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 Kongan; spring festival; white lime lines on dancers representing wounds; use of opium; decorated skull; sandstone skull boxes
medium: articlestours
person: WoodthorpeMills
location: Kongan Khanu Joboka (Yanha)
date: 25.4.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 4.1923-27.4.1923
text: April 25th Mills left for Mokokchung via Tamlu, while I went down to Kongan to get back to the railway, for which the escort had left the day before. Very plentiful along the track was a certain wild fruit now ripe, which we struck first at Yungya and which grows all through this country. The tree which bears it is of a very considerable size, and the fruit has a pronounced taste of strawberry combined with the acidity of many lemons. I can conceive that if cultivated it could be made into a most delicious fruit, meanwhile it is too sharp to eat more than a little of raw or very much of even when stewed. The Gurkhas call it kaphur, or something like that, and the Nagas of Kongan spoke of it in Assamese as bihu thenga the ' spring festival fruit.' It is well named, for Kongan were actually celebrating their spring festival when I got there. The village was in gala dress and the drumming never stopped at all. The younger bucks were dancing in full war paint, swinging their shields from side to side and banging their daos on them. They had lines of white lime splashed across them, across faces, chests, arms and backs. This represented wounds caused by dao cuts but whether the badges of their own bravery or aids by sympathetic magic to the gashing of their enemies I could not find out, and I am not at all sure that they had any idea themselves. I noticed that the fully grown adults did not take much part in all this, though in an Angami or Sema village all but the really quite elderly would have been in the thick of the fun. Here it is opium, I suppose, which has made them all blaze before they are full grown. [Mills comments. I think it goes deeper than that It has been pointed out to me that among the Konyaks the power lies with and decisions are taken by the young men acting by morungs. This is contrast to other tribes . e.g. the Aos. In the Changki group of the Aos which I feel sure contains a larger Konyak admixture than any other Ao group the tatar (elders) are young men who only hold office for three years. In all Ao villages each morung has a complete set of tatar who though boys have absolute control inside the morung. The village tatar can be fined if they attempt to interfere." The morung group he tells me. are usually composed of one or more clans which are represented on the morung governing body the same clan not often being represented in more than one morung whereas each minden ('relay') of village tatar usually contains representatives of all the clans in the village, with a member of the Pongen clan as its titular head."]
text: The Kongan men in this kit wear neckbands of red cane and yellow orchid-stem very like those of the Angami, but mounted on a white bamboo mount broad at the back and narrowing to the ends. [SKETCH
text: I took some photographs here of the decorated skull of a man recently deceased the same skull, I believe, as was shown to Balfour and Mills in the cold weather (Pl. 6 figs. 2
text: I could not induce the Kongan people to make me a model of the solid sandstone boxes in which the skulls are placed, and which are covered with a flat square stone (Pl. 6 figs. 1