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: Tangkol houses; tombs; fish-pits; skulls in most large houses; carved posts and beams; mithan and buffalo carvings
medium: tours
person: Tangal Major
ethnicgroup: Tangkol
location: Talloi (Taloi) Thobal R.
date: 26.3.1873
person: Godwin-Austen/ H.H.
date: 26.11.1872-4.4.1873
person: Royal Geographical Society, London
text: 26th March
text: Butler & I went up the first thing before starting to the highest point to get a fair open view up the Thoubal. The Naga house here was a very fine specimen with the large trees placed in front of it & I made a sketch of it before leaving. We then descended to the river, passing a new tomb on the way & it is interesting to note that this was like those seen on the Angami side, a large platform with some large stones on it. It differed slightly in having two cross beams in front like the crossed weather boards on the eaves of their houses. While rice was being served out at the junction of the Hukakhong with the Thobal we had breakfast & then continued our march, leaving the bottom of the valley & following the spurs between them by easy gradual ascent to the village of Taloi. The valley of the Thobal is about 300 yards broad, well terraced in large rice fields. Each of these had a small square pit in the centre about 2 yards square the sides generally revetted with bamboo. These are for taking the fish which find their way by the irrigation canals out of the river into the fields & then into the hole provided for them where they are easily captured by the hand or in wicker baskets.
text: It came on to rain hard before we got to the village but did not last long. Taloi contains some 120 houses, situated on the ridge which rises on the North closes behind it a good 500 feet, whence the main watershed is thrown off to the Eastward at the head of the Tuimun, the ridges rising again thence direct North to head of the Thobal here only 3 and a half miles distant close to the village of Humi. Went on at once through the place to the hill & was lucky in obtaining a fine view of all the hill ranges around, even old Japvo shewing out sharp & clear (31 miles distant). Got position thus fixed very correctly. Tangal Major came up with his men & looked at the PT & talked geography after his usual fashion. Wind was rather high. Selected site for trig station & had a pole set up in case I or Ogle can fix it hereafter. Most of the villagers were absent in their fields or had bolted when we first came into the place. On passing back through it to camp they had come in again & were sitting about their houses but did not shew much curiosity. Skulls were to be seen in most of the larger houses generally 2 or 3 over the front of the entrance just under the eave on the 1st cross beam. Doors are generally of two planks bracketed together by (69) pieces of wood driven through projections at top & bottom which are roughly carved to represent the large mandible of the hornbill. The carved ornamentation of the posts & beams of their houses is invariably the head of either man or beast derived from the custom of preserving both those either killed in war or eaten at their feasts, tied to the beams in front of the house. In the examples given of the larger trees that they stick up in the immediate front of the house & other parts of it it will be seen how common the device of the mithan or buffalo head is.