The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: Introduction
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York3:4 previous accounts of the Nagas by travellers and anthropologists
text: The earliest accounts by Europeans on the Naga tribes date back to the first half of the nineteenth century. They are confined to a few superficial descriptions, most of which emphasize the savage character of the Nagas. Thus John McCosh wrote in 1837: "They are the wildest and most barbarous of hill tribes, and looked upon with dread and horror by the neighbours of the plains who consider . them as ruthless robbers and murderers" ( McCosh, p. 136) . Several decades passed before British officials and army officers became more closely acquainted with the Nagas and discovered that they were divided into several distinct tribes. The first ethnographically significant writings on the Nagas were those of S. E. Peal, who toured the Naga hills extensively and between 1872 and 1897 published no less than twelve articles on the Nagas in the 'Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.' Further early reports on the Nagas are those of R. G. Woodthorpe, J. Butler, and E. W. Clark, an American missionary. In the first decade of the twentieth century there followed articles by L. M. Waddell, W. H. Furness and P. M. Molz, and in 1911 T. C. Hodson published the first monograph on a group of Naga tribes entitled 'The Naga Tribes of Manipur.' Three years later J. H. Hutton, for many years senior administrative officer in the Naga Hills district and later professor of anthropology in the University of Cambridge, began his long series of publications on the Naga tribes. His two monographs 'The Angami Nagas' (1921) and 'The Sema Nagas' (1921) remain anthropological classics, and Hutton was undoubtedly the greatest expert on the Nagas. It is fortunate that his successor as district commissioner of the Naga hills, the late J. P. Mills, shared Hutton's anthropological interest in the Nagas. His three monographs 'The Lhota Nagas' (1922), 'The Ao Nagas' ( 1926), and 'The Rengma Nagas' (1937) complete the massive contributions which British officials made to our ethnographic knowledge of the Naga region.