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: impressions of the hills, the Tangkhul Nagas and Kukis; Surgeon's work
medium: books
person: Taylor/ Col.
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: We spent the night in a mud-walled rest-house at the foot of the hills, and next morning entered them. The outer slopes were barren and dry, seamed with red gullies and covered in dense grass which held the heat. Then, as we climbed, we came to woods and cool air, and crossed to the inner slopes and a greener landscape
text: It was a glorious, open world, with a sense of infinite distance. Sometimes we marched through oak-scrub and dry leaves, like a winter wood at home, with blue sky and white clouds behind the bare branches; sometimes we dropped to tropical forest as dank as a cellar, all broad leaves and coarse, crowding growths and wild banana-trees rearing out of the tangle. The track itself was a shelf on the side of the hill, and at intervals along it there were patients waiting for Colonel Taylor, his medicine-chest and the compounder
text: (8) Each night we slept in an earth-floored bungalow with crumbling mud walls and nothing between us and the sparrows in the thatch, so that debris and blessings rained on the dinner-table.
text: Every morning we left a cactus-hedged compound, marched for four hours, and camped again in another just like it. The bungalows varied only in situation and decrepitude.
text: Daily the road dropped into a chasm of a valley and crawled laboriously out of it by a ladder of zigzags; it wound in and out of ravines, crossing bouldered streams by roofed timber bridges, and once in a while it wandered along a crest, through woods and grassland, and let us see ridge lifting beyond ridge in the distance. Mist boiled in the hollows, rising raggedly as the sun struck it. Villages were perched here and there, scattered Kuki hamlets, compact Naga settlements, and sometimes a tin-roofed converts' chapel. Bamboos arched below us, graceful and feathery; dark, aboriginal forest covered the hilltops; and everywhere the wet-rice terraces swept down row on row in fan-shaped staircases two thousand feet deep to the rich, irregular curves of the valley fields, whose banks made a black tracery on the bright water.