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: Tuensang - one of the biggest Naga villages; effect of piper's music and buffoonery; village dance; tattooing; dog punished for theft; dog hair dyed and used in cloths; buffalo head carving on log-drums; morung carvings of leopards; headman's bed; head recently taken from Ninyam - also fingers and toes; panjied ditch between Bilaeshi and Chongpho khels; hide shields; warrior asserts his valour in a dance; skulls of the dead put on stone shelves in a ravine in second funeral; workers from Tuensang at Borjan Colliery brought back sickness; diet of sweet potatoes and job's tears; women's face tattoos; surveyor goes to Naksho; red goat's hair spear shafts
medium: articlestours
person: Ongli NgakuMongko/ of Tuensang
ethnicgroup: Chang
location: Tuensang Ninyam Naksho Yali Longtang
date: 11.11.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 10.1923-11.1923
text: 11th. Halted Tuensang. In the morning I visited the village and saw the rest of it. It must be quite a mile long with a few blank spaces but nearly all one long main street with small and crowded side streets wherever there is room along the ridge.
text: It is one of the biggest Naga villages I have been in, and must have about 700 houses. The people were most friendly, particularly the women who crowded round our mad piper and laughed uproariously at his buffooneries. That piper is a political asset, and the music drew the population out in scores.
text: The village had started a dance last night at 9 p m and it was still going when we started up to the village at 8-15 a.m. (Pl 13 figs.2
text: I was surprised to find many of them quite pretty in spite of the ugly Chang tattoo. Some of them had quite refined and even aristocratic looking features, as have many of the men, though nearly all are inclined to be prognathous. In the Kangsho khel I noticed a dog with one foreleg tied up to the neck as a punishment for theft. The dog did not seem much inconvenienced. Another dog - a white bitch - was being shaved with a dao, the hair to be dyed scarlet and used for embroidering clothes. In the Lomao khel there was a buffalo-headed drum just like those of the Aos, and many morungs had carvings of leopards biting each others necks, [In other villages I have seen similar carvings without the spots, and, I think with two eyes described as martens.] clumsily carved. [SKETCH
text: One of the headmen's houses had a one-piece wooden bed, which must have been cut, legs and all, from an enormous tree. I saw an old man who had devised for himself a new type of cloth "to keep the cold out." It was a white cloth with lines of cotton fringes in different colours.
text: At the edge of the Lomao khel was a fairly fresh head recently taken from Ninyam and not yet ripe for hanging in the morung in front of the drum. (The morung, by the way is not used as a sleeping place by Changs.) The eyes of the skull were pierced with bamboo skewers "to give the spirit pain in the next world." Behind it the fingers and toes of the dead man were strung together and hung on another pendant. They were not complete however, as the owner had been some short before his head was taken.
text: In between the Bilaeshi and the Chongpho khels there is a deep ditch digged formerly filled with 'panjis' most of which were pulled up by Ongli Ngaku's orders last time he came here, when he tried to settle the long standing feud between the Chongpho and Bilaeshi khels. For the present it is abated, but I saw in the Chongpho khel a long row of hide shields set out as they are put when trouble with the Bilaeshi is toward. I noticed an occasional stone erected, but small, and apparently not of much importance. There was a dance going on in the Chongpho khel in which a warrior joined stepping into the middle of the circle, and shouting out the occasions on which he had proved his valour. He was followed by two witnesses, as required by custom, to testify to the truth of his assertions, but these tended to become buffoons, the chief witness repeating " so I have heard " or indeed " indeed I have heard he killed a woman" or something of that sort after each assertion and the witness No. 2 rarely saying anything, but when he did it was "yes" or "it might be so." Witness No. 1 caused great amusement by his remarks and doubtless would in time develop into a stage clown or the humorous relief in a serious drama for the catalogue of exploits was accompanied by a great deal of gesture, while the circle of dancers would make the chorus, choryphaeus being already in existence. [SKETCH
text: I should very much have liked to have seen the place where the skulls of the dead are put at their second funeral. At the harvest festival each year the previous year's dead are disinterred or taken from their bamboo platforms, as the case may be, (for both methods of disposal are used according to the last instructions of the deceased or, failing any, by clan custom) and are taken to a spot about a mile away in the ravine of a small stream where there are natural stone shelves formed by the strata in the rock. Here the heads are set out in rows on the shelves allotted to each clan, the oldest being thrown away when there is no more room for the new ones. No path may be made or cleared to this spot and no one may go there except when conducted by the two official buriers, and then no one may look about them or behind them but they go stooping with eyes on the ground. They were most obviously unwilling to take me or to let me go, so I gave up the idea. There are two such places, one for the upper khels and the other for the lower ones of the village, both a long way from the village itself. They could tell me of no other village with the same custom. [SKETCH
text: A lot of the Tuensang people came in for medicine. There was a good deal of sickness as some thirty men had gone down to work at the Borjan Colliery in October and were all ill as a result. The village is far from rich, and sweet potatoes seems to be the staple crop. There is a good deal of Job's tears, but it appears to be very poor this year and is said to be usually like that. I doubt if the poorer households often taste liquor.
text: The women have two face-tattoos, differing in the chin pattern between the Ung clan and the others. I got Mongko's wife (Pl. 12 fig. 6) a pretty girl, to come to the camp and let me paint in her tattoo and photograph her, [Like all my photographs taken in November it was fogged owing to an undetected fault in my apparatus, and in this case, as in most, so fogged as to be useless for reproduction.] after which I presented her with some red wool. After that I was besieged with people wanting wool, and the perimeter was crowded with women while the boys and men became a perfect nuisance, and were not at all disposed to be shoo'd off. While halting at Tuensang the surveyor went up to Naksho, a small Chang village high up, on the same range as Kudeh and west of the Yangmun. Naksho, he said, contained 57 heads in the morung, different men's trophies being hung on different canes. When a man dies the heads he has taken are hung up by the corpse (whether it is buried or exposed on a platform) and left there ; at Tobu, on the other hand, they are said to be passed on from father to son.
text: The red goat's hair spear shafts so common here are made by Yali and Longtang, - Chang villages further west.