The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

diaries kept by Ursula Graham Bower on visits to Manipur and North Cachar between 1937 and 1940

caption: Barak Bridge camp; treating ailments; negotiating for Kabui dance dress
medium: diaries
person: 'John Willy'Kharram Din'Gary Cooper'Naipuiga'Nijinsky'Kangui
date: 20.11.1938
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
person: private collection
text: (21) Nov. 20th Barak Bridge.
text: Dealt with patients in morning, though had some difficulty in getting the girls to lie down; squeaks and giggles and squeals, but they were more amenable when Jeff had gone. Disinfected (permanganate in milder cases, Dettol on one girl with awful neck.) and dressed wounds. Issued (or Jeff did) bottles of drinking water tinted with Iodine. Man with sore leg turned up. Washed that and re-dressed it, John Willy taking intelligent interest in dressing and offering help. Muttered something when I had finished. Called up Kharram Din, who announced John Willy said his leg was much better an he was "bahut khush" about it. Issued him with permanganate and instructions, coupled with demonstration.
text: Showed headmen my photos, in which they took great interest.
text: In the afternoon Kambirong brought raft over and repaired it for Jeff to go fishing. Celia & I went for stroll (or scramble) down river bank. Celia turned back. I sat on log & washed feet & blister in stream.
text: Jeff tackled Kambirong about Kabui dance-dress. Kambirong sticky. Said they couldn't get thread, couldn't make it, wouldn't sell it anyway.
text: In evening got names out of all round fire. Nijinsky suffering from acute zu hangover, and could barely smile. (For names, see list at end of diary, if surviving [page 196]). When Jeff brought up subject of dance-dress again and Hamja interpreted, Kambirong mellowed and said well, they thought they could; and after a great deal of discussion Hamja said we could get them in Imphal; I said they were the wrong kind; this, translated, with additions, went down extremely well when Jeff said we declared Kambirong's were the only genuine (23) brand. Eventually got promise of one complete dress, skirt and shawl, and one shawl for Celia. All this argument was accompanied by much expressive gesture, flicking of shawls (imaginary) draping of skirts, dance-steps, etc. They say it will take 2 month to do at least; as all thread comes from Cachar. Fringe established as being largely orchid-skin.
text: During afternoon amused Kangui and Naipuiga with zip-fastener on my writing case and presented Naipuiga with my old metal-studded belt, with which he was frightfully pleased. It went round him nicely as a hip-belt over his loin cloth.
text: [Note. Cloth wrapped round hips like kilt, and end folded back to form flap, like glorified lengta. Photos may possibly show details more accurately.]
text: During p.m. when going down to shore, were followed by Naga women uttering loud cries. Arrived on beach and (24) demanded soap. Celia went back to get some and presented one woman with a cake of Palmolive. While Celia was fetching soap the other woman washed, first clothes & then herself, scraping herself with flat stone.
text: Got Nagas to pronounce out names. Celia easy going, but "Ursula" came out as "Asula".
text: At dusk heard "ho-hoing" down the road, and enter the young things of Kambirong carrying huge Yule log, two boys towing in front, half-a-dozen carrying; took photos.