The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twelve. Towards Unknown Country
caption: poisoned arrows of Kalyo Kengyu ; poison and its effects
medium: books
person: Mills
ethnicgroup: KonyakKalyo Kengyu
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: These first days were so easy and comfortable, and we were always received with such friendliness, that it was hardly believable that we were on anything but a rather large inspection tour. However, here in Chare we tasted a little of what might come, for a gaonbura showed us a poisoned arrow and proudly held up the magnificent tusks of a boar. "The animal ran only thirty yards after it was hit," he explained. We were not very enthusiastic over this hunting exploit. The arrow was too like those arrows we had heard that the Kalyo Kengyus used in such a deadly way. They are short crossbow arrows of bamboo with iron barbed heads. The poison is applied in thick layers just behind the head, and the shaft nicked so that it breaks off easily, leaving the poisoned head in the wound. Sometime ago Mills had obtained a small quantity of this substance and sent it to Calcutta to be analyzed. It had not been identified, but experiments proved that it was a powerful poison, causing death by paralysing the respiratory organs. The victim, the report continued, could be saved by the administration of oxygen through artificial respiration. Not exactly a comforting thought many days' march from medical aid. However, watching several of the youths of the village who shot with crossbows at the gable-figures of the house, we noted that every one missed his mark, and our anxiety was somewhat allayed. If the Pangsha warriors were no better shots, there was no need to worry.