The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

printed - Tour Diary of the Deputy Commissioner for 1873 (John Butler) volume three

caption: walking along the watershed; Butler nearly falls into an animal trap; Manipuris remove camp to try to prevent party moving further east, also order Nagas not to aid or even speak to the survey party
medium: tours
person: Thongal MajorThomsonAustin
location: Phunggam (Phungam)
date: 27.3.1873
person: Butler
date: 17.2.1873-11.4.1873
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: [6] 27th March. The first portion of our road today led all along the summit of the watershed and I had the pleasure of thoroughly discussing the qualities of a "watershed" with the Thongal Major who informed me that in the Manipur dialect a watershed was termed "Ising-chemba" thus thoroughly proving to me that the Manipuries knew perfectly well what was meant by the term, which even the Nagas understand and call "Dza-za-khru" (a compound of three words, meaning "water", "divine", "mountain" or the "mountain dividing the water"). After quitting the watershed we struck off north and finally encamped at Phingam, as the Manipuries call it or Neckrome as the Nagas call it. En route I very nearly came to terrible grief by tumbling into a deep pitfall which had been dug in a side path in the forest to catch wild animals, however very fortunately it was a long narrow pit only about 2 1/2 feet in width and somehow I just managed to save myself by striking out my arms on either side. However the feeling that I was suspended over panjies and that if my strength failed before I could be pulled out I should certainly be impailed on them was not pleasant and I was not a little relieved when my lusty yells for assistance brought up one of my Dobashas who gave me a hand up that too not a minute too soon. No sooner was I extricated from my peril we both sat down and roared with laughter at the ridiculous figure I had just been cutting. On reaching Phungam I found to my great disgust that the Manipuries had taken our camp down the valley about two miles below and to the north of the village and as I wanted to go in just the very opposite direction I ran down and ordered my camp back to the village and explained to Thomson how the matter stood. He at once saw and acknowledged that the Manipuries had evidently done this so as to draw us off from going further eastwards and promised to come up and rejoin Austin and myself tomorrow morning. I had scarcely got back to Phungam when a very heavy shower of rain accompanied with hail came on and we took shelter in some rough huts in which I found a Manipuri guard had been putting up for several days past. These Manipuries declared that the only reason they had taken the camp to where they had was because that was the only place at which we could get water and that they themselves had to fetch it up from there during the time that they had been encamped at the village. This of course I felt pretty sure was untrue and I then turned to the Nagas and asked them where they got water from and one fellow was just starting off to show us the way when the Manipuries said something to one of them. Dobashas who spoke to the man and then the latter also declared that the nearest water was at the Manipuri camp at least two miles down hill from the village. However I was not going to be beaten for I felt quite confident there must be water close at hand somewhere or the village would never have been there and so notwithstanding the rain and hail out I went and began to circle round the village, and after foraging about for about half an hour I was delighted (to use a Yanku [Yankie] expression ) to "strike oil" at last by coming upon a capital spring with lots of water quite close at hand round which I found the "chulas" (fire places) of the Manipuries which had evidently only just been abandoned. In the evening when the village was clear of Manipuries (who all went down to the other camp) I had a visit from several of the Naga Chiefs who told me that they were very anxious to do anything they could for me but that they dare not as the Manipuries had threatened to take terrible revenge if they gave me any assistance whatever. It appears that they have received strict orders that they are neither to sell or to give me anything and that further than that even it seems they have been told not to reply to any questions I may put to them except through the Manipuries. All this is very disgusting however I am getting used to it now, and all I hope is that next year I may not be assisted with Manipuri "cooperation".