and beat empty kerosine tins, "crepitu dissono" is Pliny's [Nat Hist.II, 12.] expression, and Livy has it " cum aeris crepitu qualis in defectu lunae .... fieri solet, clamoren edidisse " [Bk, xxxvi. Quoted by Dalechampius on the above passage in Pliny.] [SKETCH
text: Here there is a heap of stones, mostly oblong, in front of the Ang's house, to which a stone is added for every enemy head taken and exposed on the heap. The Tangkhuls also expose their enemy heads on heaps of stones, in front of the khullakpa's house, I think, but Hodson, who records the practice, [Op. cit, p. 175.] does not say that a fresh stone is added for each new head, nor do I remember having been told so by Tangkhuls when shown their sacred stone-heaps myself. The Chingtang stone-heap had a forked stick beside it, at which a 'mithun' had been slaughtered.
text: I noticed here an unfamiliar tattoo mark on the women, worn just below the throat, and a lattice tattoo - a herald would call it ' masculy,' on the shoulders, not at all unlike that affected by the Sangtam women near Thachumi very far south of this, and reminiscent of that worn on the breast by the women of Yonghong, etc. The Chingtang women all wear the familiar Konyak navel tattoo a cross with each arm formed of three parallel lines running outward from the centre. [V. supra p. 13.] The tattoo of the men (Pl. 4, fig. 4 ; 5, figs. 1 and 3