The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Report of the Survey Operations in the Naga Hills 1875-1876' by Lt. R.G. Woodthorpe

caption: to Yajim and Chihu; skull trophies; Y posts; tattooing
medium: tours
location: Yacham (Yajim) Chihu
date: 13.2.1876
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 27. On the 13th, warning our Tablung friends that any of them who came on with us except our guides would be punished, we left for Yajim and Chihu, two villages in close proximity, containing about 200 and 300 houses respectively, which we reached in the afternoon. The houses are crowded, as at Kamahu, but here the skull-trophies are placed in the front verandah, decorated with horns. The eldest brother in a family, in addition to his own trophies, gets the skulls taken by his brothers also to decorate his portals. Many of the verandahs contain a number of Y-shaped posts, carved with human figures and methna [sic] heads: these signify that the occupant of the house has been the giver of a big feast. The dead here are sometimes placed in trees, as at Tablung (see Captain Badgley's report of last year), but they are also often placed on maichans inside small houses, the beaks at the end of the coffin projecting through the front of the house. A small window is left in the side, why, I could not find out exactly: I believe it had something to do with the passage of the spirit. These houses, unlike the custom of other tribes, are not outside the stockade, but actually within the village precincts, close to the dwellings; so, in order to obviate any unpleasantness arising from the newly dead, fires are lighted in front of such, the fuel being chaff and dhan-straw, which smoulder slowly, a plentiful supply of smoke being obtained by heaping over the fire a pile of green leaves and boughs. The men here tattoo on the chest after taking their first head. The pattern consists of four lines which spring from the navel, diverging as they ascend, and turn off into two large concentric curves over each breast, the lines broadening out to about one inch in width at the middle of the curves.