The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Notes on the Wild Tribes Inhabiting the So-Called Naga Hills, on our North-East Frontier of India', by Col. R.G. Woodthorpe, 1881

caption: Angami villages; fortifications: pit-falls, panjis, gates
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Angami
location: Kohima (Kohimah)
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: The Angami villages are almost always large one, Kohimah, the largest, containing 900 houses. Many streets contain 400 or 500 houses, smaller villages being generally young offshoots from the others. The villages are all built on commanding positions, and owing to the almost constant state of war, most of them are very strongly fortified. Stiff stockades, deep ditches, bristling with panjies, and massive stone walls often loopholed for musketry, are their usual defences. In war time the hill sides are scarped and thickly studded over with panjies. These panjies vary in length from 6 inches to 3 or 4 feet, and give very nasty wounds. Deep pit-falls, artfully concealed by a light layer of earth and leaves, line the path by which the enemy is expected. The entrances to the villages are through long narrow tortuous lanes, with high banks of stone and earth on either side, tangled creepers and small trees meeting overhead, preventing an escalade, and admitting only of the passage of one man at a time. These lanes lead up to gates, or rather doorways closed by strong, thick, and heavy wooden doors made out of one piece of wood. The doors are fastened from the inside, and admit of being easily barricaded. These doors are protected very often by raised look-outs on which, whenever the clan is at feud, a watch is kept up day and night. The approach to these look-outs is a notched pole from 15 to 20 feet high. Deep lanes and stone breast-works (53) divide off the clans, of which there are frequently from two to eight in a village; small bridges of planks and logs of wood keeping open communications in times of peace, and being withdrawn on declaration of war. When an attack is imminent the roads are often planted thickly with tall strong pegs, which are easily threaded when walking quietly, but are an effectual protection against a sudden rush.