The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Village Organization Among the Central Nzemi Nagas', M.A. thesis by Ursula Betts

caption: Chapter five: land tenure and agriculture
caption: the agricultural system
caption: cotton and chillies traded for salt; barter and sale
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: Nzemi
location: Bopungwemi Kohima Barak R. Maibong (Maibung) Mahur Diyung R. Jirighat
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: Both are used by the Central Nzemi themselves, but the quantities grown are in excess of local consumption and both are traded in neighbouring markets in exchange for salt. The Nzemi area is deficient in salt, and though a few brine-wells exist there is at present no native salt manufacture, and the Nzemi are dependent on outside sources for all supplies. The Northern Nzemi living to the north and east of Bopungwemi trade with Kohima and Mao bazaars; the Northern and Central Nzemi south of Bopungwemi and west of the Barak River trade with Maibong and Mahur in the Diyung River valley and with Jirighat in the Cachar plains. North Cachar is unique in that the opening of the Hill Section Railway through Diyung and Jatinga valleys in 1897 brought a major trade- route and a line of markets into the hills, a feature found nowhere else in Assam. In the slack period between the end of the harvest and the jungle-cutting for the next year's fields, that is, during December and the early part of January, parties of men and women 80 or 100 strong come down from each village laden with chillies and cotton and exchange their loads for salt in markets frequented by plainsmen. Rice is sometimes brought for sale by the Northern Nzemi, but the Central Nzemi have now no surplus rice and rely on cotton and chillies. In many cases the produce is exchanged directly for salt, and coin is not used in the transaction. This is particularly the case with the remoter villages, where salt has a scarcity value and can be used in exchange (116) for rice or labour. In villages within easy reach of markets, salt is easily come by and coin is found to be a more convenient medium of exchange. People from these nearer villages travel in smaller parties and seldom trouble to carry home a full year's requirement of salt, as those who live five or six days or even more from a market do. Villagers living within ten miles of a market make no organized salt-buying journeys at all; they purchase their needs at short intervals throughout the year. While salt is the chief import into the Central Nzemi area, hoes and cooking-pots are also bought from the markets, and so are small quantities of such exotic luxuries as chemical dyes for thread, ready-dyed cotton yarn [14 [Record T86842]