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: attempts to mislead British
medium: notes
person: Butler
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: The Nagas would frequently try to mislead us as to our road, by planting small branches in the path by which they did not wish us to travel, hoping that we should think that it was a disused one. Captain Butler told me one day that he had seen a few twigs and leaves stuck here and there along a path leading to a village. He asked the meaning of it, and was told that the demon of smallpox had visited another village near, and might wish to go to that village also, but if he came upon the twigs he would say, "Dear me! I thought there was a village path here, but this is all jungle, I must try for another road." The Nagas never gave us credit for an intelligence superior to that of their devils. Captain Butler also tells of a chief whose favourite son died of a fever contracted while on a shooting excursion. This chief, in full war costume, rushed out to the spot, commenced his war cry, and hurled defiance at the deity who had struck down his son, bidding him come out and show himself, imperiously cursing him for not replying to the challenge. Omens are consulted on all occasions of importance, and determine the cause of conduct of the inquirers.