The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Account of the valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes' by Major W. McCulloch

caption: harvesting; danger of high winds carrying away the crop; land slips; rats; idea that rats become birds
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Koupooee
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: The crop having been cut is beat out on the field, and the grain carried to and deposited in the granary close by the village. In the carrying the whole village joins receiving as recompense a certain proportion of the loads carried and their drink. In the best seasons it is only by the most unremitting attention that the Koupooee reaps his crop, and anything at the cultivating season occurring to interrupt his labours may be attended with the serious result of a lessened supply of food. After all their labours when the grain is ripe and ready to be cut, they lose it sometimes by a high wind sweeping the field. This wind they assert does not merely shake the grain out of the ear but carries it away bodily. In such cases the grain they say has been taken up by the divinity. In the same manner I have heard Munniporees when the crops are ripe, and it thunders accompanied by wind say, that the divinity is "carrying up " the crop, and that the grain is carried away bodily, they also positively assert. A slip of the face of a hill sometimes ruins all, and another calamity consists in the visits of immense quantities of rats. These in their progress destroy every thing before them, they nip down the standing corn, ascend the granaries, fill the houses, and leave nothing behind them fit for human subsistence. Neither fire nor water stops the progress of the innumerable host. After a time, these rats, they say, become (47) birds to eat of which produces a pestilence. That this transformation takes place they hold to be proved by the birds having tails like rats ! The visitations of rats are fortunately infrequent; during the last thirty years none have occurred, but the signs of their advent are, they say, apparent, and that it will take place next year (1859) is generally expected.