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: tattoos; physique
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Naked Nagas
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: We pass on now to the tribes lying to the north-east of these we have just been considering, and they may be designated as the tribes inhabiting the hills bordering the Sibsagor district. Here we again find several villages similar in every way to their neighbours, yet occupied by naked Nagas, and we find tattooing beginning to appear (72) among the men, though not as yet on the face; only slightly on the arms and breast, a few fine lines running up from the navel and diverging on either side over the breast. The women's legs are tattooed below the knee with a cross gartering, and some have a cross tattooed on their stomachs, the navel being the centre and the arms of the cross all equal, the pattern of each arm being a long narrow oval bordered by two diverging lines four or five inches long. These naked Nagas are, as a rule, fine looking people, fair as to colour, and with some claim to good looks. The men's heads are shaved with the exception of a long tuft from the crown to the forehead, over which it lies. They wear nothing beyond belts of straw very tightly twisted round their waists. The women wear a strip of cloth about a foot wide round the hips, the upper part of the body being unclothed like the Garo women; they wear innumerable brass rings on the right arm, and the usual bead and shell necklaces. Both men and women chew pan to a great extent. The neighbouring Nagas differ only from this naked tribe by wearing a small waist cloth or rather flap made of a woody fibre woven into a coarse cloth. A few clothes thrown loosely over the shoulders are, of course, worn in cold weather.