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: villages supply rice and fowls; Munipuri attempts to extend territory; description of Aphomai Nagas; to the Barak river
medium: tours
person: Pemberton
ethnicgroup: Aphomai
location: Barak R.
date: 6.2.1873
person: Godwin-Austen/ H.H.
date: 26.11.1872-4.4.1873
person: Royal Geographical Society, London
text: 6th Feby.
text: Up early next morning & off up to the pass we had come over the previous night. Ogle went with me. Bkfasted on return to the village, Butler & Thompson having gone on. Villagers brought in no end of rice for sale & we soon filled up our empty rice bags & I got 4 fowls. Thence the road lay up the R side of the valley over grassy slopes with thin woods higher of a tree like the alder & then into the old forests which covered the highest part of the hills. Cultivation extensive in the valley below. Both the villages had been burned in 1869 by the Munipuris. That year was the first [39] that the boundary question was taken up by the British Govt & that year the first Munipur commenced her system of extending her territory into the Independent Nagas on her northern frontier. In Pemberton's time, it is very evident from his maps, that they had never gone beyond the watershed in any one direction or that zealous & talented explorer never wd have omitted to put in country on the north of it & fixed the main watershed of the Brahmaputra & Irrawaddy. The differences in costume are as great as the differences in the dialect. Thus many of the men of the Aphomai wear earrings like those of the Burmese, cylindrical pieces of bamboo three quarters in diameter put into the extended ear lobe. The kilt is not worn, but only a short rag which scarcely covers the private parts & "meke laurahpur kanguti jis ke beech men age ke chumrah kyneh leta hy, auristerah laura biker subbah ate aur behut chota malonour hota". This curious mode is also practised by the Lahoopahs of S Manipur side - McCulloch's book on that country. The helmets worn by the men of this tribe of which Shipvomah belongs are most curiously adorned - with a circular brass disc in front & two other round discs covered with red & white seeds on either side from which hang bunches of hair, white tassels of same hang from a broad strap which comes down in front below the chin. The helmet itself is made of strong wicker work & a plume of white feathers generally surmounts all. From main ridge we descended towards the Barak valley down a spur passing through the village of [blank]. Here fowls & rice were tendered for sale & pressed upon us. I got some very good white rice & brought 6 or 8 of the former. In the forest above the principal underwood was a bamboo (ringal) growing very straight with short thorns round the joints of the stem. From the level of the village down to the Barak the slopes are bare & steep. It was a welcome sight to see the tents pitched on the level rice fields on the banks of the river & enabled us to work at our Plane Tables longer. Sikhameh & Ketsomeh lay immediately opposite, grassy slopes leading up to them. The men of the latter place came down in the evening & brought some excellent zu, fowls & eggs & a small pig of which the value was 3/-. They were very civil. A cold night with white frost.