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: audience with the Rajah; description of the durbar chamber; Naga brass band; elephant catching; Rajah refuses to cooperate on survey; nightly bazaar
medium: tours
person: AustinOgleThomson/ Col.Pinto/ MrBrowne/ Mr.
date: 16.2.1873
person: Butler/ John
date: 22.11.1870-17.2.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 16th February. At ll o'clock this morning Major Austin, Mr Ogle and I accompanied Colonel Thomson to the Rajah's Palace and were there duly introduced to His Highness as had been previously arranged. Four Doolies and three ponies had been supplied by the Rajah for our convenience and Colonel was carried on one of the former, the rest preferred to ride. We found guards drawn up both at the gates of the two enclosures as well as in front of the Durbar room. At the door of the inner enclosure we were met by the Jubraj, or Heir apparent to the Throne, who then conducted us towards the Durbar Chamber near to but on the outside of which we were met by the Rajah himself to whom we were then duly introduced by Colonel Thomson. We then entered the Darbar chamber, a room about 30 feet square in the centre of a small detached house round which there was a broad enclosed veranda about l2 feet wide, the corners of which were cut off to form small side lobbies much after the manner of Indian bath rooms. Leading up to the audience chamber so to say a red cloth had been laid down and over [35] it a narrow strip of white course muslin and the floor of the chamber itself was covered with what appeared to be an ancient up-country carpet of the kind known as the "Mirjapur rug". In the centre was s small round table covered with white cloth and round it were placed eight chairs which were duly occupied by the Rajah, his three sons, Colonel Thomson, Major Austin, Mr Ogle and myself. Shortly after entering the room and almost before any conversation had taken place I was suddenly surprised to hear a brass band strike up the well known notes of the "British Grenadiers" and Colonel Thomson then explained that the Rajah had started a band about six or seven months ago and that it was entirely composed of Nagas and mostly boys under the tuition of a Mr Pinto (an European who had formerly belonged to the town band at Calcutta). At the Rajah's invitation I walked out to see this Band and expressed to him my great surprise and pleasure at the exceedingly good manner in which they played, which indeed was really the case for I found Mr Pinto had actually taught these wild barbarious to play from music and being naturally gifted with particularly good ears they appear to have taken to it con amore. The Rajah seemed much gratified at the praise I gave and went on to explain that he had been very anxious to have a Band for years past but that he had been unable to obtain the brass instruments until General Muthal had interested himself in the matter and had procured them for him from Calcutta. The conversation then turned to various other subject, among them elephant catching which we discussed thoroughly, the Rajah entering into it most heartily and finally sending for three little baby elephants to show me how quiet they were. He had these "infants" introduced right into the Durbar room and I must confess they were wonderfully well behaved. After this, and when there was a lull in the conversation, I took the opportunity of broaching the subject of the boundary by saying that before taking leave I wished to tell him that there was one other subject on which I desired to speak to him before leaving Manipur, namely "the boundary and its survey", but that before doing so I wished to know whether he would prefer hearing what I had to say on the matter at a private audience with only himself and his ministers present or whether he would rather I should speak about it at once in open Durbar. He replied in a very good natured way that he should prefer the latter and so I opened the Ball. I commenced by telling him that I had been very much disappointed in not having received the cordial aid and cooperation I had expected to get at the hands of his officers in carrying out the demarcation of the boundary between his State and British territory. I then drew his attention to the late orders of Government declining to recall the orders passed regarding the survey but assuring him that His Excellency the Viceroy was prepared to give due consideration to any memorial on the subject of the boundary which the Maharajah might submit (with copy of which I knew he had already been duly furnished by the Political Agent) and explained how such orders having been given, it was my duty to carry them out. As regards the survey all expenses connected with which I reminded him would be entirely borne by Government and I therefore now trusted he would kindly give me all the assistance that lay in his power. To this he merely shook his head and said that he was sorry he could not give me any assistance. I then asked him whether he would kindly tell me why he was unable to do so and he replied that he had no faith or trust (bhjaroso was the term he used) in the survey, that Kohimah and all the adjoining country claimed by him had been surveyed and yet his rights there had not been acknowledged. I then reminded him that the Government had gone to the expense of sending up a special Boundary Commissioner (Mr Browne) to report upon the difference of opinion that had arisen between Mr Browne and myself regarding the identity of the Mao River and then although this had been decided on in my favour the Government had relinquished all right and claim to the large village of Sopvomah or Mao and that I was quite confident that the British Government far from coveting a single inch more territory than it already possessed was on the contrary most anxious to avoid being compelled to take over charge of these barbarous highlanders who were constantly causing us trouble and annoyance. That the Government had gone to very great expense in order to have these Naga Hills properly surveyed and that it was therefore natural that it should decline to recall its orders so far. But that the fact of their being surveyed would not alter the rights of the question either way, indeed that until they were surveyed it would be very difficult for the Government to understand clearly exactly what the Maharajah's rights really were and that I therefore most strongly advised His Highness if he really had claims in the direction we were about to proceed and across the watershed boundary he should declare them at once by sending a competent Manipuri officer to accompany us who could personally point out in loco exactly what they were, and could clearly explain both to Colonel Thomson and myself the nature of the claims set up and I then promised him that after I was once satisfied that the watershed boundary really did infringe upon his just rights I should be delighted to give his cause every support and would deem it to be my bounden duty to lay the whole matter before Government for its most favourable consideration which, knowing how anxious Government was that justice should be done to all, I felt sure would at once be given and his rights fully allowed, and much should be done to all I felt sure would at once be given and his rights fully allowed, and much more to the same effect. However all my efforts to obtain the Rajah's cooperation were utterly thrown away, for the only reply I could get out of him was to the effect that "all the country lying to the east of the Mao River belonged either to Manipur or to Burmah and that the British Government had no business there" and that he therefore declined to allow the tract in question to be surveyed. I then told him that I was extremely grieved to hear his decision as it virtually amounted to declaring that he would not obey the orders of Government and that I therefore sincerely hoped he would think well over all I had said and reconsider, the matter while there was yet time to do so and before it went on any further. I also mentioned that the advice I had given I had given him as a friend, that we were very near neighbours and that we ought therefore to be the best of friends, that I on my part certainly felt most friendly towards him and that now that he had seen me and had come to know me personally I trusted that he too entertained the same feelings towards me. That I had now said all I had to and that I hoped if he was still determined upon adhering to his former resolution and should hereafter find that he had thus incurred the displeasure of Government he would do me the favour to remember the good advice I had this day ventured to offer him. He bowed his head and simply replied "I have already informed the Political Agent (meaning Colonel Thomson) of my decision and I have nothing more [36] to add", and here the matter ended. I must here explain that almost the whole of our conversation was in Hindustani a language which the Maharajah seemed to understand thoroughly and spoke very fairly. After this we waited a few minutes longer, talking on subjects of no great interest and then took our leave, shaking hands with the Rajah and his sons as we had done on meeting.
text: In the evening we all took a walk through the Bazar which is held out in the open in front of the central gateway leading into the outer enclosure surrounding the Rajah's quarters. It appears that there are no real shops in Manipur and so everything for sale is brought to this Bazar which is held daily. There is no building or shelter of any kind and the stalls, so to say, which are all kept by women, are simply a succession of long earthen mounds raised at a foot off the ground on which they sit with all their goods arranged in front of them. The merchandise seemed to be of a most heterogeneous description There were cloths and muslins, jewelry, (mostly brass) and bead necklaces, fish and vegetables, cotton and firewood, medicines and spices, oil and Ghee, Goor and salt, rice and several varieties of pulser in fact I fancy every commodity found in the valley and its surrounding hills was duly represented and could have been obtained in this Bazar. We noticed however that the number of venders seemed to be disproportionately great in comparison with the number of buyers, this however might be easily accounted for by the former being stationary whilst the latter were of course constantly on the move. The Bazar opens at 3 p.m. and does not close until 8 p.m. long after dark when the women pick up their baskets and depart each to her home.