The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: Angami raiding
medium: notes
person: IseingNamkiaNamrebuing/ of Asalu
ethnicgroup: ZemiAngami
location: Izeingram Leikul Impoi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Izeingram
text: On the hill across from Haflong, opposite Lower Haflong Station, there used to be a Naga village headed by a noted warrior named Izeing. On one occasion it was raided by Angamis, who were beaten off with the loss of three or four of their number. They fled into the jungle, but the Zemis made magic, and through the magic the Angamis lost their way and wandered back to Izeingram, thinking it was another village. They went to a house, where they found only a woman, and to her they explained themselves and asked for a drink. She said she would go and get leaves for cups and went out, but called the men, who killed the Angamis.
text: Izeing, head and founder of the village, kept large, fierce dogs which were left to wander loose at night and gave warning of any raiders.
text: This episode of the magic so enraged the Angamis that they were always raiding the village, and it was finally abandoned.
text: Note: Namrebuing of Asalu can remember, as a small boy, hearing of the Angami raid which finally destroyed Izeingram. An old man at present in the village (1940) can also remember it; and also the murder of a Sahib (Soppitt?) by Kacharis. A number of Kachari women prisoners were taken by road past Asalu.
text: A Zemi man and his wife were once captured by Angami raiders and carried off as slaves. They were well treated and given a house and fields and generally shown great kindness, and settled down apparently very happily. After two or three years they grew homesick and planned to escape. One night there was a great feast going on and the husband told his wife to go to the house and make everything ready for departure. Meantime he joined the feasters in the dekachang and plied them with drink till the last of them was dead asleep. Then the man and his wife took their possessions, shut up their house and left the village quickly. When the villagers woke and saw the door closed they said: "Oh, no wonder! He was up all night at the feast." By evening they were beginning to wonder what had happened, and on entering the house they found everything of value, and the couple, missing. Some were for pursuit, but others declared that the man was a warlock, a were-tiger, and that it would be disastrous to follow; and the couple reached their village safely.
text: Some years later Angamis from the raiding village were travelling, and when passing through a village they recognised the escaped slaves. They were not able to try and recapture them so they only laughed, saying :"That's a very bad man! He's a bad lot!"
text: N.I.
text: When the Angamis took prisoners they rarely carried off any but women and children, whom they either took home, or more frequently sold to intervening villages, who allowed their relatives to ransom them and made a suitable profit on the transaction. However, they did very occasionally take men, as when a house was surrounded and the householder saved his life and his family's by surrender; after some parleying, the householder would open the door a crack and an Angami thrust in his hand, at which the householder took a good lick with his tongue; the Angami in question was then absolutely forbidden to kill the prisoner, and to a certain extent protected him from the others who wished to do so; if the Angami protector wished to dispose of the man later he handed him over to someone else and taking no part in the killing. Male slaves were unprofitable, as they were likely to cut down their purchaser and run off home, and any carried off (and women too) were liable to be given a wound in the foot, enough to stop them running into the jungle but not enough to lame them altogether. In any case the prisoners were laden with all the booty their captors could lay hands on, and were often gagged to prevent their calling to the pursuers. I have had my hand licked by my dobashi as an apology at the conclusion of a violent row.
text: There used to be a Naga village on the present site of Leikul (Kuki) below and to the east of Impoi. The descendants of its inhabitants form the present village of Chenam, the furthest west of all the Naga villages.
text: A large party of Angamis went to raid Impoi, and on the way they met a Chenam man, whom they seized and threatened with instant death if he did not guide them to Impoi. In fear of his life he showed them the way and the Angamis cut up Impoi badly, killing forty or fifty people. The Impoi men were driven from the village, but reformed and lay up by the road to wait for the returning Angamis.
text: The raiders meanwhile had camped in the jungle, and there they took the omens or "made puja" and from them learned that there was an ambush laid. Day after day, the Zemis waited, day after day the Angamis took omens and still found the road closed, till the Zemis gave it up and went home, saying that the Angamis must have gone by another road. Then the Angamis took the omens again and found the way clear, and so went back to their village.
text: When Impoi found that a Chenam man had guided the raiding party they were furious. A meeting was held at which Chenam admitted that their man had betrayed Impoi, but pleaded that he did so in terror of his own life, and offered to give two big mithan in compensation. However, they never did, and finding the neighbourhood uncomfortable from Angami raids and a vengeful and mithan-less Impoi, moved right away to the west and their present position.
text: (N.I.)