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: Bishenpur to Kokadan; welcome; treating ailments
medium: diaries
ethnicgroup: ChiruKabui
location: Kokaden (Kokadan)
date: 8.1.1939
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
person: private collection
text: (101) Karadang. Jan. 8th. Approx 4 miles. Sunday.
text: Got off about 9.30, suffering from shortage of jappas, but provided with extra coolie. Just as well, as loads appeared to be heavy. Stopped at bhasti and collected two Naga baskets. Next hitch a village where coolies wanted to change. I jibbed. Student boy proved his worth by translating right, left and up the middle. Coolies, who were having a "try-on" continued quite cheerfully. Went to a house and saw dance. S.B. told me the name of the tribe but I can't remember it. Something between the Manipuri and the hills, but very effective (I mean the dance, not the tribe!). Single beat rhythm with drum, and gong obbligato in the more exciting passages. Two men and two girls, the former in dhotis, velvet fronted waistcoats and pagris made out of long scarves fringed Kabui-fashion and worn with a long tail behind and a short tail falling well over the left eye in front. Peacock feathers were stuck in a long tuft in the back, and transferred from dancer to dancer. In the intervals they were (102) stuck in a leaf "pad" tied to a house-post. They were (the dancers) in Manipuri dress, the girls in full leisabi costume, but they didn't seem to worry about my coming in, or the S.B. Distributed bakhsheesh in the form of cigarettes, and went on. Found coolies blowing hard up steep Naga path. Met headman of some village which sounds as if it began with M but probably doesn't. No zu. Went on. Halted on saddle, took two photos in silhouette with f.2. lens, which is still much on the sick list. Went on. S.B. whistling "Adeste, fideles" to Tolbung tune. One or two of his efforts sounded rather like Barak boatsong, which is probably old Kuki theme-song.
text: Met what to my startled eyes looked like undressed Tangkhuls, but which proved to be Chiru. Large, unspoilt Chiru village just below Kokadan. Met headman. Proceeded. Beyond, vision in gorgeous Kabui cloths proved to be Kokadang headman in semi-regalia. Advanced at head of procession, preceded only by one headman, to classy line in (103) bashas made of matting and surrounded by gracefully fringed triumphal arches - the boudoir touch. Large crowd of mixed Nagas present. Was presented with two goats, seven dozen (approx) bananas, some oranges and three bottle of zu which I don't want. Handed out Rs10 for basha, 3/8 for coolies + 1 bakhsheesh and about 20 packets of cigarettes. By way of opening gambit, picked out Chiru with bandaged foot. Found it a healed burn, but applied Tannafax for the good of the advertisment. Immediately scored a damaged knee, sore eyes, baby with boils and skin eruptions - wriggly patient and yelled like hell; took four, mother, headman, S.B. and self, to cope. Followed 2 failing sight, 1 rheumatism, two (alas!) suspected syphilis, and a Chiru, who arrived at dusk with the hell of a damaged and suppurating foot, got by falling off a bridge. Said it was 3 weeks old. Looked it. Shifted some obstinate matter, but plenty left. Told him to come twice daily. Other patients boy with sore ear (104) from earring and - p.s. - gent with inflamed eye. Have promised to get medicine for gent with rheumatism - Heaven send I can. Abung not a bad cook. Had sausage, soup, carrots and biscuits for post-surgery lunch - (3.30p.m!) soup, sausage and 2 fried eggs for dinner, also tinned (very sweet) raspberries, remainder of which I have postponed till breakfast. Gent who asked for cigarettes this evening is now sitting opposite me, trying to hypnotise me into giving him some, I think. Callers from nearby Kabui village came when I was dealing with the lame Chiru. Gave them cigarettes. Saw lame Chiru arrive, investigate cookhouse, find friend and descend on me. God knows what will come tomorrow! Oh, yes, a man with sore gums materialized. Made him rub them with the weak iodine solution. Said it hurt, so I gave him a Veganin. Hypnotism suddenly dematerialised, never saw him go. Bare feet make very little sound but he went like a blinking ghost.
text: These chaps wear scarlet fringed cloths like Major Khul and Sahibmenai. Also the Kabui flap and blue loin cloth; cf. (105) Kambirong. Facial types less course and Australoid, otherwise similar. Hair cut (all over crop) much the same. Chirus wear the fillet of peeled bark, and what I can only describe as a sort of jock-strap - one degree better than a lengta, but not much. It fits tight, that's all.
text: Visions keep drifting out of the night. There are two now.
text: Got Kabui and Chiru words out of small boys round fire.