The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Five. Present and Future
caption: trading relations with Assam ; markets and money
medium: books
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York103:2
text: Traditionally, the inhabitants of the plains of Assam had always avoided entering Naga country, and before the British established their rule over the outer ranges of the Konyak highland, such an attempt would indeed have been suicidal. The Konyaks of the villages in the outer ranges had, however, occasionally descended to the plains and had bartered their produce for such commodities as iron and brass and probably also salt. With the stability and security of travel resulting from the British presence such contacts greatly increased, and whereas government regulations prevented the plains people from entering the hills, increasing numbers of Nagas visited the markets on the edge of the plains. There, they sold mats and baskets, vegetable dyes, and other jungle produce, and occasionally, also poultry and small pigs. In return they obtained metal implements, brass ornaments, glass beads, various textiles, tea, salt, matches, tobacco, and a variety of minor manufactured goods such as umbrellas and a few pieces of cotton clothing. Most important of the economic innovations that resulted from British rule was the introduction of money, and though in 1936 one could still hardly speak of a cash economy, the use of the silver rupee as well as of smaller coins was becoming increasingly common not only for trade with the Assamese but even for some transactions between Konyaks. Thus, rents of fields, prices of animals, ornaments, and articles of clothing as well as certain fines were expressed in money values. The people of villages such as Wakching utilized their easy access to the markets of the plains to develop trade with some of the villages in the interior, whose inhabitants were as yet unaccustomed to venture into the plains and mingle in the markets with tea-garden laborers and Assamese peasants.