The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

printed - Tour Diary of the Deputy Commissioner, Naga Hills 1870 (John Butler) volume one

caption: Suminah Khel of Khonomah asks for help against Miremah Khel; Butler refuses but offers to adjudicate between them; offer refuses; physical description of Nagas; description of Mozimah, particularly its fortifications; irrigated terrace cultivation; to Jotsomah - feuding khels; thoughts on the necessity of active involvement in suppressing feuding; to Kohimah
medium: tours
person: Thekronomah khel/ JotsomahKhniemah khel/ JotsomahTholomah khel/ JotsomahCheomah khel/ JotsomahOongre/ of KohimaDossa/ of KohimaHepvomah clan/ KohimaCherramah clan/ Kohima
location: Khonowmah Kenomah Koheemah Mozimah Barail Range (Burrail Range) Jotsomah
date: 10.2.1870
person: Butler/ John
date: 5.1.1870-30.3.1870
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 10th February, Thursday. Early this morning the Peumahs of the Suminah Khel of Khonowmah together with their Dubasha came into camp to pay their respects and informed me that the Miremah khel had made an attack upon them last night (which accounts for the firing I heard) and that they had succeeded in burning down three houses and hoped I would aid them in obtaining revenge which of course I refused to do, reminding them of the attack which they themselves had so lately made upon the village of Kenomah and adding that I thought they were very foolish not to bring the matter before me and let me settle it for them peacefully instead of keeping up the fight from year to year which would only end in disaster to both but I only received the old answer "Blood has been shed last by the Mirimah and we must shed blood in return - if you order us we must obey, but our hearts will not be happy and we cannot say what may happen" - all of which simply amounts to this that if we want the tribes to be at peace we must run the risk of having to use force to get it.
text: After my interview with the Sumimah had ended I sent off my baggage en route to Koheemah and walked all over the village amid a large crowd of all ages and both sexes who pressed me on to every side to partake of their rice beer, generally a not very inviting liquor but when well made as I have tested it, it is very drinkable stuff - I was much struck with the very different appearance of the Nagas here as compared with the Samoogootingeeas. The men as a rule are much fairer and physically fine, stalworth, hardy looking fellows who would bear comparison with any of the wild Tribes on our North-West Frontier indeed let them be equally armed and give the Naga a match lock instead of his spear and I am inclined to believe the Naga would prove the superior, (and I speak from experience having known the former intimately during the 3 years sojourn in Peshawar) - The women also can boast of many a comely lass among them and it was quite a pleasure to see true modesty in its natural garb ready to laugh and joke with all and yet thoroughly innocent so utterly unlike the wanton daughters of the plains.
text: Mazimah is built on the broad spur of a mountain jutting out from the Burrail range and contains 274 houses. The village is strongly fortified but being commended from the heights behind which could be occupied by a flank march executed at night I should not anticipate any difficulty in taking the place provided the attacking force was furnished with guns or rockets [6] otherwise with mustketry alone a surprise would be the only plan for to say nothing of the tortured narrow covered ways well panjeed admitting of the passage of only one man at a time by which the village is approached the compound, so to speak of each house is a stone wall of from 4 to 6 feet high and a similar wall (with an occasional Tower or look out) surrounds the village.
text: The cultivation here consists entirely of what in Assam is called "Salee Dhan" which is grown on terraces well irrigated with water conveyed along artificial channels often for very long distances and it is not uncommon to see a hill thus cultivated from its base up to its very summit and land I am informed is in great demand and the smallest patch fetches a comparatively high price.
text: Leaving Mozimah about 10 a.m., a long descent for about 2 miles and an equally long ascent brought us into the village of Jotsomah which we reached about 2 p.m. This village contains I should say about 450 houses and is divided into the four clans of Thekronomah, Khniemah, Tholomah and Cheomah the two former being at deadly feud with the two latter in consequence of which I found the village split up into two hostile camps divided off by strong barricades made of stone and deep ditches well panjeed on all side.
text: I walked through the village from end to end visiting the rival Khels in turn and was received most cordially by both sides. I had a long talk with the Peirmahs and endeavoured but in vain to induce them to settle their differences but it was the old story over again "Blood once shed peace could not be made unless and only by the intervention of a third party strong eno' to dictate its own terms and see that they were carried out". And I would here remark even if our duty here is to end with simply protecting the low lands from the murderous raids of these highlanders although our policy so far has been eminently successful whether a continuation of it will prove equally so remains yet to be seen and I must confess its a question regarding which I feel very anxious for now that we have firmly established ourselves in these Hills I am afraid the non-interference policy so excellent in theory, will fail in practice and I trust I may be excused saying our present position among the Nagas reminds me forcibly of the state of the Frogs at and after the advent of "King Log" whose power lasted only so long as his subjects were in doubt as to the course of his future policy, and in my humble opinion no King Log will ever rule the Nagas and however much it may be considered advisable to refrain from extending our rule we shall find ourselves compelled to do so sooner or later. Our past experience teaches us there is no standing still we must advance or retire and I trust we shall never again have to do the latter.
text: After staying about an hour in Jotsomah we proceeded on to Kohimah along a very fair road first a descent for about 3 miles and then an ascent of about the same distance but neither very stiff.
text: At the foot of the Kohima hills I was met by Oongre and Dossa the Dabashas of their respective clans Hepvomah and Cherramah who informed me that there was considerable uneasiness among the various Khels of their village owing to some of their having declared that they would have nothing to say to me and intended to refuse to let me have either coolies or supplies on hearing this and on arriving at the village I immediately ordered my Interpreters to proceed at once with an escort of 3 constables to inform the Pen-mah [Piti-tic-nia (Headmen of villages)] of each Khel that I was excessively surprised that they had not come out to pay their respects to me and presumed they had not yet heard of my arrival, that as it would now soon be dark I did not wish them to visit me until the following morning, when however I expected to see the chief of every clan come in and pay his respects as was his bounden duty.