The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: expedition in the Tangkhul area
caption: Chapter two. Solo Flight
caption: Ukhrul to Nungbi; pottery making at Nungbi Khunao
medium: books
person: Duncan/ Mr
location: Nungbi Khunou (Nungbi Khunao)
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: We halted a day in Ukhrul to refit and re-organize, and then, on the 13th, primed with advice from Mr Duncan, the S.D.O., I set out at last for the two Nungbi villages, Khulen and Khunao, marching through scattered pinewoods and over a carpet of red needles towards hills which showed green, brown and Madonna-blue in the rain-clear air. We camped that night at Nungbi Khunao, in grass and matting (17) huts through which a bitter wind swept, and next day I went to the village to take the pictures of pottery-making I had come to secure
text: Their situation near a bed of clay gave these two villages a local monopoly. Day after day in the cold weather one could see columns of smoke rising above the houses as the pots were fired, thin brown pillars climbing into the sky.
text: The Tangkhul potter uses no wheel, nor does he, like the Manipuri, shape his pot on a board turned on his knee. Instead, he gives the clay its first circular shape round a bamboo and then moulds the pot by hand. The workshop was the village street, with the villagers for audience. The potters stripped down their wine-red cloths to work, girding them round their waists like petticoats. First of all stones were brought in a basket, and one or two of them hammered to a fine powder. They crumbled easily, and in a few minutes were dust. Then the dust was mixed with half as much powdered clay, and enough water to make a firm, damp mass. This was pounded in a wooden trough till smooth and then divided into two parts.
text: One was made into a flat, round cake for the base of the pot. The other was laid on a board and shaped into a long strip, three inches wide and perhaps an inch thick, which was beaten out to twice the length and half the thickness. The edges were trimmed and squared off with a bamboo knife, and it was ready.
text: The potter fetched a section of giant bamboo. He rolled the strip of clay up round this, stood the whole upright on the clay base, shook the strip loose from the bamboo, which he removed, and coaxed the strip round to form a cylinder. joining the ends, he worked it to the base; and there it stood, a pot in embryo. The rest was but thinning and shaping. Round and round the pot he backed, patting, moulding, curving. The sides swelled, the neck contracted. He rolled two strips of clay in his hands, spitting to moisten them, and set them on as handles. A last smoothing; he cut the pot (18) from its base; and there it was, rimmed and twin-handled, ready for the fire. The potters posed for a final picture, solemnly, their work before them, and all was done.