The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Sixteen. Into the Blue
caption: marching towards Pangsha on raid
medium: books
person: Chingmak/ of ChingmeiWilliams/ Major
location: Noklak Pangsha
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Leaving Noklak we follow a good and apparently much-used path, leading along open slopes towards the north-east. Noklak and Pangsha are close friends, and Chingmak tells us that yesterday the Pangsha men were in Noklak to find out "how the thing smelt." There are fresh tracks in the damp places on the path, of men coming and going -- no doubt the tracks of the Pangsha men. Nagas are always full of gossip, and this morning the elders of Noklak have confided to Chingmak that the slave-girl we seek is still in Pangsha, but that without adequate compensation her owner refuses to part with her.
text: Small herds of mithan, belonging partly to Noklak and partly to Pangsha, graze on the grass covered slopes. They are magnificent animals that take no notice of our approach. Not so much as a head is lifted as we pass; they are much more interested in the grass, moist from the night's dew.
text: It is not long before we leave this open slope and find ourselves in low bush-land. Visibility is bad, and as it grows worse, Major Williams sends flank patrols to protect the long line of our porters. Soon the path is running between walls of thick bushes, prickly creepers, and strong, dry reeds. The pace is infuriatingly slow, for once more we have to cut our way step by step. Just here, where the thicket is densest, we hear calls coming from the hill tops. They come from somewhere directly above us, but we cannot see anything. Perhaps Pangsha's sentries have sighted us, and are calling warnings to each other. It is not pleasant to have our coming announced while we have no idea where our opponents hide. Mills decides that the rear-guard shall burn the jungle behind us on both sides of the path, so that we shall have no difficulties on the way back. But hardly do we hear the crackle and catch a glimpse of the flames drawing out along the slope, before a light wind springs up and drives the flames close on our heels. This forces us to abandon the manoeuvre, for to be caught between burning jungle and hostile forces might be unpleasant.
text: It is five hours since we left Noklak, and the sun stands high in the sky, when suddenly we come out into the open and see before us the unknown and much-dreaded land. Beyond the Langnyu valley at our feet, steep slopes sweep up to wooded ranges, and behind these peaks towers yet another rocky ridge -- the main range of the Patkoi. We have no way of measuring their height, but we are already more than 6,000 feet above sea level, and they (136) must be close to 11,000 feet. When eventually this area is surveyed, the border between Assam and Burma will probably run along these mountains.