The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - H.H. Godwin-Austen, Journal of a Tour in Assam, 26th November 1872 to 15th April 1873

caption: Munipuri raid; visit to burnt Thizami; monoliths; woods; to burnt Gaziphimah; skulls on poles; blood-feuds; British presence too small to stop head-hunting; grain buried to save it from destruction
medium: tours
person: ThompsonButler
location: Gazifhema (Gaziphemah) Zailomai (Thizami) Razama (Razameh) Achirhi R.
date: 30.1.1873
person: Godwin-Austen/ H.H.
date: 26.11.1872-4.4.1873
person: Royal Geographical Society, London
text: 30th Jany.
text: Butler had been finding out all he could about the late raid. And it appeared that 10 or 12 Nagas had been killed, that they had burnt Gaziphemah & then come on to Thizami, but did not attempt Razamah either owing to its naturally strong position on hearing that we were on the other side of the ridge. We got away abt 8.30 o/c & took the road via Thizami - one of the places burnt. A zigzag path led down the side of the steep fall from the village where we had first set up Plane Tables. Reaching the bottom of a ravine from the Kopamedza we skirted the hill side on level of the terraced fields to Thizami. The larger beams were still smouldering & a few men of the place were abt saving the little burnt grain that remained to them which was not much. The place had consisted of abt 60 houses. We were shewn the grave of one of their number who had been killed. They said his head had been taken off & this had been found but minus the scalp. This looks like the work of Kookies - Semi Nagas, Mezomi or Chalhoma, & Makrimah or Munipuris they said composed the force that had come in. They presented Butler with a very long spear (10'9" long) & wd not take it back when he wanted to return it. The road thence lay along the side of the valley. Really an excellent & broad one. Passed one or two large stones which had only lately been set up. On the latter part of the descent we passed the place where one Naga had been killed, dry blood mixed with dust & sand marked the spot only too well. The man whose grave we had seen had gone down with the others to scout but coming suddenly on the Munipuris early in the morning had bolted away to the right of the ridge & endeavouring to return to it had been intercepted by his enemies who had pursued the other two up along the road. At the stream below we had a cold breakfast, for (33) the coolies had come down by the way of the bed of the stream thus far & here the ascent began up the opposite side of the valley for Gaziphima. Looking down the valley of the Achirhi, Peak X shows up in the far distance some 46 miles away & another well marked intermediate peak abt 28 miles. The hillsides in immediate neighbourhood are covered with thin woods of fir (P.Khasiana) & oak & are in some steeper spots quite bare & grassy. Up all the larger streams & along the bottom of the main valley narrow strips of rice cultivation in terraces have been carried. Rain crops of rice & Jacob's tears are raised on the more level ridges of the last spurs. The strata shaley slates dip very high as they leave the bottom of the valley & apparently turn over in an anticlinal point mid way to the main ridge where the sandstones dip to Northward. It was a hot climb to Gaziphima with the sun on our backs. The village had been most completely destroyed but the inhabitants had returned & had run temporary shelters. It had contained some 300 houses & extended in a narrow belt along the ridge. Just before entering the place on the northern side a sight that took away all feeling of commiseration we might have felt for the people in their present misfortune was suddenly presented to us. As we came on a level part of the ascent an array of young bare stems of trees were set up on the side of the path, extending some 40 yards. Each one had once carried a human head, many had been knocked down probably by the Munipuri force but several still held their whitened skulls, a spike right through the centre & then driven into the top of the pole was the matter in which they were fixed up