The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter one. The Beginning
caption: Sena Kaitel, the Golden Market
medium: books
location: Imphal
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Every evening in the Imphal bazaar was held the Sena Kaitel, the Golden Market.
text: When the heat was out of the day and the light fell long and warm, files of villagers came padding in with their produce through the soft, thick dust of the roadsides. Along the edge of the polo-ground passed one endless procession of purple and scarlet, russet and green, and the ever-recurring yellow of the women's shawls. Girls passed, their stiff, striped 'faneks' wrapped round them and belted in. Women, their hair sleeked back and knotted, pressed by in groups of black-and-purple and black-and-gold. Men, turbaned and swathed in white, pulled jade or amethyst wraps about them against the growing chill. Here were hillmen, tousled and nude, here were dogs, here were children, here were beggars - one jostling tide of colour on white and white on colour, streaming into the market-place in a cloud of golden dust.
text: By dusk the great square space was crammed. Hundreds of small lamps, wicks burning in saucers of oil, glimmered down the long aisles where the women sellers sat behind goods whose colours glowed again in the half-light - quilts in mauve and pink, stacks of white muslins, red-and-yellow loin-cloths, and the broad-banded scarlet-and-white cloths which the Tangkhul Nagas wore. There were brass wares and brass jewellery, bowls and dishes, armlets and bracelets, and crowns in imitation of Manipuri goldwork; a dried fish section, smelling to high heaven; the potters' place, stacked with red earthenware jars; and betel, coco-nut and food-sellers of every kind, who overflowed from the stalls and cluttered the packed roads with titbits displayed on trays or on strips of plantain leaf. There was a tingling smell of smoke, spices, dust and marigolds in the air, there were lorries nosing and honking through the press, there were half-naked hillmen stopping to stare, and away and beyond it all was a bronze-green twilight and hills of black velvet against a shot-silk sky.