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: description of the Nagas of the Yangmun valley; hair styles; jhoom-houses
medium: tours
location: Yangnyu R. (Yangmun R.) Ukha (Okha) Tobu
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 43. It may be as well in this place to note a few characteristics of the dwellers in the valley of the Yangmun, as we did not come across them again.
text: 44. The men are very like those of Yaru, etc., fine, well-built, and in many cases handsome. Their dress and accoutrements are similar to those of their brethren farther east. Their hair is dressed in a similar manner to that of the naked Nagas, i.e., closely cut everywhere, except on the top of the head, a thick tuft falling over the forehead, another long tuft hanging behind from the crown, the latter is twisted up into a tail with a band of grass. There is very little, frequently no, tattooing among these men, till they approach the naked Nagas and adjoining tribes, when a little tattooing on the face and limbs is observable, increasing in amount as we go eastwards. The women in the Yangmun valley have a very peculiar mode of cutting their hair; it is kept so closely cut as only to leave a dark shade on the head; a narrow space on each side of the head is shaved perfectly clean from the temples to the crown. They wear very little clothing: a small belt of very fine leather thongs, to which in front are attached the upper corners of a long narrow slip of cloth, about 30 inches long and 6 broad; from this point it falls perfectly free and loosely round the loins and buttocks. The dead are placed on a maichan, raised about 4 feet and covered with a low roof, which gradually tapers out in front for about 20 or 30 feet. The jhoom-houses, of which they build in the fields nearly as many as they have in their villages, have their roofs tapered up for a considerable length, either at one end only or at both. These curious structures, dotting the bare hillsides, and standing out against the dark red soil, look at a distance exactly like huge crocodiles lying about. Another striking feature in the landscape is a curious erection seen near most villages, which is visible a very long way off. It looks at a distance like a large silver chevron turned upside down. It is made of split pieces of wood with the white face turned outwards, placed close together vertically and fastened to large curves of cane or bamboo, suspended between three trees; the whole length varies from 40 to 50 feet, and the average width is about 6 feet, widening to about 12 feet at the centre point. We could not arrive at the meaning of these erections; but they were always put up facing towards a village with which their builders were at war: there was no idea of fortification about them. At Okha and neighbouring villages very quaint designs were carved in slight relief on the planks forming the front walls and doors, the designs being further brought out by a judicious use of black, brownish red, yellow, and white pigments. The roads, though in some places steep, are good in all this part of the country, and at Tobu is a very fine stone viaduct in the middle of the village, about 50 feet in length and 20 feet in height, with a most scientific culvert through it. Outside the village, the approaches are rendered secure by planting small twisted boughs and trunks of trees along them at intervals, utterly preventing any sudden rush down them.