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: comments by Col. H. Godwin-Austen; burial customs
medium: notes
person: Godwin-Austen/ Col. H.Buckland/ Miss
location: Asalu
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: Colonel H. Godwin-Austen made the following remarks: Colonel Woodthorpe in the opening portion of his paper referred to my services when in charge of the Khasi and Naga Hills survey operations, and I have to thank him for the kind terms in which he alluded to my services in those hills. I must say that I left the survey with great regret, and only wish that I could have done more; but that jungle country is not one where a European can work for many years with impunity, and after seven years of jungle work on that frontier, I considered it best to leave before my health, which (61) suffered much, was entirely undermined. There is no country more interesting to work in than the Naga Hills, of which Colonel Woodthorpe has given us so interesting an account this evening; the scenery is most beautiful under the Burrail range, and the people are the most interesting on the Indian frontier. Colonel Woodthorpe saw more of them and the country than any other officer, and I can testify to the accuracy of his observations. With regard to the burial customs of the people, about which Miss Buckland has asked a question, I only once had an opportunity of seeing any part of such ceremonies. In passing through a Naga village near Asalu, I saw the grave of a man being made close to the door of a house, and the wife of the deceased was standing in it, and digging the same, and at intervals singing in a loud mournful way. It is the common custom to bury in the village street, and I have often seen the neatly-made fresh-raised graves covered over with an open work of interlaced split bamboos. On the occasion above mentioned, a "mittun" of the domestic breed had been sacrificed for the funeral feast, and it lay close by, having been speared through the heart, and the tail had also been cut off at the same time. Those who die of small-pox, which is a terrible scourge at times, are not buried in the villages.