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: Shipvomah make peace; to Zemai; penis rings
medium: tours
person: Terhello
location: Gazifhema (Gaziphemah) Zallomi Zemi Shipvomah Zemai Saramati Mt.
date: 3.2.1873
person: Butler/ John
date: 22.11.1870-17.2.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 3rd February. We had several heavy showers of rain again and the Nagas were skulking round our position the whole of last night and this morning they began to surround us in such large numbers fully armed that I fired a few shots to frighten them off and keep them at arms [33] length. I also had pickets posted out on our flanks and both front and in rear with Dobashas stationed with them with instructions to call out and tell the Nagas of Shipvomah that if they wanted to fight any more I should be happy to fight too, that on the other hand if they wanted to make peace, they had better make haste and let me know which it was to be so that I might know how to act. This at last seemed to satisfy them and at about half past ten, four of the chiefs came in and said they were extremely sorry for what had occurred but that as they had heard of the Manipuries having lately destroyed the villages of Gaziphemah, Zallomi and Zemi they had feared we were going to treat them in the same way and on my asking them why they had set a light to their own village they confessed that it was in the hope of driving us into the jungles adding that if they did not burn us out we might possibly stay on in their village for several months to come, however that they now saw how wrong they had been and promised that for the future they would always obey me and do whatever I might order. After this we swore a solemn peace and covenant according to the custom generally adopted on such occasions, namely by my holding a fowl by the head whilst the chief held it by its legs and Thomson cut it in two with my sword, each party declaring that such might be his fate if he were the first to break the peace and thus this matter was most satisfactorily settled without our having suffered the loss of a single man, whilst the Naga casualties I am equally glad to say amounted (as far as I have been able to ascertain for certain) to only two men killed and three wounded, one of the latter being a woman, who was wounded on the night of the first instant (having been mistaken in the dark for a man) and I think I may now safely say that we shall not be molested again by the Nagas in this direction at all event for some time to come for they have now seen clearly that so long as they leave us alone they have nothing to fear from us, whilst any attempt to oppose or attack us will assuredly only lead to their own utter discomfiture and defeat. After making peace we left Shipvomai and marched into Zemai taking with us one of the Shipvomai chiefs partly as a hostage partly to show us the road, who when he witnessed our friendly conduct to the Zemai people voluntarily confided to Terhello that he now saw how justly his village had been punished so I hope we have now really taught these wild savages a lesson they will not easily forget.
text: The view this morning was lovely and I noticed that Saracti [Saramati], towering above her sisters, was covered with snow. This Saranuti by the way is the highest mountain in the Naga Hills and must be over l2,000 feet above sea level.
text: By the way I discovered today that these Shipvomah and Zemai men wear a ring drawn over the foreskin, the glands and body of the penis being pushed back into the scrotum and as they appear to look upon this strange article of dress or ornament as the case may be, as ample covering for their nakedness, I fancy we are now looking upon the first advance in civilization on Adam's fig leaf.