The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

printed - tour diary of the Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills for the year 1870-1872 (John Butler) volume two

caption: to Nerhemah; description of the village; present of a pig; war dance; swearing in the braves; visit to the scene of late fight between Nerhamah and Kerumah; description of the fight; origin of the dispute; list of unvisited villages on the left bank of the Doyang; thoughts on a road up the Doyang valley to Manipur, and its civilizing effect on the tribes; dobashis try to dissuade Butler from going further
medium: tours
person: Luchunoma clan/ NerhamahKachalchuma clan/ NerhamahZaphrema clan/ NerhamahSadima clan/ NerhamahGregory/ Capt.Japu/ of Nerhamah
ethnicgroup: SengimahMezamaRengmahKerimahLhotaSima
location: Nerhamah Kerumah Shanor R. Thisamah Diyung R. (Doyang R.)
date: 1.3.1872-2.3.1872
person: Butler/ John
date: 22.11.1870-17.2.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 1st March, Friday. Moved camp to-day into Nerhamah a short march of only about 5 miles and I think the direct route even less than that, but owing to the feud existing between Nerhamah and Kerumah, the latter path had been so cut off and panjied we were compelled to make a detour through Thisamah (a small village containing only 48 houses) and had then to descend into the valley and cross the Shanor river twice.
text: Nerhamah is a very large village, well situated and strongly fortified. It contains 378 houses divided into the following clans:-
text: The Nerhamah men gave us a very hearty welcome and did me the honour to present me with a pig which was afterwards, at their own request, cut up and cheered by the Headmen and the constables forming my escort in order, as they said, that we might all be friends.
text: [14] We had a very heavy shower of rain this afternoon, the first we have had since leaving Samaguting, and the weather feels considerably colder tonight, enabling us to enjoy our hot grog and a blazing fire with a zest that one does not often have for those delights.
text: The Nerhamah men having yesterday expressed a strong wish that I would expend another day in their village, I halted today.
text: In the morning all the young men turned out in their war paint, each clan under its own leader and after filing passed in succession, combined together in one large body of about 300 strong and performed the usual "ballet" and war dance, going through the forms of attack and defence and all the other evolutions of miming Naga warfare, after which we witnessed an act which I had often wished to see but had never had the chance to before, namely the swearing in of the Braves. A performance regarding which combined with all its wild picturesque surroundings, it is difficult to give any really good description - I mean such a description as would convey the dissolving scene of the whole picture with all its savage beauty to the readers' mind for in such a case it is almost impossible to avoid both the Scylla and Sharybdis of over colouring on the one side and meagre balduss on the other. I will therefore follow the safer plan of adding nothing more.
text: In the afternoon we went out to see the scene of the late fight between the Nerhamah and Kerumah men in which the latter village lost 10 men. It appears the Kerumah men stole up at the break of dawn and attacked the village of Nerhamah, advancing and firing right up to its very gates. At this juncture one Samier apparently from the Naga story, a perfect Voumolke in strategy assembled a picked body of young warriers and placing them under the leadership of a noted brave, sent them round to outflank the Kerumah Party and attack them in rear whilst he himself at the head of the older men defended the village. The manoeuvre succeeded splendidly for no sooner did the Kerumah men hear the shouts of the Nerhamah men behind them than they immediately broke and dashed down the Khud with the latter in hot pursuit and so completely were the Kerumahs routed that they seemed to have thrown away their shields, spears, loans [sic] and indeed almost everything they had in their flight, and 10 headless trunks (which I personally saw lying there today with the flesh still on the bones) furnish undesirable evidence of the bloody fight that took place there. The Nerhumah men boast that they have killed over 30 Kerumah men during the last 2 years, whereas they have only lost 8. The quarrel is said to have arisen during my predecessor's time, when the Kerumah men from going in to pay their respects to Captain Gregory, and it has been war to the knife ever since. It is melancholy to think how slight a cause will give rise to a blood-feud that will last for ages. However until we decide upon taking a more active part in Naga politics, I am afraid we have very little ground to hope that it will every be otherwise.
text: Whilst talking over the camp fire just now, I was enquiring about the country on ahead and the villages situated there, and was informed by one Japu of Nerhamah that there were no less than 19 villages on the left bank of the Doyang, all north of this - the names he gave are as follows: Chidiama, Nachama and Chemekhuma of the Sengimah tribe.
text: Miphumah, Khilibazamah, Themoketsama, Themokedima, Chichesephesma, Iusemah, Kokhapama, Kotsoma and Cheremah of the Mezama (or Rangmah) tribe Phurma, Khubpama and Chosamah of the Kevimah (or Lhota) tribe and finally Chitima, Chapsuma, Seruphemah and Lazmah of the Sima tribe. So this information, if it proves to be correct, bears out what I have always thought, namely that there are a number of villages between the Doyang and the Rangmah Pany and that we could therefore without any difficulty run a good road leading the whole way through a populous country up the valley of the Doyang right into Manipur. And what's more, I feel sure this road would do more to civilize the tribes and open out the country than anything else that we can do to gain that end. Indeed, having seen how thickly populated is the only country along both banks of the Doyang, and knowing how rapidly and keenly the Naga is cultivating that "saena auri fumes", I am sanguine enough to think that this splendid country might at no far off date become a feeder to the plains of Assam and furnish it with a constant flow of fresh labour.
text: By the way, my Dobashis of Khonemah, Kohima, Jotsomah Mozema etc. are in a great state of mind at the idea of going beyond this, and have tried to deter me by every means that lay in their power. Their last dodge (at least I think it is a dodge) was to come up this evening in a very confidential manner and tell me that they had just heard that two clans of Kohima had dispatched a message to the Mazama Nagas telling them to be sure to polish me off if I went near them. However as I felt confident it was only a lie, I need hardly add my only reply was "very well, let them try it."
text: I am sorry to say the clouds have been gathering round us all day and I shall not be surprised if we may soon have a regular downpour.