The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter One. The Naga Hills
caption: Angami irrigated rice cultivation described
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: But there still remained many months before the reaping. Now, in June, the rice had to be transplanted, and a great deal of hard work was to come. The Angami is expert in constructing terraced fields and irrigation systems. For thousands of feet the mountain slopes are divided into terraces, many as wide as fifteen or twenty feet, others merely narrow strips. Reinforced by walls of pebbles and plastered with mud, these terraces are well able to withstand the torrential rains of Assam. Every rivulet on the mountain side is captured, and the water led through long channels to flood the terraces, for during the whole of its cultivation the rice must be kept under water.
text: The water flows down from one terrace to the one below, and a complicated system of water rights governs the distribution of the precious liquid. The share in a spring can be bought in exactly the same way as a field. Nocturnal theft of water, by illegitimate tapping of the channels, often caused quarrels that ultimately came before the Deputy Commissioner's court in Kohima. The maintenance of the terraces is an endless work, for each one must be levelled with the greatest care, so that the water may lie at a uniform depth. Water that is not needed for one terrace is conveyed through channels to the next, but across the face of the rocks, or wherever the ground is uneven, it is carried in aqueducts of bamboo.