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: Second Tour
caption: to Ngangting and across the frontier; Zakko morung carvings; head-trees; disposal of the dead; effigies of the dead; decorated skulls; Ang's house at Sangnyu; iron cannon from Assam; incest; boat-shaped coffins phallic posts
medium: articlestours
location: Sangsa Zakko Sangnyu Ngangting Zangkam
date: 19.10.1923-20.10.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 10.1923-11.1923
text: Oct. 19th. - To Ngangting. We crossed the frontier at about 500 ft. and went on to the village - 2,000 ft. A camp had been cleared ready. The headman of Sangsa, ('Hangha,' Buragaon') met us on the way. He was wearing beads of tiger bone. The headmen of Zakkho all came in with salaamis, and the women and children were in the village and all peaceful. The village is small and scattered and and the morungs poor. They gave me the name of the stream beyond Sangsa as " Teijat." It is a tributary of the Taukok, and the hill at its source is Chakkihua. We decided not to stop at Zakkho but to go straight to Sangnyu.
text: [20.10.1923] Via Zakkho ('Gako' "Jako" on map) a small village about 3 miles east of Ngangting and 3,050 ft. up to Sangnyu ("Changnoi" on map). The map is bad and misleading, but the path not so far as it appears on the map. The Zakkho morungs were carved with human heads done in the typical Angami style and in front of the morungs were rounded stones for putting the weight as the Angamis do. The head tree at Zakkho was a ficus whereas that at Ngangting had been an euphorbia. I noted on the connection between these two on my tour of last April (vide my entry of April 19th), since when I have found that the Zumomi Semas plant an euphorbia when they found a new village and the Maoris of New Zealand speak of euphorbia juice as "milk of the gods " [Frazer, Belief in Immortality, II 36.] the gods being apparently, identified with the dead in this case. [SKETCH
text: At Zakkho we saw burials which combined the wooden figure of the deceased man (we saw none of women) very nicely carved, with a second burial made some eight or ten days later when the head is put into a pot, with a stone dolmen-like altar over it for offerings and other offerings in other pots also half buried alongside, reminding me very forcibly of the prehistoric burials described by Mitra in Central India. [Prehistoric India, p. 201.] One figure (Pl. 7, fig. 4) had three hand-arrows stuck into the ground alongside him neatly' coloured with a spiral stripe made by twisting round a sliver of bamboo and then smoking the whole and taking off the bamboo to leave the unsmoked stripe underneath. The Kukis dye porcupine quills with a spiral stripe on the same principle. The figure has a little house of its own by the platform on which the body rests, and the friends of the deceased come to mourn in front of the statue. The pot in which the head is ultimately buried is covered with a flat stone and the skulls of 'Angs' (Chiefs) are painted with the tattoo worn by them during life, and their own hair is also attached to the skull. A few old skulls were noticed in the morung. [SKETCH
text: Sangnyu is about 20 miles from Ngangting and is a fine big village. They had cleared us a big camping ground in a fine site at the edge of a cliff and with our own water, and proved very friendly. There are four morungs with from 20 to 50 heads in each mostly taken from Zangkam on the next ridge. The 'Ang's' house was enormous. It had 27 posts supporting the central roof tree and measured 130 longish paces from the front door to the back, the eaves of the gables excluded. It contains a magnificent piece of wood about 20 ft. long by 12 ft. high at least, and must have been at least six ft. thick at one end originally, but the thickness was cut away leaving all sorts of carving in relief, some in high relief, other parts standing on projecting ledges and cut entirely out away from the background, but all done in the same piece of wood.
text: There were two big tigers, one broken, the other very well and realistically carved, a couple of warriors, and a mother suckling her child, but broken. A man and a woman performing the sexual act ; a cock crowing, excellently carved ; a big snake ; a double rainbow ; huluks, very natural ; human heads ; other less striking things, and a joppa standing absolutely clear of the main block and carved completely and hollowed inside as a receptacle for odds and ends with a detached lid. There was also a long gadi, the size of a bed, with a foot-rest along one side, like a shelf, all carved in one piece of wood, on which the 'Ang,' alone may sit, and two smaller thrones of the same pattern but portable - also in one piece of wood each (Pl. 9, fig. 9). On the platform outside the house was a flat stone. The Ang's particular sitting place was carved with the pattern of a pair of feet like the Manipur stones at Kohima and elsewhere. All this carving was ascribed to a more or less mythical ancestor and must be excessively old, though all but one of the " thrones " are as good as the day they were made. The height of Sangnyu is about 3,500 ft. and was a pleasant change from the low hills. Zangkam (Rangkam on map) Longphong (Huro Changnoi on map) and Nyasia (Niassia on map) came in with presents of pig and chicken and goat. Nyasia has recently moved S. of Chakkihua hill.
text: The Ang of Sangnyu has an iron cannon, which we saw, and the story of how he came by it is this: - The King of Assam invited the Chief of Sangnyu, his son, and his daughter to come down and see him under a safe conduct. They came, and the King of Assam then proceeded to behead the Chief, and by way of a little pleasant sport ordered the son to violate his sister in public. The boy refused and was told the alternative was death. He refused again, but his sister persuaded him to do it to save his life and they were then let go, and went back to the village, where the girl hanged herself. To revenge the treatment of their chief and his family the people of Sangnyu then started to make war on the plains, and did it so effectively that the Assamese sued for peace, and the King gave Sangnyu a cannon as an indemnity. Boat coffins are made for the dead as elsewhere in the Naga hills [Mills, The Lhota Nagas. p. 157. see also Hutton, Assam and the Pacific (a paper read before the Indian Science Congress, 1924)] and also by the Karens [McMahon, Karens of the Golden Chersonese, p. 363; Scott and Hardiman, Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States I, i,535.] in Burma. A wooden pillar (Pl. 8, fig. 6) in front of the Ang's house reminded me of the cylindrical posts at Dimapur, and an erect stone outside one of the morungs was definitely stated by them to be a phallus intended to promote the fertility of the crops and cattle, though this was only in answer to a leading question; as a rule they are very reticent on the subject. [SKETCH